For a “former professional poker player” (and former garish dresser), Charlie Carrel has been putting on a stellar display so far at EPT Monte Carlo, final tabling three high rollers in a row for more than half a million euros.
But if it’s not poker, what does Carrel now consider his job? And what does he make of the current high roller world he’s still a crusher in? We caught up with him during his epic Monaco run to find out.
A poker career lasts for as long as you want it to last…assuming things are going well, of course. If you find yourself without a bankroll and without a backer, the duration of your stint in poker is pretty much out of your hands.
But when you’ve racked up millions in earnings and created a name for yourself, why would anyone choose to retire?
It’s a scenario we’ve seen a bunch of times over the past few years. Take Mike McDonald, for example. He went from a regular on the Super High Roller circuit to starting his own business, PokerShares, after which we’ve barely seen him at the tables at all. Then there’s Fedor Holz, the German wunderkind who rocketed to poker stardom and the top 10 of the all-time money list, only to step away from the professional high rolling poker life to set up Primed Mind, his own company.
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You can now add Charlie Carrel to that list of top poker talent branching out into new endeavours. Although, like Holz, he’s not quite ready to step away from the tables altogether.
“I never made an official public statement saying I was retired,” Carrel laughs, on break during a €25,000 buy-in single-day high roller at EPT Monte Carlo. “I think I may have mentioned it on my YouTube channel once, like ‘Oh, by the way, I kinda retired six months ago’ and everyone was like ‘Oh my God!’. I wish I hadn’t said that.”
When you look at Carrel’s Hendon Mob results today, you certainly wouldn’t think he was on hiatus. Over the past four days, Carrel has final tabled all three high roller tournaments so far at this festival.
|€10,300 High Roller||4th||€69,940.00|
|€100,000 Super High Roller||6th||€327,930.00|
|€50,000 Single-Day High Roller||4th||€196,290.00|
“It’s always a nice one,” Carrel says when asked why he chose to come to EPT Monte Carlo. “It’s always nice to come back to the place where I had my first big score.”
The score he’s referring to is the €25,000 High Roller here in Monaco back in 2015, which Carrel won for €1.11 million, completing his astronomical rise in poker which saw him go from grinding low-to-mid-stakes cash games in his grandma’s Jersey house in 2012 to becoming a millionaire poker personality. Carrel backed up that breakout result with a string of big cashes, not to mention the $1.2 million he won by taking down the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) Main Event in 2017.
Carrel’s consistent results in Monaco this week take his career live earnings up past $7.1 million. And yet throughout 2018, we barely saw Carrel at live stops at all.
“I was taking a lot of time off because of my charity and another business that I’m starting,” he says. “A lot of my energy has gone into that. But the last few months have been revolving more around healing myself, spiritually, emotionally, physically, all of those different things. Coming to the almost apex of that, I feel like I’m abler now to do other things, which before I couldn’t have done without spreading myself too thin.
“Now I still have time for charity meetings and other meetings for the business, but I also have time to play poker, and I feel like hopefully, I can continue to juggle all three of those.”
The charity in question is called Abundance, and little is known about it at the time of writing (Carrel hopes it will be unveiled fully in three to six months). The project is clearly close to Carrel’s heart though, and his passion is evident.
“I honestly believe Abundance has the potential to change the world. The structure, at least, is beautiful. Whether I’ll be able to carry that through is another question.
“It’s primarily focused on lifting people out of poverty, specifically homeless people. It also focuses on bringing health to the masses, cheaper and more transparently than is currently available to them. It’s a hell of a complicated system that usually takes me 30 minutes or so to describe all the way.”
While away from the full-time live grind, Carrel kept busy. YouTube content, Twitch streaming, and coaching seemed to take up a lot of his time.
“YouTube and Twitch was quite a small percentage of my year, it was more just like me keeping a diary,” he explains. “The Twitch thing links in with a lot of the coaching I’ve been doing, and I love coaching. I live for it. It’s so fun.”
This eventually led to Carrel producing his own poker training course.
“The masterclass was amazing, I’ve had the best feedback on anything I’ve ever done,” he says. “I think it’s because it was behind a paywall, and the people there really wanted to be there, rather than just being random people from YouTube. I’ve had lots of people tell me they’ve turned their results around, showing me graphs that went down, down, down, and after the masterclass go up, up, up. I’m probably going to do another one in the next couple of months.”
Despite his experience playing on live streams in front of thousands of players, and appearances on TV shows (Channel 4’s How’d You Get So Rich? In the UK) and podcasts (True Geordie), Carrel still wasn’t comfortable in front of the cameras.
“I feel like Twitch, and YouTube to some extent, really helped me get to grips with a certain version of myself that’s more of, let’s say, a ‘showman’ whereas before I was more inclined to be inwards towards myself. Even after three or four days of Twitching, it’s still not something that comes naturally to me.”
What does seem to come naturally to Carrel is poker. We always hear how tough it is to keep up with the best players at the top of the game, and yet here comes Charlie Carrel, a player who admits to “never having run a poker sim in his life” yet somehow continues to crush.
“I thought there might have been some sense of being rusty, and there usually would be, but for my game specifically I’ve still been coaching people, albeit not at the high stakes,” he says. “I’ve still been having conversations about what’s going on at the high stakes with my best friend Ben Heath. He’s running sims on PioSOLVER every day, and now and then he’ll mention a hand, see what I think about it, and see how we could exploit from the sim. So I think I still have an understanding of how people are playing to a certain extent, but the nooks and crannies of GTO (Game Theory Optimal) I don’t, for the solver stuff at least. The style that I play is a lot more based on live reads anyway, and they don’t change.”
While live reads don’t change, Carrel’s attire certainly has. Gone are the technicoloured hoodies and psychedelic trousers of old, replaced by smart suits and business shirts for an altogether more professional look. Was this a conscious decision Carrel made upon entering the business world?
“Exactly, yeah. I went kicking and screaming into this, I really did,” Carrel admits. “I didn’t want to change how I was. I was comfortable all the time, colourful, people were always saying hi to me and smiling when they saw me on the street.
“But I realised, when I was setting up the charity and getting my team together and starting the conversations, it was fine. I could be colourful, and people would listen to me because I was in charge of the conversation. However, now I’m at the point where I’m looking for further investment, and there are types of people in the world who will only take you seriously if you’re dressed in a way which appeals to them.
“At the same time, I would say that I feel like it’s time for me to grow up, y’know? Poker players tend to get stuck in adolescence for a long time, maybe even their whole life, and there are different aspects to my life now that I think are super important. I want to take responsibility, take action, and be calm and present, instead of just being a hippy who plays a game for a living.”