Community Interview: Martin Malone
05 January 2012
"Playing Christmas Day was fine. I had warned the Mrs. and my family that it was Sunday, and that meant I would be grinding!"
Martin Malone

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.

think this is
the nuts!
Posting trophy - more info coming soon ...
Neil Channing posted on 7 Jan, 2:38am
I've played with Martin in live comps a couple of times and he's modest about his talent. Good player.
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Owen Robinson posted on 7 Jan, 3:55am
Hey Martin, nice score bud, wp.
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Adam (JHobbit1) Saunders posted on 10 Jan, 12:36pm
Enjoy Van, it's a beautiful place. Although you would be surprised at how far it is from Vegas.