HSDB recently caught up with Dutch PLO specialist Joeri "L0ve2playU" van der Sman - one of last years biggest winners at the PokerStars high stakes tables with over $1 million in winnings. With nearly $500k already in the bank from 2012's games Joeri is looking at another big year. Joeri was also a highstakes winner on Full Tilt Poker where he played as bemyguestbud
We talked to him about his poker goals and aspirations, the bizarre tax implications for Dutch players, who he considers the toughest opponents around and his plans beyond poker.
Hi Joeri - you're known for being one of the most consistent online winners around, how do you avoid the big swings which a lot of top players seem to suffer?
- Well, on Pokerstars I've been running incredibly hot on 25-50 PLO, the limit where I have played the highest volume. So a large part of the answer is just plain positive variance. But there are some other factors that influence the steadiness. For example, I do table select these games and my volume of hands is also larger than most.
One thing that seems very impressive is that you can go from playing $200/$400 to $2/$4 without losing focus - when you are a seven figure winner and one of the biggest winners at $25/$50 and above isn't it a little hard to concentrate on games where a full buy in is equivalent to one big blind of some of your games?
- Yeah, sometimes it is, though I'm not sure how true your not-losing focus statement is ;). But I only play low games when the game is really good, so I guess sometimes I can do fine there without a lot of focus. Also I find myself very bored and browsing the internet when I have less than 9 tables, so it's often better to just add some low tables. I also wanted to make SNE last year and it's a goal of mine this year again, so I have to keep up the volume. Finally I like to keep my online roll really short for a lot of reasons, so I expect to be broke-ish (just online off course) a couple of times a year, so sometimes playing low is just unavoidable.
The taxation of online poker players in the Netherlands seems incredibly strange and unjust (despite being technically "illegal" in The Netherlands, players are subject to a 29% tax payable on monthly winnings, regardless of whether over the year they are winners or losers - ie: If a player wins $1 million in January but loses $2 million in February he/she would still owe the government $290,000!), have you considered moving to a country who's tax laws are a little more favourable?
- Yeah I did, but together with my wife, we decided that we value our happiness at home over paying less tax.
- However the tax laws in the Netherlands are very relevant for me and also influence my poker play all the time. I have to avoid big losing months, so I have to game-select strictly. I also can't play high variance games when I'm not up a lot for the month. It's also a major reason why I keep a short roll online and why I want to be SNE. There are some court cases going on right now challenging the above interpretation of the law and the government also has the gambling regulations under review. So maybe things will change in the coming years.
You've talked in the past about the importance of table selection and looking for good spots in games before joining but we have seen you playing against the likes of super aggro players such as durrrr and Isildur1 - were these calculated risks or were you ignoring your own advice for the sake of action on these occasions?
- Once I'm up for the month a lot, the above tax implications are irrelevant, and I can take shots at the nosebleed games. This can be risky though as I also can tilt and sometimes and I'll play these players at higher stakes when I'm chasing money and I know there will be big money at stake
Which players (if any) do you try to avoid at the PLO tables?
- I don't really avoid anybody at the tables, as long as there is another weaker spot at the table. But there are a lot of players I respect a lot and hate to play against, but they all have their own set of skills and "annoying" habits. Examples of players i respect a lot at the tables are Skjervoy, Jeans, bernard-bb and Lautie. Other players have specific skills like mTw-DaviN or Isildur1 who put you under immense pressure and are extremely aggressive; typical players that are very hard to play if you sit deep and out of position. I'm also one of the looser regs around, so the good short stacks also give me a lot of headaches, for example IAmSoSo or AAtaraxia.
We've just been speaking with the young Brazilian player verve.oasis and, like him, somewhat unusually for a young guy you played most of your early poker live rather than online - have you any regrets about not grinding away in the "golden age" of online poker when players like the Dang brothers have said it was like "printing money" as everyone was so bad?
- I think this question is untrue. I never really was a real live specialist. When I was studying I went to the local casino like once a week, and maybe made 100 Euros/night, which was awesome for me then. This money ultimately was the beginning of my online roll. I did however play a lot of poker at school with my friends for quarters. In that period, well before the Moneymaker era, I deposited and lost $50 a couple of times. I do regret not looking into strategy at that time, because then I might have experienced more of the golden age.
You previously worked as an analyst and trader in the foreign exchange markets - do you think your poker skills making judgements based on incomplete information helped you during your time in employment?
- We mostly employed a longer term FX strategy, so I was doing more research than actual continuous trading. It might have been the other way around; my experience with analyzing a near random walk, helped me become a better poker player. I guess it made me understand variance better.
Obviously we know you as a big player at Stars (averaging a million hands last year) and as bemyguestbud on Full Tilt - do you play on other sites and if so what sort of volume do you put in there?
- No. During 2011 I played 95% of my hands on FTP and in 2012 an even higher percentage on Stars. Timely switch ;-)
We noticed you over in the Bahamas last month at the PCA - you haven't really gone crazy for live tournies in the past, can we expect to hear your name mentioned more on the international tournament circuit this year or did you just fancy some winter sun?
- I think live tournaments are really fun, because you get to meet people you normally play against online and stay in tune with the poker community. I also experience a lot more excitement and adrenaline when I play a hand in a tournament, compared to playing a way larger ($ wise) hand online. On the other hand, live play is really slow and takes a long time. Money wise I would probably be better off playing online, especially considering the 29% tax Dutch people have to pay on live winning too. So I just select a few nice fun tournaments each year, I have played the WSOP main event twice and this year the PCA.
- Also in November we have the Master Classics Of Poker (MCOP) in Amsterdam, which is a lot of fun too. The main event is like a 5k tournament with about 300 entries, and last year we also had a 10k high roller and smaller side events. It's a really fun week with a nice atmosphere in an awesome city. So maybe it's a good pointer for players looking for a nice week and not too massive tournaments.
You play CAP games quite a lot as well as regular PLO and NLHE, what are the main adjustments you need to make when playing CAP games?
- The main difference is that CAP NLH is almost a solved game, with all the regulars playing very similar hands and strategy. In general people play really tight aggressive. I just play these games when there is a spot on the table, because I'm not as specialized in the game as the other grinders there. On FTP the CAP NLH games used to be 30bb cap (40bb for Omaha), compared to 20bb cap on stars. A 30bb CAP structure is so much more fun, because you can now actually 3 bet bluff and play post flop a bit.
You've already made a solid start to the year with 1/4 million winnings in the high stakes games at PokerStars and presumably more at the lower stakes - do you have a goal to beat last years winnings? (Joeri won over a million dollars at the high stakes tables at PokerStars last year)
- Last year I made about $1.5 million in total, but did run very hot at the higher limits, so I'm not sure whether this is a realistic goal for 2012 but it all interacts with my level of risk taking next year. My goal has been for a while to win $50k/month including rakeback, so $600k in 2012, and anything extra is a nice bonus.
If you could no longer play online poker do you think you would go back to your previous day job or has your time being a poker pro changed the way you think about "work"?
- I think it would be really hard to re-adjust to a normal work environment, to have a boss and to start at the bottom of the pack again. On the other hand I think it is unlikely I will be playing poker (online) for another decade, although my plans aren't specific yet, I think it is way more likely that I will start my own business or start trading on my own. Another possibility is that I try to select a job that I really like, instead of selecting it on the prospects of a career or high status/salary. Something like working with troubled children or find a job at WWF.