If I were casting for PokerStars' Shark Cage, the first person on my list would be Luke "__FullFlush1__" Schwartz.
He’s the type of poker player who gets plunged into the South Atlantic Ocean and when the sharks come to eat him he talks them out of it.
Too many, he is a pain in the ass; to me he is a superstar - a made-for-TV poker personality. There is nobody that can touch him.
He plays the bad guy to absolute perfection. But times change. People grow up.
They stop shouting. They start loving. And they even bring their own sandwiches to poker games.
Has Luke Schwartz changed? Let’s find out, shall we?
Interview with Luke '__FullFlush1__' Schwartz
Lee Davy: Have you put the kids to bed?
Luke Schwartz: Yeah … just a second ago.
LD: Who would have thought it? Talking to Luke Schwartz late on a Friday night and you're putting the kids to bed.
LS: I’m a new man now. I'm 30 years old - a bit different from the brash, ego driven, crazy guy who roamed around the poker tables when I was in my early twenties.
LD: Have you grown up?
LS: I don’t feel more grown up but the fact I have responsibilities now have obviously had an impact on the way I behave.
I still feel extremely young though.
LD: How’s your poker going?
LS: I am on a bit of a heater right now, so everything is going really well. I have just been sticking to the mixed games.
There was a great live game I was playing in London, but that ended. I am focusing on online high stakes games.
It’s going well but it can be brutal when you go broke - which can happen any day.
LD: Where are you playing and at what stakes?
LS: I play on PokerStars and Full Tilt - anything from $100/200 to $1,000/2,000. Limit games mainly, like eight-game.
The big-bet games play a little smaller than the Limit games so it’s not $1k/$2k NL but $200/400 or $300/600 NL.
LD: How have they changed over the years?
LS: There’s no chance that I can beat NL now. When I was beating it in 2009 not many people were using HUDS so it was a lot easier then as they didn’t have tendencies on you.
Now people are masters of the HUD it’s a bit of a dead game. I think NL and PLO will slowly die out online.
The pros know everything and the fish get eaten easily. The pros don’t want to play each other - there’s a lot of bum hunting.
There is decent action in the mixed games because it’s new to everyone. Triple Draw is popular, and there’s a lot of action.
You can use a HUD for the mixed games but it’s more useful in the big-bet games and that’s good news for me.
LD: Why don’t we see you playing more tournaments?
LS: I don’t really like to travel too much. I like going to Vegas, but that’s about it, and I only generally play cash out there anyway.
I don’t really have the patience for tournaments, and I have never had any big results.
But when I do play them I do look around me thinking, 'How can I not win this - everyone on my table is so bad,' and then I bust first.
Perhaps I am the bad player.
LD: When we used to see you acting up in the televised events, was that really you?
LS: I was a hyped-up kid with too much money. I was in my own little world really.
LD: What do you think of all that old footage?
LS: It’s pretty cringeworthy when I look back at myself.
Everyone hates the sound of his or her voice, and it’s even worse when you are being stupid.
I don’t watch my old footage anymore.
LD: If you were on TV tomorrow would you be different?
LS: You would have to see on the day. Who knows? I’m a funny guy. I speak my mind.
I wouldn’t hold back if I needed to say something, but I’m not an attention-seeking whore anymore.
LD: Was your behavior a strategy to tilt people?
LS: Not really, if someone is tilting me I will just have a go. It’s not an angle shoot or a way to gain an advantage.
LD: What’s your opinion on the PokerStars rake changes?
LS: I don’t play six tables for many hours so it’s not going to affect me so much - I am a one- or two-table player.
I do think it will affect the online poker world and maybe it will be really bad in a few years time - perhaps even all over.
I might be exaggerating but the big-bet and NL games will have a lot less action in a year's time.
LD: Is Phil Hellmuth a "Whore?"
LS: I don’t have too much of an opinion to be honest. Phil Hellmuth is going to be Hellmuth.
Some people like him and others don’t. He’s not the most skillful player.
He did do well back when poker was easier, and he’s trying to preserve his name and does stuff to stay in the media so it’s understandable really.
LD: Who is more important for poker: Dan Colman or Phil Hellmuth?
LS: Dan Colman is on the biggest heater of all time, but he isn’t a poker personality for the game.
He is a far better player than Hellmuth, and if he had more charisma and did more interviews and stuff people would look up to him and he would be a bigger name for poker.
But he doesn’t. Hellmuth still does all that so I guess Hellmuth is more important to poker than Colman.
LD: Have you played against Colman much?
LS: I played with him back in the day. Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised to see him go on the streak he has gone on.
"He’s been lucky, but he knows more about the NL game than anyone.
LD: Who used to wind you up?
LS: There were a few to be honest. I still don’t like a lot of them today. I don’t want to name names though.
LD: What winds you up about players?
LS: I don’t like it when they think they are too smart, or too cool.
I don’t like it when they don’t realize how lucky they are to be playing poker when they could be doing something else.
There is no gratitude. They are rude to the fish and complain when they lose - it’s all backwards.
LD: Who do you respect?
LS: I respect a guy called Alex Kostritsyn. He has been a high-stakes winner for years and is a very honorable guy and very clever.
Michael Thuritz is also a great player and one of the best all-round players in the world.
I respect his game, but he has an ego/attitude problem so I don’t like his personality as much as Alex for example.
LD: What does your life look like?
LS: I try to go to bed early, but if there is action I may be up till 5/6 am in the morning.
I need to be up at 8 am to take my boy to school so that’s tough.
I try to get to the gym. I am cutting down my smoking and I don’t drink much these days.
LD: Is it tough being a Dad?
LS: I like it a lot. I haven’t found it difficult, but kids can be difficult.
I struggle at times. He was kicking off a lot today, so that was stressful.
I have spoiled him a lot and sometimes that comes back and smacks you in the face.
LD: Do you worry about financial stability now you’re a father?
LS: Sometimes, when you have gone broke, or lost a lot of money, and have a little moment with yourself - you worry.
But I’m not that worried long term. Unless they ban poker worldwide I will always beat this game if I really had to.
I will always get a spin-up going online. I am already secure so I’m in an OK spot.
LD: Who do you want to become?
LS: I live every day as I live it. I try to say I am not going to degen too hard, and this and that, but poker brings out the worst in a lot of people.
It can make them more degen, can bring out the poorer personality - so I fight my way through that. That’s my battle.