What the hell does that mean you may ask? Well Peter “Zupp” Jepsen has not always lived the comfortable life in Las Vegas style hotels and in the company of high rollers. There was a time when he lived in a basement designed for empty bottles.
A Confidence Game
It’s not exactly humility which is the hallmark of Peter “Zupp” Jepsen. As a poker player, you obviously have to have a great deal of confidence and “Zupp” absolutely has it. And this character also calls himself arrogant and also explains why the world looks as it does – in his eyes. We caught up with the former record holder of the world’s largest online pot for a chat about life, computer games and of course poker.
A Warsaw Pact
Back in 2007 Peter “Zupp” Jepsen won EPT Warsaw and € 325,000. It was one of the highlights of a then relatively new poker career. Since then there has been quiet on the live front, because why play tournaments if you can sit at home in your underwear with your legs up on the table and drink a cup of coffee, Zupp says. However, it is not in a comfortably reclining chair that we find Zupp this time. He is busy training for the World Cup in Crossfit, a sport which caught his interest over the last few years. During the European Championships in Copenhagen in late May, he took bronze with his team from Butchers Lab and qualified for the World Cup in the United States.
I act like a 12-year-old
I’ve always been a competitive person. Whatever I’m doing I want to win. It does not matter if it’s a game of Besserwisser (a know it all style quiz game) with friends, a computer game of Tekken or Crossfit. I live on the 4th floor, and if I sit in the car with my girlfriend and we’ve forgotten something, she doesn’t ask me if I can go get it, instead, she says: “Shall we see how quickly you can get up and down?” And yes, I know that it is pure idiocy and that I act like a 12-year-old, but it’s just the way I am.
And I’ve always been that way
The desire to play and win has always been there. From when I was 10 years old it was the front of the computer. Wolfenstein, Doom, Red Alert and Civilization just to name a few and of course Counter Strike. I was in a clan, and to be honest we were pretty good. We even went for the European Championships in Berlin. I know that it is pure geek, but it was so extensive in the end, I forged my parents’ signatures on the warnings I was given for the absence of high school.
I lived in the basement of an internet cafe on Nørreport Station in Copenhagen. You know a place where one goes in through a hatch in the floor and down a ladder, were you had to walk past the crates with empty bottles to get to the room I shared with a friend. He suffered from psoriasis. Not just like a regular rash, but a quiet strong case. And since we only had one mattress for sharing, we took turns to sleep and sit up in the cafe and play. We had no bed sheets or other forms of cover, so when it was my turn to have the mattress, I had to just pull it upright and shake his dead skin off before I could sleep …
Housing conditions should soon change as Zupp could not avoid his military service: I drew no free number, so there was nothing to do than pull the shirt on. And the place I ended up, all of the others had some kind of artisan background. I stood there with my high school diploma and having played computer games. It was kind of like in American History X when Edward Norton ends up in prison and a fellow prisoner says to him: In here you’re the nigger. That was exactly how I felt.
Bombs over Baghdad
I however, quickly realized how the military worked and decided to take it as a challenge. After my first three months I asked myself what the hardest course was. It took me to the MP’s and I started to train for the entrance examination. It was something about being able to raise yourself up in your arms six times … I could manage zero at first. But I just made the requirements and entered. Since I got the highest average ever at the academy and became soldier of the year. That led me on to Iraq where I served for eight months before I went home with an injury.
The sent me to rehab
And it was during rehabilitation that Zupp found poker. I thought: As I just have to lay still and do nothing, I might as well take a look at this poker thing. And shortly after that I was playing at PartyPoker.
Fast Fwd a few years
Zupp turned out to be a feared opponent on the expensive tables and in 2007 the reward came when he won the EPT Warsaw. The following year he set world record when he won a pot of $ 499,037 against Tom Dwan. The record no longer stands, but testifies about a player who has helped to push high stakes poker to the utmost. And it is the challenge that drives him and not the prospect of a stable monthly income through grind.
I am old school. I do not have much respect for people who sit and grind 100,000 hands a month at $ 1/2 if they have the bankroll to play higher. It has nothing to do with poker, its idiocy… Poker must either create euphoria or pain, you should be able to feel when you win – and lose for that matter. The second is just indifferent …
When I started there were many who had no idea what they were doing. Those days are over as several players quickly get better today. But it may well be that those players got the basics in place by watching some videos, but in my eyes it does not help a damn thing if you do not know why you like you do. I have an unorthodox style of play, so I often find that people can’t adjust their game to me – and I still gain from that. But I can see that it has become legitimate as a pro to play $ 2/4, so somehow the game probably has changed.
We are defined by the choices we make
And when Zupp plays cash game, it’s a conscious choice rather than to play tournament poker– I’ve been on a little break because of my Crossfit workout which has filled a lot. But when I play, it is from $ 10/20 and up to $ 25/50. I do not really bother to play tournaments. If you win two tours in one year, you are a hero. But if you play 30 and do not cash in a single one, you’re in trouble. And tournaments are so mega luckbox that I simply do not bother investing in it. I play maybe four a year, but it is because there are some good friends there and you get a trip out of it.
No signs of slowing down
However, there is nothing that indicates that Zupp is about to give up poker. – No, I have no plans. But I have invested in alternatives, if one day I no longer have the motivation for it. Right now I’m part owner of a biotech firm. We make surfaces for plastic, coating petri dishes and stuff. We have just landed two large research grants, so it runs really well for the company. Besides that I have a delivery truck in Jutland. There are several unnamed poker players, who took a gig in when they were broke, Zupp laughs on the phone. And then I have a security firm providing security for TV footage. This is obviously due to my past in the military and my training as a bodyguard. Unfortunately I can not talk about our customers for obvious reasons.
Good stories are all you have
But although Zupp’s entry to poker is with an edge and where joy may be relieved of pain, he has some degree of understanding of bankroll management. But if he should give some advice in that direction, it differs so much from what other pros think.– Take the plunge … Get stuck. If nothing else, then you have a tale to tell at the nursing home. Because when you sit there, it’s the only thing you have left – the good stories. If you are trying to make a living of poker, just do it. It’s not about money. It’s about challenging yourself and to have the guts. What good is it to sit old and gray and never have dared to live? Take this opportunity and take the beatings that may come…
The recipe for success
Set aside time for it, read books, get some structure, demonstrate commitment, ask yourself: What books do the best players read? What coaching do they get? What forums do they read and write in? What questions do they ask? If you want to give it at shoot here, do it properly. One should not just expect to sit down and manage the game – it takes hard work.
Vegas minus the Main Event?
Zupp goes to Vegas to play the WSOP within a while. But here is a little surprise. As one of the few players he does not want to play the Main Event. – No, I will just play some cash games and maybe a tournament or two. The World Crossfit Championships runs from 15th to 17th of July, and I look very forward to it. And it will collide with the WSOP.
Make the WSOP your next stop!
Zupp might not be playing the main event and that just might be to your advantage! So make sure you qualify today to the WSOP2012 only on PartyPoker!