Swedish cash-game sensation and Team Ladbrokes member Jonas ‘Nebuchad’ Danielsson tells us about his turbulent rise to the top
The five years since Jonas ‘Nebuchad’ Danielsson turned 20 have been tumultuous ones. He has won millions of dollars in online cash games, come close to a mental breakdown and emerged as one of the headline stars of the Scandinavian poker scene. The Ladbrokes-sponsored pro is widely considered to be one of finest cash-game players in Europe, if not the finest. But he has had to work hard to achieve this level of success.
He first started playing hold’em with friends in home games, before he and his pals discovered the world of online poker. They tried out Ladbrokes Poker, which was running a 100,000th hand promotion at the time and had a bunch of freerolls. Danielsson ran good in one of the freerolls and came second, winning $600. This became his initial bankroll on the site, and he hasn’t deposited another penny since. Now he can be found playing the highest levels available.
What do you think was the turning point in your game?
I always used to rail the high-stakes cash games, but I met a guy in Vegas called ‘Dared’ [Per Werner-Svensson] who’s well known in Swedish online circles. We played $5/$10 together and he really opened up my eyes to how poker can be played. I saw that basically you can play any hand if you just have enough imagination and creativity. I had an epiphany and took a lot of inspiration from that guy.
You crushed the $5/$10 games pretty quickly but didn’t find the transition to $10/$20 as smooth. What are the main differences between the levels?
The players are better at $10/$20, they’re more aggressive and their value bets are a lot better. Those are the main differences between lower and higher limits. I was used to much weaker players, who’d often check to me and not value-bet on the river because they wanted me to bluff, which I didn’t. The $5/$10 players made a lot of mistakes against me, but at $10/$20 they make fewer mistakes.
Did you go back to $5/$10 until you felt ready to step up?
Yeah, I played $5/$10 for about 18 months, steadily winning. I won huge for one period and completely crushed $5/$10 in the last six months, then I crushed the $10/$20 level.
Did something click or did you just have a lot more experience from grinding it out on the $5/$10 tables?
I don’t know if it’s experience or if it’s that you’re constantly developing your game. I’d evolved as a better player after that period of time, and it became natural to play $10/$20.
Has the online game changed much since you started playing?
Very much so. I remember when I started out the players were really weak and there weren’t that many professional players out there, but now I think just about everyone playing $5/$10 is a pro. You can never find a soft game now, but usually I can get some kind of action on Ladbrokes.
When you started playing your comfort zone was in the six-max games – what appeals to you about playing short-handed?
You can play a lot more hands short- handed and the psychological element becomes higher the shorter the game becomes. If you play a ten-handed game you have to have a good starting-hand technique which means you can’t raise from first position with A-10; you have to throw that hand away. That doesn’t apply in a six-handed game – you can play so many more hands and you’re put to more decisions. Poker is a game of decisions, and the more decisions you get to make in a period of time the more skill is involved, which is why I like the six-max game.
What was behind your infamous forum post where you said, ‘Have you ever felt so depressed that you want to commit suicide?’
Sometimes I just feel like writing stuff and often I’m very open-hearted as well. A lot more people have seen the title of that post than have actually read it. I never considered killing myself, but I felt so bad at the time that in four days I only ate half a garlic baguette and never left the living room. I went between the computer and the sofa. I was really messed up and wanted to get my money back so I was chasing. I didn’t sleep well – I was exhausted and didn’t play well either.
Eventually you got a call from customer care advising you to stop playing. Was that a reality check?
When he said it to me I didn’t listen – I continued playing. Sure it was a reality check, but back then poker was really destructive and addictive for me. At that time, I’d only been playing high stakes for a month. My buddy who I play poker with was in Dublin and I didn’t really know any other players back then, so no one knew what was going on apart from the Ladbrokes customer care team. That was my rock bottom.
Has that experience enabled you to look out for the warning signs? Has it helped you know when to quit when you’re having a bad session?
I still never quit actually – it’s always the other guy who quits when I play. I usually win all my money back except for that one time. The result doesn’t affect me so much any more emotionally. If I play badly, then I get emotional. But if I don’t play badly then there’s nothing I can do about it. I win in the long run and those kind of sessions I just shake off.
What big purchases have you made with your winnings?
I’ve bought an apartment and a Ferrari with my winnings. Mostly I withdraw it, mainly because I have no need to have a big bankroll. I could have an almost nonexistent bankroll if I could deposit really quickly. I see it more that my entire funds are my real bankroll.
Can you remember your biggest pot ever?
That was against Patrik Antonius. We were playing $200/$400, I raised from the button with 9?-10? and he re-raised on the big blind. I called and the flop came 6-7-8 with two diamonds, so I flopped the nuts. He bet $8k into me, I re-raised to $28k and he instantly went all-in for $165k, so it was a $331k pot. He had 8?-9? so he didn’t even have a flush draw. He had three outs to a split, so that was a really bad play. I think it’s one of the biggest online pots ever.
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