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Leroy Soesman - Living the Dream
Dutchman Leroy Soesman found his way onto the European Poker Tour through less than conventional means. In fact, the 29-year-old Amsterdam native and psychology graduate student had to jump through more than just a few hoops to get here, including one massive leap out of an airplane.
Soesman won the Dutch TV poker game show Vegas Voyage involving a whole whack of outlandish poker-based stunts and a big tourney at the end. That garnered him a $160,000 sponsorship deal from Everest Poker that will see him play the entire European Poker Tour and the Main Event at the 2008 WSOP as well.
His first major poker tournament without a Fear Factor edge to it came at the EPT Dortmund just weeks ago.
PokerListings.com caught up with the very talkative Soesman during a break in play on Day 2 of the 2008 PokerStars EPT Scandinavian Open where he sat with close to $60,000 in chips and a legitimate shot to run deep. Read on to find out how he's faring in Denmark, just what Vegas Voyage is all about and what it's like living every amateur poker player's dream.
For the benefit of our readers who may have never heard of the show, can you tell us what Vegas Voyage is all about?
Vegas Voyage is a TV reality show and basically it's like Survivor, but it is poker Survivor. Twelve participants traveled all over North and South America on their way to Las Vegas, making stops along the way to play poker and eliminating players one at a time [... The] winner gets a sponsorship deal.
I understand they made you pull some pretty crazy stunts along the way?
Yes that's right. We had to race cars, jump out of an airplane; some pretty crazy stuff.
How did you get involved in the first place?
It was weird; somebody approached me and told me about the opportunity and at first I said no. Then I started thinking why the heck not? I've never taken a risk in my life so why not? It was kind of impulsive: I told my girlfriend about it and she said I should do it. So, with that support I just figured why the heck not.
Had you played a lot of poker before? Was the game a big part of your life?
Well, poker had been a part of my life for a couple of years. I have been playing for four years and I'm a pretty decent player. I'm not that good; I've never had any big wins and was pretty much a small-stakes player. I think I was the best player on the show though.
So what did you do before winning on the show?
Well, I'm working on my psychology Ph.D., I'm basically a graduate student and I have two wonderful children. On the side I played poker.
Winning Vegas Voyage must mean poker is a little bit more than just on the side these days...
They gave me the sweetest deal I can think of. I have a $160,000 package for basically all the EPTs, the WSOP Main Event, a couple of side events, I'm playing the WSOP Europe in London and just a whole bunch of tournaments.
I understand EPT Dortmund was your first one, how did that go?
I made it to Day 2 with $14,000 and got busted in 12 hands. Right now I made it to Day 2 here with $46,000 and haven't been able to do much today.
What do you think of the level of competition out here on the EPT?
Copenhagen is very tough. On Day 1 I had Barny Boatman, Gus Hansen and Mel Judah at my table and the other guys sitting there were high-stakes grinders, so it was tough. It wasn't hard for me to figure out I was probably the worst player at the table. Today my table's not very soft either. I have Rolf [Slotboom] to my left but I'm very glad he's here because he won a big hand against Ramzi Jelassi. Ramzi is a very aggressive player so if he had the chips Rolf had I would be in a lot worse shape. The bottom line is I'm running really cold right now and nothing is working out and I'm not really into it.
Getting back to the Everest Poker package you won. It's all for buy-ins and unless you cash in these tournaments you'll end up with nothing but a year of traveling the world playing poker. Would you still consider that a big win?
If I had refused or if for some reason I was not doing this right now, I would be kicking myself for the rest of my life. I love poker; I think it's a great game and an opportunity like this; I think there are millions of people screaming for an opportunity like I have. I think there are professional players screaming for an opportunity like this.
You definitely seem to be enjoying it at the tables. You are a pretty talkative guy on the felt...
I enjoy myself, but unfortunately at the expense of other players. I heard that one guy wanted to put a bullet through my head. I'm not sure how accurate that is, but that is pretty harsh.
Actually I'm quite the ADHDer and sometimes I have to constrain myself. It depends on my mood, but sometimes I am very talkative at the table. I like that; I enjoy myself. With Rolf next to me, he's very talkative as well and he just gets me going. It's like an engine; perpetual energy baby!
Well, if you are living the amateur poker player's dream you might as well enjoy it...
In all honesty, I don't like it when I hear that people don't like me or that they are annoyed by me. But I have to learn how to accept it, because I don't just get that at the poker table, I get that everywhere. No matter where you are there are going to be people that don't take well to you. In the poker game you are going to sit with some of them. In the end I've still got to be me and if you don't like it, that's your problem.
Well PL.com has no problem with you Leroy and good luck turning that sponsorship win into some cold hard cash.
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By the end of the deal that will send Leroy Soesman traveling the world to play poker, it will be interesting to see what he's done with it. Today in Copenhagen he found a way to bust right before the bubble, but he still has a smile on his face. It's just his game he has to prove and he's certainly going to get the chance.