Please see here for a news report on Martin Malone's iPoker $100,000 win and back-to-back finals.
Snoopy: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your poker background?
Martin Malone: I’m 27 years old and live in Southampton, but am currently backpacking with my long-term girlfriend. (She’s a fully functioning human being who’s not in involved in the ‘poker world’, yet is as supportive as you could hope a girlfriend to be – I’m not sure how she puts up with me, or the fact that I play poker!)
I don’t currently have a job, and haven’t had one for a while, but I do have a background in working with younger people. My last job was for a youth charity working with ‘at risk’ young people (mainly those expelled from school or being released from prison, etc) from around the Hampshire area. Before then, I worked as a reaching assistant in an Autistic unit of a special needs school. Although poker is now my sole source of income, I don’t like to label myself a ‘professional poker player’, I guess because I don’t make loads from it.
In my spare time (when I’m actually in the country), I enjoy playing poker and football, watching (and quoting) The Office, taking my mother out for lunch, and drinking with my friends.
Snoopy: What games and stakes do you play?
MM: I play online MTTs for a backer, anything from $5 rebuys to the Sunday Majors. I also play live MTTs, although it can be hard to find the time to go and play as it takes days of being away, normally over weekends which is when I actually get to see my girlfriend.
Nevertheless, I play as much as possible, including GUKPTs and the DTD £300 freezeouts and ‘Monte Carlo’ events. I haven’t had much success in big live tournaments, but have made the final of the DTD £300er, and also won the £500 six-max High-Roller event that ran alongside the ‘Monte Carlo’. Overall, I do feel as though I haven’t played enough live events, yet feel very confident when playing them. I intend to play more in the future and am determined to win something decent soon.
I sometimes play live cash for myself in my local card room, but nothing big. Live cash games are great value and can be a welcome break from the online grind, although also a long, boring and uneventful grind too.
Snoopy: Can you explain the moniker? Is Daniel Rudd a friend or enemy?
MM: My name on Black Belt Poker is OMGDannyRudd. I have a good friend called Daniel Rudd who is a great player. He doesn’t play that many MTTs - although he likes to play some live and is decent at them - and is usually too busy crushing cash games online.
The name is basically a piss take to wind him up with the OMG stolen from OMGClayAiken [Phil Galfond]. I just thought the name would be funny if Danny ever saw me sat down at a table. I'm not even sure he knows that’s my name on there actually. Guess he might do now!
Snoopy: What is your experience in the iPoker Sunday major?
MM: I try to play the iPoker Major every week. I’ve had some deep runs in it before including another final when I finished sixth and also a few top 30 finishes. Every time I play it I feel confident I can win, even before the bink on Christmas Day. I think it is the Major I have always felt the most confidence in winning.
Snoopy: This was a thinner field than usual? Was the standard weaker/stronger?
MM: Thanks for mentioning that [laughs]; it was the first thing my 'mates' brought up, obviously! I think the field is always weak in this comp and, of course, it’s easier to win a comp with 750 players in as opposed to over 1,000, but I think the standard was probably the same as always, which is mainly poor. Sigh at winning it when it was a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool and not $200,000 - such b.s.!
Snoopy: Was it plain sailing throughout, or a roller coaster?
MM: I don’t have a poker tracker working on my laptop so can’t go back and check, but I think it was pretty smooth. I had a stack early on and felt confident right from the start. I chipped up routinely, but as we got down to the last 50, I was knocked back to a short stack and had to seriously grind for a couple of hours. I had between 7 and 17 big blinds for what seemed like forever, and was tired and thinking how tilted I’d be if I finished around 10th to 20th place. It seemed like that was on the cards for a while as although I was getting my shoves through, I just couldn’t find a double-up. But then I managed to get a stack and reach the final.
The final was a tougher field then I expected and I didn’t have the best seat going in, but it went pretty smoothly really. Heads-up, we were quite close in chips, but I lost the first five or so meaningful pots and was instantly on the back foot and facing a 2:1 chip deficit. It was a long slog; I kept chipping back up and trying to get even, but then he’d knock me back down to between 2:1 and 3:1 behind. I was still confident though, as the stacks were deep and I felt as though I was good enough to turn it around. I was keen to stay in the zone and not panic.
There was a huge jump from second to first of around $15,000, so it was pretty sick playing heads-up for double the prize of second. In the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think that if I finished in the runner-up spot, I'd have to replay the whole tournament and come second again just to win the amount I was currently playing for! Eventually, I managed to capture the lead and then never looked back, chipping him down until I had a commanding chip lead. The final hand was our first all-in and a call heads-up; and I held with my dominating ace.
