WSOP 2013: Morgenstern turns time away into time well spent

It's often said that doing one things over and over again can't be good for you. In poker terms that means locking yourself away in a room playing multiple tables for hours on end can dampen the spirit, making you less of a player and more of a robot. Does a little time off actually do you some good? Anton Morgenstern would probably agree.

If you hadn't heard by now Morgenstern is the last of the PokerStars players in the main event, a Passport winner, with now all of our attention. All this was a bit of a surprise to the 22-year-old from Berlin, who through virtue of ability and some solid play finds himself in the thick of it on Day 5. He started with 400,000 today, that's now 1.8 million.

Morgenstern got here three weeks ago but stuck mainly to 5k events and above. For him, poker is no longer the be all and end all. Instead, Morgenstern is trying to enjoy the world away from poker.

"It used to be what I did every day and what I loved," he said. "Starting two years ago I started to drift off a little bit."

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Anton Morgenstern

If the main event is anything to go by, this approach has worked wonders. Morgenstern looks comfortable and at ease. He also looks like he's in charge, something that's not exactly accidental.

"When I play live I just try to immediately let everybody know that I'm going to own the table," he said. "I open every pot. People put their chips ready for a call, then look at me and think 'not against this guy'. That's what I've been doing for the first three days."

I mentioned his veneer of calm at the table, which yesterday allowed him to lose significant pots without showing the emotions that some of his table mates did. Ironically, it's not a trait Morgenstern wants to keep.

"To be honest I'm trying to [show more emotion]," he said. "Poker really shuts you down emotionally, and I'm trying to get out of that again. I want to be a more emotional person. But at the poker table there's no real need for that, so I try to keep calm.

"I've been sitting in my room for years grinding. I miss talking to people. I miss just experiencing everything else that goes on in this world, basically."

So Morgenstern has enjoyed some of Las Vegas beyond the card rooms; walking, hiking in the mountains, and keeping the poker in perspective. As far as we can see from the rail it's worked. Morgenstern looks unstoppable, and fits the photo-fit descriptions of a November Niner. Surely that's the hard part. The rest is up to him.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter. Pictures courtesy of Poker Photo Archive.