Wojtek Barzantny - piper_kl88

January 2013 cover

01 January 2013

German pro Wojtek Barzantny sprung from nowhere this autumn when he took down back-to-back UKIPT titles.

Take us back to the beginning…

Like most of the internet kids, I started playing with friends in home games before moving on to small tournaments online. I had a bit of success and now play mostly mid-stakes MTTs with a bit of cash on the side. I play live now and again, but only if I qualify online.

You seem to have found the transition pretty easy...

I’ve worked hard on those parts of the game that don’t exist online, such as having the opportunity to watch how players react at different moments. You can get a lot of information off your opponents, and when I’m not in a hand I’ll often be observing the table when others are distracted by their iPads.

What do you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses?

Maybe instinct. Sometimes I just know it. At the same time, I could probably slow down a bit and play less aggressively. Sometimes I hurry things.

Has anyone inspired you, and do you talk to the other German pros?

I think ElkY took the game to another level and I learned a lot from his books. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to forums, and I don’t speak to the other German players, but that’s maybe something I should do more as I don’t have the greatest buddy-base in poker. Maybe now people are recognising me a little I’ll be able to meet some of them and talk strategy.

What was it like playing Moorman heads-up in UKIPT Online?

[Wojtek defeated Chris Moorman in the UKIPT Online Main Event for £77,126.03.]

He’s a very good player and I have a lot of respect for him, so it felt good. We started 3:1 in his favour, but then I got it back to even after flopping a straight. We played for around four hours in total, so it was difficult to keep playing my A-game and not make mistakes, but I was determined to stay focused. He wasn’t as aggressive as I expected, and I was able to find a good rhythm and get the win.

Tell us about Bristol.

[Just weeks later, Wojtek won a further £90,400 at UKIPT Bristol.]

I ran pretty well and was never short-stacked. Even when I got down to 30 big blinds, I managed to catch a set of aces against A-Q, but there weren’t really any big swings. I respected everyone at the final table because I recognised them all from their online games and knew that they’d enjoyed more success than me in the past. But I could still hurt them, and so I just tried to play my game.

We hear you had a “victory banana”?

Oh, yes. I hadn’t eaten breakfast on the final day, and was so hungry before the final table that I asked my buddy for a banana. I ate it and won the tournament, so that was my lucky banana. I might consider eating one before every tournament now.

At 24, do you struggle with the lack of social interaction in online poker?

It can definitely be hard when you play a lot online, but I’m studying still so have a lot of social contacts and interact with people almost every day. In the future, I’d like to win more UKIPT titles, and maybe an EPT, but I’m focused on my studies so will only play live sporadically. Maybe one day I’ll consider having poker as my income, but for now I’m happy to keep everything as it is.