How Anton Wigg Turned €50 into EPT and Sunday Million Wins

Sweden's Anton Wigg got his career started with a €50 online poker deposit and since then he's amassed millions in earnings on the internet and at live tournaments.

Wigg won the Sunday Million in 2009 for over $213k playing as antesvante on PokerStars and took down EPT Copenhagen in 2010 for over $672k.

And in addition to his over $1.4 million in live tournament results Wigg is also a successful cash game player.

From Caretaker to Grinder

In this interview Wigg shares how he turned a tiny online deposit into a lucrative career traveling the world playing poker. How did you first become involved with poker?

Anton Wigg: I always excelled at card games, chess, etc. So when I got introduced to such a complex game as poker where both the intellectual challenge of an extremely complicated game merges with the competitive nature and the earning of a few Swedish Kronor, I was sold! 

I started playing freerolls, and back then my focus wasn’t financial.

Instead, it was beating the other guys from my football team, and giving them shit over messenger. When I turned 18 I put about €50 into my first bankroll.

PL: How did that first bankroll turn out?

AW: I played recreationally and had a job as a caretaker right after I finished school.

Then one day I'd built my bankroll up to €50k and was on my way to work at 6am on a Monday morning on five hours of sleep, since I stayed up a bit late the night before playing a juicy game.

I made more money the night before then I did - after tax - working for a month. I knew I'd always be offered a job right away if poker didn't work out and so I set roughly €20k aside and started treating it professionally, following sound bankroll management advice, but taking shots in really good games.

anton wigg
Anton Wigg (Photo courtesy of PokerStars Blog)

PL: That’s one heck of a run!

AW: Well at this time the games were much softer then they are today. I just had somewhat of a clue about what I should be doing and was extremely aggressive.

The first few buy-ins I was playing a little bit tighter just because that was the money I was planning on spending, and I didn't want to make another deposit. As soon as I had a few buy-ins to lose I started playing a much more crazy style.

Most of the €50k came from 5-max cash games, but some from €50-200 tournaments where I was very successful. Later that turned out to be my career.

PL: What was your first significant win?

AW: Well the first one was a win in a €50 tournament where I won something like €3k. But getting a roll quickly was so huge, and got my cash game-play off to a really quick start.

The second one was winning the Sunday Million.

At this point I couldn't really grasp how huge this win was, but it boosted my bankroll by a lot and enabled me to satellite to big live events where my third huge score came winning the EPT in Copenhagen.

PL: Was winning the Sunday Million a proud moment For you?

AW: It came at the perfect time because I was on a big downswing. I'd just broken up with my girlfriend and moved in with a friend of mine who also played poker.

One Sunday night we decided to go play tournaments at an internet-cafe in central Stockholm. The night started OK with a few cashes, but then I managed to get a stack in both the Million and the Mulligan on FTP.

In the Million I was chip leader from 300 players left all the way to the final table and in the Mulligan I was grinding along and went on a rush just before the final table.

Both final-table bubbles burst at the same time and we were all cheering with a little rail gathering behind me. We had to ask the guys who ran the place to keep it open a bit longer then usual so they were watching too.

Wigg winning EPT Copenhagen in 2010.

In the Mulligan I got in AA vs AK and KK for more then half of the chips in play with six left and I got one-outed on the river! I busted in fifth or sixth place.

But I remained focused in the Million and I was so sure that I'd win it. Then after a really aggressive final table, where me and the other chip leader clashed a bunch of times, I finally managed to grind him down heads-up and win a coin flip to take it down for about $210k!

The guys were heading home, but I had other plans in mind.

I went to a car rental place. Rented a pretty nice car and went out for a drive down the freeway for about two hours and just enjoyed the hell out of every second of it.

PL: Do you remember any early light bulb moments in your poker career?

AW: Well the first one was just how much aggression pays in NLH. Not just betting and raising, but to have an overall aggressive game, which includes aggressive checks to play bigger pots in highly profitable spots.

The second one was understanding the mathematical fundamentals of the game.

Learning what hands played well and where, and really piecing things together, taking good lines and playing a less exploitable game when games got tougher.

PL: People never stop learning. What was your latest moment?

AW: Lately, I've been feeling very passionate about my game and been excited to sit down and play poker.

Don't get me wrong, I like my job, but when I feel motivated and energized my game is so much better, since I'm quicker to make small, but highly profitable adjustments.

PL: Who do you most respect in this game?

AW: A lot of players! And some great players not at all!

If I started naming people I could go on for a while. But hard workers that enjoy what they do for a living and treat the people around them well, is a good start to get on the list of people I respect.

PL: How do players manage to make it over the long run?

AW: To play within your bankroll and to not be afraid of dropping down limits, selling pieces, getting backed and be very sure what the reasons behind those decisions are.

Chris Moorman
Wigg is still backed by legendary online MTT player Chris "Moorman1" Moorman.

Ask yourself if you feel like your game is sharp enough to play those stakes. If yes, then selling pieces, being backed is a great option to be able to make the most profit.

If no then moving down stakes and working hard on your game is a much better option if you want to make it in the long run.

PL: Towards the end of 2012 Chris Moorman started to lay off some of his horses. Were you one of the casualties?

AW: No, I am still one of his horses. Our relationship has been very successful, as I have managed to consistently make money for the both of us.

I'd met him briefly a couple of times and logged a lot of hours against him. After my Copenhagen win I bought an apartment and went on a huge downswing right after.

I didn't want to affect my investments so I added him on Facebook, asking if he was interested in backing me, and we've had a great relationship ever since, both professionally and as friends. 

PL: What is your opinion of backing?

AW: Well from my point of view backing is a great way to earn money for both parties. I think the problem most people have had is that they've been picking up too many players.

Variance in tournament poker is a HUGE factor hence you need a HUGE bankroll too, no matter how good your horses are.

As a backer you also need to treat it as a business, which means making some tough choices if you feel like your horses aren't playing their best, or are in fact losing.

There is just no point pouring money down a growing black hole just because you are financially and/or emotionally invested.

There are a lot of stories about successful backing relationships. Steve O'Dwyer is the first one that comes to mind.

PL: What sets you apart from hundreds of Swedish poker players that have not made it?

AW: It's hard to not sound a bit cocky saying this, but I have a talent for this game and adjusting to the changing times where games are tougher and played a bit differently.

But also the huge amount of work I've put in to stay ahead of the curve constantly trying to make good adjustments.

PL: What do you want to be remembered for?

AW: Well, achievements will be determined in the future and I feel like it's too early for big plans, although I hope that I'll be in a position to make big things happen, like starting a school or something similar.

But for now I'm very happy with being able to help my family and friends reaching their goals since I'm in a good financial position. 

When it comes to being remembered I had a discussion the other week about what I want my funeral to be like: A classy, but casual ceremony filled with smiles and happy memories and of course a big party afterwards!

I hope I have, and will have made, a positive difference in people's lives and therefore live on with them, in a smile, a thought or an act where I've inspired someone to do something good.

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