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Generation Next -- James Mitchell

Mitchell Makes Moves Stateside

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Jul 01, 2010


James MitchellJames Mitchell is running good. The Englishman beat Irishman Paul Carr heads up at this year’s Irish Open for €600,000. Not even a month later he appeared at the PokerStars EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and took down the €1,000 turbo event for €42,250 and finished 59th in the €10,000 main event for €25,000. Not many outside of the British poker community may know his name, but this young man has already seen the highs and lows the game can bring. Now he’s 21, he has the world of poker at his feet. Time will tell if his amazing run will continue during his first ever trip to Las Vegas for the 2010 World Series of Poker.

Rebecca McAdam: How did you get into poker?

James Mitchell: At school, some of my mates started playing like £2 and £5 buy-in home games so I joined in with that.

RM: Did you then venture online?

JM: Yeah, I played with my friends for a couple of months and then I started playing online on Ladbrokes — I started using my Dad’s account, and that’s how I got into it.

RM: How did you do in the beginning?

JM: I was really bad when I first started playing with my friends and then I kept on watching those WPT shows with Gus Hansen raising every hand and he just kept on winning, so I started doing that and it kind of worked. It was four or five years ago and everyone was really bad so you could just raise every hand and win.

RM: Did it take long before you played live after that?

JM: A couple of months after I turned 18 I was playing the World Series of Poker Europe main event, that was pretty much my first big event. But then I went broke. So I didn’t play any big tournaments for a while, but now I’m back on my feet again.

RM: How come you never gave up, did you just believe that you could crack it?

JM: Yeah, I guess. I never stopped playing, it’s just I moved to lower stakes.

RM: How did you grind your way back up again? What advice would you give to someone who has contemplated giving up?

JM: Well I’m probably just too sick and I’m addicted to poker so I can’t do much else (smiles), so it’s lucky I win at it now. But I’d always keep playing even if I was losing.

RM: How long should you stick at a certain stake?

JM: It depends on what stakes you’re at because if you’re in the lower games you can move up a lot quicker as the players are worse and you don’t need to be fully bankrolled. Like you probably need 100 buy-ins in most games to be fully bankrolled but at the lower stakes you don’t really need that much because if you’re a good player and everyone else is bad then you don’t really need that much at all. So, it kind of depends on what games you’re playing.

RM: While you were moving up the stakes, what were your friends doing at the time? Were they playing poker too?

JM: Yeah some of my mates were playing poker. I did a year at uni [university] and ended up dropping out after a year because I took a gap year and just played poker and ended up doing quite well. I had a £150k roll and when I was at uni I kept on playing poker, but I was doing uni at the same time, and I was going out the whole time as well, and I lost a £100k in a year. I wasn’t even playing that much poker either! I took a step back and looked at things and thought the smart thing to do was drop out of uni (laughs). So I did that.

RM: How did you get involved with Black Belt Poker?

JM: I was playing at the Vic, I played a lot with Nik Persaud and they asked me to do the first grading because I was quite good friends with Nik and also with Neil [Channing], so I said I’d do it and that’s pretty much how I got involved. To be honest when I did the first grading that was at the end of my first year of uni, I had not improved my poker game for a whole year and I was kind of not up with where everyone else was at. The grading really got me grinding online again and I got back to playing a really high level of poker, so that helped.

RM: You’re on quite the roll.

JM: I’m running pretty good at the moment. I went to San Remo and I only played two tournaments there and I didn’t do very well, but then in Monte Carlo I played the €1k turbo and I won that and then I played the main event and made the money.

RM: Were the fields of the Monte Carlo side event and main event any different to each other?

JM: The €1k turbo was just full of bad players because it was a Sunday and I think all the good online players were grinding online, so it was quite a soft deal. There were obviously a few good players. Plus I was running amazing so it didn’t really matter how good anybody was, I had the best hand every hand.

RM: What’s next for you?

JM: I’m going to Vegas for the first time and I’ve decided to go for two months straight.

RM: Since your win from the Irish Open, has your life changed at all? Are you going to do something with the money or just roll it all back into poker?

JM: Yeah probably roll it back into poker. I haven’t really bought anything, I kind of lived an expensive lifestyle already but now I can afford it. Spade Suit