– Hi, you usually refuse interviews, but recently wrote that you are ready to make an exception if they give you a podium to pour another bucket of slop on Lufthansa. Let's start with this.
– This year I decided to go to the Bahamas at the very last moment, so the route turned out to be very difficult – Dublin-Frankfurt-Montreal-Bahamas. But there was nothing better. In Frankfurt, I learned that my Canadian visa had expired and they wouldn't even let me in for a transfer. I had to change tickets and fly to London and from there the next morning to the Bahamas. Alas, I flew to Nassau without luggage, my suitcases were never loaded onto the plane. But Lufthansa assured me that they had everything under control and promised to return the luggage as soon as possible. My fiancée and I spent two weeks at the PCA without things, and everything is very expensive there, but we never received anything. At the same time, they continued to lie to me in their communications. At some point, I started to lose my patience. First I tweeted, then during the main tournament, I ended up at the TV table and realized that this is a great opportunity to draw attention to the problem. I defended the BB in another hand and called for a boycott of Lufthansa.
I busted from the main event earlier today and still haven’t gotten my baggage back from the thieves at @lufthansa but at least I got to tell a large audience to never ever travel on their airline when I was on the TV table. pic.twitter.com/3lC1mdWZtA— steveodwyer (@steveodwyer) January 27, 2023
But nothing has changed, they just started ignoring me. The funny thing is that I had GPS trackers on my suitcases, and I could clearly see that all this time they were in the territory of Heathrow airport. They even wrote about this on the CNN website, they managed to get comments from a Lufthansa representative, who promised to figure everything out. But this did not help, over the next few days the issue did not budge.
As a result, when I was already flying from the Bahamas, I received an email from a Heathrow employee who works in the luggage search department and has nothing to do with Lufthansa. We phoned him and it was clear that he was also furious. The guy said that he is also from Ireland, such an attitude towards customers is unacceptable, and he will not leave his fellow countryman in trouble. He read my story on CNN and promised to personally find my luggage.
I returned to Ireland the other day and finally got my bags yesterday. But Lufthansa had absolutely nothing to do with it, it was all thanks to this guy. Moreover, the solution to the problem took him several hours. Now another adventure awaits me – I will seek compensation, although I have already been told that this is almost impossible. Usually, they just ignore such clients in the hope that they will get tired of it. There are cases when people have been waiting for more than a year to be paid. In general, never fly Lufthansa.
Let's move on to your poker career. I know that it was not always easy. Tell me about it.
– I started playing in 2004, grinding a lot. Played millions of hands of $1/$2 and $2/$4 6-max and heads-up cash games with little success, barely enough to live on. In 2007, I switched to MTTs, and my friends Scott Seiver and Ike Haxton offered me backing in expensive tournaments. I continued to grind until Black Friday, which was a big shock for me. My entire meager bankroll was stuck on Full Tilt and I ended up in $400,000 of make-up with no money. Borrowed money for food all summer and slept on the floor in Scott Seiver's apartment. After Black Friday, I was faced with a choice – to play cash games or tournaments. I decided that the cash games would go bad and focused on live MTTs in Europe and Macau. This was the turning point. Despite the bad results, I have always been confident in my game. It helped that Scott and Ike also continued to believe in me and did not refuse backing. Within a couple of years, I paid back all the make-up and started playing completely on my own, with the exception of tournaments for $25k and more.
– Poker teaches us perseverance, especially in tournaments. If you have chosen the career of a MTT player, you should be prepared that you will lose most of the time. This is quite ironic because many people play them in the hope of making easy money, although in reality, it is a very hard way to earn money.
Yes, definitely not the easiest. But I still love tournaments. Nothing compares to the sensations you experience in the deep stage. Especially in the main tournaments, where there are many amateurs and satellites, who often do not offer any resistance. Last year I won the Irish Open with 2,000 runners. In the top 14 I became a huge chip leader and from that moment on I played with VPIP 80. And on the final table, I started to bet blind all-ins. There was a unique situation – none of the opponents had more than 12 blinds, and I had almost 200. This happened to me for the first time.
“You are famous for your hero calls. How do you do it? Are you good at reading opponents?
– Yes, probably. I perfectly feel the emotional swings of the players depending on the stage of the tournament. This does not work in high roller tournaments where all the best players play, but it helps a lot against weak opponents. I especially remember my hand from a heads-up $100k PCA event that I won. I am constantly asked about it ( ed. – on the board Roger Sipple shoved with , Steve called with and won the tournament. It's not uncommon to see the reverse situation where I call with trash and the person shows the nuts. But when you turn out to be right, this is another incomparable feeling for which I love poker so much.
