There were a number of familiar usernames at the top of the payouts in WCOOP Event #53-H, the $1,050 6+ Hold’em event that drew 178 entries. That includes the player who finished at the top of the list, Nick “FU_15” Maimone.

It was another impressive poker accomplishment for Maimone, made all the more so by the fact that it was his first ever 6+ tournament!


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Following his win, Maimone talked PokerStars Blog about his win. The story started a year ago, in fact, when his family had scheduled a trip to Greece that as it turned out cut significantly into the WCOOP schedule.

“That was a nightmare,” Maimone laughs. “I was there on vacation with my wife and daughter, staying up in the dark there in the hotel until 3 or 4 a.m. trying to grind.”

Despite the conditions, Maimone did manage to score one WCOOP title last year in the $530 NLO8. But the experience mainly served to whet his appetite even more for this year’s series. Indeed he says he played just about every day, although coming into the final week he hadn’t necessarily notched the results at which he’d been aiming.

“I hadn’t been doing too well, then this 6+ tournament comes around,” he says, noting how typically he focuses on his strongest games, hold’em and Omaha 8-or-better (pot-limit and no-limit).

“I had never played a 6+ before, which is pretty funny. I had played a little bit of cash, and I just lost. I didn’t really like the cash format with the button ante, and I hadn’t really worked on it that much. However, I had watched a lot of the streams such as the ones from Triton and some videos, so I understood some of the hand strengths and how the equities run and things like that.”

That bit of 6+ experience and study, put together with his knowledge of tournament strategy, encouraged enough to try to satellite into the $1K 6+ event, though not to buy in directly.

“There was a $109 satellite and I played it… I just went all in a lot,” he says. “The hand strengths are really close in 6+, even more so than in PLO, so you’re just trying to deny equity from your opponent, to get them to fold their share in the hand a lot. So in the satellite I was going all in a lot and I won a lot of hands, and I won a seat into the $1K.

The event had already been going for a while when Maimone was seated.

“I was initially seated at Kristen “krissyb24” Bicknell‘s left, and by the time I had satellited in she already had like a million chips.” (The starting stack was 100,000.)

Kristen Bicknell (in action at EPT Barcelona)

Maimone played as solidly as he could, mostly sticking with a tight approach but taking chances whenever they arose. “I ended up getting more confident as the tournament went on, despite not having any tournament experience with 6+.”

At one point he clashed in a memorable hand versus another familiar, tough opponent.

“Everybody who plays 6+ says don’t worry about flushes because they are so rare, but I did hit a flush to bust my friend Dario Sammartino who got second in the Main Event this year,” Maimone says.

Dario Sammartino (in action at EPT Barcelona)

“I had A♣J♣ and raised pre and he called with K-Q offsuit. The flop came A-Q-Q and I checked, and he bet and I called. The turn was the K giving him a full house but also giving me both a straight draw and [with two clubs on the board] a flush draw, and I check-called again. The river was the 6♣, and I think I just open-jammed.” Sammartino called to see the bad news, since a flush tops a full house in 6+.

Eventually the final table arrived. Bicknell also made it that far. She’d had Maimone outchipped the entire way to the final table, but with four left he had more than her when the pair clashed.

“I limped 10-9 offsuit and she iso’d me. I jammed and she called me with aces — then it came 8-7-6!” says Maimone, explaining how Bicknell ended up bowing out in fourth.

“That was kind of funny, because I had just been talking with my friend before about short deck and he was telling me how I wasn’t valuing how good 10-9 and J-9 were. And I think it is about 44-46 percent equity or so with 10-9 off vs. aces preflop — practically a flip.”

There was still work to do for Maimone… and more tough competition to face.

“The player who finished second was very good — “bajskorven87” from the U.K.,” says Maimone. “He was much better and more experienced than me at 6+. He had all the chips and abused the bubble. I bluffed him once on the bubble and he just called me with two pair when I blocked the straight on both sides but missed a double-gutshot.”

“But the final table just went very smoothly,” Maimone concludes. He managed to continue winning those big all-ins, ultimately taking the final one to claim the title and a better than $35K first prize.

Maimone thus joins the list of successful tournament players who have been able to win events playing variants that are new to them.

“It shows that if you use good tournament strategy and intuition, you can be competitive… And [in 6+] if you run really good with your all-ins you can win it — it’s pretty do-able.”

Poker and Perseverance

For Maimone, ending another WCOOP with a victory like this one proved once again a lesson he says poker has taught him time and time again.

“My faith is very important to me, and one of the virtues that I really like is perseverance and not giving up,” says Maimone. “I’ve been taught this lesson countless times. The first instance was back in ’09. I was almost broke, I owed people money, and I was like 0-for-10 at the WSOP. And then the last tournament was the Main Event and I got 15th place. While I couldn’t retire off that money, that kept me in the game and allowed me to keep playing and find more opportunities.”

That deep run in the 2009 WSOP Main was where a lot of us first got to know Maimone. Some years later he’d follow that performance with another impressive one at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure where he won the $25K High Roller for a nearly seven-figure score

“It was similar in the Bahamas in ’16. I wasn’t broke, but I didn’t have a lot of money at that point. Then just in the nick of time — this was just before my first child was born — I was able to satellite into this tournament and win it,” he says. “Even though I didn’t have a huge percentage of myself, I was still able to keep myself in the game.”

