Talking Shop with Tom Dwan on Day 2 of the World Poker Finals

Tom Dwan has been wreaking havoc on the online poker world for years as durrr but it's just this year that he's actually turned 21 and set his sights on live tournaments.

It looks like he has been able to translate his online success into running good in live play because Dwan has been one of the chip leaders on Days 1 and 2 of the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

PokerListings.com grabbed Dwan for a quick chat after he completed Day 2.

So Tom, if you don't mind, run me through your Day 2.

Early on I had a bunch of big hands. I had one big fold where I had to lay down queens. Most of my hands involved about 25% of my stack but I did play one big pot about an hour before the day ended where the guy I was playing against knew who I was and I had a vague idea who he was. He was an online grinder in 5/10 and I'd heard he was pretty good. He three-bet me, he knew I was opening on a million different hands because at that point I was opening on every other hand. Tom Dwan playing in Day 2 of the 2007 World Poker Finals.

I thought about four-betting, I probably should have, but I didn't and I just called. The flop was 9-8-5 with two spades and I had A♠ 7♠ so I checked, he bet, I re-raised, he shoved for a little bit more, I called. He had 8-8 and I realized I definitely should have four-bet pre-flop. I dunno; in the end I was lucky and I turned the flush.

I had a very soft table to start the day but it kept getting tougher and tougher throughout the day. It was still good though. There were a bunch people with big stacks that... Well I wish I had been able to stay at that table a bit longer.

Were you at the same table all day?

Yeah. I've only been at three tables. On Day 1 I had the best table ever and then I got moved to an even better table with an hour left in the day and then I started today with this table, which was amazing. There some players who were normally probably pretty good at tourneys but they had 150 big blinds each and they all do a lot of wrong things like putting in too many chips and raise/folding quite often.

What do you think of the overall level of competition here?

This is the softest tournament I've ever played in. I mean I'm sure the World Series of Poker Main Event is softer but [judging by] everybody I've talked to this is one of the softest tournaments of the year. They satellite in a ton of people and it's awesome. A lot of them are live satellite winners and online satellite players are usually going to be better. It's an amazing field.

the field
The field at the World Poker Finals.

How many WPT events have you played?

I've played Pokerstars Caribbean three times I think and then Biloxi, Legends, Niagara and a few EPT events as well. I've probably played 15 to 20 $10,000 events total. I just turned 21 so I haven't played that many in the U.S.

You're a very well-known online player but you've just started to play a lot of live events; how are you finding it making the transition to live play?

One of the weird things for me is that when I go to a table I'll have five people who don't know who I am, three who know who I am vaguely and then one player or two that will know my game very well. It's hard not knowing which ones are which.

Generally the younger guys will have a better idea and the older guys will have no idea but still there will be times where I will be in a pot and I will try to bluff someone and get snap-called and half an hour later I'll hear them talking to a friend saying, "Oh yeah, durrr tried to bluff me..." and I'll think "God****it!" because they know who I am. It makes for a weird dynamic. I mean I have no problem with people knowing who I am but if I'm not sure which ones do it makes it difficult.

I assume I play tournaments like most high-stakes cash game players do. I mean I try to play as well as I can but I definitely don't have the desire to survive, per se. I'm not one of those players who is thinking, "Oh my god, this guy re-raised me, what if I lose all my chips..."

Some players know that and will call me a lot.

Tom Dwan
Tom Dwan playing in the World Series of Poker Europe.

Do you find it hard keeping your focus in these long live tournaments that don't have the speed of online poker?

My iPod died like two hours ago and I want to shoot someone. Without an iPod I play so bad. It helps so much. I mean Day 1 I had a fun table and the people were nice but if you're at a table where people are bitter because they don't have chips and they get angry when you re-raise them it gets really, really annoying without an iPod. Music really helps.

What do you think about the level of skill in live poker compared to online?

Oh it's definitely softer live. I mean, I don't play much cash live, just because it drives me crazy and you play so many less hands, but it's definitely softer live. There are so many fish. Most of the best live players also play online but a lot of the medium-skill poker players don't like playing online because they call it "rigged" or whatever but it's just a matter of the level of competition being higher.

A lot of players that play 50/100 live think they can go online and beat the 50/100 there but it's a completely different game.

Justin Bonomo
Justin Bonomo - another online poker prodigy.

I stake a ton of online players in live events so that shows I believe there are a lot of soft fields out there. So far I've had good results.

How many chips did you actually end the day with?


Are you feeling confident heading into Day 3?

I'm tired, hungry and confident.

What's the next tournament you are playing in?

There are bunch of $1,500 tournaments at the Bellagio and the Venetian. I play on playing a lot of those.

So you're enjoying live poker?

I don't know if I'd go that far. I think it's profitable and there are tables that I enjoy because they are fun and there's a few people that I enjoy but when I'm at a table where I don't know anybody it's sometimes kind of boring.

Thanks so much for your time, Tom.

No problem.

Known for playing online with the likes of Phil Ivey, David Benyamine and Patrik Antonius, Dwan has already proven he can be successful at the highest stakes of poker. A number of poker insiders have already pegged Dwan as the Doyle Brunson of a new generation but it remains to be seen if Dwan can dominate the live game scene the way he does online. It also remains to be seen if Dwan even wants to be an elite live player. Time will tell.

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