James 'Andy McLEOD' Obst Talks Australian Poker and Chess

Published on 7 April 2013 by Pokerlistings 390

James Obst is one of the most successful online poker players to ever come out of Australia and right now he's at the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific looking to score his first gold bracelet. Obst has been playing poker since he was 15 when he found quick success at a friend's home game thanks to a strong background in chess. By the time he was 19 Obst had made more than a million dollars playing poker on the internet and since then he's branched out into live tournaments. We caught Obst during the first couple days of WSOP APAC to learn more about the Australian prodigy

It is pretty exciting. I've actually not been to America to play the American ones so for the world series to come to Australia it is really exciting and I'm gonna try to play everyday if I can and hopefully have a bit of success. Yeah well the poker community has grown a lot in the last 3 years. When I started my first live tourney it was quite a few years ago now. Since then it's been just an influx of players. Obviously I'd been playing online since before then as well and there's just so many more good players especially. Perhaps Australia might've been considered not one of the strongest countries in terms of poker standard but I think now it really should be and it is because you see it on TV now and everyone's taking a keen interest in poker and I think as you'll see from what people are saying about the standard of this field it's been really tough especially since we've got a lot of international players coming over as well.

Yeah definitely Australians. We love our sport and anything competitive, so absolutely I think just from playing at a lot of these tables you see a lot of, perhaps, ill-mannered people and they'll lose a big pot and their pretty upset and definitely that drives people to succeed and to get better and yeah everyone's really competing really hard at this tournament.

The other world series coming here, I can only imagine what it's going to do for poker here because we do have some TV coverage. We have a bit on one HD we have a bit on Aussie Millions replays and things like that but their hasn't been widely known to the public I'm not sure how many people really would be tuning in to see it but if people are hearing that the world series of poker is here which is such a big brand and get celebrities coming and yeah. I can only imagine. It's gonna be big for poker in Australia.

Yeah I was a chess player before I played poker. I just had some friends that played a home game one night and even though I was a chess player I took to the game of poker pretty easily because it's got a lot of similarities and I won a bid that night and I caught the bug after that it was from there straight online when I got home and that was it.

Yeah well I think my experience in chess is that...A major difference from the poker community is that everyone's just not the same ego involved. Like a chess tournament, everyone's pretty relaxed and friendly and just having a good time. But at a poker tournament you don't really see people at a chess tournament throwing the board over or knocking the pieces because they've lost a game or whatever. So yeah the human element - it's a lot different. You're not staring down your opponent in chess. There's a 20 minute psychology involved but I actually... I was at a sort of a chess camp one time and there was this session on psychology so I learned a couple of things you know if you have a cheap threat you might nonchalantly tap the clock or if you try to look like you're ever a really strong player to get your opponent you might bang the clock. But really there's not much with that and I never really recommend anyone to play poker as a general rule, because I know what it does to you mentally.

It's tough and especially you don't want to ruin...If we're talking about a really good chess player who could easily be a really good poker player it's certainly not something I would recommend and it's not to say that they shouldn't do it. I think the point is that they will do it anyway. So many of them will transition but chess keeps you happy. I miss being at chess tournaments and just being around the people because as I said, it's not the same tension around the place. So definitely, if you're a good chess player, I'd back any good chess player to be a poker player with the right training and upbringing I guess but it's not the greatest lifestyle so you've got to be careful, keeping a balance.

Yeah I mean being a poker player full-time is very very stressful. I've done it obviously for quite a number of years now it's been a lot of highs and it's more often lows. You hear everyone sort of says in all fields that you feel the losses more than you really appreciate the wins. So I'm trying to figure out a better balance. I'm not playing as much and I'm a lot happier as a result. I wouldn't take it back. I think poker was a good suit for me. I really feel like I'm really grateful for everything that I've been able to do as a result of poker, so yeah, I'm very happy with that.

Yeah to win a bracelet would be really exciting but it's hard. If you think too much about it I think I could take away that from your play. So you know I think as poker players we all fight those demons and what it would be like to win or that kind of thing and before you know it you think about it too much and you're gone. You're out. So I try to keep those thoughts away from my head and if it happened you'll see it I guess. Know what I mean?