Sam Trickett is back in the game as a partypoker ambassador and loving every minute. We caught up with Britain’s most successful tournament player of all time to find out if he still has what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
Having won bigger than anyone in Britain with over $20m in live winnings alone, the Retford man and tournament winner is also no slouch at high stakes cash games. He is clearly still hungry for success. We started by asking about his desire to make it big once more on his second wind in playing poker at the richest tables in the world.
“I’m 100% aware of the hunger. Doyle Brunson once said that a man with money is no match for a man on a mission. Back when I was young, I thought about winning a bracelet or a World Series event every single day. Because of what I’ve achieved, I don’t know if I’ll ever get that hunger back, but I’ve set myself a goal to win a WSOP bracelet. I’ll play a lot this summer in the World Series of Poker. It’s very hard to get that hunger of youth back when you’ve made something of your life. It might be a good idea for me to talk to someone who’s been through it. I’ve got the poker bug back. Hopefully, I can keep that up and move in the right direction.”
I don’t want to look back and think ‘I was the guy who never won a bracelet.
Sam is acutely appreciative of the players he admires, those who have been a constant in the game.
“There are only a handful of players who’ve been able to maintain it and stay at the top of the game. Daniel [Negreanu], Erik [Seidel], there are a few others, but that probably comes from Daniel having to do it because he’s the face of ‘Stars and Erik just loves poker. Credit to those guys for adjusting their game, and understanding how other people are playing. It’s a lot harder than you might think it would be. When I first got into poker, I wanted to win a bracelet, and then I wanted to win money as well. I became more interested in the money I could make, so I stopped playing so many World Series events and started playing high rollers and cash games. Now that I’ve made some money, I don’t want to look back and think ‘I was the guy who never won a bracelet.’ I’m going to go for it.
I hung in there, played tight, then got slowrolled by Daniel Negreanu!
As many of you probably know, Trickett took a break from poker. During that time he got married, participated in charity work and reconnected with what drives him on in poker. It’s clear that Trickett enjoys looking back at how he met his wife, Mieke.
“It’s really funny how I met my wife. I played the One Drop [a year after coming second], and I had 15 million chips on Day 2 with Phil Ivey in second who had seven million. I had high hopes having been there and done so well before. I didn’t play well, got unlucky in two big pots early on and it tilted me a little bit. I hung in there, played tight, then got slowrolled by Daniel Negreanu! With it being a million dollar entry, having the chip lead then getting slowrolled was the worst poker experience I’ve ever had. I went to the nightclub to get smashed that night, and I met Mieke, so it turned out to be one of the best days of my life.”
Marriage changes many in a positive way, and Trickett has attained a new-found peace in his life.
“I’ve calmed down a lot recently. I was in a bad relationship before and going out all the time. I’ve got no interest in partying anymore; I’ve got married and settled down. I can do more things that I enjoy doing such as my charity work, which was always something I wanted to take part in. I never did before because I was a bit more selfish and driven when I was achieving what I wanted to achieve in poker. Now I’ve got a bit more time on my hands, and I’m a little bit older and can do some things that I always wanted to do. I’m in a really good place, and I had a much-needed break… I’m happy.”
Now back at the tables, our first question about the poker he’s been playing is how much the game has changed for Trickett.
“I’d not played tournaments or against professionals for a while, so it’s been interesting playing against a new style. Everyone’s playing a GTO optimal kind of way; no-one’s raising flops or turns anymore. Players are trapping me more than they used to. People used to raise me when they had a good hand, and that was fairly easy to play against; I’d bet-fold a lot of the time.
I guess they think I’m very aggressive because I used to be, and that I’m going to run big bluffs with a wide range of hands pre-flop. I’d like to think I do a good job of playing against how they perceived.”
The stakes in tournaments are high, but as so many top players have done before him, Sam Trickett became a big name in playing cash games around the world in glamorous locations such as Macau. It was out in the Chinese province that he played huge stakes that led to a low on returning to tournament buy-ins.
“I was going to Macau and playing high stakes and doing well, but just before I went on a break, I was rocking up for high rollers, and smashing it in for $5k or $10k tournaments. I realised that I had to stop playing them because I wasn’t trying my best. I’d gamble a bit more or play too many hands, especially pre-flop. That’s when I decided to take a break. It’s difficult to move down in stakes. I was playing in Rozvadov the other week, straddling €16,000 some hands and sitting with €1.3m and then I was back on Friday and playing £5/£10/£25 on a streamed cash game. It’s very hard to play with discipline at the lower stakes.”
As Trickett tells us, decision making is now his focus and to that end, taking pleasure in making the right ones regardless of the result. Part of Trickett’s respect for the youth of poker’s player pool is down to his background in helping them. Before he hit the big time in the Big One for One Drop, Trickett had lost the lot and travelled to South Africa to help friends of his coaching up and coming players.
