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August Vol 99 £2.95

2013 world series of poker

I’m trying to rebuild myself and my reputation and get back to the top

Erick Lindgren is on a redemptive journey back to the top of the game


The long and winding road Less than a year ago Erick Lindgren was bankrupt and in rehab with a costly sports betting addiction. Now, after a runner-up finish in the WPT and second WSOP bracelet, Lindgren tells Alexander Villegas about his comeback Erick Lindgren shouldn’t be happy, but he is. Just last November, Lindgren went into rehab to treat a gambling addiction that tarnished his reputation and put him in debt to the tune of approximately $10 million. Despite that, Lindgren walks through the WSOP with his head - and baseball cap - held high. He doesn’t ignore or refute his wrongdoings. He knows what he’s done and that he can do better. While the US pro is constantly smiling, reminders of the money he recklessly


What have you been up to for the past few years? [Erica Schoenberg and I] were making a baby. Then we were having a baby. Now he’s 21 months old, so we’ve been raising the baby. Other than that, I’ve just lost a lot of money gambling and then started rebuilding. That changed the way I thought about things and did things. I just tried to figure out how to do it the right way for my family. That included playing poker, spending a lot of time with family and just being happier. It’s been four years since your last WSOP victory and now you’ve won an event that’s dominated by online grinders. Where did your comeback come from? Poker is always about adaptation. I figure out who I’m playing against and their styles and then make my style contrast with what they do. You mentioned, after winning the WSOP bracelet, that you played very differently

gambled away on sports are constantly there. He’s not a vindicated man, not yet.

The golden boy rises After the fall of Full Tilt, and the regular income that came to Lindgren from that, he was outed by several notable players for the staggering debts he had run up. The stories stunned the poker world, for whom Lindgren had been the poster boy for the glamorous, high-rolling and free-spending lifestyle. It didn’t look as though he had many options left.

Poker is always about adaptation. I contrast my style with who I’m playing against to the internet kids by calling a lot. How did this strategy work out in the $5k six-handed event? I called a little more. I play smaller because it just feels like we only have so many tournament chips and that by making pots really big, they’re just trying to make it easier on themselves. They play big pots and if they win it great, while if they lose it they are on to the

It might have been easier for Lindgren to retire from the poker world, but instead he chose to tackle the problem head on. Driven by dedication and fuelled by the support of his friends and family, Lindgren is starting to climb back. Since his stint in rehab, he has cashed for more than $1.2m in live tournaments, capping off his comeback by winning the $5k six-handed NLHE event at this summer’s WSOP. It was Lindgren’s second bracelet and showed he still has game. While still heavily in debt Lindgren’s recent scores, bankroll management and dedication to poker have rekindled hope in his colleagues, backers, family and – most importantly – himself.

next tournament. Honestly, as someone who’s had a small bankroll for a while I know how to manage it a bit better than they do. My strategy is always definitely to play small pots. I stayed in control and won a lot of them while making it more of a postflop game. A lot of younger players claim to have figured out the game in a way older players haven’t. Do you think that’s true or is this arrogance that makes them exploitable? They definitely have figured out a lot of the game, but then again – I think you’re seeing it a lot this series – some of the older guys are catching up as well. They [online pros] came along and played a lot of NLHE while we played a lot of mixed games. We played all the poker games and they studied one form and got real good at it. But if you don’t continue to improve then…I’m working on my game really hard [at the moment] so hopefully I’ll pass them. August 2013 POKERPLAYER 29

STRATEGY Tournaments

Cash games to MTTs Looking to make the transition from cash games to tournaments and find the fame and fortune of the tourney circuit? Simon Hemsworth is a master at both – here's his guide to adapting to the tourney world


With online poker becoming an increasingly challenging place to make money it’s important to try your hand at different formats in order to find all the best value. Many players who have dedicated their poker careers to cash games might decide to dabble in tournaments in search of more fish, or that chance of a big score. I have found myself playing more tournaments, both online and live, over the last couple of years. Let’s start by looking at some of the reasons why you may want to switch to playing more tournaments.

Why play more tournaments?

To be seen as a great player to the public, you need to be winning tournaments

Choosing whether to focus on cash games or tournaments is often down to individual preference. Some poker players like the consistency and freedom of cash games while others like the chance of instant life-changing money that tournaments can provide. However, there are a number of advantages tournaments can provide over cash games, that cash game regulars might not immediately realise:

More recreational players in tournaments Casual players are more drawn to tournaments because they feel like more of a competition and have the carrot of a big first prize. More recreational players equals more value.

The chance of a big score A big result in a tournament could change your whole poker career for the better. A significant bankroll boost could instantly offer you more opportunities to play in games you couldn’t afford before.

More community recognition Tournament players naturally get more recognition for their achievements because their wins are more visible to the poker media. To be seen as a great poker player to the general public, you need to be winning tournaments.

Playing tournaments leads to longer sessions A lot of online cash gamers struggle with motivation to play long sessions. Playing tournaments ensures you will be sitting at your computer until you finish every last one you registered for.

Skill differences So, having decided to give tourneys a crack it’s important to identify some of the key differences between them and cash games. Tournaments are regarded as much more of a preflop-focused game. This is because once the first few levels of a typical tournament have passed, the average stack will be short and you will often find yourself working with somewhere between 20 and 50 big blinds. With such a stack size there isn’t much room to play many flops, let alone turns or rivers. Because of this tournament players concentrate on perfecting their preflop game. People from a cash game background will generally have a superior postflop game compared to tournament players. This is because cash games are usually played with much deeper stacks and involve much more postflop play with complex decisions being made on flops, turns and rivers. An ability to play well postflop is arguably a much more difficult skill than attaining a good preflop game. Many preflop short stack decisions are mathematical compared to many postflop situations that require analysis of all sorts of variables. Because of this, cash game players have an advantage in tournaments in terms of postflop situations. Indeed, I have been left flummoxed by the decisions highly regarded tournament players have made in postflop hands where all logic seems to have gone out of the window.

Attitude change Many cash game players move into tournaments with a bit of an ego about their own abilities and an idea that tournaments almost require too much luck to bother with. Although over a short-term sample the luck required in tournaments is August 2013 POKERPLAYER 49

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