Exclusive with Tom Dwan about the year he became the man!

High Stakes Poker, million-dollar challenges and a Team Full Tilt deal: 2009 was the year Tom Dwan became a star

Did you go into High Stakes Poker looking to make a name for yourself?

In any poker game you’d like to go in at the start of the game having some idea about how your opponents play and how they think, but not often
are you going to go in with a game plan. I just think through every hand and do what I think will make me the most money long-term. A lot of the time, like on the last season of High Stakes Poker, it ends up with me making aggressive plays that may seem crazy to some, but I just think I’m a lot more creative than a lot of poker players.

What were the main reasons for you issuing the online million-dollar challenge early in 2009?

I don’t like giving out free money so I think I’m likely to do okay in that bet and that’s why I offered it. I don’t have much of a sample
size with Patrik Antonius so far – we’ve only played 27,000 hands. I’ve got a little lucky so far and done all right – hopefully that will keep going until the end. Patrik and I have only played around 3,000 hands per month which is a ridiculously slow pace.

Obviously I have a lot of respect for Patrik’s game – he’s one of the best in the world at any poker game and especially PLO. That doesn’t mean I’m going to shy away from playing him, but if someone is sitting [in a game] at stakes two-and-a-half times higher [than their norm] and they’re more likely to lose money, then I’d rather play there and Patrik is the same. We’ve been ready to play but there have been so many amazing $500/$1,000 games going.

Ideally we will never finish this challenge and the games will stay amazing forever, but I think it’s very likely that won’t be the case. I think it’s still pretty likely we will finish the challenge by the end of the year or not long after.

Are you still motivated by the challenge or has it lost a lot of its appeal now?

I think it has definitely lost a bit of appeal but I think it will gain some back, likely if I play Phil Ivey or somebody else next.

So there are definitely plans to take on another challenger next?

Yes, but ideally I’ll start another one with someone else and there’ll be tons of high stakes action and it will take a while, but I think this year has been an anomaly with the amount of high stakes action.

Having made your name in the cash games on Full Tilt, was becoming a part of
Team Full Tilt something you’ve been aiming towards for a few years? 

I’m happy to join such an awesome group of guys in Team Full Tilt and what is, in many respects, the best online poker site. There are really only
two sites with any credibility in my mind and that’s Full Tilt and PokerStars. Both are very good and respected. Full Tilt just happens to have more of the high stakes games and players and I think it’s a very good fit for me.

Do you think the deal will change your game in any way?

Well, I’ve noticed that my screen name is now in red so I’m hoping that means I automatically win money.

Does this mean you’ll play more tournaments next year now?

I may look for a little bracelet bet at the WSOP next year, that’s definitely possible.

What are your thoughts on new nosebleed player Isildur1?

He’s an aggressive player and we’ve had some interesting games. He’s played pretty well, he’s aggressive and he’s had good results. I plan on playing him a lot more so we’ll see how it goes.

How did the live million-dollar challenge come about?

I first met [managing director of Matchroom Sport] Eddie Hearn a year ago when we were doing the Premier League of Poker. We went back and forth with a bunch of ideas and came up with the live challenge – I played Marcello ‘luckexpress’ Marigliano, Ilari ‘Ziigmund’ Sahamies and Sammy ‘Any Two’ George.

We heard you won about $750,000 off Sammy George…

I ran very good against Sammy. He has a reputation for being a fish in poker but – I hope he doesn’t mind me outing him here – he’s actually a
pretty good poker player. He’s a smart guy and he’s likely to do very well in poker in the coming years.

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