RakeTheRake and Mickey Petersen talk Magic, Mac Cheese, and the English Poker Open

Posted on by RTR Dave

RakeTheRake caught up with Mickey Petersen shortly after his English Poker Open 2012 victory to talk about his weakness for mac cheese, his online nickname, Magic : The Gathering, and of course poker…

RTR: Mickey, congratulations on your big win at the English Poker Open last month! Could you tell us a bit about your decision to enter?

MP: Thanks! Yeah what happened was that I had just come home from a trip to Denmark to visit some friends and we had grinded every day of the WCOOPs for two weeks straight. I had to go back to London a week earlier than expected and when I came home I could feel that I needed a day or two away from the computer, and also I hadn’t played any live events since the WSOP Main Event and I was starting to get the itch for live poker again, so playing the EPO was a no-brainer at that point.

RTR: You’ve really been making a mark for yourself in live tourney poker, but you’re perhaps best known as more of an online heavyweight – were you confident that you’d do as well as you did in the EPO?

MP: Well when you enter a tournament you can obviously never really have any idea of how good you will end up doing, but I’d say my confidence and game was probably at its peak. I have obviously had a pretty good year in live tournaments and was just coming off a pretty big heater online as well. I feel like I have put a lot of work into my game this year both on and off the tables so it’s nice when you run really good and things finally starts to click.

RTR: The final table was whittled down to you, Chris Bjorin, and Surinder Sunar. Those two guys have much more live poker experience (you’re quite a lot younger than they are)… did that worry you at all?

MP: I was really fortunate to have a huge chip lead once we got down to 3-handed so that definitely helped a lot. They were both hoping that the other one busted so they could ladder up the pay jumps, which absolutely is the correct strategy when there is such a big difference in stack sizes. It’s always interesting to play with players like Chris and Surindar though as they have a very different style from what I usually encounter, and while they are both on the tighter end of the spectrum it is important not to underestimate them as they are both capable of mixing it up in spots you wouldn’t expect. On a personal note I found it pretty cool because Surinder’s WPT episode is one of the first things I remember when I got into poker, and obviously Chris Bjorin is a legend in the game.

RTR: You discovered poker through playing Magic: The Gathering, and you are one of quite a number to have gotten into poker this way – what do you think (apart from being card games) are the key areas of overlap between the two that explain this migration of Magic players over to poker?

MP: Well I think the primary reason that a lot of people succeed in both isn’t necessarily because of the similarities but because they attract a certain kind of competitive people. That being said, there are some things that are similar, especially how important it is not to be results oriented, the best play is not always rewarded (and you would have won if you did the exact opposite). But if you keep on making right decisions over and over then eventually it will pay off.

RTR: Your nickname or screen name is ‘mement_mori’, and I read that you meant to type memento mori a latin phrase which translates into English roughly as ‘remember your mortality’ or ‘remember you must die’ but were too excited and made missed the ‘o’. That aside, did you deliberately choose this name as an intimidation of sorts?

MP: Haha! I don’t know about that, I would be surprised if anyone found it intimidating! I just think it’s a pretty good metaphor about the attitude that is required in poker, and especially when you play tournaments.

RTR: Do you have a preference between live and online poker?

MP: Online is clearly my favorite. Traveling around to live tournaments is just as much about the adventures and fame as it is about making money, but the travel expenses are high and your volume is so low that you can easily have downswings that last several years. Online you can play from the comfort of your own home and play 1000’s of tournaments a month pretty easily.

RTR: Do you have any ultimate ambitions in poker other than, as you’ve previously stated, to make as much money as possible; and how long do you see yourself playing as a pro?

MP: Not really, I am pretty simple when it comes to that. As long as I keep enjoying it and can beat the game I will probably be playing unless I all of a sudden find something else that sounds more appealing. Right now I am really enjoying poker though so hopefully that won’t be anytime soon.

RTR: Which poker player do you most admire and why?

MP: Thats a long, long list. I have a lot of respect for guys like Mike McDonald, Mike Watson, Luckychewy, Calvin Anderson, Shaun Deeb, Andrew Cheng and a whole bunch of other guys. The list is so long.

RTR: You live in England – apparently you’re in the middle of a move at the moment – but why have you chosen to live in England – is it for poker, or are there other reasons? And do you think the move will be permanent?

MP: Yeah I have been living here for a year so far and really enjoyed it, it’s one of my favourite cities. I primarily moved here to try something new, it seemed like a great time to try something out while I had no real commitments and all I needed to work was an internet connection and a computer. It also helps a lot that it’s so close to Denmark so I can visit friends and family somewhat regularly. Another bonus is that I am able to play WSOP, PCA and tournaments in Monte Carlo that otherwise would be taxed too highly to be feasible for me to play. I don’t think I will be living here permanently but at least a couple of years more hopefully.

RTR: In 2010, you posted about an incident of cheating at Partouche Poker event at the Palm Beach in France. What was the result of you posting that? Have you ever been back, and do you think – like you said at the time – it burnt any bridges for you? Do you look back on it as the right thing to have done?

MP: Yeah, the very short version is that a bunch of French floormen teamed up on a foreigner and let him get away with blatant cheating, it was so bad that me and Mike Binger got pretty vocal about it and they ended up disqualifying Mike from the tournament. To this day it’s still one of the most absurd things I have seen and I still find it really disgusting thinking back. I haven’t gone back to Partouche to play poker since as I saw too much cheating, favouritism and incorrect rulings to make it worth it. They showed that again this year with all their bullshit regarding the guarantee of the main event.

RTR: What do you consider your biggest strength in poker?

MP: I think my biggest quality is that I work very hard, I think too many people grind too little both when they are on big heaters or on downswings, putting in volume is key if you want to be able to consistently make money from tournaments.

RTR: … and biggest weakness?

MP: mac ‘n’ cheese with cauliflower.

RTR: I’ve seen detailed graphs on your blog illustrating monthly earnings – is bankroll management something you consider extremely important to your success?

MP: Yeah it most definitely is. I have been on both sides of the spectrums, early in my career I have taken shots that were way too big and then later on I have been too tight with my bankroll in spots that were def too good to say no to. I like to think I have found a reasonable balance at this point, and when I play tournaments that are above normal bankroll rules I try to either sell action or do swaps with friends.

RTR: In one interview on PokerStrategy.com you were quoted as saying “I don’t think I have a special talent for poker” – do you really believe that, and if so do you just attribute your success to hard work?

MP: Yeah, I definitely believe that at least to a certain extent everyone can learn to beat tournaments, at least up until the mid-stakes. I don’t really feel like I have that much of a talent for poker but once I get obsessed with a game I put in a lot of work, I think the biggest reason for my success is just that I have put in a ton of work on the game both on and off the tables.

RTR: Finally, what’s next for Mickey Petersen?

MP: Poker, poker, poker! At this point it just seems like there is a new tournament series coming up almost every week. I am going to San Remo for the EPT, then taking a couple of weeks off with my girlfriend in the states before playing UKIPT Bristol, WPT Copenhagen, GUKPT Final and then WPT and EPT Prague to round off the year. And that’s before adding in all the online poker I am going to play where there are a few good series coming up as well!

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