When a guy about 6’4″ wearing a hippie shirt and floppy suede hat tells you he wants to keep a low profile, you know you’re probably on to something.
Brit Luke Haward came back to Day 3 of the PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event with just two big blinds. He lost his remaining stack in the first couple of minutes with A-Q vs 5-6.
Equity, I guess. He wished everyone good luck, made his way to the pay-out desk and then off the poker floor.
That’s the moment we approached him to find out more. Turned out he’s not what people think he is, and that’s part of his strategy.
PokerListings: Isn’t it a little unrealistic to look the way you do and think you can keep a low profile?
Luke Haward: I just mean I’m not widely known in live poker circles because I don’t get to play a lot. I mainly play online so I try to keep my live and my online persona separate.
It’s useful not to be known at the table. It’s not going to last too long, I suppose, but I guess I have another year or two.
PL: But you do have a couple of entries in the Hendon Mob.
LH: I try to play a couple of stops in and outside the UK every year, but the relation is I played maybe 40 events live and about 30,000 online.
PL: So, what’s your actual status when it comes to poker?
LH: Technically, I’m a professional player now although I don’t play higher volume than two or three sessions a week.
I’ve played staked for various groups across the last five years or more now and I’m mostly to be found in mid- to high buy-in online tournaments.
I’m also a tournament coach and I manage a number of poker players as well. I’ve played most of my volume at mid-stakes buy-ins so that’s what I coach.
I don’t want to coach something that I don’t have a big sample of results in. We’ll see if I can compete on the highest levels, although I’m confident I will prove myself there with time.
PL: And what’s your background story?
LH: I come from near Oxford in the UK. I played poker from early on because I was always interested in strategic games.
I’ve never been that interested in money; it’s not part of my value system, to be honest. I went to University to study philosophy and later taught as a tutor.
I tutored philosophy, critical thinking, I worked for the Oxbridge entrance exams, preparing students for those.
Game theory, logical reasoning, numerical analysis are all things that I’ve taught academically so that helps my coaching a great deal. There’s a lot of cross-over.
While I was transitioning to full-time work in the poker industry I did a lot of freelance writing, including writing about poker like yourself!
By the way I also teach the mental game, which I think is often an overlooked but very important part of poker study. Most players don’t pay enough attention to it.
You can see it in live poker where there are a lot of people tilting or getting upset, or just not being relaxed or confident enough to have a conversation, which is a sad thing for the live poker scene.
PL: You seem to have a very friendly, casual demeanour at the table.
LH: I spend a lot of time alone in a room in front of the monitor. It’s nice to get out there and meet people and be human about things.
PL: I guess you meet a lot of people in the same situation.
LH: Yes, and most of them are nice people. Some are just a bit nervous, they’re afraid to give something away.
I think you’re more likely to give something away when you’re trying too hard to not give something away.
PL: Is it your goal to become a live pro?
LH: I don’t think so because the variance is so high. You need to play a hundred tournaments a year for a decade or two just to beat the variance.
But the one thing that frustrates me about poker is that it’s mostly a zero-sum game. You’re not really helping the world that much. You hope you don’t harm it too much either.
It’s more of an escapist activity. But, maybe you can put yourself in a spot that you can devote some time and money to a good cause.
Barry Greenstein is still in this, isn’t he, and he’s the original Robin Hood of Poker. I also think that REG (Raising for Effective Giving) is a very good thing.
If I have a breakout year I will sign up to that, although it’s a little risky because you don’t sign up to donate a percentage of your profits but of your overall cashes. So it’s a real commitment.
PL: Lastly, do you realize that people already know about you? They call you “the worst dressed man in the main event.”
LH: (laughs) Well, obviously they’ve got that back to front. I’m apparently the best dressed man in poker. But I’ve been getting things like that all my life.
When you’re at ease with yourself, and not trying to be like everyone else, some people don’t know how to respond to that. I’m very comfortable with it.
PL: How can people get in contact with you if they’re looking for coaching?
LH: I work for several training sites. My coaching name is “Lucky Luke” and you can Google that to find some links.
I also have my own, very simple site that’ll give you a brief guide to my coaching work and a point of contact, which is called www.binkbig.com.
For anyone looking to improve their game I offer a 20-minute Skype consultation free of charge. You can get in contact with me and I’ll set up a personal coaching plan with you – no obligations, no costs.
I have quite a lot of students these days. I’ve also coached for stables, the groups of staked players I mentioned earlier. Teaching is still a passion for me and it’s great to get to combine that with my love of poker.