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A Poker Life -- Olivier 'livb112' Busquet

Busquet Takes Us Through the Highs and Lows Of Being a Poker Pro

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Olivier Busquet at 2011 NBC National Heads Up Poker ChampionshipWidely regarded by his peers to be the best heads-up sit-n-go player in the world, Olivier Busquet has since made the transition to live tournament poker and has already earned over $2.3 million.

The man known as “livb112” and “Adonis112” has already notched a World Poker Tour title and finished runner up in a European Poker Tour High Roller event. Most recently, he made the Elite Eight at the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship and has made appearances on the television show Poker After Dark.

The 29-year-old has come a long way in his short, five-year poker career. What started out as an unhealthy obsession that nearly ruined his life has since blossomed into a lifestyle that has been just as rewarding as it has been profitable. This is his story.

An Unhealthy Obsession

Busquet was born and raised in Manhattan, one of two sons from French immigrants. His mother went to Cornell and Columbia University and spent her career as a corporate executive. His father went to the Wharton School of Business and worked in banking. As a child, Busquet attended the most prestigious schools and worked hard, hoping to follow in his parents’ footsteps toward success.

“There was definitely a big emphasis on education and working hard growing up,” he remembered. “It was instilled in me early on that I needed to take whatever I was doing very seriously and strive to do my absolute best at all times. I wound up going to Cornell and graduated with a degree in Philosophy. After college, I immediately came back to Manhattan and took a job in a support function for a prominent trading firm.”

It wasn’t quite an entry-level job, but Busquet was clearly unhappy doing the brunt work for the other traders. Still, he decided that while he was learning one job, he could use his spare time to learn another. His friend took him to a home game and some players there explained that poker and trading weren’t all that different.

“When I first took up poker, it was with the idea that there was essentially a lot of skill set overlap between what a Wall Street trader and a poker professional were doing,” he explained. “I figured that while learning to do one, I could teach myself the other and get the best of both worlds. Another friend of mine at work told me about online poker and I got right into it. I started out with low stakes, six-max cash games. I splashed around for awhile at a bunch of different levels, not really knowing what I was doing or taking it too seriously. It was more for enjoyment than anything. Eventually, I had built up to a few thousand dollars and jumped into $5-$10. That’s when I got really hooked and in the span of a month, I had earned about $100,000 and moved into the $25-$50 games.”

The euphoria of making six-figures playing a game lasted just a few hours. The morning after reaching that mark, Busquet discovered the harsh reality of the game.

Olivier Busquet at 2009 WSOP“The night that I crossed the six-figure mark in my cashier, I went out to celebrate and ended up getting really drunk,” he admitted. “The next morning, I opened up the site to find that I had lost about $20,000. I had no idea how or when I lost it, but a couple of friends online confirmed that I was up late playing like a crazy person. At that point especially, I was so vulnerable to the emotional swings that are inevitable in poker. Over the next two or three days, I proceeded to tilt off every cent that I had made during that run. Everything was liquidated and I went broke. Needless to say, I did not handle it well. I was emotionally shattered by the thought of what I had done. I would stare off into space for long periods of time and for weeks I was like a walking zombie.”

Busquet shook off his depression and got a stake from fellow high-stakes pro Kyle “Krisqueen” Wilson. After losing about half of the money, he switched sites and went on a little bit of a run. He decided to send Wilson back his stake and his share of the profits and began playing on his own again.

“It was around this time that I got really obsessed with poker, and not in a healthy way,” Busquet said. “Part of it was my desire to really become disciplined and profitable in a game I knew could be beat, but looking back, I know that there was a good dose of degeneracy in there as well. I was addicted to the thrill of gambling.”

To make matters worse, Busquet’s parents had discovered his addiction and were now taking steps to stop him from another inevitable downward spiral.

“My parents were really concerned about me. My mother had been there when I lost the first $100,000 and saw what it did to me. My father was there for my second run, but he also knew that I had an unhealthy obsession with the game. At one point, in an effort to save me from myself, he actually called the cable company and had the Travel Channel blocked so that I couldn’t watch the World Poker Tour. The next day I decided to move out and started looking for apartments.”

Things got worse before they got better. “Before long, I was so consumed with the game that I let it take over my life. I started reading the forums at work and getting distracted. One day I found out that Prahlad Friedman was playing at $50-$100, which I believe were the biggest stakes at the time. I wanted to watch it so badly that I actually downloaded the software and started railing from work, which is an obvious problem. Eventually, I just started playing there too. Even though I lived like 20 blocks away, I would stay there and play until late at night. The cleaning crews would come in and work around me, just because I couldn’t bring myself to quit the game. This went on for a few months and even though I was warned that it needed to stop, I couldn’t. A short while later I was fired. I really didn’t enjoy my job for number of reasons, but it wasn’t a situation where I was doing well in poker and could afford to take a shot. I still lived in Manhattan and my expenses were high, so it really wasn’t the best timing. Looking back, I realize now that I was self sabotaging and looking for an excuse to make the jump.”

