The Team PokerStars Online pro opens up about his love of computer games and why the new series of Game Of Throne has caused winter to come early in his household…
If you play poker for a living, the chances are you keep unsociable hours. But you don’t have to grind through the night when the bigger games and tournaments run. Work-life balance is important and PokerStars pro Lex Veldhuis – who streams all his play on Twitch – has recently switched to more conventional working hours to maintain a better one.
And it seems to be helping. His recent win of $14.1k as part of PokerStars $215 Thursday Thrill was his biggest, and took place with no less than 6,000 people watching live.
We spoke to Lex to discover what he’s doing with all his newfound time off the tables…
Why did you decide to switch to daylight hours for playing and streaming?
If I play at nights, I’m playing when all of my friends are off. I just decided I was going to get up the same time as my girlfriend at 7am and do all my stuff before dinner at night. I noticed that the quality of my social life went up really quickly.
So what are you doing with your new social time?
Video games – I’ve got a lot of online friends who I’ve met over the years and we like to play shooters [online].
Have you always been a fan of video games?
Yeah, when I was six or seven I used to set my alarm for 5 a.m. so I could play Zelda before school. My girlfriend’s worried I’m going to go back to doing that again. If you look at my trajectory, it’s logical that I got into poker. I played a lot of puzzle games and RPGs, which is all about figuring stuff out. In my teenage years I started playing StarCraft at a really high level. Twitch brings poker and gamers together, so for me it’s like connecting two passions.
What’s your favourite video game?
Right now my favourite game is H1Z1. I’m streaming that and it’s funny because I’m quite bad at it. I’ve never really played shooters [until recently], I always played strategy games. It’s nice because if you win one people go crazy, you’re always the underdog, you know? That’s fun and it gives people good material to needle you!
What’s your all-time favourite?
That’s a tie between A Link to the Past [Zelda] and Secret of Mana, both on the Super Nintendo.
What about outside of the house – when you’re not streaming, are you keeping fit?
Not all the time! Me and my girlfriend like binge-watching TV shows and debating them for hours. I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, and it’s a sticking point for us because she really doesn’t like it. If I point out that a GoT dragon is “epic”, she thinks I’m the biggest nerd there is.
What is it you love most about the show?
Well, the show might be defined as “fantasy” but the level of writing is another level entirely. As soon as I finished reading the books – there were only three at the time – I started over again. One of his last books to come out was basically a history of the world. I mean, what the hell? It’s so big.
I remember when a friend introduced me to all the conspiracy theories that are out there, like who are Jon Snow’s parents and stuff like that. This one thread had 11,000 posts… I remember just sitting in bed reading it from four in the morning to three the next afternoon.
And you read the books before watching the TV show?
I started reading the books when I was 15 and I’m a little bit peeved that he [George R.R Martin] is so slow at writing. I had to wait four years for one book and then five years for another. Now it’s taking another six years…
I guess you can’t blame people for wanting to hear the end of your story. It’s a relief that the TV show is deviating so much from the books, because it’s kind of like two different stories with the same characters.
What does offline life look like for you?
I play a lot of pool and it’s something I completely devoured when I started. I was like, okay, if I’m going to do this a lot I need to get good at it. That’s just my competitiveness.
I played tennis from when I was six to 19. I was doing well, then I went to university at 19, spent all my time behind a computer and I let pretty much everything else drop. Then I met Fatima Moreira de Melo – and her boyfriend Raemon Sluiter is a Dutch tennis legend. We started playing matches together and it rekindled my passion.
That sounds healthy…
It’s tough keeping active when you spend a lot of time behind your computer. Sitting for ten hours a day is so bad for you but in my five-minute breaks on PokerStars I do cross training, burpees or something like that.