Q & A with UB Pro and Anthrax Guitarist Scott Ian
Heavy Metal Star Talks About Start in Poker and Upcoming Poker Plans
In only a few years of playing the game seriously, Ian has found the time to cash in a World Series of Poker main event and take down UB’s Sunday $200,000 guaranteed.
Despite the busy schedule and expecting his first child this summer, the 47-year-old poker enthusiast, who recently held the Big 4 promotion on UB, still finds time to work on his game online.
“Thanks to the technology wizards I don’t have to juggle my music career and poker,” Ian said. “We have Wi-Fi on our tour bus, Wi-Fi in our dressing rooms, even Wi-Fi on stage. I play everywhere.”
Card Player caught up with the musician to hear about his poker origins, as well as his poker plans for the upcoming months.
Brian Pempus: How did you get started playing poker?
Scott Ian: I’ve played poker for fun since I was a kid but it wasn’t until I won VH1’s Rock & Roll Celebrity Tournament in 2006 that I even thought about poker seriously. I beat Sully Erna from Godsmack, Ace Frehley (Kiss) and Dusty Hill (ZZ Top) both who have been playing their whole lives, Vinnie Paul (Pantera, HELLYEAH), a gambler’s gambler, and four online qualifiers from UB who had won their seats to play with us. Against all odds I took it down and after the tournament Phil Hellmuth, who was commentating for TV, pulled me aside and asked me how often I play. I told him pretty much never, and he said he could tell because my game was a mess, but my instincts were good, and I had a lot of patience. I didn’t even know who Phil was at the time. I googled him when I got home, and I thought it was interesting that this (at the time) nine-time bracelet winner took a minute to tell me that if I ever wanted to get serious to give him a call.
I met up with Phil again at UB’s Aruba event the following fall and that was the beginning of my education. I spent a week with him and the other UB pros, and I absorbed as much as I could. I busted out of the main event, but I had a great week hanging out in the poker world for the first time. I started playing on UB after that, and I played multitable tournaments and sit-and-gos as much as I could. In January 2008, I signed with UB, and as part of my deal I asked for lessons with Annie Duke. My hours with Annie turned me into a poker player, and from there I started developing my own game. I played online all the time and live as much as possible. I cashed in my first WSOP main event in 2009 and I took down UB’s Sunday $200,000 as well that year so poker quickly became a huge part of my life.
I’ve since watched that VH1 tournament back on DVD — and I was so bad. I found myself yelling at myself about how bad I was. I got lucky heads up versus Sully. I literally had an ace six hands in a row, and I played super aggressive, and I think I confused him. I guess it was meant to be.
BP: What are your tournament plans for the upcoming months and at the WSOP?
SI: I play online all the time. As far as live goes, schedule allowing, I’ll be at some of the WSOP this year. The main event is up in the air as my wife is pregnant and she’s due Day 1C! I do hope to play some World Poker Tour events in the fall and winter.
BP: How do you work on your game online at UB these days?
SI: By focusing on specific games and playing a ton until I feel like I have an edge. Lately it’s been the turbo and ultra turbo sit-and-gos. I feel like when I’m having fun playing I have an edge. I’m not stressed, and I can relax and stay focused.
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