There aren't many poker players like Scott Palmer. It doesn't matter in which way you look at this 22-year old poker professional; he's going to stand out no matter what. Most US-based professionals quickly moved somewhere; to keep playing online poker after Black Friday happened. However, Palmer did not. Some of them even stayed in the US and decided to take up live poker, but more than a few events, Palmer never played. He still sees himself as a long time professional but most amateur players probably logged more hands throughout 2012 than this multi-millionaire. His hands are getting itchy about getting back into the High Stakes action, but for now it’s just talk from the man known as urnotindanger.
The interview I had scheduled with Palmer started at 4AM local Baltimore time, the time of his choosing. Palmer started off by explaining why he was even awake at this cuckoo hour.
Three weeks out of the month I will stay up until the middle of the morning, but it's mostly because I'm used to it from poker. Back when I just started PLO the only games that would run were between 3:00 and 6:00 AM. That kind of messed with my schedule and after poker went down in the U.S. I started playing StarCraft 2. If you want to follow any of that action you need to stay up in the middle of the night as well, because that's all taking place in South-Korea.
So the big question of course is, what have you been up to in the last six months? We saw you briefly at the World Series of Poker but after that it has been really quiet around 'urnotindanger'. You mentioned StarCraft, is that something you invest a lot of time in?
Well basically I've been on the computer a ton, even before I played poker. After playing poker it's pretty tough to just stop being on your computer that much. So StarCraft was nice because it's very similar in a lot of ways and it was something else I was already used to. Also, about the World Series of Poker, I went back to Canada for a month and a half and played online. I didn't really do too much though. I basically broke even.
That must have been a big switch, from playing poker full time to just playing Starcraft for fun. Had Starcraft, or video games for that matter, always been a passion of yours?
Kind of, it's something I've done a lot. I’ve always liked computer games a lot and it was fairly simple. Then when I found poker, I found it to be pretty similar to video games. So I stopped playing video games and just played that. When that went away I just went back to what I was doing before. I kind of view online poker just as a video game, along with stuff like StarCraft.
When you play video games it's mainly for recognition and winning itself. Making money in that business is a lot harder than poker but on the other side it's never going to cost you anything if you lose. What attracts you in that whole video game world and how does it keep your interest without the money being a big factor?
When I play poker it's not really for the money. Obviously after the session, if I win a lot, I'll be like “Wow! Nice!” because it went well. But to me it is more about beating people. I'm an extremely competitive person and being able to beat the best players means more to me than making money. At the same time, making money is pretty nice. It's a nice benefit. I'll say that.
Would you say losing a game of Starcraft has the same effect on you as losing a big pot when playing the Nosebleeds?
I wouldn't say that, but I have gotten extremely mad from losing games. But not necessarily as upset as after a bad session or losing a big pot I shouldn't have. It's relatively close, but not exactly the same.
Is a video game like Starcraft tougher on your mental state because you know there's less variance, and if you lose you're the worst player?
That's the one reason why it really sucks to lose, because you don't really have anyone to blame but yourself. With poker at least you can say, “Oh shit I got unlucky,” or something like that to make it not as bad. It's also kind of nicer too though, because if you lose you can look at the mistakes you made, as in poker you can obviously look at the mistakes you think you've made, but you can never be totally sure due to variance itself. That's why I think that a lot people, when they first start playing, have a hard time getting good. They will play a couple of hands poorly, or do something stupid which ends up working out, and from that point on they think that that's the right play.
You played very little online poker after Black Friday, can you say you miss the game and is it on your mind at all?
Yeah it's on my mind a lot, more lately it has been. Maybe that's because I haven't played it for about two months. I do miss it a lot, especially when I haven't played it for a while. For instance before I got home from Canada, I just really wanted to leave, just because I probably played for two and a half to three months straight. Which isn't a lot, but I guess that's the threshold for me not to miss the game anymore. That's long enough for me to take another long break from the game.