Exclusive interview with UK tournament crusher Simon Deadman

If you follow live tournament updates, you will be used to seeing Simon Deadman’s name near the top of the chip-counts lately. The live tournament specialist from Nottingham has started 2014 on an absolute tear.

He might not have won a tournament yet this year, but with three second places for more than £150,000 to his name, Deadman is the man to watch out for at this week’s UKIPT Dublin.

After those fantastic results at FPS Deauville (2nd in the High Roller for €87,280) and GPS’s Nottingham (2nd for £70,000) and Birmingham Star City (2nd for £27,755), PokerPlayer decided to catch up with the in-form man to hear just how he’s doing it, along with his thoughts on staking and the future of Dusk Till Dawn

PokerPlayer: Hi Simon, congratulations on your recent results! You must be really happy with the start you’ve made to 2014?
Simon Deadman: I’m over the moon, I seem to run really well in January!

It can’t be down to just running well though?
No I mean I have run well in the last month but I’ve been consistently putting myself in good positions to have a shot at winning for some time now so I feel I’ve earnt it too. I work really hard on my game and I’m always trying to learn more and more.

Were you left a bit frustrated to not grab the trophies at GPS Nottingham, FPS Deauville and GPS Star City?
Yes every time I came away with a sad face, which obviously is crazy. I’d just won a lot of money but as a poker player and a naturally very competitive person I was gutted not to get the win in either. Having said that all the players I lost to played very well and deserved the win so I don’t have any complaints. Just going to start practising my head-up game now!

In the case of GPS Nottingham you actually dealt for more than 1st place anyway. Would you rather walk away with more money or win the comp outright for a bit less?
More money of course. The prestige of winning a tournament is great but at the end of the day making money for me and my fiancé is the priority and to be honest if I had turned down that deal I think she would have made me sleep on the street for a week!

Are you concentrating on purely tournaments at the moment?
Yes I’m playing a lot at the moment, travelling all over playing tournaments wherever I can. I play the odd cash game on the side but not much.

Do you get to grind online much?
It might come as a shock to most people but I very rarely play online. I’ve learnt so much playing live poker over the last five years and I still really enjoy it everytime I play. I love the social aspect of the game and I make new friends wherever I go. As I’m doing well and I’m able to make a decent living I just don’t see the point in converting to sitting in my boxers clicking buttons on a computer screen!

Fair enough! Do you find it expensive travelling around for tournaments or do you sell pieces/get staked?
I have a permanent backer who puts me in pretty much everything I play. He’s a great guy and a great friend too so I’m happy to be making him some money. It can be expensive to travel but as I’m being put into the comps I want to play, the travelling expenses is all I have to worry about really.

Given your recent success would you ever decide to play off your own back or are you happier being staked?
I have considered it in the past but for me the benefits of being staked outweigh the ones of not being staked. I am playing quite big tournaments now and getting to play with and learn things from some of the best in the world. If I wasn’t backed this wouldn’t be possible.

If you’ve had quite a bad downswing and have got into a reasonable amount of make-up can it affect your play? What’s it like playing a tournament knowing that even if you win you might not see a huge amount of the prize money?
Good question. I think it’s so important to have a good relationship with your backer. I have been in a bit of make-up before but I have never felt disheartened or not bothered to play because not only do I want to get myself out and make some money, I want to get my backers money back too and repay his faith and trust in me.

Some players get into chunks of make-up and all they want is to be dropped and that will never happen in my case.

What advice would you have for guys out there who are just starting to get backed or aren’t used to playing under a backer?
Well, first of all make-up is something that you will pretty much always be in so you need to get used to it and just relax if it starts racking up. As long as you have faith in your own ability things will turn your way eventually.

You mentioned your fiancé earlier who we know is a very talented player herself. What is it like being in a relationship with someone who plays a lot of poker too? How highly do you rate her game?
It’s great, we get to talk and learn from each other all the time. We both started playing at the same time and she helps me so much with the mental side of the game. Sometimes when I make mistakes I’m pretty hard on myself but she’s always there to calm me down and get my head back in the game.

I rate her game very highly – obviously I am very biased – but I haven’t played with a better female player in the UK. I just wish she could play more, she is pursuing her career in Law so she only gets to play the odd weekend here and there.

We know you’re a regular at Dusk Till Dawn and started out there. What do you feel about the current state of the club and what do you think is going to happen to it in the future?
I’m not sure what the current state of DTD is to be honest. All I can say is that I hope it continues the way it has been going. They have amazing guarantees and it really is a great place to go. It’s a million times better than any other cardroom in the country and I feel so at home when I’m there.

Finally, what does the rest of 2014 hold for Simon Deadman?
For the rest of the year I want to just continue working hard and hopefully try and maintain the form I’m in at the moment.

I want to take a few months off in the summer to take Shola travelling too, so am looking forward to that.

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