EPT11 London: A chat with Chattaway
In recent years the term 'punter' has come to be something of a derogatory poker term, nestling somewhere between fish and nit in the 'bad player spectrum.' But 24-year old William Chattaway isn't afraid to admit to being one. "This is only my second EPT, muy first one was the last one (EPT Barcelona). I've bought into both, I'm a bit of a punter. If I've got any money I go for it."
This isn't a throwaway comment, Chattaway won £14,000 in a tournament in Nottingham in August. "I booked Barcelona straight after that and for this one I had a good month online so I thought I buy in."
Whilst Barcelona didn't go too well, in his home town of London it's gone far more smoothly as he's deep in the Main Event with, at the time of writing, 22 players left. "In Barcelona I bought in on the day and I was 153rd on the waiting list so I only played for 30 minutes at the end of Day 1," explains Chattaway. "On Day 2 I had Daniel Negreanu on my table but I didn't really get a feel for the EPT. This one, there's less soft spots, it's definitely a lot harder. I would say it's similar to a $5,000 and $3,000 WSOP event. I've played a few of them and there's less soft spots in those. You've got to be a bit cleverer about how you get chips."
The step up to playing EPTs is all part of a learning curve for Chattaway, who has over $2,100,000 in winnings online and has been a tournament pro for four years now.
"I put in a fair amount of volume, I've not had a job for four years, so that's what I've been doing for money. I'm quite profitable, I'm number one for profit on some of the euro sites for this year and last year. I mainly get my money from there."
Whilst it not might be as glamorous it's the way Chattaway likes it. "There's fewer runners, less variance, which means it's easier for me to make a wage from month to month. The bigger the field the higher the variance, which is how some players get into $100,000 of make up."
Knowing you own weaknesses is a key part to staying afloat and one of Chattaway's is taken care of because he's backed by a poker company. "It's good for me because I've got no bankroll management and it allows me to take shots at bigger games. I've been with the same backing company a long time and they look after me percentage wise, there's a good community with blogs, videos and coaching too. There's things you can do to make money besides playing poker. So if you're losing for a couple of months you can coach people, mentor people, make videos and make money that way."
And coaching is something that Chattaway has got involved with. "About three years ago, when I was 20, I used to coach about six people. I started coaching because if you did it, you got a higher percentage of your own winnings. I enjoyed it but it was taking up too much of my time. Now I've got two or three close friends who grind medium stakes and I help them out with sessions every now and then if they''re struggling. We go through some hands and that, see if we can work out what's happening. To be fair they've had some good results. It definitely improves my own game. Hearing certain people's thought processes helps a lot."
The South Londoner is a regular on the UKIPT - where the buy-ins are in the £700-£1,000 region - and he thinks they've been a big help to his overall game. "I play a lot of UKIPTs too, some of the players you play against there, you've got to get into their head. If you've only got one way of thinking then you're not going to be able to know what they're doing in certain hands. Sometimes someone might bet out on the flop just to steal the pot, if you don't understand what other people are doing then it's hard to play against it. The more level of thinking of people you get, the better you can play your own game."
Should you spend time on any internet poker forum you'll see the phrase 'move up to where they respect your raises' it's a tongue in cheek response to anyone who complains that they can't beat calling stations. "A big leak of players is thinking what you'd do in that spot, not what they'd do. I've got a friend who's a very advanced player and he's always telling me 'I can't play with these bad players, he's done this, he's done that. He's so terrible.' So I'm always telling him that not everyone's going to be as good as you, but you've got to realise how they play and not moan about it if they get there when they play a hand bad. People do play hands bad, that's how you get deep in comps, not everyone plays perfect poker. They're the people that pay your wages at the end of the day."
Having covered his weaknesses Chattaway takes a few seconds to consider what his strengths are when the PokerStarsBlog presses him on the issue. "When I first started playing poker I was very aggressive, I was new to the game, all I knew was raise, raise, raise and bet, bet, bet. As I've matured as a poker player I've tightened up a lot I've bought that into my game. I know what other people are doing in terms of three-betting and four-betting so I just get a good judge of each scenario and take each hand as it comes."
And he's got no qualms about looking stupid at the poker table. "I'm not afraid to make plays which are not by the book, I make a lot of unorthodox plays. When you're playing against good players, if you do everything how you're supposed to do, people read you like a book. Its easy for people to play against you. If you're a little bit unorthodox you're going to be able to chip up and people won't know what you've got. You can put people in tough spots. But I play a pretty steady game, I'm patient and pretty tight really."
As for the future for this online grinder, it might just involve a return to his roots, given that he started off playing live £10 tournaments in snooker clubs and running cash games in his sixth form common room. "Online's where I've made my money but live is the dream. Winning a EPT or winning a WSOP bracelet, that's the dream. So this is where I want to be in the next couple of years. Winning these things, making a good profit live and playing less online. But online is what I've been doing for four years, four-five days a week. You need both, I take less shots live but just waiting for that one score to come in, give you some financial freedom so it's not so stressful."
As Chattaway wanders off from our interview he bumps into Jake Cody who's also deep in this tournament. "It's hard work this Jake," he says with a smile. You suspect that's the way Chattaway likes it though.
PokerStars.tv's Laura Cornelius spoke to Chattaway before play started about his tournament so far
Follow our coverage of the EPT London festival via the main EPT London page, where there are hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top and feature pieces below. And, of course, you can follow it all live at EPT Live.