Pro poker player Luke Patten took time out to answer our questions: “Casinos attract people who just lurk around – not colluding – but I just feel like they’re much more intimidating places to play”

With less than 18 months of experience, it would seem Luke Patten has no right to be riding high in the rankings

So did you really only start playing poker in August of last year?

I used to play seven-card home games while I was at school. I was always the kid on the back of the bus who played three-card brag. But in terms of tournament hold’em, I never played until just over a year ago.

You’ve shown great consistency on the tournament circuit – you always seem to make the final table. Do you just enter a hell of a lot of events?

I’ve only entered about 20 tournaments this year. I’ve got this thing where I either go home in five minutes or I tend to do really quite well. Because I work, I don’t play very much at all.

What’s your secret in getting to so many final tables?

I’ve got quite an aggressive game and I can vary my style: aggressive verging on reckless or I can play quite tight. You need your cards to stand up as well. I try to make myself as hard to read as possible and put the onus on other players. If they want to race, I’ll race.

How do you choose which tournaments to play in?

I won’t play in anything unless it’s the main event. It’s just as hard to sit there for a £250 rebuy or a £200 freezeout [where] the prize money is a lot less but the tournament takes the same amount of time. The other thing is my wife won’t let me play in too many anyway!

You keep things relatively local.

Well, I really wanted to go to the World Series this year, but we had our first baby in June so I just couldn’t go. I’m really keen to play in America though.

Are you into cash games?

I don’t play cash games in casinos. I play a high-stakes seven-card cash game in a room under a cinema in Colchester nicknamed The Dungeon. There could be £20k or £30k on the table at any time. It’s the most horrible room ever. It’s full of scrap metal and car dealers.

Why not go to the casinos?

Casinos attract people who just lurk around – not colluding – but I just feel like they’re much more intimidating places to play. Also, the game has become so refined now that people are just waiting for you. They just want to make a little bit every single day.

Which do you think is a harder game to be good at – seven-card stud or no limit hold’em?

Seven-card stud has a lot more skill. There are so many more betting heats. It’s much more subtle. With hold’em, it’s a lot more about people’s personalities. There’s something odd about a game where you can put all your chips in when you’ve only seen two cards from seven. The luck element is so much greater.

It’s difficult to get information on you. Do you actively avoid the media?

Yes and no. I definitely get on well with the ones who don’t take themselves too seriously. I get on better with them now I’ve won a few things. But there are ones that I can’t relate to because they take themselves so seriously and when you look at their record, you think, ‘They ought to get another job.’

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