Jack Ellwood Interview
28 June 2012
With success on both the live and online felt, could Jack Ellwood be a dark horse at this year’s World Series? Snoopy finds out.
"When I turned pro, in 2007, success didn’t come straight away. I made OK money in 2008, double in 2009 and then 2010 is when it all took off. I decided to take a shot at the UKIPT in Manchester and ended up coming second, and then won a massive online tournament. In the space of one week I’d gone from small stakes grinder to having a lot of money that I never thought I’d win."
How did your life in poker get started?
So many people say they deposited $50 and spun it up instantly, but that definitely wasn’t the case with me. I had no intentions of becoming a professional, it just kind of happened when I started getting into it and winning more regularly. I regret not finishing off my degree, though, as I could have easily put poker on hold. I wasn’t doing well at university so it didn’t feel like a tricky decision at the time, but I definitely wasn’t doing well enough at poker to justify leaving.
Even when I turned pro, in 2007, success didn’t come straight away. I made OK money in 2008, double in 2009 and then 2010 is when it all took off. I decided to take a shot at the UKIPT in Manchester and ended up coming second, and then won a massive online tournament. In the space of one week I’d gone from small stakes grinder to having a lot of money that I never thought I’d win.
Did you ever find out who started that disparaging thread on Two Plus Two?
[After winning an FTOPS Main Event for $237K, someone fabricated a story on Two Plus Two that Jack was underage and hadn’t paid him as his backer.]
[Laughs] It never came out who it was or why they did it. I couldn’t believe what I was reading at the time. Full Tilt knew it was rubbish and I received the money a few days later without any problems. The thread turned into a farce in the end and I think it’s in the Two Plus Two Hall of Fame now.
What do you remember from your biggest win?
[In September, 2010, Jack won $510K in the WCOOP Main Event.]
I was chipped up for most of the first day, but lost a couple of hands before the bubble and had to cruise into the money a little more than I would have liked. On the final hand of the day, I won a hand 4-betting 7-7 versus A-K which, looking back, was probably a mistake. This meant I had 60 big blinds heading into Day 2, which I span up straight away and managed to stay in the top five or six right up to the final.
I was at my parent’s house, on my own in the kitchen. I was in the zone, and fatigue, adrenalin, the money – none of it seemed to hit me until afterwards. When I busted I was like, “Jesus Christ. I’ve won half a million!” It definitely changed my life.
How’s it gone since?
I got lazy in 2011 and results suffered because of that, but I’ve upped it since, and this year’s been a lot better. I feel like I’ve got my love for the game back, when before it felt as though I was forcing myself to play, especially when I got down to a few tables after a bad day. I’d never win those. Now I’m back and more focused, and I’ve realised how fortunate I am to be doing this for a living.
What do you think you do better than the average break-even player?
I think I consistently play my A-game, or close to, and don’t tilt. A lot of people I know are either as good as or better than me technically at poker, but some of them talk poker better than they play it. I play as well as I can and as much as I can, because I enjoy the game and want to make as much money as possible.
What’s your routine?
I try to play four sessions a week, 5pm to 3am, with Sundays being a long one, maybe starting at 2pm. My comfort zone is 12 tables, but I might play up to 15 if I’m doing well or there is lots going on. The more tables I have, the tighter I play. It’s natural. I’ve got a decent set-up with a couple of screens and big tables. You learn how to keep in control and know what stack sizes you’ve got around you and when you need to start shoving. You do miss things, but overall for the hourly rate, it’s a lot more profitable. I’m definitely not someone who wakes up, plays poker, then goes to sleep. I want to do other things.
Did Full Tilt’s downfall affect you?
I had a couple of big scores there, but on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t win much on there. I was still annoyed it went, though, because the software was great and it had so many good tournaments. It’s fine, though, because there are still plenty of tournaments around.
I did have some money tied up on the site. Of mine, and horses’, I’d be hoping for $20k if it came back, which would obviously be nice. I’d withdraw most of it, but maybe leave a bit on there and see what happened. I think most people would welcome it back and it would take off again.
It’s my third year playing the Series, and I’ve run badly every time. Vegas hasn’t been kind to me. There are distractions and I do fall into it a little bit, but so far I’ve managed to knuckle down. Even Pez [Matt Perrins] has learned his lesson and is working hard this year! [Laughs]
If I get days off, I might play some cash, or the Venetian tournaments, but 90 percent of my time will be spent in the Rio, playing mostly Hold’em tournaments with some PLO and maybe small buy-in mixed games. I can’t play all the games so I’ll be steering away from tournaments such as the $5K Stud. I’m determined to do well this time and leave with more money than I came with.