At first glance Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen's poker story sounds pretty similar to a lot of young poker pros.
Discovered poker while playing Magic: The Gathering. Took a year off before going to university play poker a bit more seriously.
Won enough to make him decide not to go back to school at all but instead hit the professional poker circuit.
The difference between Petersen and those other guys? Five years later Petersen is one of the most successful players, live or online, Denmark's ever produced with $6.3 in online cashes and another $1.3m live.
Scandinavian Players Still Best
Among his multiple triple crowns online he also happens to be an EPT champion, winning his hometown EPT Copenhagen in 2012 for $444,595.
The Team PokerStars Online pro was back doing what he does exceptionally well at EPT Prague this week where he hung on short-stacked at the bubble to add another EPT cash to his impressive resume.
"The whole affair is an awful thing."
PokerListings: Mickey, two poker players have been charged with online fraud in Denmark this week. Do you know what’s going on?
Mickey Petersen: I don’t think that I know more than you guys because I’m not really part of the affected group of players.
It is more about the cash game community, and I’m not a cash game player. The only thing what I can say is that the whole affair is an awful thing.
PL: Can you imagine becoming the victim of that kind of cheating?
MP: It is scary to see that something like that can happen at all. I mean, you can be a successful, winning player and you can still go broke because you get cheated.
But I think that the high-stakes cash game scene is very cautious about things like this.
The sad thing is that this started so many years ago that the precautions taken in recent years had no effect.
PL: Daniel Cates is one of the players mentioned as a potential victim. Is he even more in danger because he plays everybody?
MP: Obviously, if you're like Cates who plays everyone, you have to take a lot of safety measures. And it seems like he's been doing exactly that for a lot of years, which is really good.
PL: Is it even possible to protect yourself 100%?
MP: It's tough to say. My knowledge about IT is very poor. For an online pro I am actually very bad in computers.
Of course you have to protect yourself as much as you can. Everybody invests a lot of time and energy into protecting their bankroll by improving their game.
"You need to protect whatever you do."
And so you should invest the same amount of time to protect you technically and in other aspects.
PL: What are the precautions you take? What do you recommend?
MP: I use one computer only for playing poker. On this computer I have no other programs running and I don’t even open e-mails or do anything else.
I never add someone on Skype who I don’t know personally. And I always have an extra eye on this computer.
It’s just like in everyday life. Where there is money involved, there will be people who try to exploit and abuse you. You need to protect whatever you do.
PL: You play a lot online. Does PokerStars raising the rake affect your daily work?
MP: Not much really. It’s not going to change the games I play. The changes seem to be negligible for tournament players.
PL: You're an MTT mass grinder. What does a working day of yours look like?
MP: I have periods where I play more and periods where I play less. On average, I play four days a week. I usually play from 2 or 3 PM till 12 to 2 AM. I like the long sessions.
If you play cash game or Sit-n-Gos you play more fractured sessions. MTTs on the other hand can keep you at the tables for long stretches of time.
Right now I’m actually in the middle of moving so my daily routine is not really there at the moment.
PL: But surely you play the Sunday majors?
"The time when someone like Gus Hansen can create a new style and win poker tournaments by playing differently is pretty much over."
MP: Yes. That’s really a must for any MTT player.
PL: What range of tournaments do you play?
MP: Of course the more expensive tournaments are more fun. But I try to keep up a consistent number of tables.
As there aren’t that many high buy-in tournaments all the time I play a wider buy-in range from $1,000 down to $8.
And sometimes, when winning in the higher buy in tournaments doesn’t seem to work at all, a win in an $8 tournament can you bring back some good mojo.
It’s just so much fun to win. Apart from that, I actually play pretty much the same tournaments every day.
PL: Isn’t it difficult to adjust of the different quality level in all these the different tournaments?
MP: I adjust, of course. I focus more in the more expensive tournaments.
But if I play an $8 or a $22 tournament I don’t really focus on the high analysis. It’s more for fun and I can relax a little.
PL: In the early 2000s the Scandinavians were feared for their playing style, but then that seems to have ebbed. Is Martin Jacobson’s WSOP win a comeback of Scandinavian poker?
MP: Scandinavian players still are some of the best. I think Swedish players are now better than ever.
But the time when someone like Gus Hansen can create a new style and win poker tournaments by playing differently is pretty much over.
Outside Scandinavia, it would be difficult these days to even recognise a Scandinavian player at a table by his style.
"It’ll never be 100% certain who the best tournament player is, and it’s good that way."
Ten years ago, it was quite easy to identify a player’s descent. But the game is globalized and that means you don’t get these geography related differences anymore.
PL: In cash games you know who the best players are. Money rankings don’t lie. But how does that work in tournament poker?
MP: In cash games it’s all very simple. Someone sits down at a table. If no one wants to play him, it’s probably because he’s the best there is.
This concept doesn’t work in MT tournaments. But in a way it’s nice to not know who the best MTT player in the world is.
It gives more room for debate and leaves some for mystery. Even the players in Super High Roller tournaments are not necessarily the best.
Of course the top pros are called top for a reason, but image has also to do with knowing the right people. It’ll never be 100% certain who the best tournament player is, and it’s good that way.