Rob Tinnion on deals and doubles after winning second Sunday Million

Nothing wakes you up on Monday morning quite like a lot of noise coming from somewhere in the house. It'll rattle you out of deep sleep in no time at all. But Rob Tinnion's parents knew not to reach for the cricket bat ready to chase out an intruder. For their son is a poker player, a good one actually. And while the reason for it was not always clear, the noise was all perfectly normal. The only question was whether it was a good noise or a bad one.

"They knew from past experience this was a very polarizing result," said Tinnion. "Either I had just lost a massive pot in a high equity situation, or I had just won a lot."

In this case the answer became obvious when he walked downstairs with a smile on his face. It's always a good start to the week when you win $200,000. It even excuses as Tinnion put it, the "Facebook Sunday Million win brag post".

But this sometimes happens to players like Rob "robtinnion" Tinnion, who from his room either grinds big wins or teaches others to earn similar success through his coaching site. Actually not always in the case of Tinnion, for this was his second Sunday Million title in the space of six months. That makes him one of only seven players to do that.

As with many things in life, it came when he was least expecting it. By Tinnion's own standards his game had entered, if not a slump, certainly a phase that had prompted him to ask questions about his confidence and performances.

"The early stages on Sunday didn't turn out to be much different," said Tinnion, 25, who has been playing poker seriously for the past three years. "I felt I was playing terribly, so I stopped registering normal speed freezeouts (excluding the million) shortly after the Bigger 109 (6pm). I also skipped some of the higher buy-ins as I felt I was just burning money. It could have been variance but when I'm not on my A-game I don't want to be playing against better players who are."

rob_tinnion_interview_12feb15.jpgRob Tinnion pictured after winning a £1,000 side event during the EPT11 London festival

As Tinnion put it, that sort of thing fast becomes and unprofitable investment. But whether it was about focus, or variance, or just a subtle rediscovery of form, Tinnion found himself going deep in the event that mattered. And not only going deep, but playing well, destroying his table on the final table bubble, leaving everyone with around ten big blinds (he had 70).

Going into the final he couldn't have been more focused, but that would prove a different challenge entirely.

"When we got to the final table I immediately 4-bet/folded from UTG vs. ministerborg (Simon Ravnsbaek), who is very aggressive. I figured he had to have a very strong hand to pull it off, so it didn't faze me too much as he just got lucky to be dealt AA, which I later saw on the replay (which you can watch here). I then became extremely card dead and made a couple desperate plays which didn't work out."

You can read the report of the final to get a good idea on how things played out. But what it won't show is how Tinnion was by now battling fatigue as well as frustration, having been playing for a solid 17 hours. But somehow he kept his target in mind.

"Once I finally regained the chip lead going into three-handed play, the finish line was in sight and I had no intention of losing."

The rest is Sunday Million history. As the highlights from the final table show the heads-up contest was compelling stuff, with Tinnion gradually pulling away from the experienced Ravnsbaek. But the Dane had put up stiff opposition, both in terms of play and when it came to discussing a deal.

"If I wasn't already established and knowledgeable on the subject I probably would have buckled under ministerborg's pressure and given in to some of his demands," said Tinnion. "But he was extremely greedy and deluded with the amount of money he deserved."

Tinnion looked up Ravnsbaek record and figured he was asking too much. So he dug in, relying on experience gained by grinding online and studying every part of the game - including deal making.

"I knew he was deluded with his demands as no well-rounded regular would ever risk so much money at the stack depths during the discussions, given everyone's skill edge in that spot is very small in proportion to the amount of money being thrown about.

"Chopping tournaments is a skill game and not about what you think you deserve. You can go for more if you think you can get away with it, but you should also be prepared to take a mutually beneficial offer. That day wasn't his day but he is a very tough opponent and congrats to him for the score."

With a deal nixed Tinnion overcame the Ravnsbaek threat to collect another significant payday, one that he naturally compared to events last year.

"This one was a lot more satisfying as (I like to think). It shows I'm not just a one hit wonder," he said. "The first time the money overshadowed everything. This time there was a reputation/bragging rights for the win. The first one, the average stack was a lot lower resulting in more all-ins and generally a higher variance nature to the game, this time we actually got to "play poker".

Tinnion learned to play poker at University in Oxford, when introduced to the game by an American friend. It was mostly for fun in the early stages but pretty soon he has something of a breakthrough.

"I was in a thermodynamics lecture looking at work input/work output equations and I realized poker was the same."

Now, we're not going to pretend we understand this bit, but Tinnion wouldn't be the first to bring outside experience into poker and profit from it. Whatever that moment was it gave him the motivation to work hard and soon the results followed (as well as the Degree). Before long he had signed up to the Pocarr backing group. From playing $11 freezeouts he's now the company's third biggest shareholder and makes several coaching videos each week.

"I'm coaching/running what is likely the largest online poker backing stable in the world," said Tinnion who is quick to credit those he works with for making that possible. "We have over 100 people playing for us from all across the world which is an amazing experience as I now know people in virtually every country I want to visit. Having been part of the stable for 2.5 years and working my way from the bottom to the top of the company in that time, I want to be able to help people do the same by maximizing their potential and giving them the freedom that comes with playing poker for a living successfully."

Tinnion already splashed out on a new Audi RS5 a few weeks ago, so he's good for luxuries for now. But the money may well finance another summer in Las Vegas, as well as a trip to EPT Malta next month. And who knows, maybe even shot at the EPT Grand Final. One thing is certain, that lack of confidence is beginning to look more like a misread.

For now Tinnion returns to the daily grind and to his poker school as a double Sunday Million winner and $200,000 up for the week. Not a bad way to keep your customers satisfied. And your parents.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.
Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in PokerStars news