Interview - Liv Boeree

Interview - Liv Boeree

Friday, 5 August 2011

We caught up with Liv in Las Vegas to talk about the WSOP, the state of British poker, the highs and lows of being a professional player and the phenomenon that is ElkY.

Liv, how’s it been going at the Series? Any joy?

Sadly not! I’ve had a pretty bad Series as far as poker goes; played a few events and unfortunately no cashes, which is a first for me. I’ve played OK, not great but not particularly bad either, and that, combined with running atrociously in coin-flips (or, indeed, any all-in situation) makes it close to impossible to build a stack when you start with 4,500 chips in most tournaments. It can get pretty depressing when you’re having a bad Series, but that’s the nature of tournament poker and you have to be able to shake it off and move on. And hopefully learn something from each tournament – even if it’s just accepting the fact that A-K doesn’t beat A-Q any more!

Ug! How many years have you been going to Vegas now?

This is my third year of playing a relatively full schedule and each year is a different experience but always loads of fun. It’s like summer camp, where all your friends in poker from around the world are in one place going for glory.

We know you work hard on your game, talking through hands with all your super-bright mates. How’s it going at the moment? Are you at the height of your powers?

To be honest, you’re asking me this at a bad time. I’ve literally just come off the back of my worst WSOP (or any tournament series) ever, and so I’m definitely at a low point as far as game confidence. It’s been tough sitting down, excited and refreshed to a new $1,500 event each day, only to get into a big coin-flip showdown situation with Q-Q versus A-K etc, lose the flip and not even get above starting stack.

I had one tournament where I literally played one hand – I was dealt aces first hand and they got cracked by Q10s all-in on a flush-draw flop. It should be easy to shrug it off and think, “Well, I played it perfectly, got it in ahead,” but when it happens day after day and you never make a Day 2, it starts to wear on your psyche. I really missed not being able to play on PokerStars while in Vegas. I’ve been playing online a lot for the past six months, where my primary goal was to practice my game. Not being able to take a few days off the live grind to get some confidence back by crushing some online MTTs has been tough, so I’m looking forward to getting home…

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen at the Series this year?

Poker-wise? Well, every day I saw something new and… erm… special at the tables, which is reassuring to know, that fresh fish are still in the game each day.

How do you stay sane in Vegas with all the mad distractions? Do you have a special regime?

It’s weird. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the Vegas clubs just don’t interest me any more. I don’t have the desire to pay $500-plus for the luxury of sitting down, get shouted at by bouncers, hit on by orange men and deafened by horrible music. I’ve been having the most wonderful time just hanging out with an amazing group of friends where we go for good food, hang out by the pool and go exploring and hiking the mountains around Vegas, which I highly recommend.

Poker’s a very individualistic game, but is there a sense that you’re out there representing your country and Team PokerStars?  

Definitely! Every time someone wins a bracelet they play their national anthem, which really reminds you that poker is a truly worldwide game. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than standing on that stage listening to God Save the Queen rippling over the Pavilion Room.

Similarly, this is my first Series on Team PokerStars and I couldn’t be prouder to be sporting the Team Pro patch on my arm.

Do you think there’s something special going on with British poker at the moment?

Hell, yes! We are just taking over the world. We’ve had yet more British bracelets this year, with Matt Perrins and Jake Cody, to mention just a few. These young guys are truly some of the very best in the world, and they all support each other so much that their force is just going to grow. The way the live poker scene in the UK is growing is also amazing, with the huge fields at each UKIPT stop being the perfect example. There were over 1,000 runners at UKIPT Nottingham this year, so the live scene is still very exciting.

Why are we good at poker yet suck at other sports?

What sports do we suck at? I seem to remember us winning the Rugby World Cup a few years back... that’s all I care about!

Last time we spoke you’d just won the EPT and everything was a bit mad. Have things quietened down now, or do you still have to cope with being a celebrity?

I’m not sure if I really consider myself a celebrity even after EPT San Remo – but yeah, things were crazy for a little while back then. I like that I have a lot more peace and structure in my life now, and with PokerStars acting as a driving force behind me there’s a lot more support, which is greatly appreciated. A lot of new and exciting opportunities have come my way. I’m co-presenting the PokerStars UKIPT TV show on Channel 4 which will be airing every Tuesday night until the end of the year, so that keeps me pretty busy.

What are the best and worst things about being a professional poker player?

Best is the lifestyle, obviously. Not having to be in an office eight-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week under someone else’s instruction. I had a normal job for a year and just couldn’t bear it. Freedom and control of one’s own time is hugely important and that’s one of the benefits of playing poker full time.

The worst is the variance and the downswings. Everyone runs bad from time to time and as such can experience big monetary downswings if you don’t know how to control that. The pressure it can exert on someone’s physical and mental health can be immense and it’s often the downfall of poker players if they then let it affect their playing ability.

Despite your lousy luck this year, it’s been a good Series for Team PokerStars in general. Particularly ElkY…

Team PokerStars are a bunch of amazing poker players, five of whom won bracelets this year. ElkY is a true legend. He’s one of the sweetest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet and a lot of fun to have at your table.

Except for the fact that he’s an absolute beast and will destroy you! It’s rare to find such an all-round accomplished poker player – he constantly wins live and online , was the first ever Supernova Elite and he has just won the Triple Crown, and I can see him continuing to win more. I think he is one of the very best in the world. 

Tags: Liv Boeree, Team PokerStars, WSOP 2011, ElkY