As the weekend approached, we signed up a new partypoker ambassador in the shape of British poker superstar Patrick Leonard so we thought he would be the perfect subject for our latest Meet The People article here at the partypoker blog.
Patrick is 27-years-old, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, but currently resides in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. If you follow online poker closely, you will be aware that Patrick is one of the most highly rated poker players of his generation, and was ranked number one in the world for online poker tournaments, but like every poker player, he had more humbling beginnings to his career.
“I remember very vividly playing as a 16 year old in a kitchen trying to fit into a social circle, they wanted to play cards, I wasn’t really interested, I remember my very first hand very clearly. I had KQ and called down three streets on 87655 because I assumed my cards were good. The hustlers that they were made me feel like it was a cooler, I didn’t do so well at the start! I’m very competitive person, I hate losing and as I wasn’t winning in the games it made me become obsessed with poker. I studied, joined forums, reached out to successful players and over time became one of the more successful players in the home games. This showed me from the earliest moment in my career that hard work trumps all and it’s been what I’ve prided myself on throughout my career. I’m not the smartest guy in poker, I’m not naturally made to be a poker player, but I will work harder than the other guys.”
Poker wasn’t always going to be the career path that Patrick was heading down because he was initially a journalism student who then became involved in the finance industry when he left university. However, he quickly changed paths to a poker ecologist until the time he began making a lot more money playing poker than he was fixing problems within the poker industry, which was when he decided to play poker full time.
Although Patrick is better known for this tournament prowess, it was cash games where he initially excelled, but once he transitioned to tournament poker, there was no looking back.
“I transitioned over to tournaments from cash games, firstly because cash games were starting to die because of scripts and sites refusing to give into the demands of their “regulars”, I really love the way that partypoker don’t allow you to see the names of the players at the table until you sit down as it stops people bum hunting. Secondly I got really lucky really quickly in my transition and won around $300,000 in my first proper month. After that I was so hungry, playing every night, waking up and checking the rankings, gradually every time I moved closer to number one it motivated me so much and eventually when I got there it was the proudest moment in my career. Since then I don’t really care about rankings, I deleted my PocketFives account (one of the online rankings sites) and I focus on making myself happy on and off the table instead of unhealthily obsessing about pretty irrelevant rankings.”
As you can imagine, there have been a number of online poker sites clambering for Patrick’s signature in recent years, yet he is now part of the partypoker setup.
“I’ve been propositioned by a few sites over the years as I’ve always been a vocal and visible figure in different poker communities, but I always refused to be a puppet boy, or to say what I’m told. I’m very opinionated, many would say it was my biggest quality and many more would say it was my biggest flaw. I didn’t want to pick up a pay cheque whilst seeing my friends and colleagues get screwed over. At partypoker, they are actually doing progressive changes on a daily basis, but still have a long way to go until they really take over as the number one site in the world. I’m sure that I can help significantly and that motivates me a lot. I want to help make partypoker the best poker site in the world with the biggest guarantees and best structured tournaments. If we speak this time next year and we haven’t taken over then I would be pretty disappointed. The people behind the scenes at partypoker are incredibly ambitious and I think I match that ambition too, we’re a good match I think.”
Although much of Patrick’s role of ambassador revolves around the online poker scene, he will be found sporting a partypoker patch at several major live events, namely the upcoming 2016 World Series of Poker, most likely at the World Poker Tour Amsterdam festival, and a few more stops besides.
Now that he has been ranked number one in the world and have won enough money to support himself for the foreseeable future, Patrick has switched his focus to activities away from playing poker, although winning a WSOP bracelet is still high on his list of priorities.
“My life goals are not necessarily driven by poker, I’ve transitioned into business over the last 12 months or so and I’m making some investment in and outside of the gaming industry. I still have a lot to learn about business, but I feel like the 16 year old kid getting hustled by his friends, I’m going to really try very hard in poker and luckily so far it’s going great. I’m an owner and acting manager and coach of the best stable in the world, bitB Staking, I own a bar in Budapest and I’m really interested in expanding more into real estate for expats throughout Europe who receive far from satisfactory service. Poker wise I want to look back in three months and think I was really bad at poker now, if I don’t do that then I haven’t improved enough and if I don’t improve then those around me will and I’ll be left back. Unrealistically I’d love to win a WSOP bracelet, maybe the patch can bring the run good?!”
Obviously, we couldn’t let Patrick leave without asking him for some tips for budding poker players wanting to follow in his footsteps and become great at the crazy game we all love. These are Patrick’s three nuggets of information for you:
- Find somebody to speak about poker with. Question everything they say, and ask them to be critical of everything you say.
- Build your own unique style of play and don’t be afraid to play differently to “the norm.” It’s very important to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing otherwise you’re just mindlessly clicking buttons.
- Don’t play if you’re too tired. Take pride in your game and don’t let short term variance effect the way you play.