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Byron Kaverman ­— Living The American Dream

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Jul 01, 2012


Byron KavermanByron Kaverman grew up in Fort Jennings, Ohio. Nowadays however, he is more likely to be found where the felt is green and the stacks are high. From Ireland to Copenhagen, Vegas to the Bahamas, Kaverman is, bit by bit, making a name for himself across the international poker trail. At just 25 years of age, the American has lots of time to make his mark, and with almost a million dollars in lifetime earnings so far, the future is looking very bright. Card Player delved a little deeper to find out more about this rising star…

Bitten By The Bug

Rebecca McAdam: When did you start playing poker?

Byron Kaverman: I started playing my senior year of high school after watching Rounders for the first time and began to play a lot with friends during the Moneymaker boom. We began playing a lot to the point where games would be going on in someone’s basement every night from the time school got out until curfew, which I never had. We were playing online a little as well which I started taking seriously my freshman year of college. I was home for a weekend that fall and my friend Adam came over and played a $5 tournament on PokerStars while I spent the day hanging out with my brother and his friends. We eventually started playing it together when there were 50 or so left and won it for around $1,500. It was our first MTT [multitable tournament] and we were hooked.

RM: Was it something you thought you’d end up doing more professionally, in the beginning?

BK: I had been playing a lot and doing well but was more focused on soccer and school at the time. The idea of playing after college as an only source of income wasn’t really on my mind. I was just looking to have fun and pay for school etc..

RM: So you took to online poker quite easily?

BK: Yeah I guess you could say that. We had a lot of fun that day and it gave us the confidence to start playing the high variance MTT’s on a regular basis.

RM: What were you studying at the time?

BK: I was studying psychology at Tiffin University.

RM: Ah… so is it that aspect of the game that attracted you to it?

BK: Nah, poker didn’t have anything to do with it. My uncle Kevin Wildenhause is a sports psychologist for the Pitsburgh Steelers and Oakland University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams among others, and I’ve always loved sports and was looking to do the same type of thing.

RM: Great, but does that mean you’re into the body language side of the game, or do you have more of a mathematical approach? What skills would you say you bring to the game, especially as a student of psychology?

BK: I’m always taking a mathematical approach while trying to pick up things along the way. Against some players I’ll treat the hand as if we were playing online but with others physical stuff can play a big part in a decision. I think players’ perceptions of themselves and one another can be an important factor as well.

From Football Dreams To Poker Heights

RM: What was your first big score online/live?

BK: My largest score was at last year’s PCA [PokerStars Caribbean Adventure] when I chopped the $5,000 [no-limit hold’em eight-max] with John Turner for $245,000.

RM: Nice. How did that change things for you… or did it?

BK: It changed things a lot, yeah. I had very little live experience at the time and was just getting started playing semi-pro indoor with the Ohio Vortex. I decided to quit in order to play the PCA which was tough because I enjoy soccer more than poker but it made sense and I’m thankful that it’s worked out.

RM: What made you make that decision if you enjoy soccer/football more?

BK: I figured having the chance to hit something live was too great of an opportunity to pass up.

RM: I get that. So when it worked out, what did you decide to do? Play more in general? Up the stakes online?

BK: It didn’t really change what I was playing but yeah definitely upped the volume. I spent a lot of the next few months in Europe playing the EPTs and WPTs, and online in London.

Hitting The Road

RM: And how have you found the life?

BK: I’m enjoying it. I love to travel and have met a lot of great people!

RM: What stakes, tourneys et cetera do you play online on a regular basis?

BK: I haven’t really played since Black Friday but when I was it was usually just the bigger MTT’s. I’m looking forward to getting set up somewhere after Vegas.

RM: I see you were playing live in 2008 with a couple of results. Was this following the initial burst of playing online?

BK: Yeah it was tough to find the time while in school but I had played the PCA once before and 10 or so events that summer.

RM: Have you noticed many changes since Black Friday, for instance in live fields? How much did Black Friday affect you? And where were you thinking of setting up?

BK: Good question. If I had to guess it would be that most have been slightly tougher as a result of a fair amount of people making the transition. I do feel though that the WSOP will be softer because unfortunately a lot of people took a hit thanks to the clowns at Full Tilt and people aren’t staking and buying pieces as liberally as they once were. I’ve been playing a lot more live than I otherwise would and am going to be getting a place with a friend in Columbus so Canada would be ideal, otherwise probably London.

Check Raise United?

RM: So you see this as being part of your life for a long time?

BK: Yeah I enjoy it but after a while I’d like to get involved with some other stuff and coach some soccer.

RM: Do you still play?

BK: Not as much as I’d like but I am getting an indoor team together for Vegas which will be primarily poker players.

RM: Interesting! Are there good soccer players in the poker community?

BK: I’ve yet to meet him but Jeff Gross played at South Carolina and will be playing, and quite a few of my friends in Europe are pretty good as well; Sascha Walter, Nicolas Cardyn, Anton Wigg to name a few.

RM: Let us know how you do!

BK: We’re gonna win all the games and forfeit the last few or so.

RM: Why forfeit?

BK: It goes into August.

RM: Ah I see, so you’re actually entering a league with other teams and not just organising fun matches with players. That’s really cool. So you try to do things outside the tournament room then. In a way did Black Friday give you a bit of your life back? More balance?

BK: Yeah. It’s given me more free time but I always tried to stay balanced and didn’t really put in a lot of volume anyway.

Show Me The Money

RM: What are your poker ambitions then?

BK: I’d love to win one of the big events. I’ve also been playing a lot of cash recently and want to be as successful as possible in that side of the game.

RM: What has been your favourite tournament so far and why?

BK: The PCA is always a lot of fun. The resort is really nice and everyone goes so you get the best of both worlds. I really enjoyed the Jacksonville WPT as well. The new room is huge with infinite TV’s and they have a really nice private room for the bigger cash games.

RM: Do you think you’re becoming a better cash game player then?

BK: Yeah I think I’ve adapted well and it’s been a lot of fun.

RM: What do you like about it in comparison?

BK: The fact that there is a lot of action and the games generally play very deep. They also tend to get shorthanded often. Getting deep in tournaments is awesome though.

RM: What’s your plan for upcoming events then; the World Series Of Poker? Many events? Any in particular? Then where?

BK: I’m going out for the WPT Championship and staying through the WSOP. I plan on playing all the no-limit and pot-limit events. From there I’ll probably take a break before coming to Europe in the fall. I really enjoy being in Europe.

RM: So you’re going to stay in Europe for a bit then. What do you like about it?

BK: I’ll probably end up going back and forth a few times. I’ve made a lot of friends there and enjoy visiting the different places since a lot of them are very unique and much different from what I’m used to over here.

The Kid’s Got Style

RM: On to the business end of things… If you could describe your poker playing style, what would it be?

BK: I think you have to be able to be aggressive and mix it up in order to consistently be successful in tournaments. I just try to adapt to my opponents/tables and make the best decisions.

RM: Whose style do you admire the most?

BK: Hmmm, it’s hard to say because I haven’t played a lot of hands with that many people but I’ll go with David Peters, Darren Elias, and Martin Jacobson.

RM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

BK: Finding new business related things to be involved with and invest in, coaching soccer, and of course winning tournaments! ♠