Allen Cunningham has added a fourth World Series bracelet to his collection after winning the No-Limit Hold'em event with re-buys. Not bad for a guy who has yet to celebrate his 30th birthday. This soft-spoken, mild-mannered poker player is very demure when it comes to his amazing win. One after another, fans approached Allen to congratulate him and he quietly thanked them with a sheepish grin.
Although he may seem shy around others, at the poker table Allen looks totally comfortable. One of the youngest veteran players on the professional poker circuit, Allen has racked up a number of notable achievements. With 88 cashes in several major poker tournaments, Allen has advanced to the final table 70 times, 22 of which ended up in heads-up play. Out of those 22 final games, he won 14. So how does this 29-year-old pro do it? PokerListings.com caught up with Allen to find out.
How are you feeling right now?
Pretty good. Tired, but really good.
How does it feel to win your fourth World Series bracelet?
It feels pretty amazing. I'm really happy.
Four bracelets - how do you do it?
There's definitely luck involved, but I've been playing seriously for the past nine years.
How did you get so good? Do you have a mentor?
I don't have a mentor. I just play a lot. I play online, and I've read all the books, and I watch all the great players and learn from them. You just have to keep playing.
Is four enough, or do you want more bracelets?
Oh yeah, I want more. The goal is always more. I'd like to get at least 10 or more, hopefully. Four won't be the last one.
So the final hand, tell us how it went down.
Well, I just really wanted to keep drawing David [Rheem] in. He kept raising pre-flop, and I was just hoping that each time he did, I would have the hand to meet his raise. I think I definitely got luckier with the cards. I got really good cards. [In the final hand] David showed J-9 but I had A-Q. I pushed him in, and I got my card on the river.
How do you think David Rheem played?
I think he played really well even though he was short-stacked. He held in and played really well 'til the end.
How are you going to celebrate?
Nothing crazy. I'm pretty tired. I won't be partying all night. Probably get some sleep, go for a swim tomorrow morning and play some golf. Tomorrow's a day off and then after that, it's back to the grind.
How did you get into poker?
I used to play for fun with friends. We'd hang out and sit at the kitchen table when we were young and play for fun. I really enjoyed it and became more and more interested in it.
Do you have a job to supplement or are you a poker player full-time?
No, this is it. I play poker full-time. It's my work.
Does poker feel like work? Is it a grind or do you still enjoy it?
I still love it - it's a game to me. It's hard work, but it's still fun.
Which poker player(s) do you admire most?
There are too many great players, and I don't want to leave anyone out. But there's lots that are so good.
Which other events will you be entering at the WSOP?
I'll definitely be entering the Main Event. I always enter the Main Event. I think I'll also be entering the H.O.R.S.E. That one will be tough - all the top players will be in that one.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional poker player?
Don't do it. It's probably not a very good idea. It's a lot of work, but it's not really a smart choice. You might want to do it because it seems exciting, but it's really not the best thing to do.
Thanks, Allen and congratulations.