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Generation Next: Calvin Anderson Trains to Win

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Feb 01, 2011


The game has changed. It’s tough to win tournaments these days. It’s even tougher to make a living playing poker. There’s a wealth of strategic information available on the Internet, so as the donkeys get smarter, a skilled player’s edge drops dramatically. So, rising online-tournament star Calvin Anderson started to look for a different kind of edge. He discovered that a commitment to working out at the gym and eating healthy foods improved not only his body and mind, but also his poker game and win rate.
“Poker is a lot about belief in yourself and confidence,” said Anderson. “When I started living a healthy lifestyle, it made me feel really good. By being in good shape, I don’t have to rely on anything during a session to stay strong and have energy, like Red Bull or coffee. And my mind and emotions stay calmer, so I don’t get frustrated or go on tilt. Being healthy just gives me a better mindset overall.”
Anderson’s newfound approach paid off for him to the tune of more than $1,250,000 in career tournament cashes over the last two years. Last spring, he finished sixth in the $2,100 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker no-limit hold’em event No. 2, for $86,000, and most recently, he captured the PokerStars Super Tuesday $1,000 no-limit hold’em event, for $80,000. He also has won a PokerStars SCOOP six-max pot-limit Omaha championship and a World Championship of Online Poker deuce-to-seven single-draw championship.
Anderson is actively involved in a local church, and gives ultimate credit for his success to God. He donates a percentage of his winnings to various charities, and enjoys giving to people in need. Card Player caught up with Anderson as 2010 came to a close in order to learn more about his unique approach to the game.
Craig Tapscott: Sunday is the most important day of the week for an online-tournament player, with all of the major events running across every site. What do you do to prepare for a long Sunday?
Calvin Anderson: I try to go to bed earlier on Saturdays, to get a good amount of sleep. I attend church regularly, and when I’m traveling, I log on to an online sermon. Then, I eat a good breakfast. I found that eating healthy food all day keeps my energy up.
CT: What do you think your strength is as a player?
CA: I’m not at all results-oriented during a hand. A lot of players will make a play, get sucked out on, and get upset. If something like that happens, I don’t look at the results. All I do is review whether or not I played the hand correctly. Many times, I will go all in or call an all-in bet, and won’t even look at what my opponent had in the hand.
CT: Why does that approach work for you?
CA: It helps me a lot because I don’t go on tilt when I get sucked out on. I learned to move on, because I know that I made the right decision. I play a lot of tables, and the results are totally irrelevant. But I do want to know a player’s cards if he is still in, so I’ll come back and check. I need this information because it pertains to my table image and his, and how the whole dynamic of things will continue between us in future hands.
CT: Once you go to the final table with a good-sized stack, you tend to close the deal. What makes your endgame so powerful?
CA: I quickly figure out the players I can abuse and pick on. Also, I don’t worry about the money very much. I just tend to focus on what everyone else is thinking. I look up the results of all of the players and find out who I think will be trying to abuse the other players. Then, I take advantage of that.
CT: There is another thing that is unique about you. You have never been backed. That must feel good.
CA: It feels great.
CT: What’s your secret?
CA: I’m a different player than most, as I really don’t have that many downswings in tournaments. I focus on game selection, and when I started, I played the lower buy-in events. Then, as my knowledge and bankroll grew, I moved up. There are a lot of players out there who aren’t ready for the bigger buy-in events. Their skill level is just not there yet. I always felt that if I didn’t have the money for a tournament’s buy-in, I wouldn’t play it, because it was probably too tough a tournament for me to be playing, anyway. That approach worked for me, and still does.
CT: Thanks, Calvin. That’s great advice. ♠