Online poker pro Rob “Vaga_Lion” Akery made his annual pilgrimage to the World Series of Poker this week but he's bringing a little more swagger than usual.
The Bristol, England, native is one of the most successful high stakes PLO players on PokerStars in 2012 with $612,440 in profit according to highstakesdb.
Despite the fact he cashed in the $2.5k No-Limit Hold’em tournament, he wasn’t overly concerned about winning $11,918.
“It’s just a nice change of pace, really,” said the 26 year old. “I don’t really do it for the money. It’s nice to win but I don’t really expect to. I just think there’s so much luck involved with tournaments.”
Akery was already dominating opponents online long before he got into poker. He played computer games when he was growing up and turned into a serious force on the Internet.
“I played real-time strategy games online since I was 11 or 12,” he said. “Every new one that came out I improved slightly. At first I was worse than average. The next game I would be better.”
Akery Goes From Age of Mythology to Poker
Eventually Akery peaked in a game called Age of Mythology where he was ranked, albeit briefly, as the best player in the world.
Akery, who played as Vagabond_Lion, entered the Tournament of Titans, where he emerged victorious.
“I only won like $1,000 but when you’re 16 it seemed pretty cool,” he said.
So did his victory bring fame, success and cash?
“Not so much, no,” laughed Akery. “I did a bit of coaching for a very small fee but it seemed better than getting a paper route at that point.”
Akery did take away something valuable from his experiences in the computer gaming world, however.
“It just made me realize you can actually get really good at something if you put in the time,” he said. “Poker seemed like a good one to put a lot of time into.”
Starting with Just $5 Akery Becomes an Online Monster
Akery didn’t start playing poker until a couple years later when one of his close friends got into the game.
The young Brit was initially scared of depositing, even though the minimum deposit on most sites is just $25-$50, so a friend eventually just sent him $5.
Incredibly Akery never lost that $5 and eventually turned it into hundreds of thousands.
“I don’t know how I did it,” he said. “I remember being down to like $.50 and being like ‘Oh shit.’”
Akery is hardly the online former gamer to switch to poker as former Starcraft players such as Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Hevad Khan and Dan “Rekrul” Schreiber all found varying levels of success in the game.
“It’s kind of impressive,” he said. “I think people who are good at games have the self-confidence, dedication and strategic minds to do well in poker.”
Akery Enjoying High-Stakes Pot-Limit Omaha
Now among the elite Pot-Limit Omaha players in the world, Akery is a veteran in the online world that has seen a dramatic shift in the community since Black Friday locked out U.S. players.
“Currently, I'm enjoying PLO as I face different types of high stakes players, opponents who can handle big swings," he said. "Having said that, I still make most of my winnings playing high stakes Hold'em.”
Akery plays with some of the best PLO players in the world but there are two who stand out to him as particularly dangerous.
“Sauce123 seems to always win,” he said. “EireAbu is also very good.”
Despite their talent, Akery has a hard time turning down any challenges.
“There’s definitely a few I shouldn’t play but I do,” Akery said.
Akery still plays computer games like Starcraft 2 every now and then but admits he’s nowhere near as good as he used to be.
Instead he's concentrating on playing lucrative poker games and tournaments.
“Although I have come among the top five in many big tournaments and have won more than a million, I have yet to come first in one," he said.