I spent my life in foreign lands. So many men have tried to kill me, I don’t remember all their names… Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. In myself. In Daenarys T. I was born to rule…and I will.
— Daenarys T, probably*
The last time PokerStars Blog caught up with “Daenarys T” was in the spring of last year. The Dutch player had just won the Take 2 Sunday Million for a life-changing, million-dollar score — one that came literally the day after his previous all-time best cash of $19,000.
“I slept for one hour,” he told us at the time, still riding the adrenaline high of having punched the kind of ticket every poker player dreams about. “I just bought a Rolex. I haven’t told my parents yet so I’ll tell them on Thursday.”
In the poker business we talk a lot about life-changing money. “Daenarys T” actually laid hands on it. So when he locked down his second major PokerStars title this week by winning SCOOP Event #10-H for $89K, it was a perfect chance to see what living those changes has been like — and what mom and dad had to say when they got the news.
The last time we caught up with you, you hadn’t yet told your parents about your Sunday Million win. How did they react when you finally broke the news?
It’s pretty funny, they had actually read in the papers already that someone from the Netherlands won a million. They were really happy of course. They didn’t believe in poker much before, but they do now. I actually had a lot of problems with them over poker because they thought I was just gambling (which I was in the beginning). They thought I was throwing my life away. Turned out pretty good in the end, though!
You told us at the time that you were “literally clueless” about what you were going to next, other than go to Ibiza with your girlfriend and grind more. How has the grind treated you since winning the Milly, and how has having a bigger bankroll affected your game selection? Do you still maintain the same mix of live and online play as you did before?
At first the only thing I did was to move up from $200 Zoom to $500 Zoom! I was pretty hesitant to move up because I was never that good with bankroll management. But I moved up eventually, and actually this year I have been swinging pretty hard. I play a lot more online these days — when I play live I’m always drinking and punting. But my dream is to play Super High Rollers, so maybe one day I’ll try to take it serious again.
Aside from poker, that sort of win must have made a big difference in the rest of your life, too.
It definitely turned my life upside down for a while. It was something that I had dreamed about all my life and to finally fulfil that dream was an amazing experience. For a while all I was doing was having fun and partying, but pretty quickly I was back to playing. Now my life is pretty normal, just trying to live healthy, grinding a lot and spending time with my girlfriend, with the occasional live trip or splurge.
Let’s talk about your latest win, which came in the first Win The Button event on this year’s SCOOP schedule. Is this a format you’ve explored much in the past?
Actually I never play Win The Button, but I had fun changing it up. I feel like you get rewarded for playing aggro, so that suits me pretty well.
Walk us through your progression in this tournament.
The first day, I was on another big SCOOP final table so I can’t recall too much of that — I think I built up a medium stack [by the end of Day 1]. On Day 2 I was swinging really hard and got lucky in all of my all-in situations. I was making a lot of mistakes, but better lucky than good!
At the final table I couldn’t do much in the beginning because of ICM considerations. But eventually some guys busted and I won two big hands in a row where people made real crazy hero calls against me. After that I just played really aggro and won the important flips. Heads-up was a battle but I managed to drag it out in the end.
Winning $89K is obviously not nothing — anyone would love to win that much money playing poker — but it’s also not the same sort of enormous life-altering moment that your Milly win was. Put it in perspective for us: what does it mean for a poker player to win $89K when you’ve already scored $1M?
When I won the Million, I was very emotional, crying and stuff. [This time] I was really happy, of course, but it wasn’t super special [in the same way].
But it means a lot to me. It’s something I’ve dreamed about all my life, and it’s the second biggest score [of my career] so it’s still a very big deal. And as I said before, I was down on the year while I was playing a lot and working on my game, so I’m really happy to get rewarded like this.
Now that you have a title in your pocket, have you set a new personal goal for the rest of SCOOP?
I’m in the Dominican Republic with two friends who are also playing SCOOP. Now I’m first in the High leader board, so I’m gonna try playing everything and win that.
Any expectations for the rest of the series?
I’ve run so fucking hot these first four days, so no expectations.
Thanks again to Daenarys T for agreeing to another interview with the Blog, and congratulations to him on adding a SCOOP title to his growing poker resumé!
* – With apologies to George R.R. Martin and the writers at HBO.