Stephen Woodhead on his TCOOP success down under
For some players a series like TCOOP homepage means time spent planning ahead. It requires attention as you block off the schedule and settle down to grind away at ten days' worth of high stakes poker. By the end of it you hope to have a few results and finish up, maybe even reach a final table. A fortunate few may even win a TCOOP title.
Then there are the other players, for whom a different approach is required. Like Stephen "woody1234321" Woodhead for example, winner of TCOOP-17, who instead of concentrating purely on one thing juggled the demands of the online game with those of the live one instead, all from a hotel room in Melbourne where he's staying while he competes in the Aussie Millions.
It means things can feel a little upside down from time to time.
Woodhead put the finishing touches to his TCOOP victory at 11.30am in the morning Melbourne time. While others might do the same at the end of the day, his was just starting. But nothing beats the feeling of a tournament win, regardless of geography, as Woodhead explained.
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"I felt so good that i nearly registered Day 1b of the Aussie Millions that started at noon," he said. "I came to my senses and decided to just chill out for the day and get some rest, playing day 1c the day after instead."
It was a good decision for Woodhead, who put in a solid performance to reach Day 2 of the Aussie Millions main event. But so far TCOOP remains the highlight of his week, what was his second COOP title, coming as it did with a first prize of $118,818. How did this one compare to the first?
"Obviously the first TCOOP win meant more to me," said Woodhead. "It was my first big series win. I've made some big SCOOP final tables before but could never clinch the win so it felt good to get the monkey off my back. That being said, it felt pretty good to get TCOOP titles in back to back series in two of the biggest events.
The tournament itself had been a difficult one, "super swingy" as he put it, and there were times when Woodhead looked on the point of elimination.
"One key point that I remember was with two tables left when I ran queen-jack suited into kings and lost, and was left with 1.5bbs. The stacks were so shallow at this point that two double ups in the next two hands got me back to average stack. I started the final table pretty short stacked, but after getting a couple of shoves through i managed to double up with AJ v AT to put me at double average. From there it was a pretty easy ride."
For a man who admits to occasional periods of boredom in SCOOP and WCOOP, regardless of how much he loves to play them, TCOOP hits the spot. It's a place where he can thrive, and ironically where he can focus, despite the gallop at which play moves.
"The action is so fast paced that you barely have a minute to breathe... That's where TCOOP is a great change of pace."
It's a sentiment that lends an air of nonchalance to his TCOOP win, belying the sheer effort such an event demands of you to survive and thrive in one of poker's most volatile arenas. Woodhead puts that down to a couple of things, but his advice for TCOOP success comes down to one thing: fearlessness.
"There's going to be a lot of times where you're chips are going into the middle with very marginal hands," said Woodhead. "I think this is what I did well, especially at the final table. Once I had the chip lead at the final table i was able to put pressure on all the other shorter stacks that had ICM to consider so i was able to pick up a lot of uncontested pots."
Not bad for a man juggling multiple challenges half way around the world. Hardly standard preparation, as Woodhead himself admits.
"Usually when a series is on I'll plan to do nothing but play poker for the whole duration, but this year's TCOOP was different. I wasn't really planning on playing many TCOOPs except for on Sundays. I'm in Australia for the Aussie Millions and the TCOOP schedule is tough at this side of the world. I had to wake up at 4am on Monday morning for the start of the Sunday grind so obviously this isn't ideal preparation, especially when I'm playing live poker during the daytime."
In terms of the rest of TCOOP is concerned, well that depends. Whether Woodhead plays or not depends on many things, not least his performances in Australia.
"I'll probably be skipping most of the TCOOPs until this Sunday. I can't miss the main event or the high roller. As I'm typing this i just made Day 2 of the Aussie Millions main event with 80k so hopefully i won't have any time to play further events for the next few days."
So if you don't see him at TCOOP before Sunday you can make a good guess as to how things are going Down Under. If you do see him well, it'll be his bad luck, and yours too when you think of it. For Woodhead is a man on form.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.