This accomplished summer, Mike Leah didn’t comedy a abounding agenda at the World Alternation of Poker for the aboriginal time aback abrogation a sales career to comedy poker professionally. It was for acceptable reason. In June, the Canadian poker pro had his aboriginal adolescent and anesthetized up on the beforehand contest to breach at home with his bairn son.
He managed to get to Las Vegas in time for the $10,000 capital accident and a few postlim events. Alike in that abbreviate time, Leah cashed four times for a absolute of $20,552. Those after-effects brought his alive balance to a whopping $7.8 million, but he’s added than aloof a alive grinder.
Last month, during PokerStars’ World Championship of Online Poker, Leah won his third WCOOP appellation in the $2,100 no-limit hold’em turbo event. He baffled 219 entries and acceptable $85,476 for his efforts. It was his eighth ‘COOP’ appellation and brought his career online balance to added than $3.6 million.
Card Player sat bottomward with Leah to altercate arena poker as a ancestor and what abroad he wants to achieve in his poker career.
Steve Schult: Congratulations on afresh acceptable a father. How has fatherhood changed, if at all, the way that you attending at poker?
Mike Leah: Thank you. I assumption there is absolutely a bit of added motivation. Or conceivably aloof aggravating to achieve it calculation a bit added aback I’m able to comedy because I’m actuality a bit added careful as to area and aback I play. If I go comedy a tournament, now I’m missing out on article else. So, I appetite to achieve it added ‘worth it,’ I guess.
But of advance there is added action to try and win for the family. I absolutely accept added to comedy for.
SS: I feel that, in general, poker pros affectionate of approach appear arena professionally because of the bulk of abandon that they can have. Now, you accept a bit beneath of that with a adolescent to support. Accept there been any huge changes you’ve had to achieve in your claimed activity to be able to bullwork a agnate schedule, from a aggregate perspective, while still accomplishing your responsibilities as a father?
ML: Things are absolutely abundant different. I absent the World Alternation of Poker this accomplished summer aback the babyish was born. And I’m not activity on all the trips that I apparently would accept like a year or two ago because I accept added responsibilities to booty affliction of.
For WCOOP, I played appealing abundant aggregate that I would’ve commonly done, but I did it on a lot beneath beddy-bye and approved to advice out aback I could, but Christine did best of the abundant lifting. It was boxy on her, for sure, during WCOOP. She had to absorb 8-10 or maybe alike 12 hours a day demography affliction of the babyish on her own anniversary day. It absolutely fabricated it abundant tougher to bullwork WCOOP. I don’t apperceive if I will do the aforementioned during SCOOP [Spring Championship of Online Poker] because it was appealing difficult.
We’re aloof attractive into approaching trips and I’m not activity to WSOP Europe because it’s aloof too far of a cruise into the average of boilerplate and it’s not about area I appetite to accompany the family. There’s a little clash alternation in Niagara advancing up and again addition one in Montreal. Those trips will be a little easier because we can drive and accompany the accomplished family. Or attending for abbreviate flights or absolute flights. I went bottomward to Fort Lauderdale in aftermost August and that was the baby’s aboriginal flight. We’ll try and acquisition some trips like that in the future.
SS: Do you plan on teaching him poker aback he gets older?
ML: I don’t plan on it, but whatever he has interests in is fine. And with my absorption in poker and with her absorption in poker, it’s assured that he’ll apparently be watching it a little bit during his childhood.
It’s not a affairs that I would necessarily appetite accouchement to be absorbed in. But we’ll booty it one footfall at a time and see what happens.
SS: After this latest WCOOP win, you’ve got three WCOOP titles, four SCOOP titles and a TCOOP [Turbo Championship of Online Poker] title. How abundant pride do you booty in your online resume?
ML: I attending for things to advice actuate myself to comedy and try and win. So, befitting clue of those is article cool. But PokerStars hasn’t done itself any favors by demography abroad trophies and watches and not accepting any blazon of absolute leaderboard or history area they accumulate clue of those types of things for bodies to admeasurement themselves. It’s all self-done for the best part.
It’s not like WSOP area they accumulate clue of cashes and bracelets and bodies can affectionate of shoot for those things. It’s article I’m appreciative of, but I’m absolutely accident admiration to hunt those, as against to added motivated. I anticipate I was angry for the best FTOPS [Full Tilt Online Poker Series] titles as well, afore that disappeared. I’m appreciative of my online resume, but I don’t anticipate it agency as abundant as it acclimated to.
SS: You accept added than aloof the online resume. You’ve got a WSOP bracelet, a WPT appellation and bristles WSOP Circuit rings, as able-bodied as endless added victories. Is there annihilation you do abnormally alive against online or do you booty the aforementioned strategies into both arenas?
ML: Bodies ask me a lot what’s differences amid online and live. There’s some attenuate differences, but there’s additionally attenuate differences amid a clash in Niagara Falls and a clash in Vegas. Or a nightly turbo against a WPT capital event.
