Despite being in his early 20s, Aussie James Obst seems like a long-time veteran in the online poker world.
Obst, known online as Andy McLEOD, got into poker when he was just 14 years old and has now been playing for nearly 10 years.
Widely-regarded as one of the best poker players to ever come out of Australia, Obst would love to make a deep run in the Aussie Millions.
“I’m pretty keen to go deep here,” he said while on break from the Main Event. “I haven’t actually cashed in the Main Event so hopefully this is the year.”
Obst has won millions playing online poker but, outside of winning a $15k High Roller event in Melbourne a few years ago, has yet to take down a major live tournament.
Time may be running out for Obst as he’s started to consider moving away from playing poker for a living.
James Obst is getting weary of the poker lifestyle.
“I’ve been playing for a long time,” he said.
“I enjoy the freedom of it obviously but there is too much stress. At the same time it’s a lot better for me now that I’m doing other things. I like having a balance in my life.”
These days Obst will sometimes go months without logging onto an online poker site. Instead he's been playing a lot of tennis and getting into better shape.
“There will usually be a big series online and I’ll decide I have to actually do my job and play,” he said.
Obst: Australian Poker Players Have Improved 'Big Time'
It seems strange that someone like Obst would consider getting out of a game where he’s still one of the best in the world, like an athlete retiring during the peak of their career.
Obst is a member of the first generation of online poker players, however, and that group is already starting to seem like the old guard.
“When I started there really weren’t many Australian MTT players at all,” he said. “These days there are so many good young players in Australia.
"I can’t even name them all, you just see them on the top of the PocketFives leaderboard. It’s pretty impressive to be honest.”
According to Obst the skill level in Australian poker has improved “big time” over the last few years.
Chess Instrumental in Obst's Poker Development
Over the next year Obst actually has plans to play a few more live tournaments, continue playing a lot of tennis and even take part in a chess tournament.
Obst, like several other poker players, had success as an aggressive chess player when he was still a teenager.
“I reckon the creativity of it helped me,” he said. “In chess you train a lot by doing combination puzzles where you have to see a number of moves ahead.
"Sometimes you have to have that mentality in poker as well.”
Whatever happens at the 2013 Aussie Millions, Obst still has some decisions to make about his long-term future in poker.
“I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do yet,” he said.
“I’m going to focus on other things but I’ll always keep poker on the side. At this stage gambling is my profession so I’ve got to keep playing until I get good at something else.”
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