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Lee Davy sits down with the most recent WPT National Main Event winner, Manig Loeser, to talk about the skill gap between poker’s good and excellent, what advice he would give to himself as a teenager and his opinion on the luckiest person in the world.

How are you feeling going into EPT Barcelona?

“I am super excited. I am going into it way more confident in my game and my ability, so I am going to grind not stop to make use of that. I am really good friends with Fedor Holz and those guys. They get very excited about the $10ks, $25ks and $50ks but I choose not to play them. I like them being there though. I can have a fun sweat and maybe buy some shares.”

Do you have a goal to be playing in these events in the future?

“I would like to play the $100ks, at some point, but they get tougher every year. Take this year’s $500k, for example, the tournament was so tough it probably wasn’t worth playing. Also, I don’t feel like I am ready yet from a skill level perspective.”

That’s a very humble thing to say. Is there a big skill gap between where you are now and the peak of the game?

“It’s quite a big skill gap. People under-estimate it. When I play against a top player I am losing, but not losing super-much. Some people think they are even in skills, but they are not, and will lose heaps. In the future I could play with them, but right now it wouldn’t be smart.”

Talk to me about the Austrian poker scene?

“I play very little in Austria. The live game cash action, for the high limits, is dead. The only thing that’s good here are the monthly €500 and €1k tournaments. They sometimes have eight starting days and big guarantees so they are fun to play, other than that I don’t play any live poker in Vienna.”

Who surrounds you in Vienna?

“The community is huge. We play soccer every few days and go to the pool and stuff. It’s tough to pick out individuals that I spend most of my time with because there is a big crew of us.”

Is there anything in particular that you have recently incorporated into your game through talking strategy with the group?

“I watched the replay of the final (WPT National Rozvadov) and one thing I noticed was I didn’t fold the big blind. It’s a good thing to defend it a lot wider. In the last WSOP I didn’t do this. I was folding or three betting from the big blind. Having the confidence to defend, and play out of position, even with short stacks like 12bb, is a good skill to have. Fedor {Holz} is a prime example. He never folds.”

What advice would you give to a 14-year old Manig Loeser?

“My main advice would be not to worry about the future. When I was 14 I had goals that were silly, and I had no shot of achieving them. You cannot predict the future so you shouldn’t worry about it.”

What were some of the goals you had that were silly?

“My parents are doctors, so at some point I was thinking about doing the same. I always wanted to be a professional – the best at some thing. I wanted to be a soccer player, and then I wanted to be a table tennis player. I got obsessed with that. Then the thing I tried the hardest was mountain bike racing. But I never really had a shot at any of them because I only worked at them for a few months.”

If you could work on anything for 10k hours what would it be?

“I would like to go somewhere, and help people. I think this will make me happy. I would like to go to Africa and learn the medical skills to help people.”

What’s your relationship like with money?

“It’s changed a lot in the past few years. It used to be unimportant to me. I would spend a lot on silly things. I have been trying to not waste my money lately. I still have fun, but it’s more important to keep hold of it than before.

“I think when you are younger you are not thinking about the future too much. You don’t know how long the poker business is going to last and people learn less each year. Also when you start thinking about having a family you realize you need some form of security. So I am thinking more about the future, saving some money and making smart investments.”

Why have you been so successful?

“I would say that I am working harder than most people. This weekend, after every tournament ends, I went straight to the cash games and played. I only slept 4-5 hours. Most people I spoke to thought I was crazy, but the spots in the cash games were excellent. When you find these spots you have to make the most of them and put in the hours.”

Describe ‘working hard on your game’?

“I am well aware that I am in a tremendous position to have so many great poker players around me. I write down my poker hands and discuss them with people. You can also watch training videos, and take notes, and implementing them into your game you will improve. Finding a great one-to-one coach is also a great way to learn.”

What holds you back from being more successful?

“I would say that I like my social life too much. If I would just sit in front of my computer and do calculations every day I would be a better player. People like Doug Polk have dedicated their lives to be the greatest HU player in the world. I respect that, and am in awe of that, but it hasn’t been for me in the past through years.”

What books would you recommend to people?

Switch by Chip & Dan Heath is a great book. I am currently reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Dan Kahneman. I am a third way through, it’s a tough read, and you have to think a lot, but it’s good. I feel like these types of books are great for me right now. A quick read is Winners by Alistair Campbell. It’s autobiographies of really successful people and that’s a lot of fun.”

Name a habit that you have created that has had the biggest impact on your life?

“That’s definitely doing sports before playing poker. Even if you are tired, get up and go to the gym because you will feel so much better when you have finished.”

Who is the luckiest person on earth and why?

“I don’t have a particular person in mind. I am old fashioned, so I think the luckiest person is the one who has everything in good order: a good job, a wonderful family, wife and things that make you happy every day.”

If you did have children, and you had to leave them to go on a one-way mission to Mars. What advice would you give them before you left?

“That they need to have strong values. Integrity is very important, respect for other people and animals, and trying to do what makes you happy whilst also caring about other people. Be selfless, and don’t try to do things just for your own advantage.”

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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.