Interview with Ryan “MocaChoca89” O Donnell

TAGs: Lee Davy, Mocachoca, ryan o'donnell, World Poker Tour, WPT Baden

interview-with-ryan-mocachoca89-o-donnellIt’s not often that you see Ryan O’Donnell outside of his bedroom, and when you consider that he has earned $600,000 playing online Sit n Go’s (SNG), and Multi Table Tournaments (MTTs), in just three years, then you can understand why. I caught up with young O’Donnell at the recent World Poker Tour (WPT) stop in Baden, Austria and this is what he had to say.

What brings you to Baden and the WPT?

Flippetyflop {Leon Lewis} was coming and he kept asking me to join him. I told him if I made $20K last week I would come with him, and I just scraped it in so here I am. I booked my flight on the morning of Day 1A and have nowhere to stay other than Flippetyflops room, so it was a good spontaneous decision.

I believe you and Leon have formed a small band of merry poker men and have set a challenging goal for 2013?

It’s called and our goal is to make a million between five of us during 2013. It started out as a way to motivate us to make goals, accomplish goals and work on our game throughout the year so we can maximize our potential. A million was just a figure put out there by Leon because it was kinda “Cool”, and because it had a million in the tagline it created some hype around the game. In the first few weeks I did feel a bit of pressure, like I was being watched all the time. But then I got used to it and just thought we have to play our ‘A’ game all of the time. It’s coming along well now. I was in a 40K hole at the beginning of the year, but I am just getting out of it. The team is up around 50K at the moment and given the bad start that is totally fine.

Who is in the team altogether?

It’s FlippetyFlop, Giabest, Mills_UK, Rocmar87 and me. We are all from the same neighborhood and played in the same poker club. Leon and I first and when the others followed we taught them how to play.

What kind of money are you expecting to earn playing Turbo HU SNG each year?

It is hard to tell, as I have only played them for a couple of years, but I would say around $300K/$500k would be a good target for somebody grinding at the highest level. The variance is so high that somebody could have the same ability of someone that makes 500K and they might just make 10K. That is why we have always wanted to do something like this.

Who are your opponents? Surely you are not playing each other?

Last year, I played against all of the regs at the highest level for the majority of the year and just ended up breaking even for the first half the year – and making some rake back money  – and I then decided ok the most plus EV is to get my ego out of it and just start playing fish. So now I just sit around waiting for fish. It does take a long time, sometimes, because there are a lot of poker players sitting around waiting for fish. It is totally worth it, you get a higher ROI and there are plenty of them, because there is a massive field out there. It’s getting bigger and bigger all the time. As soon as someone wins a tournaments the first thing they do is hit a hyper turbo, as soon as someone bubbles a tournament, the first thing they will do is take the hyper turbo. As soon as somebody is in anyway tilted the first thing they do is play higher. It is probably the most profitable form of poker at the moment, the only thing about it is, it only goes up to 1K in buy-ins so that is why people can’t make extreme amounts of money. Last year one of my best friends in poker, Serkules, made a million, he was one of the first players to make a million in HU SNG in a single year, so the potential to make a million is there if just one person plays, so if five of us are playing a range of stakes we should be able to do it.

Do you play off the back of your own money?

Yes I do. I started playing $5 45-man’s and then I moved up through the stakes before reaching the $30 games. There is a jump to $75 45-man’s. It was such a massive jump I didn’t know what to do in between. I had a history of winning HU SNG but I was never consistent in them, but thought I am going to have to learn them because there is not much for me to do in between. So I then started playing $30 HU SNG after my bankroll got big enough to move up to them. I have never looked back from there. I just kept moving up the stakes until one day I had enough money to play the 5k’s, but then after a big downswing I decided I would just stick around the mid-high stakes area.

Who is the guy everyone inspires to be in the heads up sit and go turbo world?

Serkules and Skywalker.

I believe you have a love for graffiti?

I got into that when I was younger. I was a bit of a naughty boy growing up – hanging round the streets – then started tagging and got into a bit of trouble with the law, as you do when you are a graffiti artist. It sent so much heartbreak to my mum, but I just loved it so much that I still needed it in my life. So I turned it into art instead of tagging the streets.

How do you create graffiti art and stay out of trouble?

There are designated areas all around the world, especially in London. There is a big scene for it, so any day you want there is always places you can go for the whole day to hang out and spend time to practice your work. Also, with the way social media is at the moment you don’t have to be illegal to get your name out there, because there are people going round to these spots all the time and putting them on their blogs etc. so you are getting your name more out there doing it legally now than someone who is doing it illegally.

Is Banksy a particular hero of yours?

Not really because he is more of a political artist and I don’t think his talent should be worth millions the way it is. It is ridiculous that people buy his work. For the level of art he produces I don’t think it should be worth as much as he is worth. There are more talented people out there who also deserve something.

Isn’t that like the poker world though?

It is a lot like poker. You have a lot of people that can be consistent and if you grind at it you get a bit, but in the art world there is nobody making it really, but when you do, you make it big. But in general everyone is struggling in the art world.


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