Luke Schwartz Out of the Pit, Back on the Grind

In 2009 Luke Schwartz lit up the online poker world by winning millions battling the best in the world at the highest stakes on Full Tilt Poker.

In the following two years the man known formerly as “_FullFlush1_” went on a downswing that involved poker and casino gambling but with two major wins online this year and a new focus on mixed games Schwartz is back on the grind and doing his best to stay away from the pit.

Schwartz continues to live in London but says he’s grown tired of playing online, despite winning an event in the Spring Championship of Online Poker for $174,200 in May, and the Sunday 500 on PokerStars for $68,815 in February under the screen name lb6121.

Luke Schwartz: Huge Downswing in 2010

Schwartz is now dividing his time between online poker and live mixed games at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London but has traveled to Las Vegas for the summer to compete at the World Series of Poker.

On a break from the $50,000 buy-in Players Championship Schwartz sat down to fill in the gaps since his meteoric rise to poker fame. How long have you been here at the WSOP and what have you played so far?

Luke Schwartz: I’ve only been here about a week and I haven’t played many tournaments. I spewed off in the HORSE and I had a big stack in the $5k PLO but I f***ed that up so I’m going to play a little tighter in this one.

PL: The field in this $50k is pretty strong. Where do you think your edge is coming from in this event?

Luke Schwartz
Schwartz now splits his time between online poker and live mixed games in London.

LS: I think the field is really strong but I’ve got a good table. I only know a few of the other guys and they're mostly old guys so even if they’re strong in the HORSE games my edge will come through in the Deuce and the big bet games.

PL: We haven’t seen a ton of you in the last year or so. Bring us up to speed on what you’ve been doing.

LS: I still play No-Limit Hold’em on the Euro sites but honestly I’m getting a bit bored with all that so I’ve been playing mixed games lately. We’ve got a mixed game that plays quite big at the Vic in London and I play in that a few times a week.

And I play on PokerStars $200/$400 or $400/$800 8-Game and that’s about it.

PL: What’s the dynamic of that game at the Vic like?

LS: Yeah it really depends on who’s playing. It plays anywhere from £100/£200 to £300/£600 just whether the right people are there.

We even make up our own crazy games so it’s a lot of fun to play.

PL: You posted near the end of last year that you had turned a corner a bit as far as not getting crazy with pit gambling. Have you seen a positive change in that part of your life compared to how it was a year or two ago?

LS: Yeah I mean, I was a bit degenerate on the table games in the past. I’ve played a little bit when I’ve been drunk here in Vegas but I haven’t been playing in the day time and even if I lose a big pot I won’t go play so that’s been really good.

PL: Was the gambling a way to deal with stress for you or was it just the action that drew you to those games?

LS: I had a huge downswing in 2010 and 2011 and the gambling was a big part of the downswing. I was just an idiot.

PL: Is it tough to stay out of the pit now?

Luke Schwartz
Depending on how Schwartz does in the $50k we might see him buy into the $1M Big One for One Drop.

LS: No, now it’s kind of out of my system I think. Unless I’m drunk I’m not going to mess around on the table games.

PL: The $1 million Big One for One Drop is coming up. Any chance we’ll see you in that?

LS: Yeah if I do well in this I might look at it. There was a chance I was going to get in it. There were a lot of people lined up to sell action to.

It’s obviously just a sick tournament though. Any pro is going to be plus EV in that just because there are so many fish.

And I’m really good at No-Limit tournaments right now so I would fancy my chances in that. But it’s really just about selling enough action.

PL: What do you expect the dynamic to be like in that tournament? Do you think even the experienced pros will be feeling the pressure because of how  much money’s on the line?

LS: There’s never been a $1 million buy-in tournament so it’s definitely something new. You’ve got to think about the bubble in that tournament. It’s going to be something like a $2 million bubble and no one wants to f***ing bubble for $2 million.

And the rich guys won’t be too bothered about bubbling it I don’t think so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it goes.

I think the people who aren’t too fussed about the buy-in are going to have the best shot.

A pro who’s put in $400k of their own money’s going to be playing a lot tighter than someone who’s sold $1 million in action at 1.1 markup and is freerolling for 10 percent.

PL: What kind of play would you expect from the amateurs in the Big One?

LS: I really don’t think they’ll be afraid to bust. But the thing about a lot of amateurs is that they’re not making any massive plays or big bluffs. They’re more likely to be stations, check-calling and paying you off and stuff.

And in tournaments a lot of people are busting preflop. Maybe someone would five-bet jam ace-jack or whatever and run into a hand.

So I’d expect more flop play, even around the bubble and when stacks are thirty or forty big blinds deep we’ll see a lot calling preflop and playing past the flop.

PL: Who do you think has the best shot?

LS: I think Sam Trickett has a good shot. He’s a fearless player which will be important. But Phil Ivey probably has the best shot just the way he’s been playing, having made five final tables.

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