“I experienced something similar when I bluffed Moneymaker in the $25k heads-up championship that used to be shown on NBC. On the river, I mini check-raise bluffed and it didn't get aired! I was angry. Although often in front of the cameras we, on the contrary, look quite stupid.
“I don't see any problem with that. If you don't look stupid at least once at the poker table, then you are doing something wrong and missing out on a lot of opportunities. I have been called an idiot many times for my playing, but that only added to my motivation. I won't name names, but I remember very well the person who in 2005 insulted me in the $3 rebuy chat on Stars. And in 2004, a similar situation happened at UB in a $20 tournament, this person is still in the community. I have a whole list of these guys in my head, waiting for the right moment for revenge.
“It’s good that I didn’t allow myself anything like that to add to your list.”
– You just don't play tournaments enough. Although about eight years ago we often crossed paths online.
– Yes, there was a period when I often played MTT. By the way, we played together in Morocco. Do you remember?
– Oh yeah! This was our first meeting. I will never forget that trip, got out of there as soon as possible. I spent three days and lost a pot in the top 40 of the tournament for 20% of all the chips, after which I immediately flew away. There was absolutely nothing to do, no side events, nothing.
– Yes, we played in “fake Morocco”. It was a hotel complex with a casino that has nothing to do with the real country. And I decided to explore what the real Morocco looks like. I said to myself: "You flew here for 20 hours with a change in Libya not to sit in a hotel." I took a taxi and asked to show me Casablanca, it went without problems. Then I decided to go to Marrakesh, andcalled other players, but no one went. I didn’t feel very comfortable on the streets of the city, I found myself like in a fairy tale about Aladdin – it’s dirty, elephants walk right along the streets, children play with monkeys on the sidewalks, passers-by constantly grab me and try to sell something. Then, for the first time in all my travels, I felt a real homesickness and immediately realized that this place was not for me. They say it's much better now.
I would also like to return someday, but I'm not sure if it's possible. As I was leaving, I was stopped by customs officers for a standard check. They asked me what I was doing in Morocco. I honestly answered that I played poker.
“Wow, I play poker too,” said the officer. – Tournaments for $5-10 online. And what did you play?
– WPT for $3,000.
– And how did it go?
I told him how I got out. He got really upset, started scolding me for a bad draw, said that I had to throw it away. It was the shift supervisor, and we continued our conversation in his office.
– Will there still be tournaments in Morocco? he asked at the end.
– Well, yes, probably.
– Take my phone. When you come next time, be sure to put me in the tournament.
Of course, I agreed to be allowed to leave in peace. He was ready for anything, just to get out of there as soon as possible. He literally made me write down his phone number and made sure that I was not mistaken. Since then I have never been to Morocco. I'm afraid that he is following my poker career and will immediately remind me of the promise. This person has all my data, he even made a copy of my passport.
– Yes, there are interesting cultural features. We don't understand much. Tom Dwan told how he once flew somewhere in a private jet with an African crew. He went to the toilet, but there was no paper. One of the crew members approached him with a roll and offered to pay him some, haha.
You said that winning the Irish Open was one of the most significant events in your life for you. Tell me why?
– Firstly, it is the oldest tournament in the world, with the exception of the Main Event at the World Series. It has been running for 40 years. And I really love the history of poker, I always read with great interest about the players who were at the origins of the game. I think that thanks to them, today we have the opportunity to travel around the world and play high roller tournaments. Secondly, I live in Ireland, I have an Irish passport, and I have never won a tournament with so many participants before. And, thirdly, before this tournament, I had not played poker at all for half a year. It was the longest break in his career. All this together made that victory very emotional.
You could live anywhere. Why did you choose Ireland?
– I have citizenship, and I like everything here. A very beautiful country, friendly people, convenient location for traveling, the weather suits me completely, although it is not suitable for everyone. And I do not like heat and cold, here is the ideal middle for me.
– I heard only good things about Ireland, I need to come somehow.
– Have you never been?
No, only in London.
Ireland is much better. London is too big, with a lot of people, a lot of evil people. Dublin is much smaller, but it is very calm here. I think you'll like it.
I heard that you are superstitious. You have lucky and unlucky subjects. Is this true?
