Mike Sowers turned 21 a few months ago and he couldn't wait to use his newly minted ID to gain access to the felt. He wasted no time in getting to work at the live tables.
Sowers started his foray into live play by heading down to Aruba and taking down a $1,000 preliminary event at the Ultimate Bet Aruba Poker Classic. A few months later he took down a $5,000 buy in event at the Borgata Winter Poker Open besting Tom 'Durrr' Dwan and Erick Lindgren while pocketing $400,000.
Between live events Sowers likes to spend most of his time crushing tournaments online. He comes into the World Series with $460,000 in live winnings to his credit and hungry for more. PL.com caught up with him during a break at the $10,000 WSOP Pot Limit Holdem Championship.
Obviously a good start to 2008. What made you decide to play this tournament.
Really I was just planning on playing as many tournaments as i could. I'm going to play 23 different tournaments. Unless I win a couple, then I'll take a break obviously but.. it's a big grind.
If you win this you'll have plenty of money to play anything you want.
Well, right now I'm backed anyway, so I can play any tournament I want.
This is your first World Series, is it pretty daunting?
Not really in the least. It really just makes my mouth water because everybody comes out here to play poker, and there is a good chance for the good players to excel.
I know you started online, but it seems like you have made a pretty smooth transition to live play. What was that like?
It took a little bit to get used to that. My game is a lot different now than it was before the past ten events I've played. I've definitely adjusted. You adjust to different kinds of people. It's a lot easier in that you can watch every single player and get a definite read on them. Online you're playing ten different tables and it's almost like machine work.
This field was a lot different than the $1,500 that started today. The play was pretty tough right off the bat?
Most of the players here are thinking players. You really have to out level them or exploit their weakensses. Say you're playing against a bunch of donkeys. You can wait and get a hand and they'll pay you off. With these guys, sometimes you have to stick it in with nothing just try to out level them into thinking you just have to have the nuts there.
That was a tough hand with Kathy.
Yeah I sucked out on Elezra like five hands before so...
I limped the button with 6-4 of hearts and he made it four times. I called, we were both like 300,000 deep. The flop came 6-3-2. I have 6-4 of hearts and I'm thinking I have the nuts. He bet $50,000. I figured he was still pretty angry with me from an earlier hand where I got it all in with the nuts on him after he reraised me with A-5. So the flop was 6-3-2 and he bet $50,000. I make it pot, like $180,000. He calls off with A-6. I turn a five to make a straight. That was like a $600,000 pot.
Well if he wasn't upset at you before, that probably did it.
Haha yeah. He's a really nice guy and really professional. One of the nicest live players I've met, honestly. He handled it like a pro obviously. He's been through it a million times and I've been on the other side too so I didn't feel bad in the least.
Do you have any special plans for making the final table?
I just try to play each hand individually based on reads and other stuff. There will be a little bit of bubble play. I'll loosen it up when we're five or six handed, but after we get to the final table it'll be more stay tight until I get a read on everybody and then play my hand according to my reads.
Who is giving you the toughest time right now?
I would have to say Bloch. I tried to three barrel him earlier and he picked me off. I finally just got the best of him when I made a backdoor flush and value bet it and he called.
What are your other thoughts about all that is going on?
Well, it's just really, really exciting to be in my first event... fifteen left... playing against the best in the world. Some of them are coming up and talking to me as if I'm one of their buddies. It's really cool because three or four years ago I was watching them all on TV being like,'The Unabomber is so sick man! If I could only get to a WPT final table!' Now I realize that it's possible and I just need to take advantage of it.
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Mike Sowers wore a smile on his face throughout the entire interview. It's clear he is happy to be here and anxious to show off his poker skills to the world. A genuine guy with talent to boot, we'll being seeing a lot more of him in the future.