Along with Julian Thew and Jake Cody, Rupert Elder is part of that rare breed currently proving that nice guys don’t necessarily finish last. Already a successful online pro, Rupert showcased his talents on the live felt with victory at EPT San Remo, collecting a shiny trophy and the small matter of €930,000 for first. Must be nice.
See here for more on Rupert's EPT win.
Where did you go in 2011?
I went to quite a few new places as well as some more regular haunts. Some of the poker trips ended up being predominantly drinking trips as I busted out of main events, but I did manage to have a weekend in Monte Carlo with a couple of friends.
I always enjoy Tallinn and went twice - once for the EPT and another for the annual University of Warwick poker society trip. We got there and discovered the gambling age was 21, which ruled out nearly everyone, but allowed us to focus on the drinking, so it was fantastic fun.
How did you celebrate your EPT win? Was it fun going deep with Andrew Teng?
[Andrew Teng came 12th in the same event and is one of Rupert's closest friends.]
It was fun, and we were staying together so it was very good for morale. I was on his left on two separate days and got a couple of three-bets through, but he's such a gigantic nit that he didn't really get in my way.
It was a pretty quiet celebration; there isn't a whole lot to do in San Remo so we just went to a bar and drank. I retired pretty early as I was absolutely shattered and had an early flight that I didn't want to miss as I'd been on the road for over a month and was looking forward to getting home!
I haven't bought anything nice really. [James] Keys forced me to walk round a Mercedes garage, but I wasn't overly impressed. Also, I just moved to London so don't really need a car now. I have taken on a few horses though, all of whom are liable to get into a decent amount of makeup at any moment. I suppose a lot of people would think that's a bit splashy if they looked at the numbers but I have a lot of belief in them to make us more money.
Can you give us an insight into your daily routine?
When I'm not traveling, I try to play every day. This year I told myself that I want to focus on tournaments more so I've been waking up and registering until about 10pm unless there is a special event on, so it's like 12 hours a day. I live with a friend from university who is far more normal so we get on it most weekends and go for meals with other friends, etc, which keeps me sane. The travelling helps too; even though it's mostly encapsulated in the poker bubble, it's nice to catch up with people I haven't seen for a couple of months. To be honest, I love the game so much that I don't really mind the alienation.
Last year I said I was going to concentrate on online cash in 2011 but ended up only playing 100,000 hands, which is about a quarter of what I wanted to play as I got hooked on both live and online tournaments. I suppose I got a bit lazy after San Remo, but it's been a decent year other than that as I had a couple of nice pieces and won a little online.
Nearer the start of the year I wasn't particularly motivated to play big live events, but I'm not sure what I was thinking back then. I was probably just a bit sick of it all. It happens; sometimes I just get worn out from all the traveling, and if I'm not winning I get a bit grouchy. Right now I'm absolutely loving it again, really enjoying working hard and hoping to have a sick 2012. Somehow I've found myself at the PCA [PokerStars Caribbean Adventure] with a plan to go to the Aussie Millions after as well as a load of EPT stops, so I must have found some motivation from somewhere.
Tell us about your overall Vegas experience last year…
I organized a house for five of us: four Brits and THAY3R [Thayer Rasmussen]. I think we all had a fantastic time with me and Andy [Teng] probably doing the best. He managed a fourth in a side event and I had a deep run in a side event and the Main to just about get me out of it for the summer. There were a few amazing lash-ups - including one at Haze in Aria which I distinctly don't remember much of – so it was a lot of fun.
Outside of the Series, I played one Venetian event and about ten hours of cash, and did chunks in all of them.
How about your Main Event run? Any stories/key pots?
[Rupert finished in 132nd place in the $10,000 WSOP Main Event.]
I had Matt Frankland on my table on Day 4 and got in a fun pot where I ended up check-raise-bluffing the river with K-K, but unfortunately the lanky ginger found a boat so stuck it very much in my eye. I had some pretty fun battles with Luke Vrabel (BdBeatSlayer online) but overall I don't remember too many hands that were absolutely heroic.
I lost a big pot on Day 6 where I should have folded the river. It was against that French guy with the pink hair [Guillaume Darcourt], so it was obviously really, really tilting to lose it. I can't remember the exact action, but I rivered trips which was essentially a bluff-catcher as he check-raised the flop or did something else to polarise his range, and I paid his boat off.
I was absolutely devastated after I bust. Whenever I go deep, I always get really emotionally attached to a tournament and want it so badly, but it wasn't to be. It was really fun being on the TV table with Daniel Negreanu and crew, although it was an absurdly tough table for the WSOP Main. Rigged!
What are your plans and goals for 2012? What's on the bucket list?
Goals for 2012 are to play 50 live tournaments and 6,000 online. Pretty boring I know, but I don't like to set monetary goals as there's a fair amount of variance, especially in this live nonsense. As for a bucket list, I always struggle with stuff like this. I'd like to jump in the Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls - that's all I've got so far though and I'm sure there is way cooler stuff I'd want to do.
Sponsorship-wise, there's been nothing too exciting unfortunately. I've been waiting for [Neil] Channing to come knocking my door down and try to throw $200,000 in my face, but it hasn't happened yet. It would be nice, obviously, but I've always been of the opinion that if I work hard then the results and whatever else that comes with those results will be on its way too.
What do you make of the current standard of poker?
Poker is really soft. There are a lot of really good players but there are some absolute bananas everywhere I go, including online. I'm not too concerned but it would be pretty annoying if poker were taken away tomorrow. I have no backup plan and have no idea what I'd want to do. This game is pretty much my life and I love it that way. I felt so bad for the Americans that had their livelihood/hobby taken away overnight. Seriously, fuck the DOJ [Department of Justice].
I'm always working hard. I want to absolutely ruin some lives at the tables in 2012 and be a really hard opponent to play against. I think I got a bit overconfident for a while after the win but I'm in my place now and back to grinding like crazy just in case poker's not here when I wake up!
Any predictions for breakout stars?
I predicted Dominik Nitsche to have a big year but he sold his T-shirt for $100 at the PCA so I expect he's a bit under it at the moment and will do nothing. There are loads of people I'd like to see do well. Ash Mason I think is the one where I would not be surprised if he won a huge event. Maybe Jake Cody will finally have that big score he's been looking for too...
Our New Year Reviews will continue throughout January and appear every two days.
#1 - JP Kelly
#2 - Roberto Romanello
#3 - Daniel 'jungleman12' Cates
#4 - James Keys
#5 - Julian Thew
#6 - Jerome Bradpiece