Michael McDonald Interview at Playground Poker Grand Opening

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Hi, Corey here for Canadapoker.com and I’ve got Michale McDonald with me here today at Playground Poker, the grand opening was just yesterday.

CP: So how has it been going here so far?

Michael: I’m enjoying it so far. I didn’t really know what to expect and I didn’t know too many details before I got here but it seems like a really nice club with a comfortable atmosphere.

CP: What brought you down here?

Michael: My friend Justin Kelly who I met at the Canadian Poker Expo last year. He was involved in that and now he’s involved in this place over here. He just sent me a message maybe a month ago and asked if I’d be free this weekend and my last exam at school was this Thursday and the grand opening was Friday so he offered me a trip down to Montreal to come hand out and play poker a couple of days. So why not?

CP: Plus Montreal’s a great city, right?

Michael: Yeah, Montreal seems like an awesome city. It’s a little bit cold but other than that it’s pretty cool.

CP: Now we were just chatting a little bit earlier and it’s kind of interesting what you were mentioning: you don’t play too many local games around Canada. Tell us a little about that.

Michael: Yeah, most people have a local live game or something but I started out online. Then when I was old enough to play the live circuit, there arent’ that many big tournaments in Canada and I don’t’ really want to go travel to play a $500 tournament or a $1000 tournament or anything so I went and played a lot of the big tourneys in Europe, Australia, Asia, the Carribean. I’ve been all over the place but in terms of the amount of live poker in Canada I’ve played it’s almost zero. I’ve played maybe three tournament series and at two of them I just played one event.

CP: So I guess not many people recognize you here?

Michael: Yeah, exactly. At some of my tables once some of the people hear my online name it’s familiar to them but I’m certainly a much bigger poker celebrity at the European events than at the Canadian events.

CP: So where would you say you’re most recognized?

Michael: Definitely in Dortmund Germany! The year after I won the EPT there, I came to the casino and every single person you could tell they were looking at me. Then if I’d look at them, they’d look away. You know when you accidentally catch yourself staring at somebody or whatnot, that’s what every single person was doing it seemed. It was weird because at first I thought maybe “oh, I’ve got something on my shirt” or something’s going on here, but then I realized poker in Germany was really growing and I was one of the most recognizable faces there. Everybody was looking my way.

CP: I think when we left off last time, we wished you good luck with your studies. So how’s that been?

Michael: Yeah, I took three years off to play poker professionally and now I’m scaling back poker a little bit and I’m back in school. I’m really enjoying it, it was a good transition and it’s going really well.

CP: How has the transition been for you? Has it been easy or hard to stay out of the poker scene a little more?

Michael: Staying out of the poker scene has been pretty easy for me. I think for the last year or two I haven’t been nearly as involved in the poker community or nearly as dedicated in playing as I had been before that. The first couple of days I was actually kind of surprised because as a professional poker player I had so few obligations and so few responsibilities, I could basically do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. The first couple of days of classes which are the easiest days, I was almost felt overwhelmed by the fact that I had this, this and this to do. It seemed like “oh man, this could be stressful”. But then by the end of the first week I felt great and fine about having a real schedule since then. Those first three or four days were so strange though because the workload was so light but it still felt like I had so much going on. Right now though I’m enjoying waking up and knowing that I have to do the following things rather than just waking up and thinking “what am I going to do with my day”. So I like it.

CP: Awesome. Like last time, I want to wish you off with good luck with your studies. I think you had a cash game going on over there so I’ll let you get back to that.

Michael: Yeah, I’ll get back to that! Good seeing you!

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I've been with Canada Poker since our launch and started out as the site's webmaster, forum administrator and developer. Eventually, my love for poker drew me to start writing articles. You'll also recognize me as the one in front of the camera when we interview the pros. Also an amateur photographer, many players at live events also recognize me as the Canada Poker photographer. Canada Poker has also provided me with a wild ride across Canada to most of the major events on the circuit as a reporter.

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