“I remember going to Cape Town and talking through play. When I first went there, I’d gone broke. I’d won the GUKPT, had some results in the World Series, then I’d lost it all. I had all the talent, but I didn’t have the experience, and I wasn’t technically good enough. I went there half the player I was when I returned. When they first started asking me ‘Sam, I’ve been check-raised here, what do I do?’ I’d run over to them, and they’d have queens, and it’s come 6-7-8, and they’ve been check-raised, I’m like ‘I don’t know… I guess we call this one.’
I went to the World Series and won almost a million dollars in No Limit Hold’em tournaments. I felt unlucky not to win more.
If volume in poker can build into experience, during his time in the Southern hemisphere, Trickett put in the hours.
We played thousands and thousands of hands. Eventually, the players only ever put their hands up and asked for my advice when they had a tough decision. I got familiar with those tough decisions and awkward situations. Moving forward, I was comfortable in those situations and make good decisions based on my time in Cape Town. It brought my game on leaps and bounds, giving me discipline and teaching me to work harder at my game. It was a blessing. My girlfriend broke up with me, and I had no other options. I always think that if she hadn’t broken up with me, I might never have gone there and done what I did.”
“I improved so much there, I knew the game, and I knew who to bluff and when not to bluff. I went to the World Series and won almost a million dollars in No Limit Hold’em tournaments. I felt unlucky not to win more. I’d been deep in all these tournaments and felt unlucky. I didn’t get caught bluffing in a medium or big pot, and that filled me full of confidence.”
Before he knew it, Trickett wasn’t just a force in Las Vegas. He was the common British hope at some of the biggest TV cash tables in the world. He was winning in front of millions of viewers.
“When I went into the TV cash games, I repeated that style, and I was getting everything through. I played the partypoker open and won it for around $200,000. I’d just been to EPT Vilamoura and came fourth, and I should have won it. I thought there was no-one better in the world than me; I truly believed that at the time. Looking back, all the guys on the internet were playing better than me, but I thought I had this huge live edge and had a massive amount of confidence which made me go for huge bluffs. No-one was calling me back then because no-one would ever call off their stack. I’d built up this confidence, and if you get a good result every time you make a call in a particular point, it’s so familiar it becomes second nature. Everyone had leaks you could exploit.”
A keen footballer, Trickett has already fulfilled his ambition of scoring a goal at Old Trafford. He draws the parallel between elite sportsmen and poker players when it comes to confidence.
“I remember playing pool, and if you’re confident, then you get down and you play. You know you’re going to pot it and you do. The second you doubt yourself and the nerves kick in, you might miss. For me, it’s no coincidence that players go on these so-called ‘lucky streaks’ in poker. There have been a handful of players who have done it. Obviously, they’ve run well too, but it’s the confidence. They’re picking pots that other people aren’t; they’re winning all the small pots and then when they are all-in, they’re not getting knocked out because they have more chips. Every spot counts, and it is the little pots that make the difference. It’s not a case of just being confident, though. A lot of the time, it’s down to you playing well, working on your game and when you make mistakes, trying to learn from them and not make them again. A lot of confidence comes from playing well; you can’t just keep playing poorly and declaring how confident you are!”
Now the biggest name on the partypoker ambassadorial roster, Trickett is keen to point out just how impressed he’s been with his fellow partypoker professionals. It’s clear that when it comes to poker, Trickett thrives on the team element as well as possessing the necessary individual drive. Not that he feels his advice is needed by the elite stable he’s a part of right now.
“I speak to them all a bit, but to give you an example of just one other partypoker player in Natalia Breviglieri, she fits right into the poker lifestyle. Natalia is always talking poker and working on her game. If I ever felt like someone was doing something wrong, I could advise them, but they all seem like they’re doing a pretty good job, to be honest! I’m always here if they want to ask, but turning up, being professional and respecting everyone is the benchmark. A lot of the players who are ambassadors were offered it because of the way they already acted before they got the deal.”
The former superstar of a ‘Brit Pack’ who took on Vegas and won big, Trickett now has the right balance to make a new run towards greatness. Does a WSOP bracelet beckon? If it does, maybe the new Sam Trickett will appreciate it that bit more.
“I’m super chilled now and I know where my life’s going. I’m really excited again about poker. I care about my decisions; I’ve been playing more, watching videos and sharpening up. I’m looking forward to my next trip and have a great balance with my personal and professional life.”
Everyone starts somewhere in poker, and for Sam Trickett, it was putting in the volume. With rewards for players across all formats of the game on partypoker, you own journey to greatness can start today.
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