Club Poker's gossip queen Gaëlle Jaudon sat down with Chris Moorman for an exclusive interview during the WSOP. The British pro, who was recently sponsored by 888poker, shares some secrets on how he's been able to stay atop of the online tournament world. Moorman also talks about moving away from his home country of England and setting up home in Los Angeles, which seems like an odd place for one of the greatest players in the brief history of online poker.
It's not easy being the King! Chris Moorman is considered one of the top poker players in the world, and he's been near the top of the list of best MTT players since he first made a splash onto the poker scene. Almost a decade later, Moorman is still one of the premier players in poker, but the British pro's life is a lot different now than when he first started as an aspiring university student. He got married last year and moved to Los Angeles, which has a vibrant live poker scene but a non-existent online poker scene. Like many American online exiles, Moorman commutes to Vancouver, Canada or south of the border to Mexico to play in major online events.
Here's the exclusive interview with Club Poker's Gaëlle and 888poker's Chris Moorman. The original interview appeared in French on our parent site.
Gaëlle: For several years, you dominated the online tournament scene and had tremendous success online? What is your secret?
Chris Moorman: I know how to adapt my game, when you have an image of an aggressive player then you have to play to that and you can't be crazy all the time. Back in the day, I was way more aggro than I am now. You have to change gears, be able to showdown a bad hand, and be able to wait for a good spot. It's kind of simple thing, but a lot of people keep going a 100% the all the time. You have to change it up a lot and play tight as well, not always 100% aggression.
G: What's your learning method?
C: I like to go through previous hands because even if you win a tournament you never really played every hand perfectly. Even if you win a big pot, maybe you made a bad bet sizing or you got lucky that time. So, I like to discuss it over with friends, mainly other British players I've know a long time, and we go through their hands as well. You can always learn a lot from other people; it opens your thinking process.
G: Did you already have a model when you started playing? Someone you really admired?
C: I was watching shows on TV. When I started playing, I watched the WPT with Gus Hansen playing real crazy hands and it made me make crazy moves myself too. When I played Phil Ivey for the first time, it was intimidating. I tried to work on getting some live presence because he's the most intimidating live player I've seen, when he's staring you down it's a lot of pressure!
G: You're a huge online winner, what does it means for you? Is it a real personal challenge to keep this position?
C: Yeah, it's a great accomplishment, I think it shows I succeeded in the test of time. When I start playing, A lot of people were on top of the game and now they're not in poker anymore. The game has moved on a lot so you have to constantly work. Some of the stuff I was doing 5 or 6 years ago seems absolutely terrible now, so I identified that and worked a lot on my game and keep mixing up. If I continue to have success each year, it shows I do a hard work.
G: You published a book last year, Moorman's Book of Poker. What motivated you? Was it important for you to share something?
C: I really wanted to give something back to the community. When I started I read a lot of poker books myself… Doyle Brunson's Super System, Dan Harrington's books (Harrington on Hold'em), etc. It inspired me to start learning, so I wanted give something back myself. A lot of people do training videos and I never felt really comfortable with that in the sense of showing exactly how I play, so a book was a good compromise to teach things without giving my game away. I had a lot of people at the WSOP last year in particular who told me they really enjoyed the book. It means a lot to me.
G: When did you realized poker was for you, how did you deal with your family? I know you have funny stories about this.
C: I first played while I was in university and they didn't know about it for a couple of years. It's good I guess because I wasn't planning of playing professionally. It was just fun, but I started doing good finally and when I finished university I had to sit them down and explain, so it was a complete surprise to them. My dad was shocked obviously, but he gave me six months to try it. He wrote down all the money I had in my bank account so I couldn't lie and he was like "Okay, son, let's see how much you can make in 6 months and if this can be a profession." In that 6 months I only did poker. I was very focused and never left the house, All my friends were calling me to go out and I was always turning them down. I knew that this period of time was the only chance I had, if I didn't do well he would have forced me to get a normal job so I played hard and was really lucky too it worked well. I showed him my bank account and then he said, “Now you have to teach me how to play!”
G: You moved to Los Angeles, which seems a very particular choice especially for an online player (where there is no legal online poker in California). Why that decision and what dows your life in LA look like?
C: My wife is from LA. We travelled a lot around the world before I moved to LA. When I lived in London it was complicated playing online with the time zone. To maintain a good relationship, we finally decided when I played to rather do it from Vancouver or Mexico because it's short flights from LA and settle here. Also I wanted to live a more balanced life where I wasn't playing online every day, in LA I can't play and I have to travel to play, so in fact when I do play now I'm way more focus and motivated. If a session started badly and I'd go on tilt, but now I know I travel a week only to play poker and I'm more excited, I just power on through and other side when I'm in LA I live more a normal life.
G: How is poker in LA? Do you play live cash games?
C: Yeah I play sometimes at Bicycle Casino or Commerce, they have many tournaments throughout the year, but not really live cash, because it seems really slow and boring to me. I used to play cash games but I've never been into that much really.
G: You got married last summer and you've been a poker pro for a long time now. How do you find a balance in your life? Is it easier today than a few years ago?
