Leon Louis on The Local London Poker Scene, Bum Hunting and Modestly Crushing The Game

Image Couretsy of Pkr.com

Leon ‘Flippety-Flop’ Louis is the type of poker player who prefers to just get his head down, work hard, enjoy the game and win a shedload of money. He isn’t one for the public eye, but as a wiser man than me once said, “if he keeps on doing what he is doing, he is going to keep on getting what he is getting.”

In the past year Louis has played in his first World Poker Tour (WPT) event and cashed in it, went deep in the International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) where he finished in 17th place, made 40th in the United Kingdom and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) in London, finished 29th in the European Poker Tour (EPT) London and made the final table of the World Championships of Online Poker (WCOOP) walking away with $160k for an 8th place finish.

But sandwiched in between those excellent results has been a lot of activity in the lower echelons of the London poker club scene.

So what has been going on?

“I started off playing in the local recreational poker clubs and I love the social interaction of those tournaments. There is no pressure on you to perform. If I play a local tournament I don’t have to play every hand optimally and instead I can have fun.”

So what’s the scene like at the grass roots level in London?

“I think it’s dying quite a bit. When I first started playing seven years ago you would get well over a 100 players for an evening tournament. These days you will be lucky to get 20-30 players. There isn’t a lot of poker on TV these days, and also I think the games aren’t as fun as they used to be. You have too many players talking about +EV and fold equity, and as a newcomer in poker you don’t want to hear about all that. You are just there to have a good time, so I think the environment is more daunting for the newer players.”

So why has Louis been doing so well in a format of poker that is not his strongest suit?

“I have done a lot of work on my MTT game in the past 3-4 months. Obviously, I ran well to get deep but it’s also a by-product of the work I have put it. It was sick to get the $160k score in the WCOOP Main Event, but I am still disappointed about not closing any of them out.”

How has Louis worked on his tournament game?

“I have watched a bunch of training videos, and I have to give a shout out to Jason Koon and Craig McCorkell who have done some great videos at RunItOnce. I have also invested in some coaching with some MTT online coaches. Also a lot of friends who play MTTs have been helping me with my game.”

Does Louis have a weakness in his game that has prevented him from going even deeper, or are we just talking good old-fashioned variance and circumstance?

“I think it’s a bit of both. Using the ISPT as an example, there was a spot where I had 20bb in the small blind and I shoved Q9 into an aggressive big blind that called with fives and won the flip. I took the line I would have taken online, and instead I should have paid more attention to the pay jumps and maybe could have min raised folded, or just limped in that spot, as I felt I had an edge over the field.”

So what is going to be Louis’s bread and butter?

“I will always play heads-up as I know too many people who play MTTs and pull their hair out. I’ll still dabble and try and qualify for these bigger events, but I don’t think I could ever play MTT seven days a week as a regular thing.”

As a heads-up specialist I was interested to hear Louis’s views on the news that PokerStars were releasing heads-up Zoom tables in a bid to try and reduce bum hunting.

“It’s an interesting one. For lots of regs who play online a lot I see why bum hunting is an option for them. Having Zoom HU tables will favor the better players at any given stakes, and you will get to see who the cream of the crop is, whilst at the same time the softer regs won’t get such an easy ride. It will be interesting though because you get some really good regs who aren’t that great playing against fish, and worse regs who are. Maybe Zoom will even all that out.”

I asked Louis if his opponent’s would class him as a bum hunter?

“In the past month or so people are trying to get the weaker regs out. You have seen a lot of reg against reg wars to try and flush the weaker regs to lower limits. I have won most of my money playing against fish, I hold my hands up, but my record against regs is pretty good. The bottom line is my ROI against fish is somewhere between 5-7%, and against a reg this could only be a 2% ROI, so it’s in most players best interest to only play against weaker players.

“The stakes I play I consider myself to be one of the better players and I have no qualms against playing the better players. I don’t know how much longevity these types of games have. I think a lot of it depends on whether the US market returns. A huge proportion of the recreational player pool came from there. But at the moment hyper turbo’s seem healthy and I am still making money and the games are good.”

When I first met Louis at WPT Baden in Season XI him and four other online heads-up players had created a goal to earn a million dollars in profit playing heads-up games, and they chronicled their performance on whynotgrind.com.

Whatever happened to it?

“We weren’t really ready for how much attention it would get. We posted the blog up and it got a lot of attention. We were posting our results online and our family and friends were seeing them. If we were having a £10k winning or losing week, our friends and family would be thinking what the f**k is going on? It was only supposed to be a motivational tool that got out of hand so we stopped it.

“The irony is, if you look at our results we wouldn’t be that far of the million. We just think it’s better to put our heads down and work hard. My main goal is to make money, not to be a superstar in the game.”

What does Louis’s world look like?

“This year I have tried to go for balance. Last year I was playing 50-60hrs a week. I don’t think I have hit a 40 hr week this year. I am trying to do more recreational things, social things, football and balancing live and online poker.”

Who influences him?

“I get influenced by people like Toby Lewis because he seems quite modest and crushes live and online, Jason Koon who focuses a lot on his health, but my all time favorite player is Isaac Haxton, who has crushed cash games live and online, tournaments and HU. So my inspirations are people who are successful, modest and crush all forms of games.”

What about outside of poker?

“Anyone in the public eye who crushes it and remains cool and modest. Like Paul Scholes who was one of the most talented midfielders in the world but had no interest in the public eye or media.”

If Louis keeps his current run of form up, he had better get used to putting on that modest front as the media are going to keep knocking.