Steven Van Zadelhoff, a real viking warrior on the field
We had the opportunity to interview the Main Event winner of the Pokerstars WCOOP 2017, Steven Van Zadelhoff. Zadelhoff, born in The Netherlands, is a professional player who looks back at more than $7 million on prizemoney. His performance at the WCOOP was just epic, sweeping away any player who may dare to aim to the crown. You can see the full video of the FT at the end of the interview.
-Hi Steven, first of all thanks a lot for your time and congratulations for your huge performance at WCOOP Main Event.
You are welcome! Happy times! :)
-First of all, let’s talk about the WCOOP. This is the biggest ever cash you ever won, a $1,624,502 prize after defeating 2,183 entries, how does it feel?
Yes this is my biggest cash ever by far, and it feels amazing! So much hard work went in over the last 15 years or so, that is is very very satisfying to see and feel what I did it for.
-Before winning the FT you claimed on Twitter to the “Pokergods” you had been 15 years preparing for this, and when you were proposed to look at the numbers and make a deal, you totally declined it and went until the end. That’s it? You just new this was your big opportunity? Or you just don’t really like the deal thing.
The ansert is twofold. First of all I liked my chances of winning the most in terms of money, because of my skill and my big stack. And secondly, I reaaally wanted to get this title and victory purely, and felt I had the best chances to win it if I did not deal. I felt very strong and like I told the Pokergods, I knew I was ready to win.
-When did you start playing poker? Do your family play cards or you just started by yourself?
I started playing poker in 2000, so 17 years ago. Yes we used to play a lot of cards back at home, Dutch games like zwikken, toepen an canasta. Later I played for money everyday in school, mainly toepen I think (a bluffing game) – so when the possibility arose to play poker for money on the internet, I was one of the first ones to try.
-More than $7M in poker winnings through your lifetime. Would you consider you have a gift or you have properly worked out your way studying and practising as much as you can?
First of all it's not winnings, but prizemoney, a big difference. I had a good life last 15 years but I am nowhere close to being rich. I may have seemed a bit talented 10 years ago just before the pokerboom, but as I did not have a proper learning mindset, I soon found out I wasn't that good anymore at all haha. After that I started working my ass of to get back to the top.
-What is your daily routine in terms of poker? How many hours aprox you spend working on your the game?
I play poker 5 or 6 days a week. On top of that I study 1 or 2 hours a day. Instruction video's, calculations, talking about hands, going through hands on your own, can be anything.
-Live or online poker? Which one do you prefer? And does your game change quite a lot depending if it’s online or live poker?
Yes it's 2 different games for me. I wouldn't want to give up any one of them as I love them both, but I think I am slightly more addicted to the speed and volume of online poker. My answer might change if I win the World Series Main Event next year though :p
-You’re quite a traveller and we’ve seen you in a lot of international tournaments. Which one is your favourite? Why?
I always love to be in Amsterdam, kind of my home town. And of course Barcelona and Prague are nice as well. But I love exotic destinations too, so I am thinking of starting to travel a bit more again now. I have been to Melbourne for the Aussie Million once, and I just confirmed that I am going back next January!!
-You live in Malta since 2010, 7 years now. Was it really your plan? To build your home in Malta, or it just happened. There’s a big poker community living there. How is life there? Is it possible to get off from poker from time to time?
Yes we have a nice group of poker people here, and I have some friends besides that as well. I did not plan on staying this long, but for me it works great. The environment here gives me the opportunity to fully focus on poker now, which I love!
-Right, let’s get a bit serious now. Shared liquidity in countries of southern Europe is allegedly to start in 2018, after online poker numbers have been drowning year after year. Do you think shared liquidity might bring some of the poker ex-pats home? Or is it rather a matter of poker taxes in Europe?
I don't know. I always try to stay away a bit from most politics that I can not change anyway. I just adapt to any situations anyway and if I maintain my focus, I can be succesful under any circumstances. Life is always changing, poker is always changing. There is always new chances.
-WPT, WSOP…Any tournament in particular you are really eager to win?
A World Series of Poker Bracelet would be amazing, gonna try my very best for the 12th time next summer!!!
-How do you picture yourself in ten years? Do you see yourself still playing poker? Is it something you choose or poker “chooses” you?
I choose to play and study poker everyday. When I wake up I can not wait to start my routine of study and gym etc, everything to be ready to play again in the evening. If days were longer I would probably play even more poker haha.
-Well Steven, thanks a lot for your time. We really wish you the best and many victories to come!
Thanks so much!! On to the next Victory!!
We live you with the FT video courtesy of Pokerstars.