Patrick “pads1161” Leonard was one of a group of UK-born players with fantastic results at the 2015 World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP).
Hehad a series of deep runs, made a few final tables and walked away with his first bracelet and $108,415.51 in prize money when he won Event #17, $700 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Max 3-Stack.
How does one of the world’s most consistent online poker tournament grinders manage his life through WCOOP?
Let’s find out, shall we?
"It’s Impossible for Me to Lose $100k"
Lee Davy: Let’s start with the build-up to WCOOP … how does your life change?
Patrick Leonard: I know I am going to be very busy so I try to fix everything in my life that I would need to do in the next month. I don’t want anything left hanging before WCOOP begins.
I will also tell family and friends that I am going to be busy for the next three weeks. I create a calendar for every hour of every day. When I am going to get up each day, when I am going to go to the gym, when I am going to have a day off, etc.
In previous years I have just gone into it and found it tough to manage everything. When you are on top of things you are so much more prepared mentally.
You aren’t just waking up and getting frustrated because you don’t have enough time to exercise, eat or get some sunshine.
Into it, and it showed.
LD: How were you feeling emotionally in the lead up?
PL: I was into it. I wanted to do well, and felt I would do well. I used to set goals such as win a $100k, win a bracelet, etc. This year I set goals and expectations.
So, for example, expectations could be like 'I want to make sure I never Facebook during a session,' 'I never start a session without exercising,' 'I never play more than six tables at once.' A goal could be to win an event.
In the past my emotions were up and down because I was chasing goals. As long as I meet my expectations, emotionally, I know I am going to be OK.
I was still being ambitious, that was the stuff that made me get up each morning. But the expectations were to allow me to look at my work and say I did everything that I could to make my series a success.
LD: How does WCOOP affect your relationship with your friends and family?
PL: You can still be balanced during WCOOP if you prepare. I already told friends and family in advance when I had free days so we could arrange things. It’s all about preparedness and letting them see your calendar.
I have been a professional poker player for seven years so they understand. You need to be seen to making time for people and they will understand.
LD: Have people ever gotten frustrated working their lives around your schedule?
PL: People do get frustrated. Even if it’s your parents who want to see you for a week but there isn’t any time in your schedule. They see you going to all of these places and they are wondering why you can’t spare one week.
The poker schedule is so packed, the next tour is just around the corner. It’s important to have time off. I’m not even sure I will go to Berlin. I will take some time off now and see the real world so to speak.
LD: How do you organize your package for WCOOP?
PL: I am doing well financially from a bankroll point of view so I don’t sell anything. I swap some action with a few very good players to decrease variance.
I swapped with 20 different players, 2.5%, in the WCOOP Main Event so there is a good chance I could recoup some money from those guys. One of the guys I swapped with in the $10k finished fourth or fifth so I got my money back that way.
I sell some action on Facebook for 1.2 mark up. If I can swap with someone who has a higher ROI than the mark up I am charging it’s better for me to swap. If I sell 50% at 1.2, or could swap with 10 guys 5% who have a 60% ROI+, then it makes more sense.
It’s also less stress. When you invest a lot of someone else’s money it can be stressful. You feel like you are letting people down when you aren’t doing well. When you swap there is no money exchanging hands, you both understand there is variance.
LD: Do you have rules around your swaps?
PL: I like to keep most of my action so I only swap with 2-4 of my closest friends. But with something like the WCOOP Main Event I will look to see who has a similar stack size to me and message them to swap. It’s also fun as you get a good sweat if you bust.
Sweats are good, too.
LD: Out of 70 events how many did you plan to play?
PL: 20-25 events, maybe more.
LD: Do you know how much you spent in buy-ins?
PL: My daily outlay was about $4k on average, but there was a $5k and a $10k so I guess around $100k?
LD: How much profit did you make?
PL: I made $165k profit, so I cashed for $265k.
LD: Did the plan change and if so why?
PL: It did but it was a positive thing. Usually you make the odd Day 2, and you take a few days off after this because you are emotionally drained. This year I was fortunate enough to have 4-5 really deep runs.
This drained me more, because I was expecting to take some days off which I now couldn’t. This changed my time management schedule and affected things like my eating and sleeping schedule. So it changed, but it changed because I was doing well.
I was certainly burned out towards the end of the series and so I took more days off because I knew I wouldn’t do so well if I played.
LD: Are you used to the emotions of playing for $100k outlay?
PL: It’s impossible for me to lose $100k. A friend of mine had a terrible WCOOP and he lost $50k. It wouldn’t be nice, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Especially with these huge buy-ins going on around the world.
I don’t care about the money so much. I am playing for the goals and the drive. If I had a lot of bad runs, for two years, I would be under it financially, and things might change. I had a bad SCOOP and then won it back and more by the time WCOOP started.
I am prepared to grind five days per week, playing smaller prize pools, to win it back when I lose it. Not everyone has that work ethic.
LD: So you are telling me you are playing because you love playing?
PL: I know I need to make money. That’s the end goal. But it’s important that to do that I make good decisions. It may be that during WCOOP I share the series playing with one guy.
It might be more fun to share a house with six guys but that wouldn’t be a good decision. If I make good decisions then money will look after itself. If you worry about your money you will make bad decisions, and the more bad decisions you make the more you will lose.
