Pro gamer Alan “Hotted89” Widmann made it to Day 3 of poker's world championship event and he says his friend and coach Viktor Blom has been a huge help.
Widmann is originally from Venezuela and he gained a huge following playing World of Warcraft and streaming it live online.
Lately Widmann has started taking poker seriously and after playing a few events in Europe, he's now competing in the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas.
Widmann has a secret weapon that no one knows about, until now.
His friend and ultra high-stakes poker legend Viktor “Isildur1” Blom has been coaching him. Blom and Widmann even had a coaching session via Skype yesterday to prepare Widmann for Day 3 of the Main Event.
Widmann and Blom met at a Unibet event in Europe and became friends, even though Widmann says he had no idea who Blom was in the poker world.
After they had gotten to know each other, Widmann said he Googled Blom and was blown away by the stories he read online.
Widmann spoke with PokerListings.com on a break from the Main Event to explain why he loves games and how he ended up being coached by one of poker's greatest players.
PokerListings.com: We just saw you in a huge hand a moment ago but how's the WSOP experience been for you in general so far?
Alan Widmann: The World Series of Poker is a totally new experience. The amount of pressure that is on you sometimes in certain hands is pretty crazy. But at the same time it's an amazing feeling to be here.
PL: Definitely a lot of pressure. Can you tell us about that last hand when you doubled up?
What's it like when you're watching the cards come down and you might double up or you might be out?
AW: At the beginning of the day I started with 142k and I lost a lot in a hand where I had two pair on the river against a flush. I thought he was making a play so I called a big bet on the river.
I dropped all the way down to 50k. Then through mostly three-betting I went back up to about 75k.
That last hand I get ace-king in the big blind which is a great spot because people probably think I'm bluffing. The button raises, I re-raised and then the button put me all-in.
So even though ace-king is a big hand, you don't know what the other guy has. But I decided to gamble and go for the flip and he had queen-eight.
PL: It's scary though because ace-king isn't a big favorite against two lower cards.
AW: No not at all it's like 60/40 to win before the flop. But when two kings showed up on the flop that was a great feeling.
PL: What led to you coming here to play the $10k Main Event?
AW: I've been playing poker for about a year and a half on a pretty serious level. I've been studying a lot and practicing and I've had the luck of having Viktor Blom as my coach.
PL: That's not a bad person to have as a coach.
AW: He's pretty much the best person to have as a coach. He's been sharing so much knowledge with me.
PL: How did that relationship with Viktor Blom come about?
AW: Funny story. I had no idea who he was when I first met him. He was invited to the Unibet London event and we met and became friends. After he sort of started telling me his story and I still didn't know the crazy background he has.
The second I put Viktor Blom into Google, let's just say those moments are insane. He's an amazing person and I'm really happy to have him as a friend.
PL: Is the coaching relationship something that was set up by Unibet?
AW: No we just met and started hanging out and became friends. He actually coached me yesterday through Skype for this event. It's been really helpful.
PL: How did you get started playing poker?
AW: I've always been interested in poker. I played some home games and small things with friends and I used to watch the World Series on TV when I was 15 and thought it was such a sick event.
Then Unibet hosted a sit and go for eSports streamers and Youtubers to play against each other and I was invited.
I did terrible in the first event but I've always been a really competitive person so it drove me to study and get better and learn and then I went to another Unibet event in London and won the streamers sit and go.
PL: Is there a big overlap in skills from eSports and gaming to poker?
AW: I think gamers have to be able to adapt to a lot of changes and different situations really quickly so I definitely see a correlation between being able to learn fast and developing skills in different games.
I actually know a lot of professional gamers who play poker. They might not be playing at the WSOP but they're really good and have good online poker results.
PL: Are you getting lots of support from your friends and fans while you're here playing at the WSOP
AW: Yeah the whole gaming community has had my back through this whole experience which feels amazing to be honest. It doesn't even feel like this is just me playing. I feel like I'm representing the gaming community and I want to do well.
PL: eSports events are starting to get massive prize pools these days so where do you see it going?
AW: Gaming is growing on an exponential level and the prize pools at the top levels for games like Counter Strike, Dota and League of Legends are surpassing prize pools of major events even like the Super Bowl.
This year broke tons of records and there's a lot of opportunities. The demographic is great for advertisers so I think more and more big brands will get involved.
Right now there are a lot of big sports people and brands investing in eSports and believing that gaming is the next step.
PL: Even with all the opportunities, eSports and poker are both pretty tough to make a living at. What's your advice for people thinking about trying to be a pro gamer?
AW: While there are a lot of opportunities around, making it into gaming is quite difficult. I always recommend that people do it as a hobby and if the hobby turns into something greater, go for it. But always have a plan B.
PL: Would you ever give up eSports for poker if you were successful?
AW: Well, I am taking poker pretty seriously and I would like to play more but I will always keep gaming.
Even if I made the final table in this event I would still come and stream every day.