Last week the World Championship of Online Poker Main event bought this year’s festival to a close. It was won by won by Jonas “llJaYJaYll” Lauck who, if you read the report from last week, became increasingly dominant as the final played out. His reward was a first prize of more than $1.5 million (he nixed two deals – more on that later), and the title of World Champion.
We spoke to him a few days after his win, plenty of time for things to soak in and to look back on a remarkable day that counts as the biggest in his career.
For a player who played so well, the 29-year-old spoke eloquently of his joys at winning. But also the fears at missing out, fears that date back to the WSOP Main Event just a few months ago.
If you followed the WSOP closely you’ll remember Lauck went deep in the big one. But with the final table in throwing distance he endured a bad beat (aces beaten by ace-king) that would stay with him, all with just 37 players left.
At such a crucial phase in such an enormous event, it was the type of hand to leave a scar. And it did, as Lauck was out of the biggest event of the year just moments later.
There are several ways a poker player will look upon a result like this. One line of thought says you ought to be pragmatic, which is perhaps why Lauck still calls this a success.
“It was a very good experience and it shows that you have to move on and look forward to the next upcoming events and that you shouldn´t be too disappointed about your bad experiences.”
But faced with a deep run in the biggest online event of the year, Lauck was doing his best to avoid a repeat. Pragmatism doesn’t grow on trees.
“Every poker players knows that you don´t get such a spot that often in your career so I was kind of scared that I could miss this opportunity again by only a couple of places away from the ‘big money’.”
But the opposite happened, and any fears he might have had about aces being cracked were unfounded. Twice actually.
Instead Lauck found aces at two crucial moments – the first time restored his damaged stack, and the second time catapulted him into the lead he would never give up.
“It is always nice to get aces and combined with a full double up it´s obviously the best. That was very helpful to move from a very short stack back to a playable stack. That was kind of lucky.”
Lucky perhaps, but you have to get into these positions to enjoy the luck, and more importantly take advantage of them. That’s not to mention the fact you need more than luck to defeat a WCOOP Main Event final table.
“On a final table of a 5K online tournament I didn´t expect that there is any weak player left and indeed everyone played quite good,” said Lauck. “I knew some of the players already from the past and would say that Gambler4444 was the strongest opponent. At the beginning I thought that uknowProsky* could be the biggest threat because he was chip leader and [put opponents under] lot of pressure. But that went in the wrong direction and he… moved down in the chip counts.”
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If the aces had got Lauck back into contention at the final, his handling of the two deal offers – five-handed and then four-handed – laid down the gauntlet to his opposition, who quickly realised they come up against someone not prepared to cede his advantage by an inch. Lauck explained his thinking.
“I was chip leader and in my opinion the best player left, so I was in the best situation to put pressure on the shorter stacks because of the big pay jumps. So if we would agree to a deal I definitely needed more than the numbers. And I think in both scenarios I offered a fair deal for everyone.
“After we didn´t find an agreement we kept playing and as you could see I started pressuring them buy raising a lot and could chip up quickly. So actually I wasn´t sure if I wanted to deal with four people left, but with this much money on the line I wanted to take a look at the numbers. I needed a good offer otherwise I wanted to keep playing because I could feel the big advantage of my big stack combined with the ICM pressure for the others.”
Lauck was proved right. Pretty soon the final result looked inevitable.
Few of us will get to experience what it’s like to play for three straight days with so much at stake. How do you stay focused and free from distractions, when you’re involved in the biggest online event of the year?
“Between the first and second day it was nothing special because we hadn’t reached the money yet and I wasn´t thinking that much about it. But after we finished the second day at 8 a.m. I was very tired but also full of adrenaline. I slept very badly that night because I had to think about the tournament all the time. So when I woke up I tried to distract myself with other stuff and before the final table started. I went out to dinner with friends to kill time.”
You imagine it’s the same story for all the finalists, working on little sleep while trying to remain totally focused on the job in hand for three straight days. It all sounds very human even though the performances seem to transcend that. But while others had the ability, it would be Lauck’s day this time.
“I told myself before the final table started I would be happy to finish at least fifth place but of course I was happy with every bust out and pay jump,” he said. “I would say with four players left and the chip lead all the pressure was gone and I was very happy and had a good feeling about possibly winning the tournament. So of course I was celebrating the most after the heads up was over!”
Lauck might call himself more of a live game player, and his results from this year alone show why, with cashes at the PCA on the EPT and at the WSOP. But WCOOP tops all of that, and just made his username immediately recognisable.
His biggest online score obviously means a lot. But then there’s that other perk…
“I haven´t been world champion before!”
Congratulations to Jonas “llJaYJaYll” Lauck on a memorable WCOOP Main Event win. Read the final table report here.