You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of the online phenom turned live-tournament success story than Canada's Sorel Mizzi. Crushing online tournaments under the screen-names Imper1um and Zangzeban24 Mizzi has already proven that his online skills are transferable to the live arena.
Welcome to the first installment in a new series of interviews here on PokerListings.com: The Session. The idea is to sit down around the virtual table with an online pro and a few of our in-house writers in an attempt to break out of the traditional question and answer poker interview.
A few days ago Sorel Mizzi was kind enough to join myself and two of our strategy writers, Daniel Skolovy and Sean Lind, for a little online round-table discussion. In part one of the interview Sorel talks about his routine these days and his newfound attraction to online cash games.
Matt Showell: Hi Sorel, thanks for joining us. To get the ball rolling why don't you take us through a typical day for you when you're playing online? Do you sit right down at the computer in the morning?
Sorel Mizzi: Well, I have been playing a lot less online then I did when I cared about rankings and becoming number one on PocketFives and stuff like that. These days I usually wake up and go for a run which really makes me feel good throughout the day and helps to clear my mind.
Then I play cash games throughout the day and tournaments at night. Sometimes I will sit right down in the morning if there's a good game going on but I find that if I start my day off with breakfast and a light jog there's a noticeable difference in how well I play.
Daniel Skolovy: So do you see yourself as more of a cash game player or still a tournament guy?
SM: I'm definitely still a tournament guy. I'm just starting to have success in cash games but for a while I did nothing but lose. There's a whole new strategy for cash games that took a while for me to grasp. Playing cash games like an MTT didn't pan out so well for me.
Sean Lind: One thing I've always wondered, along these lines, do you think it's best to follow a set schedule every day or do you take it day by day, just winging it? Basically, how do you keep balance between life and play?
SM: Well a lot of whether or not I want to play at a specific time depends on who's playing and how I'm feeling. I do try to schedule my sessions as much as I can but a lot of unexpected things can happen during a cash game session that could make you stay longer or leave right away. I am proud to say that my life has become a lot more balanced than it's ever been since I started playing.
SM: Yes, it's helped both tremendously.
MS: Was this a change that happened naturally or was it a conscious effort? For that matter are you even able to keep up the level of grinding you've done in the past?
SM: I could definitely keep it up if I wanted to but at this point I have no desire to continue grinding online tournaments. However, cash games are very appealing to me. Probably the most appealing thing about cash games is that I can leave whenever I want whereas in tournaments if I go deep I could be stuck in front of the computer for eight or more hours.
DS: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to play cash, coming from a tournament background?
SM: They're a completely different beast. For one thing cash games are a lot more centered on post-flop play than pre-flop play. In tournaments it's profitable to be relentless and constantly put pressure on your opponents. In cash games that could get you in a lot of trouble. Cash games are more about patience, discipline and using information about your opponents to exploit them
DS: What stakes are you playing?
SM: I'm playing 25/50 and sometimes 50/100 NL, getting the experience at those levels so I can play with the big boys at 100/200 NL and 200/400 NL on betfair
DS: Who are some of the online cash players you have the most respect for?
SM: I play cash games mostly on European sites so most of the players are fairly unknown. However, just from watching the high stakes cash games on various sites I think Durrr, Apathy123, and Mikael Thuritz are probably among the top cash game players in the world.
SL: You recently joined the Betfair Poker team. How do the high-stakes cash games on that site stack up against some of the others?
SM: Betfair is a hidden gem for high stakes cash game players. It's a betting exchange and sports betting website first and a poker site second. This means that tons of people who have a few big scores in sports betting will "try their luck" at high stakes poker and because of this there is a constant influx of fishies.
DS: We interviewed Pr1nnyraid and Whitelime yesterday and they were talking about how their play at FullTilt was against 98% regulars. How much would you say you play against regulars, opposed to unknowns?
SM: Well there are a lot of regulars sitting around but every once in a while you get a huge donator. It's basically a race amongst the regulars to see who will take his money first. On weekends I can find games with tons of shot takers and non-regulars but I've dedicated weekends, especially Sundays, to tournaments and it's extremely tough to play both at the same time and not make poor decisions. But the good thing about some of the sites I play is that even some of the regulars are not very good.
SL: Most notably in high-stakes, you're going to take some heavy losses and downswings. How do you feel it affects you in both your play, and your general life? And how do you deal with it?
SM: I'm used to winning and losing sick amounts of money daily, but I can't say that it doesn't effect me negatively when I have a really bad losing session. I have this cute cuddly teddy bear that my ex- girlfriend bought for me on my desk that I repeatedly punch in the face when I take a bad beat or have a terrible downswing.
That does it for part one of our first round-table discussion. Stay tuned for part two when Sorel will talk about a series of recent prop bets against Roland de Wolfe and Antonio Esfandiari as well as his plans for the upcoming World Series of Poker.