No stranger to Sporting Life, Simon Trumper is currently roughing it out in the colonies at the 5 Star Crown Casino in Melbourne for the Australian Poker Championship. I caught up with Simon on the brink of a new and hopefully successful year.
David Lloyd: Hi Simon, how are things down under?
Simon Trumper: Lovely thanks Dave, the Crown staff always look after overseas visitors really well and with the weather so good I just took 2 days off driving the Great Ocean road , amazing.
DL: Sounds like you're having a hard time...lol…I'm buying, what's yours?
ST: In Dublin it would be Guinness; here I have just discovered a great wine called Vasse Felix so it would be their 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon.
DL: The last twelve months brought you the sponsorship deal with UKBetting.com and a string of excellent results followed later in the year. When I saw you in September, you looked like a man with the weight of the world taken off his shoulders. It must be a lot more fun on the circuit with all your ex's covered?
ST: Definitely, I can't thank UK Betting enough, they have been a pleasure to work with and gave me a fantastic deal when I was at my lowest, I enjoy representing them and look forward to the many projects planned for this year.
DL: When you wrote your 'Tournament Rollercoaster' piece, it was, in many ways a first. I can't think of many poker players who'd open up the financial books for all the world to see, especially during a bad sequence of events. Did you ever have any reservations about doing it?
ST: I didn't plan how it would read. Nic Szeremeta of Poker Europa rang me saying he was being asked by the players where I was, as I'd stopped playing for 5 months after Vegas, and would I do an article in reply. 'Tournament Rollercoaster' was my way of explaining what had happened, the good and the bad.
DL: It was a brave piece and you should be applauded for it. I remember the reaction within the poker forums was very positive at the time. Were you surprised by the response?
ST: Yes, not only on the forums, as I started playing again players came up to me commending me on the piece, one player said it had made him change his plans of giving up work to go full time in poker as he realised he needed more capital. Others, such as Liam Flood said it was the best article on poker he had read, which was a huge compliment. Even here in Melbourne, a year after it was published I have had players telling me they read it.
DL: I got the impression that you felt your hunger for ranking points as much as profits was one of the factors responsible for the books not balancing at the time. Do you look at the ranking points differently now?
ST: Yes, I do. The swings in tournament poker are too great to chase points, I prefer to concentrate on specific events that I've had the most success in, preferring freeze-outs to re-buys where possible.
DL: The other thing I picked up on was that you felt you'd been donating too much in the side games during that period. I think this is a big problem for a lot of the best tournament specialists. Getting knocked out of a tournament early isn't much fun for anyone but when you're away from home, it's easy to end up killing time in games not totally suited to your own skills. Hard to avoid sometimes, when your alternatives are going back to the hotel room or sitting in the bar all day. How have you been dealing with the dilemma?
ST: I'm lucky that my girlfriend Mathilde, travels with me…she saw what I went through before and now helps keep me disciplined. Where cash games are concerned, I very rarely play now, I prefer to stay focused on the tournaments and on days off, try to get out and see some of the country we're in, rather than go to the casino.
DL: The big surge of new players has brought in a few changes to the game and the way it's played. What are biggest differences you've noticed and how have you adapted your own game in the process?
ST: The qualifiers for major events e.g. The Aussie Millions can make up 60% or more of the field and in some cases like the guy who knocked me out here; it's there first time playing live. They often tend to over-raise and call out of position as well as in extreme cases forgetting they are playing a $10,000 event as it only cost them $30 to enter. This makes them very difficult to read pre flop, so now I'm trying to see flops cheaply and play according to their actions from then on. These new players should not be underestimated, they are generally fearless and some are very good.
DL: I know you've set yourself a few targets for 2005, especially for the WSOP. Are you looking forward to playing at the Rio or will you miss the Horseshoe?
ST: I played at the Rio in 2000 and it was lacking in atmosphere but I think the size of the fields and the enthusiasm of the new players will change that this year. I understand, the main events final will still be at the Horseshoe but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last year. I think with the surge in popularity it was time for this event to move and I'm sure most players won't realise the nostalgia held for the Horseshoe. Sadly it had declined in recent years but there was always a buzz when the main event started.
DL: Do you plan to go out there early and play a lot of satellites like you have in the past or will you be targeting very specific events and concentrating your efforts on them?
ST: UK Betting are primarily concerned with Europe but as so many European internet players attend the WSOP I am hoping that as last year I will be representing them there as part of my schedule, I will specifically target the No Limit events during the last 3 weeks from $1500 up to the main event, playing supers or single table satellites on my days off.
DL: Prediction time, how many runners for this year's main event?
DL: Having played with you on countless occasions, I have to say, you've never been short of something to say at the table ;-) but it's always been friendly banter. However, one of my favourite Simon Trumper moments was when you locked verbal horns with Phil Hellmuth at the WSOP. Fond memories?
ST: I get on great with Phil, what actually happened was, he was being filmed by ESPN, and after I represented an Ace on the flop, having raised pre-flop, which he called with pocket sixes, we both checked the turn and I bluffed the river and showed down 8 high, Phil jumped out of his chair and went into his " Do you know who I am " speech, which I think was more for the cameras than me as obviously we know each other.
DL: Have you ever been close to blowing a fuse with anyone or do you find it easy to take it all in your stride?
ST: I came close once during the "Rollercoaster ". A top player who I shall only refer to as Jac, made a questionable call to a large pre-flop bet from me when I hadn't played a hand in an hour. I had QQ, he had A9 off-suit, naturally he flopped an Ace and after I passed to his bet, showed down his hand, it was a key pot at the stage of the tournament and I could have done without the bad luck.
