The UK’s most controversial online phenomenon Luke ‘_FullFlush1_’ Schwartz talks to Ben Wilson about his meteoric rise to the top
Luke has been playing since 2005 but flew under the radar as a cash grinder for the first few years of his poker career. Then, 18 months ago, he
changed his game, shifted up a gear and turned up on Full Tilt, where he proceeded to crush, bluff, trash-talk and power his way through the
opposition. At the time of writing he’s the third biggest NLHE winner on Full Tilt for 2009 – up over $1m – and has beaten players like Tom
Dwan, David Benefield and Phil Galfond heads-up.
How and when did you get into poker?
About four years ago, but I’ve just started smashing it recently. I was just your average grinder, but over the last 18 months I’ve really become a superstar or super-pro or whatever.
How did you make the jump from grinder to super-pro?
A couple of people showed me that I was playing way too passively before. I think that by reading forums all you learn is how to take money off fish. It’s so ABC – just fold everything until you flop a set. Then the game developed with lots of reraising and I realised that I had to change my style if I wanted to survive in the poker world. So I changed from being a super-nit to a super-aggressive player and I think that was it really. I already knew how to read boards and stuff like that so it was just my mental state and frame of mind that changed. I had the technical ability but didn’t have the heart. Before I used to care about the money way too much but now I just care about the game.
Was it a change in your game that just happened overnight?
It did actually – one time I was chilling with my friend ‘Mafews’ (online high stakes poker player Rory Mathews) and he said… ‘Listen, you’re never going to get paid if you only three-bet people when you have Aces – you need to three-bet people more.’ And I realised that made sense. He told me, ‘Preflop, don’t call, just reraise.’ So I just started off doing that.
So what stakes are you playing regularly now? You’ve had a lot of success at the $100/$200 and $200/$400 games on Full Tilt – are you still playing there?
When I went on my big rush on Full Tilt I cashed out pretty much all the money… [but] Full Tilt doesn’t let me deposit any more than $2k a month, or some bullshit deposit limit, so I’m literally just borrowing off people through transfers. I can’t really get anything going on Full Tilt at the moment so I’ve just been playing at iPoker really and a bit on Betfair. But when I get a roll back up on Full Tilt again I’ll definitely do the ‘durrrr Challenge’. I probably need at least a million dollars in there.
And it’s no secret you have a little bit of rivalry going on with Tom Dwan and the Dang brothers (trex313 and Urindanger) on Full Tilt.
Yeah I played Urindanger quite a bit. He’s so bad basically… [but] he actually runs so good versus me. I think he might even be up a couple of hundred grand on me but he’s bullshit though; he’s literally so bad that he’s worse than a Euro-tard. Dwan’s a bit better than him but at the same time I’ve absolutely soul-crushed that Dwan guy. He just doesn’t ever have a winning session against me, he CAN’T have a winning session against me. I’m just better than him, but then I’m better than anyone heads-up so it’s not a surprise. I’m just going to build my roll a bit more and I’m looking to take his challenge on soon.
Do you think that you have an edge against Tom Dwan over 50,000 hands playing four tables at once?
Yeah, I think I’ve most definitely got an edge. Heads-up I feel like whoever I’m playing I’m always thinking I’m +EV. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 5,000 hands or 50,000 hands I’m always thinking that I’m going to win at heads-up no-limit. He could easily say, ‘Oh, after 50,000 I’m going to figure him out,’ but I’ve already got him figured out after the amount of hands we’ve played – I know how his brain thinks, it’s easy. It’ll be easy. It will definitely happen.
Do you feel anything goes at the tables?
Yeah, pretty much.
Is that how you ended up getting your chat-ban on Full Tilt?
I don’t know, they chat-banned me a few times – I think it’s because I exposed their big players for being the fish that they are and being run-goods. I probably gave all their little goldenballs a bad rep… I don’t know what it was, but they obviously don’t like me… I’m gonna be honest, give it a year or so [and] they’re not gonna like me so much because there will be no high stakes running because I’m gonna have sent everyone broke. I’m gonna get all that money that’s at the high stakes, I’m gonna get all the money that’s on Full Tilt.
What’s the difference between a good poker player and a great poker player, and what do you think makes a great poker player?
Well, I categorise players really. There’s obviously braindead fish, then there is your average nit, then there’s your good aggressive nit. Nitty doesn’t really stack off too much and he doesn’t let you faze him too much. Actually it goes: fish, then a solid nit, then you get good players who [are] technically very good but maybe don’t have the feel or the gamble. After that, you would have a player like me – someone who’s got great feel, is technically very good and has a willingness to gamble. That’s why I think that durrrr has done quite well, because he’s got all three of [those attributes], and he’s got stamina as well, which is something that I think is very important.
Do you think that you are still going to be as successful at the game in 12 months’ time?
My game is way too deep for anyone to figure out. The minute that I start thinking that they are figuring me out I’ve got so many different gears and so many different plays in my no-limit heads-up book that they are going to have to play like a million hands against me. They’re never going to be as good as me at no-limit heads-up – I’m always one step ahead so they can try and figure me out as much as they want but it’s not going to happen.
Do you think that it’s fair to say you are one of the world’s top players if you only specialise in no-limit Hold’em?
I think that it’s definitely fair to say that I’m one of the top no-limit heads-up players and it’s definitely fair to say that I am one of the best online no-limit cash players. Yeah, of course I think that I’m the best no-limit heads-up cash player. But no one really plays much no-limit [Hold’em] heads-up poker any more and there’s no ring no-limit any more [either]. It’s all moved over to pot-limit Omaha so I can’t really call myself one of the best in the world because the game has changed. Everyone is now playing pot-limit Omaha and you have to get money off that.
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