The live success of players like Faraz Jaka and Andy Seth has brought much attention to the crop of young poker players coming out of the University of Illinois. The long list of online pros who have logged hours in the U of I “Pokerhaus” ranges from Ty “puffinmypurp” Reiman to Ravi “govshark2” Raghavan to Mohsin “chicagocards1” Charania.
Charania has kept a low profile in 2010, but a recent score in SCOOP Event #20 worth $380,000 has put him right back in the middle of the online poker spotlight. The Chicago poker pro recently sat down with Bluff to talk about the relief of hitting a big score after a rough year at the online tables and how he managed to predict the big win before the tournament even started. He also fills us in on the secret of his success these days: reading the comedic gold that is coming out of a PocketFives thread lauding fellow online player Steve “gboro780” Gross.
You’ve admitted that you weren’t having a great year playing online this year prior to winning the SCOOP event. How was SCOOP going for you prior to the win?
It was going awful. The whole year was going pretty awful for me. I got deep in one of the $2,600 Knockout events and I got a couple of knockouts, but I think that was the only SCOOP cash I had. It wasn’t going well, but now I guess it can’t really go badly either.
The score is one of the bigger online payouts of the year. Can a single score like that salvage a bad year for a player?
It makes up for the fact that I have had a frustrating time since last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP). There was one good stretch last November where I final tabled an FTOPS event and won a couple of tournaments and in January I won a $1K event online, but other than that I’ve not been running well. It’s hard with tournament buy-ins as high as they are, especially live. [The win] doesn’t make up for me if I brick the rest of the year, but it helps a lot because it still gives me a pretty good chunk of profit.
Are you going to splurge and reward yourself for the score or will that money be going back into poker?
I haven’t decided. I think I might put it aside because all the money I had put aside had gone to waste with me bricking so hard and backing costs and life expenses. I will probably go on vacation, but I don’t think I’m going to buy anything absurd.
Where are you going to go?
I’m not sure yet. I’m definitely going to San Jose for the Blackhawks/Sharks game, but that is not really a vacation. I can’t imagine people ever wanting to go to San Jose on a vacation. I don’t know though, maybe Florida or somewhere outside the country.
After you won you took a few days off from poker. A lot of people like to try to put in extra hours when they feel they’re running well and playing well. Why did you decide to take a break?
A lot of it had to do with the fact that the tournament took twelve hours on Day 1 and another eight hours on Day 2 and I was so tired that I didn’t want to play poker. I got lucky that the SCOOP schedule has a lot of mixed games right now. Even though I plan on playing a lot of mixed games at the WSOP, I don’t particularly feel like going out of my way playing mixed game tournaments online.
Some of the MTT regulars seem to be skipping several of the mid-week $1K buy-in SCOOPs. Have you played most of them or were you part of the contingent that played a limited schedule?
I played all of them. I don’t understand why people [skip them]. It is still $150,000 for first, even if you have to play 18 hours. I agree that the structure is probably a little too slow, but you’ve got to be absolutely kidding me if you’re complaining about having to play 18 hours to make $150,000. I play them because I like money. The field is still not that tough, because there are still over 1,000 players in them with a lot of European players. To each his own I guess. If they have enough money and don’t want to play, then so be it.
You predicted your win to friends as early as Saturday before the tournament even started. What prompted this Babe Ruth pointing at center field gesture?
I don’t know. Of course I got lucky predicting it, but I felt like I was running less tables on Sunday and I was really focused. Obviously I ran really well, which you have to do to win a tournament, but I felt like I played really well. It was a deepstack event, so I managed to avoid big all-in preflop situations and I felt really, really good about the tournament. I was so tired of running really bad, so I just decided to stay positive and call my shot.
Honestly, I 100% thought I was going to win the tournament from midway through Day 1 when I was top three in chips. Anytime anyone IMed me to say good luck I said, “Thanks, but I don’t need it. I’m going to win no matter what.”
You seem to have a new source of inspiration and joy in your life and that is the epic PocketFives thread lauding the abilities of Steve “gboro780” Gross. (Ed. Note: If you have not seen this thread, it is worthwhile, even if you don’t know much about Gross. Essentially, the P5s community has dubbed Gross online poker’s Chuck Norris and the jokes in that vein are running freely in a now-14 page thread.)
I mean, I almost feel like I play poker on the side so I can have something to do while I wait for more posts in this thread.
Have you contributed any gboro780 jokes of your own to the thread?
I had “Gboro once won an internet tournament without ever turning his computer on.” I don’t think it got love because there are so many great ones though.
What has been your favorite so far?
“Rosa Parks wouldn’t get out of her seat because she was saving it for gboro780.”
WSOP is just around the corner. Are you playing a full schedule of events?
As of now, I’m hopefully playing everything. I’m not that good at Omaha, so I won’t play the $10K Omaha, but I’ll play all the smaller buy-in mixed games event. I’ve gotten really good at mixed games. Having access to Jason Mercier, who is really good at mixed games helps. [My friend] Dan “Wretchy” Martin is really good at 2-7 too, so I can talk to them about spots that I have. I’m not going to be like Mercier where I’m going to go play the 5pm event even though I’m still in the 12pm event though.