Maimone after winning the 2016 PCA High Roller

“So many times in poker, people give up,” says Maimone. “They get overwhelmed by the negativity and the frustration and the stress of it. I ask myself after 12-13 years how am I still doing this, with the travel, the uncertainty, and everything? I still love the game, and I love the opportunities it has given me — and, really, that lesson it has taught me about not giving up and persevering and to keep trying and keep working.”

Such a lesson is especially relevant to tournament poker, where the “survival” aspect of the game gets a kind of special emphasis.

“The way I see it, one single tournament is like an example of poker in general,” says Maimone. “In each tournament, you’re just trying to survive and not lose your chips, to stay alive and win other people’s chips. But then in the grand scheme of things, with all of these tournaments you are also trying to survive with your bankroll and to stay relevant, to stay on top of the game and studied and competitive so you can make money in the game.”


WCOOP 2019: ALL THE STATS, RECORDS, AND ODDNESS


As one of the “veterans” of the game (relatively speaking) who has been around since the 2000s and the “boom,” Maimone well understands how sometimes even talented players find themselves forced out of poker when the cards don’t fall their way, while others who perhaps aren’t as skilled are nonetheless able to win enough to keep their seats.

“All you can do is control what you can and your work ethic and willingness to grind and willingness not to give up,” he says. “I tell people if you don’t love the game anymore, if you don’t enjoy playing, then just give it up. You shouldn’t be playing poker as a chore because it’s so stressful.”

“I can justify the stress because I love the game and playing and the exhilaration of playing and competing and the mental stimulation it provides. But if I didn’t love the game anymore, I’d have to find something else to do.”

Playing Hands… then Lending a Hand

For Maimone, winning not only enables him to stay in the game, it helps him help others. He makes it a regular practice after winning to send money to help children from single-mother homes in Honduras, the country he called home for several years.

“One of the organizations that I work with is a charity called the Children’s Impact Network, a group home for children than have been abused or neglected,” says Maimone. “I help find kids who have been abandoned or mistreated and write up a profile. They only have limited capacity, but if you can get the kids there you can guarantee them a stable home, a safe environment, guaranteed access to education, clean water, and three meals a day.”

While many reasons motivate Maimone toward such charitable work, being able as well to highlight poker’s “upside” (as he calls it) is an added benefit, he explains.

“I like to try to get people to focus on where poker can be good and not just focus on the negative things,” he says. “There’s a lot of good that can be done through poker. It can give you freedom, so if you’re a parent you can spend time with your family. And if you win money, you can share it and give back to your community or to charities to support children or animals or the environment — whatever you are passionate about doing.”

“Of course, there are no guarantees — I may not make anything and I may struggle to make an income. But when I do make money there’s the potential I can make a million dollars and make a big, positive impact on others.”

Congrats to Maimone for continuing to persevere in poker and for successfully capturing another WCOOP title.


More WCOOP winner interviews:

Adrián “marval231” Kott: “It was a big joy to be honest,” he says of winning #10-L
Borys “GODofHU” Turitsa: The man who beat Lex to win $121K!
Rens “Rens02” Feenstra: 11,254 entries and the Dutch pro beats his buddy heads-up
Dan “woodbine ave” Scott: Second victory was “a long time coming!”
Maxim “Pylusha” Pylev: From 15 big blinds to NL08 champion
“Mr. No way”: It’s not easy beating “Colisea” heads up. Or is it?
Germany’s “Gaul4200”: “$44K is a lot of money for a 20-year-old student in Germany”
Joris “BillLewinsky” Ruijs: Captures second career WCOOP title in $530 NLH PKO
“myIT4”: “The WCOOP… it’s the World Cup, and I was representing Russia!”
Filipe “Zagazaur” Oliveira: One week, three WCOOP titles!
Espen “_sennj_” Sandvik: “It’s my first win in an official tournament”
Rodrigo “guinHuuh” Freire: Brazilian’s roller coaster ride turns $11 into $13K
Patrick “prepstyle71” Serda: No more pizzas for the three-time winner
Jeffrey “Jefffrr8” Reardon: He wanted a five-figure score. He got one.
Maxime “Daghemuneguu” Chilaud: Malta-based Frenchman wins first WCOOP of the series
Norway’s “19_Kumite_79”: First two-day event, biggest field, biggest cash
Viktor “TsiTool” Kovács: Puts Hungary on the WCOOP map
Italo “sep_itl1914” Carandinas: Brazilian chooses his own adventure
Naoya “nkeyno” Kihara: Woken up by a kick from his 3-year-old, plays Razz and wins!
“snovalshik1”: first-timer, who turned $5.50 into $3,408
Rinat “Zapahzamazki” Lyapin: Won PLO while streaming live
Alex “dynoalot” Difelice: Second win, but “I feel I have a ways to go.”
Pedro “PaDiLhA SP” Padilha: Akkari’s acolyte, who sets the record straight
Shaun “shaundeeb” Deeb: Seventh title, surely not the last


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