– There are no unlucky ones. Although there may be, I just do not know that they bring me bad luck. And I really have a lot of lucky talismans. It all started 12 years ago in Vegas. I was in a taxi and the driver gave me change in a $2 bill and told me to keep it as it brings good luck. The brain of a rational professional tells me that I should not believe in such things. But suddenly? I took the bill and decided that I would not refuse such gifts in the future. The bill is still in my apartment in a special box with other similar talismans. And there have been quite a few of them throughout my career.
Even now in the Bahamas, I was driving to a restaurant, and the taxi driver said his name was Mr. Lucky. I replied that my friends call me that too. We laughed. Then I asked him to wait for me, as the break in the tournament was very short. And when I paid, he gave me a bracelet, which also found its place in my happy collection. I even have a chair from the winning Irish Open. When there were 24 people left in the tournament and had a redraw, I got to the place where the chip leader sat before me. He pointed to a chair and said he was happy, look how many chips I've won.
Why didn't you take him with you? I was surprised and explained that he had made an unforgivable mistake.
I did not repeat it and kept the chair until the very victory. Even when we took a break for the night before the finals, I wrapped it in tape and hid it behind the curtain. The next day, I specifically came early to find him and put myself on the final table. And after the victory, I asked the tournament director if I could take it for myself. Wait... There it is, standing right in my bedroom.
By the way, the guy who was the chip leader lost to me heads-up. Imagine how things would have turned out if he hadn't told me about the happy chair.
What is the probability that this is just a coincidence? I'm starting to believe in talismans too. Have you had any other similar stories?
– Not so epic. About eight years ago I played in Prague, Sam Greenwood, and JC Alvarado and I went to the Christmas market. One guy was selling knick-knacks there. I noticed a basket full of small owls that said "Lucky owls". And I love owls and went up to him: “Do they really bring good luck?” And he exclaimed in response: "Wow, it's Steve O'Dwyer." It turned out that he is a fan of poker and knows all of us by sight. Of course, he assured me that owls bring good luck. I had to buy the whole basket. I gave them to my friends and even tweeted about it. The seller came to the comments, and we went to his profile. It turned out that on his Twitter he posts only his favorite porn, haha. A very strange guy. But after buying those owls, I'm really very lucky, so I'm not complaining.
I don't have similar stories. Although when I announced that I was destined to win the $50k Players Championship, I did it two years in a row. Still not sure if these things work. Although, on the other hand, there is no harm in this.
– That's it. I also don't believe in luck 100% yet, but what if it's true? Last summer I went to Japan at the invitation of a friend who organized an inexpensive tournament there. On a free day, he offered me a tour of Osaka. I asked: "Where do the Japanese go if they want to turn luck in their favor?" He took me to the temple, which had a special fence with a scattering of stones, some of which were engraved with various Japanese characters. You need to reach out, take a handful and find three stones with different characters. They are believed to bring good luck. You have no idea how happy I am to tell stories like this at the poker table, especially when I'm playing someone super-rational like the Germans. After losing hands, I always tell them that this is all because of the aura, they need to listen to me and get some kind of talismans.
– I once proved to Chris Hook that he angered the poker gods, which is why he cannot overcome his long downswing. I was told that you also have a story about the unlucky cap.
– Haha. At the PCA, Mike Watson and I entered the late registration of the tournament and ended up at the same table. There was a guy in a Luxon cap with a huge stack. Mike told him, "Oh, I've been playing this one lately too, and caught an incredible upstreak. They bring good luck." I scolded him for not telling me anything about it. He replied: "Well, it's obvious – Luxon is in tune with It turns your luck on" Right at the table, I wrote a message to the Luxon representative to urgently give me such a cap. 10 minutes later she was with me. While waiting, I managed to double my stack, but since that moment I had not won a single hand. Made a reentry and again ingloriously flew out. The cap cost me $20,000. Naturally, I immediately got rid of it.
– To end things, I want to hear from you a couple of tips on how to behave in all-ins?
– If you are ahead, never ask the dealer to open the card you want out loud. Just keep quiet and think about the lowest cards that won't change anything. For example, you are all-in with aces against queens on a T63 board. On the turn, ask to open a deuce, but always to yourself. And on the river – a four, because you no longer need the second deuce. You will collect meaningless two pairs, and this is already pushing your luck. So you are more likely to attract a lady. Also, if you are not in front, never get up, stay seated in your chair. Many people get up and start packing, thinking that it brings good luck. But I've been collecting data for 15 years now, you can trust me – sitting down, you will win much more often.