Club Poker Radio's Gaëlle Jaudon snagged a rare interview with Kevin MacPhee shortly after he won the WSOP Europe Main Event in Berlin. MacPhee, the winningest pro to ever come out of the state of Idaho, spoke about his new-found quest for a Triple Crown, why he stepped out of the limelight, and why he often encourages amateurs NOT to become poker pros.
Newly-crowned WSOP Europe champion Kevin MacPhee is featured in the next installment of our newest series: The Club Poker Interview. Here are the highlights from MacPhee's chat with Club Poker Radio's gossip girl Gaëlle Jaudon.
Gaëlle Jaudon: You seem to always win in Germany, what is your secret here?
Kevin MacPhee: Yeah, it seems the city just likes me. It's really nice here. First time I won the tournament was held in the Hyatt (EPT Berlin 2010), and this year we rented an apartment close to the casino with my girlfriend and some good friends like Jeff Madsen. I planned to play every day. It's just nice to stay close, you feel good. And it's also a very fun city. When you bag chips or bust, you can easily find a cool place and have some drinks. There is a lot of stuff to do here and I just have good vibes when I'm in Berlin!
GJ: Let's talk about your victory at the WSOPE Main Event. How were you feeling during this final table? I heard you mention you were very lucky during the tournament.
KM: Basically, I had the tournament handed to me. I had tough tables and had chips but mostly I just didn't spew any. I got aces probably like 6 times in 3 hours before the final day. I ended busting 2 people before the final table. Two very though opponents with aces all-in preflop. I got very good hands but I think the most important things is I didn't spew and stayed very focus all the time. But yeah I felt very lucky!! (Laughs).
GJ: Is it a different feeling for you to win a bracelet at the WSOPE? Some people consider European bracelets don't have the same value, what do you think about that?
KM: Yeah, I guess that would be a different question if I had won a side event, but I feel the (WSOPE) Main Event is a very legitimate bracelet. It's a 10K Championship Event with a very though field. It's kind of hard to say what World Series is a better bracelet than the other one. We could also ask this question about bracelets in the seventies with a very small field. But this one is really legitimate. It's a pretty illustrious tournament.
GJ: With both EPT and WSOP victories, you now have to win a WPT to get the Triple Crown. Is that something that really matter for you?
KM: Yeah, I definitely think about putting more focus on WPTs. I like the WPT but they are just not full festivals like EPTs or WSOP, so I generally prefer to go in EPT festivals. I'm really gonna try to go more on WPT this year… Jacksonville, Montreal, WPT Prague etc.... I'm gonna put more focus on that, but I'm definitely not gonna miss an EPT for a WPT. I play satellites on PokerStars so I already won my seat for EPT Prague and PCA.
GJ: How was your trip to Malta?
KM: Pretty good. I had a pretty decent sweat in the 2K and I ended 8th place in the High Roller. I showed up here late because of the Berlin tournament so I couldn't play day 1A and on day 1B I already pre-arranged to play an Italian Big Game cash game, a €25/€50 6-max with no rake, so I ended up not even playing the Main Event. I just tried to settle down after Berlin and keep focus on other tournaments, working hard.
GJ: You live in Montreal now. Why and how is poker there?
KM: Yeah I was living in Lachine for a while, I moved and I played WCOOP up there with Shaun Deeb and his family, right downtown. It's a really nice area. I like Montréal a lot, my girlfriend is French-Canadian and it's really a fun city with always a lot of things to do, even if it's a little bit cold right now! (Laughs) You can play online and Playground poker is pretty much the first poker room in North America. It's really huge for cash and tournaments. It's a super fun place to play poker. I'm missing Amsterdam classics just for WPT Montreal, so... It's hurts!! (Laughs) I really love Amsterdam.
Everybody who wants to have a career in poker really has to think twice about it.... I really warn people who try to be professionals – this sort of environment is very difficult and you have to prepared. Most of the time, you're gonna lose a lot of money and feel really disappointed.
CJ: if online poker re-opens in the US, will it change anything for you?
KM: Well, I don't really think online will fully come back in the U.S. I don't really see myself living in the U.S. now. I like the life here in Canada, so I'll stay here.
CJ: You were playing a lot online before. What about today? You prefer live better?
KM: To be honest I pretty much just transitioned to be a live pro. I'm down a lot of money online, MTTS and cash game online. I'm not winning at online now, but I'm winning a lot on live so I've decided to put less focus online than I used to. Games are much toucher so I think it's better to play live tournaments now.
CJ: Scott Seiver said in an interview recently that there are always goals and things to prove in poker. Do you agree with that?
KM: Yeah, I mean it's more always proving something to yourself like all the time, in the moment. Being present and making good decisions, controlling your emotions… it's difficult, it's a struggle. But if you focus on that rather than trying to get results, the results will come anyway. For me, I don't try to win a championship to prove something to other people. I try to take good decisions to prove something to myself. Be part in the history of poker etc., that's cool. Everybody likes that but the goals are to control yourself and make the right choices.
CJ: Any new projects? In poker or life?
KM: Nothing specific. Just travelling and playing poker. A lot. I have some ideas for a business, but I'm not really getting into it now because poker takes too much time. (Laughs).
CJ: What do you not like in the poker world or in the life of poker pro?
KM: Honestly, I was pretty ambitions when I came into poker. I met a lot of people and was very friendly and was giving my trust pretty easily. What I learned with the poker world is to keep your real friends really close. When you start winning and being popular suddenly lot of people try to be your friend, add you on Facebook, asking for money or backing etc. I just try to respectfully say no to those kind of people and keep my small circle of friends that I trust. No other people. I try to keep it really small.
CJ: About that, you seem really less present in the media than when you were younger? Can you explain this choice?
KM: Oh yeah, it's definitely an active choice. I turn down mostly all interviews requests now. I deleted my Twitter (account) for a while and I don't really post. I deleted all my Twitter follows. I had about 20k follows and I made a new account with just a few people. I don't really enjoy that media game. I think it's not really positive for me. I found it doesn't serve a purpose. The attention you get ends up being negative in poker. I don't have any sponsorship possibilities. Also, a lot of people wanting attention come through a kind of narcissist need for attention that I've recognize in myself a little bit and I've tried to fight that. I don't really want to crave attention, people I know congratulate me privately and that's fine. But I didn't really need to be in magazines and that kind of thing.
CJ: Did you have a moment in your career when you really thought of quitting?
KM: Yeah definitely. I think most poker pros go through that. You can have incredible financial swings or crazy emotional swings. It's pretty stressful and exhausting. You know there are a lot of shady things that are part of the industry. Everybody who wants to have a career in poker really has to think twice about it. It's a very fun game to keep as a hobby, playing with your friends, or something you can do to make money on the side and for entertainment. I really warn people who try to be professionals – this sort of environment is very difficult and you have to prepared. Most of the time, you're gonna lose a lot of money and feel really disappointed.
CJ: Who are your most difficult opponents today?
KM: I don't really like to play with really good players that stare you down like Timex, Steve O'Dwyer, and Fedor Holz. Those guys are among the top players right now.