DL: You're trapped in an elevator with your man Gary Bush. Who 'bokked' the lift?
ST: Garry was one of the most supportive players when thing were running bad for me and gave me good advice that I should have listened to , as long as the lift hasn't got a craps table I'll be ok .
DL: Lol…Talking of craps, which is your local Casino card room these days, do you play there much when you're not on the road?
ST: I don't have one now, the only regular place I play is online.
DL: In the absence of a local card room, If you could pick up any other card room in the world and plonk it back down within a ten minute stroll from your home, which one would it be?
ST: Amsterdam, love the style and ambience, the staff are superb and tournaments well run.
DL: I can really understand that, I lived there briefly, years ago and I just love the place. Strangely, I've never played there but I always hear great things. The size of the rake is what always put me off but I guess if you're not playing in the side games…it's not a problem. You were saying you've been playing a fair bit online…whereabouts?
ST: When I'm home for a few days you'll find me playing the sit'n'gos at UK Betting.
DL: Is it mainly tournaments or do you ever relax in some of the cash games too? Do you play under your own name or do you use a pseudonym?
ST: Occasionally I play cash in the early stages of a satellite but generally only sit'n'gos, I play under the name "ACES" so pretty transparent.
DL: Back in the real world, cash game, Dealers Choice, your button, what are we playing?
ST: Got to be Omaha high-lo, at least then I have a chance of winning half the pot lol.
DL: And your preferred tournament game and limit structure?
ST: No Limit Hold'em
DL: Imagine you found yourself on a slow boat to China, hosting the liveliest poker games known to man. Who would you want with you for company and why?
ST: Devilfish for his all round entertaining, Mad Marty for his endless hilarious stories, Chris Ferguson as he is one of the most genuine poker players I have ever met, Phil Hellmuth as someone in China might not know who he is.
DL: And if they hadn't I'm sure he'd soon let them know ;-) ….Onboard, they've organised a charity karaoke night, you have to sing or forfeit $10,000. What's your big number?
ST: My Way
DL: While we're talking about 'music' what was the last album you bought?
ST: Diana Ross Greatest Hits
DL: Your desert island favourites…Tell me three songs you'd have to take with you?
ST: Oh Laurie by Alessi Brothers. Your Song, Elton John . Sweet Home Chicago, Blues Brothers.
DL: And a good film you've seen recently?
ST: Lost in Translation
DL: I have to go with you on that one Simon…there's something about that movie that captures something a lot of poker players on the road would recognize…weird, loneliness mixed with the excitement of the world being your oyster…or is that just me? ;-)
DL: Your favourite line / lines of dialogue (any movie or TV)?
ST: Fawlty Towers, Basil to guest "Can I suggest you move to a hotel nearer to the sea....... or preferably in it!" and from John Carpenters The Thing " You've gotta be f****ing kidding "
DL: A couple of unmissable TV shows?
ST: Inspector Morse, Fawlty Towers.
DL: Which sports and teams do you follow?
ST: Major events like Olympics and World Cup also Formula 1 and Golf Majors.
DL: Do you ever bet on anything outside a card room?
ST: Used to back horses till "Black Tuesday "
DL: Any luck?
ST: In 96 I won $20,000 at The Vic, the following week I lost $7000 on the first Tuesday at Cheltenham, have hardly had a bet since!
DL: You've just reminded me of Basil's bet on the horses…I'll have to watch that one again! Who or what makes you laugh out?
ST: Fawlty Towers - Only Fools and Horses
DL: Top three comedians?
ST: Robin Williams - Eric Morecambe - Ricky Gervais
DL: Carlo has just moved in next door. He wants to leave a container in your driveway…is that ok?
ST: Yes, I would trust Carlo totally, also I don't smoke!
DL: Well if you did, you'd never have to go down to the shops again ;-) …Someone told me a great tale about you, Carlo and a diamond he'd bought in Vienna…C'mon Simon, spill the beans!
ST: This could have been a script from a Carry On film, briefly, I lent a few hundred to a player against his wife's 4 carat diamond pendant in Paris, on getting home I quickly tested it with a diamond tester but didn't look at it through a jewellers loop, it passed and I forgot about it till I met the player in Vienna when I gave it back and he repaid me. He then asked Carlo to lend him some money, I told Carlo depending on quality it was worth up to 9000, he lent some money, then over a few days lent more, back in the UK and the player didn't pay, I now took a good look at the diamond and something wasn't right, took it to a jeweller friend who confirmed that it looked like diamond, tested diamond but wasn't diamond, I felt responsible so paid Carlo most of the money he had lent and pursued the player for 6 months to get the rest, funny thing was when I gave it back finally and told him of my suspicions he didn't react angrily so he must have known, he then sold it to someone else and ended up getting nicked by the police!
DL: Lol, that's a beauty! There's a film in there somewhere ;-) ….Ok Simon, my philosophy question…Pre-Army Elvis, the black leather comeback or King of Las Vegas?
DL: What would you recommend for a great night out in Vegas?
ST: Dinner in Orieles at Mandalay Bay, see "O" at Bellagio followed by a helicopter flight over the strip.
DL: Great…it's a date….are you paying? ….Finally, in one sentence, or just three words, what's the best advice you could give to someone just starting out in poker?
ST: Think before you act.
DL: Thanks Simon, it's been a pleasure talking, good luck with everything you do in 2005!
Note: Simon writes regularly for sportinglife.com