Ben Wilinofsky Interview by Canada Poker

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Ben_Wilinofsky_EPT_BerlinMany may remember just shy of two months ago, Canadian player Ben “NeverScaredB” Wilinofsky made the poker world take note, scoring himself his first “official” major tournament cash to the tune of around $1,200,000 at EPT Berlin. When 22 year old from Vancouver finally returned home to celebrate with those closest to him and share his excitement with his fellow Canadian players, Canada Poker.com was also eager to hear Ben’s story. Everybody looked forward to asking him a few questions via a scheduled press conference and one on one interviews, but as it turned out, things were not going to go quite as planned that April 15th, as the events of that “Black Friday unfolded just when things were ready to begin…

Now with things settling down and having returned to Canada after wrapping up the EPT season, “NeverScaredB” was more than happy to take some time out to share his thoughts. It was worth waiting,as there is even more to talk about now as he continues on his epic year, with several more deep finishes both online and off. In the interim, Ben played the Grand Final at EPT Madrid, where he finished 44th out of 686 entrants for EUR25,000,(about $36,000 USD), then followed it up shortly after with another of the deepest Canadian finishes in the PokerStars 2011 SCOOP $10,000 event placing 19th for another $28,500.

Already having over 2.2 million dollars of online tournament winnings under his belt prior to the huge cash at EPT, Ben is quickly widening the gap between the top and the rest, with nearly 3.5 million dollars in combined winnings and an open road ahead of him. So what next and what are his future plans? We asked him a little about that…

CP: “How will your huge win effect any WSOP plans, are you planning on playing more events now or satisfied with this title?”

Ben: “My plans haven’t really changed for the WSOP. Obviously I have a lot more flexibility to play as much as I’d like, or to take time off and play less. Right now my plans are to stick around Vancouver for the Stanley Cup finals and then head down to Vegas and play as much as I feel like. It’s nice to not feel pressure to play for financial reasons, so I’ll only be playing tournaments when I feel like it.”

CP: “You have been successful at the game online for quite some time, but was there anything that you had been waiting to buy yourself after an epic win like this?”

Ben:”I’m still waiting to buy it for myself! I’m considering my options. Property is definitely on the list of things to get but it’s expensive to live in Vancouver. Other than that, I had a nice bottle of rum that I had been saving for a special occasion. I cracked it open when I got home.”

CP: “You were already a PoketFives poker instructor before EPT, do you feel that your recent results has boosted demand for your coaching?”

Ben: “I think the timing was bad with my win. I’m sure I would’ve had a rash of coaching requests if not for Black Friday cutting my market essentially in half. I’ve still had a few but I haven’t had the time to work with anyone since I was in Europe until recently.”

CP: “What was the most memorable difference between this live score and some of your larger online wins?”

Ben: “This was so much more insane than anything I’ve ever won online. Live tournaments really are a marathon, and the mix of emotions and adrenaline that all come rushing in at once is completely unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I was high for three days straight afterwards just off of whatever the tournament poured into my system.”

CP: “Was it tough having to wait out media excitment to celebrate?”

Ben: “It wasn’t tough at all waiting out the media stuff. I love all the media people, they work so hard and get so little credit from the general public for what they do. They brought one of the biggest moments of my life to all my friends at family and I just can’t thank them enough for that, so I was happy to do anything I could for them.”

CP: “You win something big online, what is the first thing you do as compared to this, how does the initial excitement differ?”

Ben: “Usually when I win something big online, it’s been a long day and I just chalk it up to another win and go to bed. Sometimes if it’s something huge I’ll have too much adrenaline to sleep. If that happens I try to find a 24 hour gym and put it to good use.”

CP: “You are obviously in great shape to remain a poker professional for many years to come, any future plans outside the game?”

Ben: “What’s next is going to require some thinking as it’s been a little crazy since the win. I’m going to re-evaluate my options after the World Series of Poker. I still have a bit of a travel bug, and I obviously want to win something else after the first one felt so good, but I’ve also worn myself out a bit and want to get into a rhythm and relax a little. I’m also considering options outside of poker, but I need more time to evaluate the feasibility of those.”

CP: “Any future goals you have in mind for the game?
You have the triple crown, a major title, your a poker made millionaire a few times over, what’s next?”

Ben: “Inside the game, I just want to win every tournament I play. Obviously that’s not feasible. I don’t look at things like triple crowns online, the triple crown live, or bracelets as anything independent of that, though. That’s just the result of accomplishing my goal of winning tournaments.”

CP: “Players often debate the differences between online and live players, how would you say your past experience has helped on the live felts?”

Ben: “I’m not really sure that it has. Any time I tried to do live poker-specific stuff and make reads on people, I made some pretty bad plays. I also grabbed the wrong amount of chips a bunch of times in Berlin. I’d think my greatest assets were the technical skills I learned online.”

CP: “What have you changed or what are the bigggest adjustments you have made to do so well in these recent EPT events?”

Ben: “I don’t think I’ve really adjusted much stylistically. I’ve gotten a lot better over the past year, but I also ran very poorly in my first year playing live. I was never really that concerned with the run, I always knew I was capable.”

CP: “Who are some of your favorite players to play against and is there any player that helped shaped your game through coaching?”

Ben: “Scott Seiver is a really nice, funny guy, and I learned a ton from him playing together in the 5K 6-max last WSOP in a very short amount of time. I’ve also talked with him after the fact and he’s an incredibly smart guy who’s helped my game along. I had Maridu at one of my 6-max tables and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing live poker, she’s such a sweetheart and kept the table lighthearted and fun. It seems like 6-max is a much better atmosphere for chatting and making friends, those crowded ten-handed tables make everyone uncomfortable and there’s a bunch of people you can’t see at the table.”

Ben: “I haven’t had any coaching in a long time. But Scott and Vanessa Selbst have both helped me along. Having creative minds to talk to is such a blessing, and they’re both really smart people and great at making complex ideas simple, and then beating me over the head with them until I smarten up (especially Vanessa).”

We would like to thank Ben for taking to the time to chat and with WSOP ready to kick off, we are guessing it won’t be long until we are asking Wilinofsky about his next big finish.

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35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.

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