Roland de Wolfe
01 December 2006
Roland de Wolfe stormed to victory at the Dublin EPT last month. Bluff collared the man of the moment to chat about getting lucky, weight loss bets, and impersonating Irishmen.
Tell us about your background. We read somewhere you came from a gambling family…
Nah, you shouldn’t believe what you read. Basically, I wanted to be a journalist. I went to university and I didn’t really know what kind of journalism I wanted to do, but I was always into betting. As soon as I was old enough, I was in betting shops and losing money in casinos. So I did my projects at University on gambling, and when I left I ended up getting a job at a gambling magazine. When I started working there, no one else knew about poker. I knew a bit, so I just started covering it and following it and learnt how to play that way. That was around the beginning of 2004.
You got pretty good pretty damn quickly. How so?
I played online a lot and tried to play live as much as possible. Basically, I’ve spent most of my time over the past two and a half years playing poker (laughs). In the first year I was playing, I spent a lot of time at the Gutshot.
Is that where you picked up “The Sheep” nickname?
No one actually calls me that. I think one internet site coined it, and it had a pretty high Google rating, so I guess that’s why people think it’s my nickname. But it’s a myth.
Oops, sorry. Do you have a real nickname?
No, because my name’s pretty good anyway. “De Wolfe!”
Yeah, it’s cool. “Roland de Wolfe” sounds like a dissolute poet. Great name for a gambler. Speaking of which, what’s the craziest bet you’ve made recently?
I’ve got a £10,000 bet at the moment with Tony G. We both have to lose 10% of our bodyweight in six months. If one of us doesn’t make it and the other does, it’s 10k.
Have you got a regimen going?
Yeah, I’m doing pretty well. I’m almost there, and I don’t think he can make it (laughs).
If he loses you can call him “Tony 10 G.” We know you for your tournament successes; do you play a lot of cash games as well?
Yeah, mainly online. I like $200 limit 8b, $5,000 NL… I play the big games, but not the really, really huge games. I’m probably not good enough to beat those super-high games.
What’s your longest ever poker session?
I don’t know. You just lose track, don’t you? But I don’t like to play really long sessions. In fact, I can’t play long sessions on the internet. Live, I can play longer, but on the internet, I can only do two or three hours, then I have a break. The days of multi-tabling are over. Maybe that’s something I’ll rediscover. But, generally, I prefer to play short sessions now. If you’re playing high limits, you can make enough money. It’s not about grinding away anymore.
Tell us about the crucial moments in the tournament.
There were loads. On the first day, I pushed all in early on; my opponent had hit two pair and I managed to spike a straight. Another time, at the end of the first day, I made a big call against Brigetta Johansson and I was right. She called a reraise and moved in on the flop. She had A-Q and I had K-7 on a flop of K-Q-3. So that was big. After that, I beat kings with J-10. I knew the guy didn’t have an ace, so I tried to call on the flop to bet on the turn, but he’d hit a nut flush draw. He missed, but he was pot committed by the river and had to call, but luckily I hit a non club two pair on the end.
By Day 2, I had chips, so I was able to use them, but I was also hitting all my draws, while other people were missing them against me. So everything went really well all the way through, right to the final. I played well, but I ran really well, too. That’s important; there are so many good players in the field, the luckiest is going to win.
Did you have a gameplan going into the final table?
No, you never have a gameplan, you just see what happens. I mean, I always play to dominate the table unless there’s a real reason not to.
Are you going to treat yourself with the dosh?
I don’t know. I might fly first class next time I go America. I’m looking to buy a property in London, so that’s probably what most of the money will go towards.
So you’re not an extravagant man?
I might go out and blow a lot of money after a win, but only on gambling (laughs). I won’t buy a Porsche anything like that. I might play bigger stakes online for a while, or bet bigger on the football. It’s also good to be able to help people you know who don’t have too much money – that’s nice. But I won’t spend it on myself.
What do you like to do to take your mind off poker?
I like to exercise; I like to socialise with friends; I like to watch sport. Travelling’s cool, too.
Where’s your favorite place in the world?
I like going skiing in Switzerland and I like to go to the South of France. Just places where you can eat well and relax.
What’s the biggest bluff you’ve ever made in life?
I once met a girl, and I was drunk and pretended to be Irish. I had to continue with the bluff for the next three or four times I saw her. I could never call her on the phone, because I’d have to put the accent on, so I would only ever text her.
My mate made a huge one a few years ago. He took a job as a site contractor on a building site, in charge of all these workmen building a house. He didn’t know the first thing about the job; he just blagged his way through the interview. They’d call him up and say, “OK, do this.” And he’d do it. And he actually got the job done.
Can you give our readers a tip to improve their play?
In a cash game, don’t think about whether you’re up or down, just concentrate on making the best decision possible.
What’s the biggest donkey play you’ve seen recently?
When people go on tilt they make some really silly decisions. I saw this guy call in recently with seven-high. But he was a celebrity and didn’t know how to play. I guess if you don’t know the rules, it’s pretty difficult. That’s the thing about some of these TV tournaments. They put these people into situations where they don’t know what they’re doing.
Did you have any poker heroes when you were learning the game?
Not really. There are people that I respect, but the great thing about poker is that anyone can beat anyone. I don’t buy into this whole “poker stardom” thing. I generally respect people for how they behave off the table and how they control themselves, rather than their actual technical playing skills – people like Barry Greenstein, who does a lot of work for charity and is good for the image of the game. He’s one of the people I respect the most, but I would never call him a “poker hero.”