Mario spent his short football career in the lower and youth leagues in Austria. He got into the top division at the age of 21, but played only two matches for the Wiener Neustadt team. In 2017, he retired from football and switched to poker.
A video was released on the Poker Code channel in which Mario explained what caused such a sharp change in role.
Mario Mosböck: As a child, football was the obvious choice for me. In youth teams, I was always a little better than my peers and the question “do I want to become a professional football player?” was always there. Everyone dreamed about it, but I was really good at it, and I really liked football. So it was the only logical choice. However, everything changed when I turned 20. I stopped enjoying daily training and no longer felt that football is what I want to do. I increasingly asked myself: “Is this exactly what you want to devote the next 15 years to?” I could extend the contract with the Austrian Bundesliga club, there was also the option to try my hand at a stronger league. But I doubted that even this would bring back my love for football. To sort out your feelings I decided to give up football altogether for a while and see how much I would miss it. Since then, I have not regretted my decision for a second and even now I am sure that I did everything right.
I first heard about poker in 2008 (ed. – Mario was born in 1996), when one of the German channels showed the Main Event of the WSOP. I instantly fell in love with the game. At that time, the site PokerTube was very popular, where they posted videos from all tournaments and TV shows. I sat there non-stop and in about a month I watched almost all the videos they had. Then I opened an account on Full Tilt and started playing play money. At the same time, I watched training videos that Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer and other professionals released as part of the Full Tilt Academy project. Gradually switched to freerolls and tournaments for $1, where I increased my bankroll to several hundred dollars. And then, unexpectedly, I won $14,000 at once on the mini-FTOPS series, where I won the turbo rush poker tournament (ed. – the progenitor of zoom). Over the next couple of weeks I won 4 or 5 more tournaments and I had $28,000! The most interesting thing is that I was only 14 years old, but I calmly withdrew all the money. I don't know how it happened. Apparently, then they were more occupied with other concerns. This happened just a couple of weeks before Black Friday.
My first poker acquaintance was Hans Schweiser. When I was 15-16 years old, we got together at his house and played Sundays. There I met Fedor. I think it was in 2013, right after he moved to Vienna. Shortly before this, our friend David won the WCOOP Main Event, the victory served as a tangible boost in Fedor's career...
Fedor Holz: I met Mario when I was 19 years old, and he, respectively, was 17 or 18. 8 years have passed! My poker career was just beginning, and he was still playing football at a professional level and trying to gain a foothold in the Austrian Bundesliga. Mario was completely focused on his sports career, but even then it was clear how much he loved poker. It is curious that he began to play cards much earlier than me.
Mario Mosböck: It was very difficult to combine football and poker. I trained all the time, and I also had to have time to go to a regular school. But about ten times during the year I managed to get to Vienna and play a Sunday session with Fedor and other poker friends. For me, poker was my favorite hobby, I really enjoyed playing. But I can’t say that it was the love of cards that caused me to quit football. First of all, this was due to the fact that I did not want to connect the future with football at all. But then I did not know what I would do in the future. Gradually, poker filled that void perfectly.
Fedor Holz: We met through poker, and at first all our conversations were exclusively about the game. But we were both young and easily found a common language, every day we got to know each other better and became real friends. I witnessed how Mario was faced with a choice – to continue his football career or look for himself in something new. I saw how difficult it was for him. He devoted his whole life to football, from early childhood he studied at the academy, and he had a chance to become an excellent football player. It was very difficult to give up all of this overnight. Moreover, there was complete uncertainty ahead. Yes, he won some poker tournaments, made good money, but no one could guarantee him a successful professional career.
Mario still took a risk and decided to focus entirely on poker. And around the same time, Fedor unexpectedly announced to everyone that he was tired of poker.
Mario Mosböck: In the summer of 2016, Fedor won all the money in the world in two months in Vegas. From America, he returned to Vienna, and I immediately noticed how devastated he was. It was during this period that we really became close. I learned a lot from him, not only in poker, but also in life. For me, he became an older brother, whom I wanted to be equal in everything.
Fedor Holz: I really wanted Mario to succeed in poker and did everything in my power for this. He is a great guy, always positive, it's nice to be around him. Even when you are surrounded by those closest to you, there are times when you get very tired of everyone. I have never experienced anything like this with him. On the contrary, every time we met, I seemed to receive an additional boost of energy from him. I think the friendship had a positive effect on both of us, we both got better. I wish him a brilliant career. He already has a win in the SCOOP main, I'm sure he has many more such successes ahead of him.
When poker faded into the background for Fedor, Mario, on the contrary, completely focused on the game and began to work hard on theory. He became one of the first students at Grindhouse, the training project of Fedor and Matthias Eibinger.
Fedor Holz: I won't say that this project played a decisive role in the development of Mario, but it definitely gave him a noticeable impetus. He was able to structure his knowledge, a lot fell into place. And after our classes, it became completely clear that he had good prospects in poker. Communication with players and coaches gave him a good impetus, but the defining moment was that he himself finally realized that he wanted to develop in poker.
Mario Mosböck: There was no such thing that we sat for the whole day behind the theory. Of course, we did a lot, but I remember Grindhouse more for communication and fun. There I finally understood what the life of a poker professional is like. It helped me rebuild my routine, which was the most important lesson. Teamwork was also very fruitful, and it was useful to me not only in poker. It was also a real revelation for me how Fedor, Matthias and other coaches think about poker. Over the next months, I tried to apply the new knowledge to my game and it seems that it was then that I made noticeable progress.
After graduating from Grindhouse, in March 2021, Mario and his friends went to Las Vegas.
Mario Mosböck: That's where I played my first high rollers in Aria. The sensations were indescribable. In my first $10k event, I placed second ($93,600), and the next day I was 4th in the $25k ($120,000) event. I didn't notice much difference in the level of the players. I already had a lot of experience playing $1,000 and up tournaments online. I’m a winner in them and I doubt that live tournaments are generally more difficult. Except for $100k and more, where the entire poker elite plays. For me, this was another revelation – there are many players who are weaker than me in live high roller tournaments, and I can also play and make a profit. Now this is one of my favorite formats.
Mario's biggest success came in April of that year when he won the $1,000 Main Event at the SCOOP.
Mario Mosböck: It was a special series. My grandmother had died a few months earlier, and in early April I moved into her house. Here I had the opportunity to arrange a workplace in a separate room, in which I tune in to the game and relax. We completed the move at the beginning of April, and at the end of the month I won the main tournament.
It was a very emotional moment. When there were 9 people left, the tournament was paused, I had a day to prepare. The final was like a new tournament, I managed to concentrate entirely on the game and win. I didn't sell anything for this tournament at all, I just exchanged minimal stakes with two friends. Therefore, almost the entire prize went to me. I do not think that this victory somehow changed my life much. But it gave me even more confidence. Naturally, success in such a megafield, first of all, depends on luck. But I believed that such tournaments can also be won, and now I am quite comfortable playing them. Since then, I've dealt with downswings much more easily. It was a very important psychological victory.
Online poker is a very complex activity. There are a lot of flaws in my game that need to be fixed. But I really enjoy playing. I think for the next 20 years I will definitely stay in the game and hope to one day become one of the strongest players in the world.