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Capture the Flag: Anton Wigg

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Apr 29, 2011


Swedish poker pro Anton Wigg has been successful in online cash games and multitable tournaments for more than three years, and in that time span, he has developed a knack for managing a bankroll designed to play two dynamically different spheres of the game.

Despite being best known for his win in the 2010 European Poker Tour Copenhagen main event, for $670,713, the 23-year-old Wigg is a regular in €5-€5 to €10-€10 pot-limit Omaha games on European poker sites.

When not grinding in the medium-stakes cash games online, Wigg has found time to amass nearly $2 million in career tournament earnings, thanks to victories in a PokerStars Sunday Million event and the 2009 European Masters of Poker Barcelona main event, in addition to his seven EPT cashes.

Some of the secrets behind his success are his ability to quickly assess how the different arenas of poker are changing and his aptitude for gauging the pros and cons of grinding each. He describes the difference in difficulty between cash games and tournaments in the following way: “Today’s cash games are pretty tough, especially with all of the tools that people are using. Tournaments are getting tougher in this regard, as well, but there are so many more variables to take into account, and not nearly as many people use programs in tournaments. Also, cash games are easier to learn, since you almost always are deep enough to play a hand to the river without being all in. In tournaments, however, you encounter so many different spots in which you have to take lines that will not occur in a deeper-stacked game.”

Card Player caught up with Wigg to talk about his start in poker, the differences in bankroll management for tournaments and cash games, how one is able to successfully juggle both, and his thoughts on the stereotype of Scandinavian players being hyperaggressive.

Brian Pempus: How did you get started in poker? Describe your progression up in stakes.

Anton Wigg: I started by playing some online freerolls with friends from my football team. Most of the time, I was the one who ended up having the best results. I used the money I won to play in cash games, with mixed results. Since I was under 18 at the time, there was no way that I was ever going to get any money from the online account. But playing for real money was way more exciting in so many ways. It was so different from play-money tables and freerolls, where people didn’t care that much for the game. When I turned 18, I put about €50 into an account and started grinding low-stakes, five-max cash games. I did really well almost immediately. One thing that also helped a lot was that early on, I won a €50 multitable tournament for €2,500.
The second part of my journey up in stakes, after my fast start, was grinding at €0.50-€1 for quite a while and playing with sounder bankroll management than I had before. After grinding at these stakes for a few months, I finally managed to take a couple of successful shots at higher limits. After that, my bankroll was big enough to start playing them more regularly. At the time, on the site I was playing, €5-€10 was pretty much the highest game that was running regularly. So, I felt like I was close to the top of the hill, and that got me even more motivated. I was playing a lot, and doing pretty well at €2.50-€5. After some time, I stepped up to €5-€10, and did OK there. Playing €5-€10 was more about satisfying my ego, which at the time was pretty big.

BP: How did your big tournament score at the EPT Copenhagen affect your cash-game play? Did you move up in stakes as a result? What bankroll advice would you give to players who make a big tournament score and want to jump into cash games afterward?
AW: I had a pretty big bankroll when I won the EPT Copenhagen, and was focusing a lot on tournaments, so it didn’t change my cash-game play much. But when I did sit down in a cash game, it was at a bit higher limit than before. However, later on, I had a big bankroll and was able to explore other games, and that’s how I got into pot-limit Omaha. Regarding advice, I would say that you shouldn’t go crazy and play a lot higher than you usually do. It takes time to adapt to higher games, and that shouldn’t be rushed. With that being said, I would take some shots at higher limits every once in a while, to learn and be better prepared when it’s time to move up.
BP: How does cash-game play help prepare you for tournament poker? Would you advise any new player to get experience in cash games in order to improve his tournament play?

AW: Cash games are a great way to practice early-level play in tournaments, where you are deep-stacked. This especially applies to live tournaments with good, deep structures. Also, today there are many cap and shallow cash games running, which could help you make the transition to the later stages of a tournament, where you are usually pretty shallow.

BP: Can you talk about bankroll management in poker? What advice can you give beginning players in this area of poker? What are the differences in bankroll management for grinding tournaments versus grinding cash games? Do you need more buy-ins available if you play tournaments?

AW: Apart from learning how the game works, bankroll management is the single most important thing you must learn if you want to be a successful player over a long period of time — assuming that you don’t get very lucky over and over again. I’m not saying that I’m a saint when it comes to bankroll management, but I’m proud that I’ve moved down in stakes several times because my bankroll got smaller and I couldn’t stand playing the stakes that I was playing. The differences between a cash-game bankroll and a multitable-tournament bankroll are big. I won’t get into numbers, since you’ve probably heard it so many times by now. However, what I can add is that you should understand the variance in the game that you’re playing. Multitable tournaments can be brutal, since you have plenty of days when you don’t make a big score, yet a couple of big days might turn a big loss for the month into a huge profit. No-limit hold’em cash games are more like grinding and trying to have a stable curve upward, where you might swing several buy-ins up and down. But if you’re a winning player at the limit you’re playing, you will see that your winnings curve will slowly rise without major downswings. Pot-limit Omaha cash games, on the other hand, will be a roller-coaster ride, with many ups and downs and huge swings in both directions. It’s all about the nature of the specific game, and you have to be prepared if you want to take your play seriously.

BP: Do you have a separate bankroll for tournaments and cash games? How do you keep track of your results when playing both? When you play online, do you ever have tournament tables and cash-game tables up at the same time? Is it hard to concentrate on both simultaneously? Should beginners play just one type at a time?

AW: I do have separate bankrolls. I use different accounts on the European sites that allow it for tournaments and cash games. When I play on sites that allow only one account, I just make a note of what my bankroll was when I started the session and keep a log of my results in a document. I rarely play both simultaneously, since I
usually have so many tables up when playing multitable tournaments that I can’t focus on pot-limit Omaha cash games at the same time. Playing no-limit hold’em cash games when playing a few tournament tables is better, since you’re playing the same game, but with different blinds and stack sizes. But this isn’t something I would recommend for beginners. They should focus on the game they’re playing, and only that type.

BP: What makes Scandinavian poker players so aggressive and fearless? Is this a myth, or is there truth to this assumption? What might contribute to this? What kind of style do you implement in cash games? What kind of style would you advise amateur players to adopt?

AW: Well, it is part myth, part true. Swedish players are very aggressive, since playing aggressively is the right way to play most of the time. Most of the really good Swedish players today are very smart and educated people who understand the benefits of taking aggressive lines. I also believe that a lot of it has to do with the creativity that is a big part of the Swedish educational system, where it’s rewarded if done well.

My basic style is loose-aggressive, which began when I started playing cash games with pretty weak players. That style was rewarded, and it stuck a little bit. But I don’t like to label myself. I try to take the information given and use it in the best way possible, every hand, and my game has come a long way since back then. Beginning players should play tight-aggressive. Lower-limit games are so loose-passive that there’s not very much room to bluff a lot. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t semibluff and put pressure on people. ♠