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Paul Volpe: I Just Knew That I Was Going to Do Good
Remember back in the early days of the poker boom when live pros said the online whiz kids would never make it in live poker because they lacked real-life skills?
That turned out to be a bit of a mis-read.
It seems like a ludicrous argument today given the sheer volume of online pros who have stepped right into the live game over the last half decade and, well, crushed it.
Add Paul Volpe to that list. An legend online under his "paulgees81" nickname with over $4m in tourney cashes, Volpe has made his mark on the live circuit in a big way over the last 10 months.
Starting with a 20th-place finish in the Main Event last summer, Volpe's been on a $1.5m+ tear including back-to-back WPT final tables in California (one a title chop at the LAPC) and a side-event win/deep run in the EPT Grand Final this week.
Showing he hasn't lost any of his online chops, he even beat Shaun Deeb heads-up yesterday to win his first SCOOP title.
PokerListings Denmark reporter Thomas Hviid caught up with Volpe in Monaco, in his ubiquitous Philadelphia Phillies hat of course, to find out how he's made the transition so successfully.
PokerListings: You've been very successful in 2013. What's the reason for your success this year?
Paul Volpe: I think I have definitely become better live. When you're an online player you're still playing your online style and it was a slow process to change from online to live.
I just knew that I was going to do good and I made a lot of good runs but not getting the big score. Finally in the summer I got 20th in the Main Event at the WSOP, which was good although not the biggest score.
I felt like I played very well throughout the tournament and that encouraged me to keep it going and then I also had another strong run in the next tournament, the WPT at Parx.
In February I decided at the last minute to go to California and luckily I did. I ran really well at the L.A. Poker Classic and chopped it and then I went on to the Bay 101 Shooting Stars and got 3rd in that.
I’ve just been lucky to run good and things were coming together and now I hope it keeps on rolling.
PL: Have you changed anything special in your game?
PV: When I play 20 or 30 big blinds I'm re-shoving a lot less, so I've learned to protect my stack when I'm short. Instead of just shoving maybe 18 big blinds with certain hands I might raise and try to steal the blinds and fold if somebody shoves.
If I have chips I'm still pretty aggressive but I've learned how to preserve my tournament life.
At the EPT Grand Final I was also short two full days and I still ended up with 20th which was pretty decent. I lost with kings to ace-nine with 25 big blinds and I'm sure that I would have gotten much further if I would have won that pot.
PL: You've mostly been playing in the US but now you're also playing most of the EPTs. Why did you decide to try your luck in Europe?
PV: I had never been outside North America and then I decided to go to EPT Prague with my best friend from back home, ‘dipthrong’ (Mark Herm). He final tabled the main event and I had a few cashes, so it was a very good start for us.
After that I went back to the US and did good in the two big WPT events and then I decided at the last minute to go to EPT London where I got fourth in the High Roller. I won a package to EPT Berlin and then we went on to Monaco after staying in San Remo.
PL: The WSOP is coming up soon. What are your plans for this year?
PV: The same as every year, playing a ton of events. A buddy of mine lives in Vegas and has a place at Panorama Towers, so I will be staying at his place which is really good instead of having a hotel.
I play mixed games so I will probably play around 30 bracelet events. Hopefully it goes well.
PL: And hoping to get your first bracelet?
PV: Of course, that's why everyone is going. That will be huge.
PL: You're currently without a sponsor after breaking with Lock Poker. Is it a goal for you to get a sponsor?
PL: You would love for someone like PokerStars to sponsor you, but it's really super tough right now since they're not so interested in American players at the moment. Every poker player desires to get paid for playing poker so of course it would be nice.
Things were a little rocky at Lock Poker so I decided just to stop. I wasn’t fully involved there so I didn’t really know what was going on, but the truth is that I haven’t been promoting the brand for the past six months. I also haven’t been paid for months so I just cut the ties eventually.
I honestly don’t believe the site is going down. I think they still got money and I believe that they're really having problems with paying out the money. I really hope that's the case.
If they would be broke – I don’t know, none of the pros would know. That's like asking Johnny Lodden about how much PokerStars have in their accounts, he doesn’t know.
It's the same thing with Lock, as a pro you don’t see the details and the numbers coming in, no one really knows. The owners are saying that the money is there and the problems will be resolved soon.
You can only hope that this is the truth.