Snoopy: Were there any key hands or turning points?
MM: Throughout the comp I was lucky enough to hold when I needed to, to win the right flips and get there if required when my chips were at risk. I don’t remember any pot in particular that was huge or anything; in this comp you can chip up a lot in smaller pots as the standard isn’t great.
I do recall having A-Kdd all in preflop versus Q-J off-suit on the final table for a bit pot, where winning would make me the big chip leader, and losing, a relatively short stack. The flop came with two diamonds, and then he spiked an off-suit queen on the river, which was pretty tilting. My girlfriend was looking over my shoulder at the time and so I refrained from punching the screen or saying anything too untoward – this might well have helped me.
Despite this, I still had a workable stack and managed to turn it back around, and I think he was the guy I ended up beating heads-up, which was extra nice.
Snoopy: What was your strategy heading into the final table?
MM: Overall, I think I just reacted to my seat and my opponents well on the final; my plan is to always do that, I guess. If the players seem like they are waiting to ladder, etc, then push them; if they are playing back a lot, etc, then tighten up.
Snoopy: How did it feel when that final card hit?
MM: It felt great to win. I think I shouted 'Boom!' quite a lot and ran to tell the Mrs. I had won it. She was eating breakfast at the time having already had a full night's sleep - it's a strange world all this poker stuff!
It’s hard to explain just how much better first feels than second, in any comp, let alone a Major when first place takes double that of second. That’s one of the sickest things about MTTs: they can have huge fields and ultimately you always feel disappointed unless you finish in first place.
Snoopy: How important was this win to your bankroll?
MM: As I mentioned previously, I play for a backer, who has always been really supportive and confident in my ability, so the win doesn’t really change anything in relation to what I can now play, but obviously it is a huge confidence boost and great news for both me and my backer!
Snoopy: The very next week you final-tabled again. Tell us about that…
MM: I settled into my next Sunday session on New Year’s Day feeling very confident. I hadn’t got that drunk the night before; I’d had a good night but wasn’t even 'double boozy' let alone my predicted 'treble boozy', so that definitely helped.
I managed to go deep and final one of my first MTTs of the session and having entered the final table ninth out of nine with around six big blinds, I was happy to make a comeback and ended up finishing second, which although was initially disappointing (as it wasn’t a win), it was actually a great turnaround, so I quickly got my head down and continued with my session.
I didn’t have a good start in the $100K, but still felt as confident as ever and knew that if I could get back to average stack, I had a shot. Once I was back in the hunt, I felt my confidence from the bink the week before and felt I played very well from thereon in, with everything going pretty smoothly until the last two tables. I thought I had a real good shot at the back-to-back wins, but then a table move went against me and I had to be really patient, which I knew I could do having had to grind so hard for so many hours during the previous week.
I eventually found my way back into the comp with a few three-bet shoves and a cold four-bet shove (all uncalled), and that put me above average stack, but then I found myself in a big pot versus a very tight player at the table when I folded to an all-in check-raise on the river after I’d triple barreled. This left me short again.
I was really gutted to eventually GG ninth, although I was a tiny bit appeased by making the final when it looked unlikely from around 13-handed, but overall I felt like it was a big opportunity that had passed me by. On a personal note, it was also really disappointing that neither myself nor my good friend Chris 'NigDawg' Brammer could bring it home having both gone so deep and final-tabled. I was sure if I didn’t win it that Bramm would, but unfortunately he ran A-Q into A-A short-handed and ended up falling short of the win.
Snoopy: How did you manage to find time to play on Christmas day?
MM: Playing Christmas Day was fine. I had warned the Mrs. and my family that it was Sunday, and that meant I would be grinding! Also, I felt the fields would be softer and smalller but still have some decent guarantees.
Snoopy: What are your plans and goals for 2012?
MM: I plan to be in Canada for the start of 2012 and hope to grind as much online as possible, and look to play any decent live MTTs I can get to. Las Vegas isn’t that far from Vancouver where I aim to be for a while, so I will try to head there as much as possible.
I plan to really find time to grind properly this year. I have never got my head down to play as many MTTs as I would like, and although it might not be feasible straight away this year, I will definitely get on it as soon as possible. I also want to get to play more live events this year and would love to play some WSOP tournaments and Venetian Deepstacks during the Series.