LD: Do you play with other people during WCOOP and is it important for you?
PL: If I am playing a proper session I will only playing with one person maximum. Some people think you have to play these huge sessions during WCOOP, everyday, but sometimes on like a Wednesday if there is an event on at 5pm it’s a bad decision to register for 20 events.
If you bust WCOOP you will be so much more demotivated to play in the smaller buy-in events and you may punt it off so you can go out with your friends.
It’s good sometimes to be around your friend's house playing online tournaments, talking about some spots, and if you bust you then go out and have a nice meal or whatever.
If you push the envelope too much I think you can end up playing your C game, then when you register to start a new session you sometimes start with your C game in mind.
LD: What does the first 60 minutes of your day look like during WCOOP?
PL: I stay in bed and procrastinate for the first 60 minutes. I never get out of bed. I check e-mails and Skype. I have a lot of horses so I check up on them.
I also Facetime my parents, and they are just finishing work so I speak to them. I then go out for lunch. I don’t believe in superstition, but I am superstitious I guess.
I think it’s stupid but I am scared of going against certain things. I will always walk the same route and eat in the same places when I am winning. I will get changed, switch my laptop and computer on.
I get changed again. I start my session. When the session starts I get changed again.
LD: You get dressed and undressed three times each time you start a session?
PL: I do. It’s three different sets of clothes, but they are always the same set of clothes. I always end up grinding my session in the same clothes.
LD: And the last 60 minutes of your day?
PL: Winding down watching a TV series. I have been watching Narcos. Friends told me that it’s bad to watch TV when I finish and that I should just read a book.
I am usually awake 2-3 hours after my session finishes. I usually procrastinate. I go to bed late because I want to wake up late the next day.
LD: What do you eat?
PL: We hired an assistant who does everything for us. She gets us fruit and other little things. So I would never go and buy cereal and milk but she always makes sure those things are in the house.
If you have someone who knows everything you need then they won’t make the mistakes that you do in forgetting to get them. I eat a lot of pasta and fruit.
LD: What do you drink?
PL: I drink this thing called Carotene. I get them from the gym next door. I think it’s like a healthy version of Powerade, but I imagine it also has some bad things in it. But it tastes nice and keeps me going.
LD: Do you drink alcohol during WCOOP?
PL: I don’t drink when I am playing. I drink a lot of water. I used to drink Red Bull but I don’t drink that any more. I stopped 6 months ago.
PL: Nah … I don’t really believe in any of that stuff. I have never even swallowed a pill in my life. I have chewed vitamins but I have never swallowed any pill. I’m not in to that stuff.
LD: What exercise do you do?
PL: I have started managing a football team in Hungary, so this was breaking up my WCOOP. I was training and managing the team during my time off.
It was great. It took my mind completely off WCOOP. I was thinking about the line up and training and concentrating on that.
LD: Do you review your game?
PL: I think it’s bad to do it during WCOOP. You don’t want to fill your mind with half-information. Leading up to WCOOP I play and study 4 times per week.
I have my game plan and know how I play. Now WCOOP has finished I may review, and change things a little bit. By the time SCOOP comes around my game plan will be different.
I don’t review during SCOOP because I want to be comfortable with that game plan. After SCOOP finishes I will look at a different game plan. I play differently now than I did 6 months ago. But I want to play solid during WCOOP and don’t want to change it.
LD: Do you perform any spiritual work?
PL: I work with a mental coach before WCOOP and other festivals but I don’t make spiritual work a big part of my life.
LD: Is there anything you would like to change about WCOOP?
PL: It’s hard to play every event because the last event is 11 pm and it finishes at 8am. If you have played an event at 5 pm and busted it’s hard to stick around for the 11 pm event.
It would be better if the first event started at 1 pm and you could late reg for 5 hours, and then the second event started at 4 pm with 5 hrs late reg and the last event at 7 pm.
LD: What was the most difficult situation you found yourself in during WCOOP?
PL: The most difficult spot was on the final table of the event I won. I went to bed chip leader of 18. I got to the final table 1/6, then I was 4/4 and felt like I had let it slip.
I had some close spots and felt like I had some pressure to realize my expectations from other people and my personal goals. I tried to take a few seconds longer in every decision to make sure I made the correct one and it worked out.
LD: What was the one part of your game you realized you needed to learn more about during WCOOP?
PL: The part of my game I realized I needed to learn about was probably mixed games. I had a go playing a few of them but felt completely outclassed so that gave me some inner drive to be better next time WCOOP comes around.
I think I played five mixed events and had a small profit though.
LD: What was the cruelest or funniest thing anyone typed into the chat box during WCOOP?
PL: Cruelest thing anybody typed in chat was definitely me. I went all in on the river leaving one chip left to my opponent. He called and the break came up straight away and I wrote this ...
LD: What are you most proud of?
PL: Winning my first bracelet. It's my first big title and something that I've worked towards for the last 18 months.
LD: What would you have done differently?
PL: In future I would most likely plan to exercise less so that I never miss a session that I'm supposed to go to at the gym.
Going 3 times a week at the times you're supposed to go to is way better than 3/6 times you were supposed to go to because if you start being slack in one area it will kick in all the other areas too.