As one of the most respected players in the world of online no-limit hold’em, Ariel Schneller has made over seven figures from the game
Ariel ‘Foxwoods Fiend’ Schneller is a 24-year-old New Yorker, and part of the high-stakes cash game crew known as Team Israel. This group of online pros including Jay ‘Krantz’
Rosenkrantz and Emil ‘Whitelime’ Patel have been some of the biggest winners in the big no-limit hold’em games for some time. But Schneller was one of the lesser known figures, until ironically he decided to quit the game last year in a public posting on the twoplustwo forums (http://foxwoodsfiend.com/?p=104).
His post attracted a huge amount of attention and when he later decided to ride the poker wave for a little longer, he found himself thrust into the online spotlight. Schneller is not a classic online icon, having spent a large amount of his early poker career playing in live games in the huge Foxwoods Casino, a few hours drive outside of New York city in his second year at Yale.
Schneller commuted to Foxwoods every day that summer and began posting on twoplustwo as Foxwoods Fiend, the name most players know him by to this day.
His Foxwoods summer ended with a small win after losing most of his roll on blackjack. It would take several more cycles of boom and bust before he would finally take his place alongside some of the biggest names in the online world. He is now widely respected as one of the best thinking players around. But how long will he last before he’s finally had enough of the game?
When did you start playing poker, and how long was it before you were any good?
I started playing with some friends in high school and we played all sorts of variations of hold’em, but never really much straight-up no-limit. When I got to college I started paying home games. I sucked at first but after a year of playing I started reading twoplustwo and thinking critically about the game and started to get good.
What’s the story behind your screen names of DaEvils (Full Tilt) and Vickisgod (PokerStars)?
DaEvils is a reference to my favourite rap song, Jay-Z’s D’Evils. I chose Vickisgod as my PokerStars handle because Michael Vick took Virginia Tech to the national championship game as a freshman quarterback. I didn’t exactly expect him to end up being a pariah and villain in the national scene! [Vick, an ex-quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is currently serving a prison sentence for criminal conspiracy and his role in running a dogfighting ring.]
Give us a brief rundown of your poker career and rise up the ranks?
I kept going broke from playing under- rolled and trying to get rich quick until halfway through my junior year of college. At that point, I got a stake so I couldn’t blow my roll but could still play $ 2/$ 4 and grinded there until I made myself $ 8k. I took that $ 8k to sit&gos and grinded them throughout the summer after my junior year. Then I had a $40,000 bankroll, moved to $10/$20 and played mainly $ 10/$ 20 until I graduated college. When I went pro I became a bankroll nit so I played $ 5/$ 10 for a while. Then I started beating $ 10/$ 20 and made that my regular game.
How did you end up playing the really high-stakes games?
Two WSOPs ago I lived with Team Israel and we all made a ton of money so I moved up to $ 25/$ 50. Around December 2007, I went on a big downswing playing fish at $ 50/$ 100 heads-up and then got smoked in a $ 25/$ 50 game so moved down to $ 5/$ 10 and grinded it for a while to get my confidence back. After 60,000 hands of $ 5/$ 10 heads-up no-limit, I moved back to $ 10/$ 20 and $ 25/$ 50. Then I beat a player called Yossarian for $ 160,000 at $ 100/$ 200, started playing $ 25/$ 50 and went on a huge heater. I’ve been playing $ 25/$ 50 and higher ever since.
What is your life like now in terms of your day-to-day schedule?
I wake up around 9am and go to Starbucks and read the paper. I relax for a few hours, get lunch with friends and grind some poker in the afternoon. I mainly only play during the day and hang out with friends at night. I don’t play a ton of poker these days, just when I’m killing time during the day.
What is a typical session like?
When I play I load a bunch of heads up tables from $ 25/$ 50 to $ 100/$ 200 on Full Tilt and sit at some empties on PokerStars and wait for action. I also try starting up six-max games and normally play PokerStars $ 25/$ 50 when it’s running.
Can you give us any idea of what you’ve made from poker and what you’ve done with it?
I don’t really spend large amounts of money at a time. I mainly spend to make my life easier. I book flights the day before I’m flying out and only one way so I can stay flexible, I take cabs instead of the subway and I go to nice restaurants.
It’s known that you and a lot of Team Israel and fellow Deuces Cracked instructors are close friends. How did you all meet?
Whitelime and I met three years ago when I gave him a ride down to Atlantic City on my way from New Haven. I met Krantz two years ago when he and Vanessa Selbst were in Atlantic City and I happened to be there. We started hanging out a lot in the city and Emil was friends with flawless_victory so we all shared a house for the WSOP and it went from there.
You were recently involved in a TV show pilot? Can you give some details of the concept?
The show follows flawless_victory, Krantz, Whitelime and me doing what we do in Las Vegas. It’s basically, ‘check these guys out, they live such a ridiculous lifestyle but are still basically down-to-earth normal guys.’ You’ve been playing $ 500/$ 1,000 no-limit recently along with some of the other Team Israel guys.
How’s that going so far?
I played a little Rail Heaven and lost a buy-in or two. But a lot of friends of mine played the game when I was taking 25% or so and lost huge. Then I took 10% or so of other friends and they kept losing also. They’ve been playing very well and getting crushed. I think my horses are down over $ 2.5m when I’ve been taking a piece.
You’ve talked about quitting poker before. Is that still the plan?
I’m still quitting poker eventually. I’m actually applying to law school right now. I think poker’s going to be harder to do for a living. I’m getting less heads-up action and there are fewer games going at $ 25/$ 50 and higher. I don’t want to sit around a computer waiting for action for the rest of my life. I’m ready for some new challenges.
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