Exclusive Max Silver interview: “It’s been an incredible few months”

At the beginning of the month PokerPlayer reported on the UKIPT Dublin final table, where Max Silver came up agonisingly short in his quest to become a double UKIPT champion, finishing second to Kevin Killeen. Incredibly he has now final tabled the same event three times in four years!

That result was just the latest in a long run of brilliant scores for the UK pro. A final table at EPT Prague (€160,200) was quickly followed by a deep run at the PCA in the Bahamas (9th, $135,400), and it seems only a matter of time before a major title comes his way.

We caught up with Max to talk about his great run, how he approaches final tables and to ask just what it is about UKIPT Dublin that gives him the golden touch…

PokerPlayer: Congratulations on your recent result at UKIPT Dublin Max. It seems to be going very well for you over the last few months…
Max Silver: Thanks! It’s been an incredible few months. Poker has been very kind to me and I’ve been lucky enough to make a final table on every live poker trip I’ve made since last August. Online has also been going pretty smoothly.

Obviously all those final tables are great but are you slightly disappointed with so many near wins?
At the time it obviously stings a little bit, but after a day or so I’m delighted with any final table result. I really believe I’ve been playing my best ever poker over the last few months and it’s pretty hard to think of any train wreck hands I played at any of the final tables. When I end up finishing 6th or 9th it’s mostly down to it just not being my day.

People really overestimate any potential edge they might have on their opponents. A final table is mostly just like a single table Sit & Go. You wouldn’t expect to win a Sit & Go every time you play it, so I see no reason to expect anything different with final tables. 

Those final tables included 2nd at UKIPT Dublin… What is it about that tournament? Is Dublin just a lucky place for you?
Dublin is definitely a lucky place! Honestly though I’m not really sure, I do feel like I have a pretty good handle on the kind of opponent I’d be likely to face and I guess after a couple big results maybe I have a bit of fear factor going into the tournament, which always helps. Obviously making three final tables in four attempts is just a lot of positive variance.

UKIPT has been struggling recently to meet its guarantees. Were you happy with the increased runners in Dublin and do you think it was down to the change in buy-in (€770 from €1,100)?
While I’d prefer a higher buy-in, I do think the lower buy-in is a positive change and definitely helped the numbers. £/€1,100 really is a ton of money to the casual player and I think it’s a lot easier justifying £770 to non-poker players like their partner or mates. I also think the location of the venue and general timing this year was a lot better which also helped the numbers. 

You’re an experienced player on the UKIPT circuit. Are there any other changes/improvements that you’d like to see?
I think the leaderboard system (which I’m currently leading!) needs an overhaul. Currently the points system for side events is weighted purely towards the number of runners. For example, a win in a £2,000 high-roller would count for less points than a seventh place in a £100 turbo side event. I think a system that weights the buy-in into the formula would be fairer.

I’d also like to see the rake lowered on the high-roller events. Over the past couple of seasons it’s crept up from £2,000+150 to £2,000+200. A small change but something that has a large impact in these smaller field events. 

You mentioned you’re top of the UKIPT leaderboard, but do you think you’re the best player in the UK right now?
Definitely not. While I do think I’m in with a solid shout of being somewhere in the top 10, the UK has some amazing talent, a lot of which wouldn’t even bother playing the UKIPT events due to the relatively low buy-in size. 

Which players would you put ahead of yourself?
Stephen Chidwick, David Vamplew, Toby Lewis, Jake Cody, Tom Middleton and I could go on forever. The UK has so many talented players right now.

What was it like making the transition from UK events to bigger tournaments like EPTs? How did you find it and what are the major differences?
I’ve been playing EPTs for a while before just without any considerable success. Really it’s just a matter of toughness. In UK events you’ll have very few of the absolute sickest players in the world. In an EPT you have most of them. There’s also a much lower concentration of weaker players and they tend to put you in tougher spots overall.

Towards the end game of an EPT main event the cream really rises to the top and you’re playing against tables of the very best. 

You have been getting good success in those events recently, the PCA main event being one of them. That must have been a huge buzz. What was it like to go so deep in such a big event?
PokerStars may not consider ninth place a final table I definitely consider it one! The PCA was a really fun event. It’s an awesome location and it was one of the first poker trips in a long time where I had my fiancée with me for the duration. It was really nice after the end of play every day to have someone to go back to and chill out with.

The poker went really well up until the last day when I was really card dead and all the close spots went against me. The hype around it was awesome and I mostly was able to enjoy the extra attention from the TV cameras and playing on TV tables.

Are you confident about getting a major title under your belt soon?
As confident as one can be. I keep putting myself in great spots to win one and hopefully I just have one of those dream final tables and end up with the win.

What are you doing differently to everyone else to put you in those spots?
Running pretty good. I do feel like I’m playing really well right now too. I’m also incredibly proud of my live game, I feel I’ve become both really good at reading people and not being readable myself. Obviously that’s additional variance that most of my reads have tended to be correct.

Finally, we know you enjoy your food (and that’s not a dig at your weight). Do you have any restaurant tips for our magazine editor Ross Jarvis?
I actually haven’t been eating out a ton lately but the UKIPT Dublin venue happened to be across the road from the Steve O’Dwyer proclaimed ‘Best Burrito in Europe’ – Little Ass Burrito Bar.

Photo courtesy of the PokerStars Blog.

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