WCOOP 2014: Recent winner Adam "Roothlus" Levy on the highs and lows of ten years in the game
You get to experience some pretty weird and wonderful things as a poker player, particularly as you travel to some of the world's most glamorous destinations to play for more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Just ask Adam Levy.
"I was once tickled by Justin Bieber while playing basketball at Atlantis during the PCA. Couldn't make this stuff up."
That's just one of the high points of Levy's ten years in the game as a professional, a career that so far has earned him more than $2.3 million in live tournament earnings, as well as much more online, the most recent $41,572 of that coming when he won Event #49 of WCOOP 2014 last week. So how did he celebrate?
"Well, I tweeted about it and my parents and friends congratulated me," said Levy. "It was a great feeling. I was still in the Super Tuesday WCOOP so I didn't do much and by the time I busted that it was pretty late so I just went to bed. I plan on celebrating after WCOOP finishes."
Boom! Chopped 3 handed, then won it for my first WCOOP bracelet! #feelsgood— Adam Levy (@Roothlus) September 24, 2014
Levy is something of a giant in the modern game, and not just for an imposing physical stature. It's not uncommon for him to appear on the European Poker Tour, as well as in high stakes tournaments across his native United States.
But as Levy pointed out in an interview with the PokerStars Blog, poker is a game that can both exhaust and exhilarate, prompting Levy to, at times, take steps back from the game that hooked him in 2003, the summer of which he spent doing nothing but playing poker and watching Rounders and footage of Chris Moneymaker winning the Main Event.
Since then the poker world has not always been an easy place to make a living, particularly for American players. Success has always been tempered by events off the table, which in Levy's case forced him to change his lifestyle and where he lived.
"Picking up the pieces after Black Friday was really tough," said Levy. "Being told you can no longer work in your own country on top of losing tons of money all in one fell swoop was emotionally tough. I basically had to say goodbye to my social life, pack my things up, and move to another country just to keep making money.
"I think there are a lot of other former and current poker players out there that had a lot of trouble like me relocating. Three years later most of us have moved on but I didn't realize for two years that I was so emotionally affected by it. 2011 WSOP I didn't cash a single tourney and I don't think it was a simple coincidence."
Since that low point Levy has rallied to win a SCOOP and now a WCOOP event, as well as posting live results around the world, that latest result highlighting a transitional year for the 32-year-old.
"The past year has been interesting," he explained. "After ten years of playing online, I decided to move to Florida and do the live pro thing. That just wasn't for me, I need the mix of both. After that I went to Vancouver for SCOOP, then Las Vegas for the WSOP. After the WSOP Main I felt dejected and ready to move on from poker.
"Then I took a month long break from poker, not a single hand, went to Comicon, went on a road trip down the west coast of the US and just took in these new experiences. Feeling refreshed, I started playing poker again and I felt a passion I hadn't felt in years so then I decided to go play WCOOP in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico at a buddy's place."
The new enthusiasm certainly worked for Levy, who plans on using the WCOOP money to make more changes, a move to the West Coast and perhaps a new focus in his life.
"I plan on using the money from WCOOP to take a break from poker for a few months, move to the San Fran area and search for another passion. I've been doing this for a long time and it's time to have more balance in my life."
What that will turn out to be will be something Levy, a fan of the Elon Musk world outlook, will no doubt discover sooner or later. In the meantime the last ten years still stand as an outright success in terms of poker, with events this past week serving as further proof. Not bad, given it was a shaky start to a poker career.
"Bunch of buds taught me," said Levy. "They taught me to play poker, telling me to play king-ten because it was their favourite hand. Needless to say none of those friends play poker professionally anymore."
Whether Levy himself will still be a professional in the months to come depends on whether he finds that other passion and direction, but one suspects he'll still be seen winning big both live and online, pursuing a game that has been such a key part of his life for so long.
"It has basically crafted who I am as an adult over the years and shown me so many different places, people, and foods."
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.