PL.com first met Julian Thew when he won the EPT event in Baden, Austria, just a few short months ago. Actually, to be more precise, we first met him at the bar the night before when, along with a few members of the British media corps, we shared a few rounds and spoke about the final table to come.
At that time Yo-Yo was already a William Hill-sponsored player coming off a recent win on the Grosvenor U.K. Poker tour. The English media had nothing but good things to say about him and after just a few minutes in his company we were forced to agree with their assessment.
The next day he began among the chip leaders and outlasted each of his final-table counterparts to take down his biggest title to date and the biggest part of the heads-up chop with Hungary's Denes Tamas Kalo.
It's been a few months and it seems not a lot has changed with Mr. Thew. He's still seeing his stack undergo severe ups and downs, to which his nickname "Yo-Yo" can be credited, and he's still succeeding in big-buy-in tournament poker. Having started this Day 2 with just $16,950, with blinds of $500/$1,000, and somehow managing to deposit close to $375,000 in his chip-bag by the end of the night, it's easy to see how he earned his moniker.
After the action had died down here at the PokerStars.com Caribbean Adventure Yo-Yo took a few minutes to speak with PL.com before joining his family for a relaxing evening on Paradise Island.
Well Julian, the last time we spoke you had had a bit of success on the EPT. What changes have you seen personally and professionally since then?
It's been great since the win. It really gave me a massive confidence boost, to not only be playing at that level but to be recognized at that level. I think I've been playing good poker since then but it really took a lot of pressure off in a lot of ways. It's been fantastic.
I always thought it was the money that mattered, and obviously the money does matter, but an experience like that is very special.
You mentioned it took the pressure off. As a player, how much does the level of comfort you're experiencing affect how well you're able to play, and succeed, in these huge tournaments, knowing that you can in fact succeed?
It's huge. When you sit down in these big events and there's so many of these young guys it's easy to wonder what they're doing to succeed that you're not. So knowing that I can do it has taken away a lot of those self-doubts. When you're playing bad or running bad it's easy to have those kinds of thoughts and I feel like they've kind of been banished now.
Let's talk about this event for a moment. At the beginning of the day you didn't exactly have a ton of chips but you're in great shape now. How did your day go?
Well I finished yesterday with just a bit more than $16,000 and had aces versus aces on the very last hand of the night. So I was so sure I was going to double-up but ended up chopping. Today I was just pushing in and I was able to stay between $15,000 and $20,000 for the first two levels.
Then I picked up a few hands and I was able to work it up to about forty before I had a double-up with aces against A-Q. Then I went back down to about $60,000 before I called a raise in a four-way pot with 7-8 and the flop came two eights and I was able to double there. After that I had a few nice pots but I think I was playing fairly solid.
I was going to say, your stack seems to have had a pretty constant upward trend today. Does that throw you off not to be doing your usual up and down?
(Laughs) No, I'm trying to play a bit more solid.
Well, having had some experience with a fluctuating stack, do you think that gives you an edge when you might be experiencing a downswing in a tournament or when you're short-stacked?
Yeah, definitely. There's no way a couple of years ago I would have been able to just sit there and be patient. I would have got my chips in a lot sooner so I suppose it's experience.
In Baden I had a terrible start and I was really low at points so I think when you've overcome those setbacks it's a good lesson.
In Baden we watched you build up a big stack repeatedly without too many confrontations and when you got a player all-in you may not have had the best of it every time but you were rarely, if ever, the one at risk of elimination. How are you going to use your stack come tomorrow?
Well, I think tomorrow's a very different day. It depends a lot on my table and my position at the table. But again, I'm just going to try to play fairly solid and try to exploit any weaknesses I'm able to sense. I'll try not to donk it off but I'm not making any guarantees.
Thanks Julian and good luck tomorrow.
Although a long line of busted players can usually be seen heading away from whatever patch of felt Julian is sitting at, few would hold it against him. Only time will tell if the Yo-Yo will be spinning up or down tomorrow so tune in to PokerListings.com to find out.