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Andrew Chen - No Fame, Just Freedom

Andrew Chen No Fame Just Freedom

Photo credit front page: Neil Stoddart for during the 2012 EPT Berlin final table.

There are only 13 people in Canada that have earned more than Andrew Chen in live poker tournaments. Many of those top pros rely heavily on one big score but Chen has managed, as one of seven in Canada, to notch up a six figure score in each of the last five years. Those pros are Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, Mike Watson, Shawn Buchanan, Sorel Mizzi and one of his best friends Mike McDonald. The 25-year old professional is a special talent, but you will never hear him say that about himself. Down to earth, realistic and very polite is the best way to describe this young man from Mississauga, Ontario. Chen is not looking for fame and spotlights; he wants to enjoy the freedom that poker gives him. To date Chen has three top five finishes in EPT Main Events and one runner-up finish in a WSOP event back in 2009. On top of all of this he has won over $1.6 million in online tournaments under his handle ‘achen’. His biggest victory to date came in the 2011 NAPT Bounty Shootout during the PCA for $263,100.

Last year you finished second in EPT Berlin event and you seemed extremely happy with that result. After making the deal and playing for the title and an additional €80,000 Was there no reason to be unhappy when you lost?
Some people would look at it as, you’re heads up and you’ve already locked up a certain amount of money. Now anything that has happened up until now is irrelevant as that no longer matters and therefore I should feel terrible - I’ve made no extra money after the deal and I busted the tournament. I don’t think that’s a good way to look at it. I’ve run so good and done so well in poker and in every way imaginable that I think it’s tasteless and not very tactful to complain if you’re ever in my position.

Doesn’t it hurt more because you’ve been close before?
Basically not, but say I was closer to breaking even or not up quite as much as I am, then it might get annoying. So no, it’s awesome how I’ve ran and that’s about it.

Do titles in tournaments mean nothing to you?
Well, not quite nothing. For most people I think it would be cool to get some recognition from winning a poker tournament, but the bottom line is that it’s about the money. It’s kind of weird, I’m nitty with my money but in a way I would say I value having money more than people who spend it a lot. What I mean by that is that I value the freedom to do nothing. It sounds bad but that’s who I am.

So for you it’s more about having the time to do whatever you want as opposed to buying expensive things?
Yes, the time to let’s say play computer games and watch TV. In my eyes I’ve been incredibly lucky and a lot of people in similar positions have been lucky. I really don’t like complaining. When I do complain, it’s in jest. What else is Twitter for when you’re a poker player? (Laughing) Although I guess some people like to read about hands and how you busted out. It still sucks to get bad-beated in a tournament but in the grand scheme of things, if anyone asks me are you disappointed at all when you come that close? I would never say that I’m disappointed because I don’t think that’s very tasteful.

As a poker player you go through a lot of swings but is there ever a moment where you’re disappointed in yourself or in your results?
With me it’s more that I’m afraid that I’m not as good as my results might indicate. This is basically true since I’ve ran super hot. I like to think that I’m a good player and I won’t be disappointed results wise when I go six months without winning something big. It will be more like, I haven’t done that much work off the table, I’ve played Sundays and not invested a lot of time in my game. Therefore people are probably passing me by. Results wise in tournaments I realize that it’s almost impossible to determine anything in that department.  

You already said that you’ve been luckier than other players while a lot of players will emphasize how good they are to others. How do you see that and does it take an even smarter person to realize such things?
I hope it takes a smarter person to see those kinds of things. A: because that means I’m a smarter person (laughing), and B: that would mean that poker is more profitable. It’s basically true, almost everyone and especially in tournaments, overestimates their edge. For me personally, it’s really hard to have these results and be confident that they’re close to my average ROI. There’s no way that it would be close to average. That’s why I throw out the word lucky because that’s the simplest way to describe it. 

Interview by Remko Rinkema
Remko Rinkema - Interviewer

Remko Rinkema has covered the biggest poker tournaments in the world since 2008, including many WSOP, EPT, Aussie Millions, APPT, MCOP and Unibet Open events. As an in-depth interview and story enthusiast he tries to do things a little differently. Besides the usual writings Rinkema grabs every chance to appear on podcasts, live streams and in the occasional video.

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