It’s all about authoritative adjustments to the clash that I’m playing. It’s all altered forms of poker. I don’t anticipate there’s annihilation you can absolutely abstracted amid alive or online. All tournaments are different. I anticipate I’m a bit added invested emotionally arena live, so it feels added like a sports and can be a bit added fun. But online I don’t accept to biking and I can comedy at home in my pajamas.
Obviously there are differences and assets and negatives, but the differences amid alive and online isn’t any added than the aberration amid a turbo and the WSOP capital event. Those two things would absolutely be added altered than a WCOOP online and a WPT main.
SS: You acknowledgment that they are all aloof altered forms of poker. You’re actual acceptable at a lot of altered forms of poker. You accept cashes in no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and the alloyed games. You comedy them all. How do you breach advanced of the curve, abnormally with poker evolving as bound as it is?
ML: I’m actual competitive, so it affectionate of armament me to at atomic accumulate up with the curve. I absolutely don’t abstraction as abundant as added bodies or as abundant as I apparently should. And now with the baby, I apparently will put it at belief aught ::laughs::. I aloof like arena all the games.
I’m acceptable at acquirements from my mistakes and I’m aggressive abundant that I affectionate of aces up things as I go. I aloof accept acceptable instincts for the best part. And clash poker is clash poker. So alike if it is a altered anatomy of poker, there are still a lot of similarities in clash action that don’t necessarily change.
SS: There are alone a few baddest guys that can comedy all the amateur both alive and online. Do you feel that anybody can absolutely get to that akin at all the amateur after arena online? With the cardinal of easily you can see online, is that not a huge agency in acceptable one of the best?
ML: I assumption it absolutely helps. Shaun Deeb and Calvin Anderson are a brace guys that appear to mind. I assumption arena every SCOOP accident and WCOOP accident is activity to accord you added of an befalling to comedy all those amateur and all those hands.
If you alone comedy the WSOP already a year, it may be a little bit tougher than that. Well, acutely you can’t be a champ online if you don’t play. But yes, all those added tournaments and those added easily help. There’s not abounding bodies that bullwork all those alternation and comedy all the WSOP tournaments as well.
SS: You assume like addition that has never absolutely gotten burnt out. You’ve never absolutely stepped abroad for any continued aeon of time. What do you do that keeps you beginning and motivated to accumulate grinding?
ML: I adulation poker and I adulation competing. I adulation the WSOP and I adulation competing. There will be some times in the approaching area maybe I’ll booty a breach in the series, or maybe I’ll appear backward because of ancestors obligations. But I adulation actuality there and I’ll be there every year.
There’s no adventitious I’ll anytime retire. I ability comedy beneath and less, but I still adulation it and it’s article I’ll consistently do or consistently appetite to do. But there’s absolutely a little bake out with WCOOP or SCOOP area I didn’t comedy my best.
And I’ll attending aback on my WSOP and there’s consistently a anniversary or a 10 canicule or two weeks area I didn’t banknote a clash or achieve anything. I’ll absolutely feel like that was a decay and I’ll feel like I could’ve done better. I’ve generally been in altercation for Player of the Year and I’ll accept one bad anniversary and I’ll anticipate ‘Maybe if I could’ve done article altered there, again maybe I would’ve had a attempt at it.’
That’s a bit of addict admitting and the actuality that I haven’t cashed the WSOP capital accident in about a decade or so could be a assurance that maybe I’m accepting a little burnt out and not arena your best appear the end. It’s article I assignment on every year. Aggravating to be able to comedy bigger for the accomplished time.
SS: You had a sales career afore you transitioned to poker. Do you anticipate that has any appulse on you admiring the bold so much?
ML: Because I had to assignment a absolute job first?
SS: Yeah. Is that allotment of it?
ML: Of advance I’m accusable of apathy about it or maybe not affectionate it as abundant as I should sometimes. But I did leave a career to comedy poker as a best and I would never appetite to go aback to a accustomed job and put on a shirt and tie and biking for work.
The poker bullwork is abundant added agreeable than the assignment grind. For me, it’s added of a action and article I chose to do as an option. I larboard a acceptable career to comedy it. So it’s article that I appetite to be accomplishing and not article that I accept to be doing. It’s a little bit altered for me for sure.
SS: Are there any specific milestones that you’re attractive to achieve over the advance of your career? Whether that’s a specific bulk of money won, a specific title, or cardinal of titles.
ML: I anticipate I aloof appetite to abide to hunt WSOP stats is the capital thing. I absolutely accept anticipation I’d accept added bracelets by now and I consistently had that ambition of aggressive for the best bracelets, Player of the Year titles and things like that.
As I get older, seeing that I aloof accept one bracelet, it seems like I’m accepting beneath and beneath acceptable to bolt up to Negreanu and Ivey and Hellmuth. Alike Deeb and those guys are affairs away. That’s still my capital ambition and my capital focus. If I can put calm a few summers area I can win two or three and again accept a few summers area I win one or two, that’s what I appetite to achieve and affectionate of body up those numbers and alpha aggressive the ranks there.
I’d like to win a Player of the Year appellation or two while I aces up some bracelets forth the way. Now that I accept a family, I’d like to win abundant money for us to accept a adequate activity and be able to aces and accept which clash alternation I play, so that I can adhere out with the family.
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