C: For sure, back in the past when I was trying to do my best online it was hard to do anything else just because the games were really soft and easy. Every time I played, I won and was hard to justify to do something else… unless it was gonna be an amazing night! If it was just a typical Driday night thing I was always thinking about the money I could have make online instead of staying home. It was tough to find a real balance in life in those conditions, but I was just thinking of poker all the time. Now, I have everything going on. It's nice to experience the rest of life and enjoy other aspects and not have it all about poker. I still love poker obviously, but I have other interests now and I enjoy life more, when I play I play and when I'm at home in LA then I live more a normal and cool life.
G: Do you have other passions?
C: It's not very original but like many guys I like watching sports. But I really try to stay away from betting! I used to gamble when I was younger, at that time I didn't had much money but I would gamble at stakes that would affects me a lot, but now playing poker I know that if I want to gamble big stakes, then (losses) could escalate really quickly. I have quite an addicted personality so it's better if I stay away from big bets before it grows out of control. Besides, I rather watch and enjoy the games.
G: What is the success you're the most proud about?
C: For sure, it's my live win at LAPC because I waited to long for a huge live win that it was getting to the point where it would never happen! To finally get that win after so many close scores being second and third and be the last man standing was a really strong feeling. I dreamed about it so many times, and it was even better than my dreams. Many of my friends were there. It was at my new-adopted home of LA and it was really an amazing feeling.
G: You play thousands of tournaments, so how do you stay motivated after so many years? How to stay focused and start the grind over again and again?
C: Luckily, I just love competition. Mainly competition for myself. I always want to play my A-game and do my best. I'm still very excited about poker. For sure it would have been hard to stay motived if I didn't enjoyed it anymore, I would have to do something else because I wouldn't work at it as hardly as I still do it. Most days when I wake up, I'm very excited to play and I feel very lucky about it.
G: What are your new goals? Is there something you really wish in particular?
C: I definitely would love more live success and a couple live big wins after I won the LAPC, it gives you the bankroll for it. A bracelet here this summer at the WSOP would be amazing, with all my friends from England here as well. When I won in LA a lot of them were not able to be there, so winning (a bracelet) in front of them would be really awesome. All my friends cheering me on would be an amazing feeling. A couple years ago I made a couple of close scores like second and third (at the WSOP), even if I didn't win it was still an amazing day to have them railing me. So to actually win a bracelet this summer would definitely be out of this world!
G: As one of the biggest online players, what do you think of the changes at PokerStars, to bring more entertainment to poker and changes of policy?
C: I think it was a hard thing to do because in poker the edge become smaller and smaller so the recreational players are losing faster than before, so you obviously have to change something to keep them interested. It is really hard to know what exactly to do, you cannot keep everyone happy in that situation so they had to make tough choices. Things had to change anyway.
G: It is quite the same idea with the Global Poker League? You are a member of the London Royals. What excited you in that new project and do you think the poker world is evolving to something new?
C: I was very excited by the newest impression of he GPL I really wanted to give it a try and see where it goes. I mean what's the worst that can happen? GPL has real potential and I really like the people who are in charge of it. They have good visions for poker and work hard. I really wanted to support that and help anyway I can, competing against good friends as well and it's nice to be part of a team. Poker is a very individual game, even when you have friends at the table you are just playing for yourself so it was interesting and exciting to finally be part of a team.
G: What do you think of the poker world now in comparison to when you started?
C: It's kind of a complete different world, when I started a lot of people played that game but there was no real set of ways to play and GTO (game theory optimal) didn't exist. Now it's a lot more math based and everyone is working on the game and doing research. Before it was much more for fun with people gambling with poker. Today's players are more serious and educated, even working out and eating healthy before playing. When back in the days it was more like you start playing hungover and didn't really care!
G: If you were not in poker, what profession would you be working in?
C: I guess it would have something to do with business. In fact, it was the only subject at school I was really interested in. Everything else seemed really boring to me. I always wanted to be a stockbroker. It's kind of similar to poker in a way and just sort of being like get involved in shares and like selling and trading kind of thing.
G: What's the best advice you can give to players?
C: I would say… to not be result oriented… that's the mistake we do most of the time in poker. It's tough sometimes, even when you already had great accomplishments, after a couple of bad weeks and months you are running bad and being unlucky you start thinking you're playing badly and you can change and weaker your game in fact, when on the reverse you could be really lucky on some tournaments and think you're invincible and on top of the world, then you go way higher in stakes and start playing at limits you shouldn't play. I would just say keep your feet on the ground when running good and keep learnin. And work even when it's going badly, step back to take a look to see if you played badly and made poor decisions, or were just unlucky. Do not get too involved with the result.
G: Any projects for the future?
C: I'm not much of a planer honestly, but mainly after the WSOP, I'm going back to England for a few weeks, which would be cool because I don't get to go home very often, just see friends and family for a few weeks and do nothing about poker It will be really nice and relaxing. Outside of that, I don't really know yet. I'm very focused on poker now so I don't really make other plans. As long as poker is still exciting to me and I want to play every day when I wake up… I'll keep going. But who knows? If a new project comes along the way, then why not? I might move on to do something else, but now I'm still lucky I love that game and I see myself doing it for a while.
This interview originally appeared in French. Read it here.
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