Morten Lihn Christensen is in many ways a traditional poker player. Except that he is one of the few professionals who are not using BRM.
Just when you thought that the Danish triumph with three victories in major tournaments in 2012 could not get any bigger, Morten Lihn Christensen won WPT Vienna and began to give the other European countries something to think about. What is it they are doing in Denmark?
We have addressed “Skipper-dawn” which is his regular nick on various poker sites and asked him how he has come so far with poker. And it turns out that Morten in many ways is very traditional poker player, but definitely also slightly different from other professionals.
The 27-year-old Dane from Aarhus had received his bachelor’s degree in business and economics, and found out that maybe he had chosen the wrong path. And what to do when you suddenly have to find something else to do? You begin, of course, to make a living out of your hobby. And luckily Morten’s hobby and passion was poker.
– I started playing as a 17-18 year old, during the early poker boom for about 10 years ago. Back then it was just a question of enjoying poker like so many others, where you did not play solid, but just on a small scale.
But when I about two years ago dropped out of my education, the choice was not really that hard. I was doing pretty well online and decided to try to do it for a living.
Morten who we have caught at his parents place, informed both of them about his decision, and also got the necessary support.
– My parents have known it all along. They have followed me from the sidelines, and even if they liked me to finish some sort of education, they can easily see that I’m doing fine and make a nice living out of it. They often ask me about how my day has gone and how the economy looks. But now that I won in Vienna, they have been very relaxed about it.
Morten has not his desire for poker from strangers. He says that the father also has a gambler gene himself and as a young man was playing poker with his friends.
– Yes, my dad can easily sit a whole night besides me and keep up. He thinks its fun to see how I’m doing and how it goes.
My first tournament was WSOP Main Event 2009
So far there is not much surprisingly about Martins poker and parents concerns about their son, but where Morten is slightly different from others is the total lack of home games with friends the first few years.
– No, I’ve actually never really sat down and played with friends. It has only been online. I have a very mixed social circle, so it has not only been poker acquaintances, but also a lot of friends from sports, school and education.
My first real live tournament was the WSOP Main Event in 2009. Before that I had only played a single 1,000 kroner tournament at Aarhus Casino, but that was it.
It may seem like a bit of a baptism of fire when you throw yourself directly into the main event during the World Championship, but Morten has a good explanation for it.
– I had won a package, where I got the money instead. I was then offered a package that a colleague had won at PartyPoker for Vegas with hotel, stay and buy-in for the Main Event for $8,500. And as the Main Event alone cost $10,000, I could hardly say no. It was my first real tournament, and I got a little taste of it there.
Then for about a year ago I started to play all those smaller tournaments. GSOP, EMOP, SPT and their likes. Just to get a lot of experience and learn a little. This year I tried the PCA Bahamas, Deauville EPT, WPT Vienna and gave EPT Berlin an unplanned shot, to see if I was still on a heater, Morten laughs into the phone.
The tournaments have also meant that Morten has become a part of the Danish poker community and has made some friendships there. During this year’s WPT in Vejle, he was staying in a house with a larger group of players fronted by Martin B. Hansen. And Martin B. Hansen also gets high praises from Morten for having taught him a lot.
– I’ve played a lot with Martin B. Hansen and Rasmus Gandrup. It helps a great deal on your own game when you have someone to sit and talk with about your game.
There are many crazy things you should be able to deal with to become a good player, but just the little things like talking with others or see how skilled players bet, call, or push, has made a huge difference on my own game.
And when asked what type of game it is his prefers, the reply comes fast:
– MTT’s. I only play tournament poker. I also played a little PLO cash game, but that’s a long time ago.
I play on almost all sites, and all the big tournaments. Previously, it was 20-22 tournaments at a time, but I’ve cut down to about 16 now.
There’s a bit of silence on the phone before a question about how to keep track of so many tables and players, when tournament poker is so much more about assess the individual opponents and read them.
– I use Hold’em Manager. That way I can see which of my opponents who are actually talented, it helps enormously. It has also given me a pretty good view that I only play 16 instead of 22 tables. When you play so many tournaments, you also end up on more final tables. And the routine you get from endgames is also of great help.
Bankroll Management? I use common sense instead
Of course it requires capital and a strict administration of the it to play so many tournaments on so many sites, and here comes the day’s second surprise.
– Bankroll Management? No, I try to use common sense instead. If, for example I’m playing an expensive program, then you might just hold back a little if things go wrong, otherwise it can become a real expensive experience.
Now you would think that a Morten exclusively only played tournament with buy-in of hundreds of dollars, but it’s not the case.
– I actually play all the tournaments that have a good guaranteed prize pool. There may well be one among them for $ 5, but usually they are in the range from $ 20 – $ 200.
I’ve been lucky at the slightly more expensive. I won seats for both for the Bahamas, Deauville and Vienna in the first attempt. Vienna was not actually planned, but then I saw the $ 300 tournament in the client and thought: You haven’t got any plans for that day …
Morten won as we know WPT Vienna, and can reveal when during the tournament he first began to believe in victory.
– When we came heads up and Benjamin Wilinofsky was eliminated I thought: That’s good.
Without offending Konstantin Tolokno, he was the final table’s weakest player. I lost the first 10 hands in a row, but at the same time he called me on everything I did, so I just had to wait until I had the cards. And when I came ahead on chips, he didn’t dare to play poker back on me. Exactly then I knew I would win…
For Morten, poker is his life right now. He knows that he might be doing something else at some point. And when asked directly if he ends up as Doyle Brunson, he laughs and says:
– No, I think not. Right now I can not really see what I want instead. One thing is certain and that is that I need feel a strong passion for it. There are many possibilities, I could go back to school, or maybe start my own business. It could then be anything from investing some of what I’ve earned to just speculate in stocks.
Morten Lihn Christensen has proven that you can win major international tournaments, even without a BRM or hours and hours of poker with friends. It just takes a lot of training in front of the screen and a few good friends to talk to every now and then.