Part 1 of our exclusive interview with UK poker legend Sam Trickett: “The money never enters my mind in pots or anything. I’ve played in high-stakes cash games in Macau, which I think has helped me”

Christy Keenan catches up with Sam Trickett in the first part of our look back at an incredible 2012…                                               

When it came to determining PokerPlayer’s British Player of 2012, it was a shortlist of one. Not that the achievements of Chris Moorman and Alex ‘Kanu7’ Millar haven’t been impressive. However, one man stands head and shoulders above, with a remarkable string of results that culminated in a second-place, $10million haul at the World Series of Poker’s inaugural One Drop event.
Sam Trickett is a polite and affable 26-year-old from Nottinghamshire. His quiet domestic life in England appears at odds with the aggressive super high-stakes regular we read about dominating the biggest games in Vegas and Macau. How does he balance this dual existence? How does he stay in the zone when competing in the highest-profile games in history? And what does he really think about Andrew Feldman?

PokerPlayer: The start of 2012 was, by your standards, quite quiet. However, that was all to change as you arrived in Vegas for the WSOP. Can you give us an idea of your World Series schedule?

Sam Trickett: I flew a lot of my friends out who had never been to Vegas before. My girlfriend also came out with her sister, and we did a lot of partying, plenty of relaxing, and I just enjoyed myself. It was almost like a summer holiday for me, rather than just playing poker every day. I would wake up at 12pm, go to the pool, and chill. I stayed relatively fit as well, I joined a gym there, which I’d never really done before, and it helped me stay in shape. I’ll definitely do that again this year.

How did you approach the poker? Did you play a lot of tournaments?

ST: I didn’t plan on playing as many tournaments as in 2011. I just enjoy cash games so much more. They’re more flexible and you get a lot more leeway to play when you want. So at the World Series I only played seven events and those were mainly the bigger buy-in ones. My heart was set on One Drop. That was all that really mattered to my summer.

So how did you prepare for the biggest event of your life?

ST: It was my birthday on the second of July, and One Drop started on the first, so I played the whole tournament over my birthday. I wouldn’t have been fresh for anything else! There was no way I would have stayed in for any other tournament but the One Drop! For the week before the One Drop I didn’t go out once, I went to the gym every day and ate well. It was the first time I’d ever really focused on a tournament to that extent.

And it’s safe to say that it proved a good decision! Was there a specific point that you felt ‘hang on, I could go deep here’?

ST: Yeah. Basically it was when Antonio doubled me up with 18 left. I had average chips, or just slightly above average. I couldn’t really control the table like I’d wanted to. My stack wasn’t big enough. But then I played a hand where a tight guy opened and I had A-K on the button. I didn’t really want to get it in versus that guy because he was so tight, and if I did it was never going to be too good a situation, so I just called. Antonio re-raised from the blinds, which he’d been doing quite a lot. So when it came back to me, I min re-raised him, and Antonio shoved all-in. I called instantly, and he had A-Q and I was lucky enough to hold. I knew I was going to go deep then, because we were approaching the bubble and I was double average. And around the bubble I made a lot of chips. I think I was nearly chip leader, second in chips at the end of the day. A dream position, really.

 And as the players started to bust, your display was one of controlled aggression.

ST: I didn’t plan on playing like that, because I had direct position on Antonio. He was first in chips and I was second. If I could have picked up a few premium hands, or even suited connectors or something, just to put pressure on him, that would shut him up and stop him opening so much. Then I could have controlled the table and dictated things. But I just decided I was going to let him control the table, let people eliminate themselves, pick some spots and get some bluffs through.

With your record in high buy-in events, it does appear to the outside observer that you find another gear when there’s huge money on the line. Is that a fair assessment?

ST: The money never enters my mind in pots or anything. I’ve played in high-stakes cash games in Macau, which I think has helped me. I’m used to playing at the highest levels and the highest stakes where the pots really matter. I feel like that gives me a little bit more of an edge, because maybe some other people do think about it. When I play these High Roller events, I feel like I’m one of the more aggressive players. I just feel like people fold more. I can’t get as many folds in a 1k or a 2k as I can in a big buy-in event because people aren’t as bothered about busting. And with the style I play, it’s aggressive, I like to bluff a lot, so it’s helpful to me if people are playing a bit tighter.

And not even two months after One Drop, you were at it again – final tabling the Super High Roller in Macau for another cool million. Talk us through that final table. 

ST: I got to the final table about fifth, but one guy had all the chips. He had probably half the chips in play so the average stack of the other people on the table was around 13 big blinds. So it was a bit of a crapshoot! People were moving all-in and I’d be in the big blind with 2-3 offsuit and I had to call, because I was priced in, and I’m thinking ‘I’m glad my parents aren’t watching back home’. Try and convince them it’s a skill game when you’re calling off blind with 2-3 offsuit! But it was fun, it was definitely a good tournament and I got lucky to get to the final table. I won a few big flips and what have you, but on the final I lost two coinflips back-to-back. It was a little bit disappointing because I felt like if I’d won one of those I could get in the top three and it was obviously big money. But I ran so good to get there. I appreciate how lucky you have to be in a Super-Turbo so it’s not as if I was too disappointed.

And speaking of Macau, what’s the toughest line-up you’ve faced out there?

ST: The guys don’t like to be named. I will say the game is nowhere near as soft as people think. When I do read online it’s like, ‘Macau business guys’ and your average poker player thinks ‘wow what a dream position’. But these guys play poker every day of their lives and they’re smart guys as well, so the game’s actually tough at times. I’d bet that the businessmen in the game would beat most games in the world.

But in general terms, things have been going well for you out there?

ST: The guys in the game don’t really like to talk about how they’re doing. They’ve been going well for me, I could say that. I don’t really want to go into too much detail like I say, because the game’s private, but it’s been going well and I always enjoy going out to Macau.

If you like reading about Sam then you need to try PokerPlayer magazine HERE as its full of even more great content

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