That’s One Hell of a Sick Graph

Olivier Busquet at 2009 L.A. Poker ClassicNow pushed with the need to make money and no fallback plan, Busquet struggled under the pressure to win. Looking to change things up, he switched over to multi-table tournaments and found some immediate success.

“The only problem with tournaments was that I had just got myself this English Bulldog puppy, who obviously needed to be walked quite often. This was in the days before synchronized breaks, so I found myself sitting out and missing hands during a lot of my grinding sessions. One day, a guy and I got into it in the chat and he brought up the fact that I was a losing player, saying that I was down $4,320 in sit-n-gos. I had no idea what he was talking about or how he knew that information. He explained that he had looked me up on SharkScope and I immediately went there to check it out. Sure enough, I was down the exact amount he had quoted and I sort of made it my mission to get myself back to break even so that nobody else could trash talk me while I was playing.”

Busquet quickly erased his losses in the span of just a couple of weeks. “That’s when I realized that I could really win at these and because I could start and stop them whenever I wanted, it allowed me to look after my dog responsibly as well. For the first two years, I was playing between 70 and 80 hours a week. I was dedicated to not only making money, which I did, but also getting my name to the top of the various leader boards.”

Busquet went from slightly profitable to an absolute monster. On Full Tilt, he became the first player to win seven-figures playing heads-up sit-n-gos. To date, he has earned over $2.5 million in the discipline and has played over 52,000 games. Still, despite his overwhelming success, he wasn’t getting the respect he deserved.

“For a long time, I didn’t really get respect from the poker community because I was playing sit-n-gos. The online community tends to really respect the high-stakes cash game players or even the consistent multi-table tournament pros. To them, I was just some monkey who pushed random buttons who managed to win. It didn’t matter that I was a seven-figure winner, because in their eyes, a sit-n-go isn’t real poker.”

Olivier Busquet at 2009 PokerStars Caribbean AdventureThough he acknowledges that it takes something special to compete at the highest stakes around, Busquet was quick to point out the advantage that sit-n-gos have over cash games.

“The biggest advantage I had over the high-stakes heads-up cash game players was that I could get action. In cash games, if you don’t want to play somebody, you can just sit out. In a sit-n-go, if I register, you are going to have to play me. It’s that simple. Furthermore, I kind of made it my mission to keep the rest of the good players from moving up and entering the higher stakes that I was playing at. The common practice is to avoid the better players and wait for a better spot, but I would automatically go after anyone decent who tried to play at my level. Win or lose, they would get frustrated, realize there were better opportunities below and eventually leave. That pretty much gave me the freedom to pick on all of the soft spots without much competition from the other sharks and that went on for quite awhile.”

Online Pro Finds Live Success

Now living on his own, Busquet got back his beloved Travel Channel and continued to soak up as much televised poker as he could. After a while, he decided to try it himself, hoping that his skills would carry over into the live arena.

“I used to obsess over live tournaments, specifically televised tournaments. Even though I had made over seven-figures online, I still felt a little bit of apprehension playing with all of these live professionals. It took me a few tournaments to realize that my heads-up sit-n-go skills could translate to live play and that I wasn’t at some major disadvantage. I had some small scores at the World Series of Poker and combining that with the fact that I was starting to get recognized, I all of a sudden had a bunch of confidence entering the WPT Borgata Poker Open.”

At the time, it was the largest WPT tournament in the tour’s history. Busquet topped a field of 1,018 en route to a $925,514 payday. Though he came into the final table as the chip leader, he ran into some trouble early on and was forced to overcome a 20-1 chip deficit to steal the title away from Jeremy Brown.

A few months later, Busquet picked up the second biggest score of his career, banking €597,000 for finishing runner up to Tobias Reinkemeier at the EPT Grand Final High Roller event.

A Healthy Balance

Despite his success, Busquet’s parents still weren’t ready to approve of his chosen career. “My parents really didn’t care about the money,” he explained. “You have to understand, in my immediate family of four, I was still fourth in income that year. They are very successful people, so I couldn’t wave a WPT win in their face to let them know that I was alright. To them, the most important thing was that I was happy, healthy and that I had found the right balance in my life.”

Now living with his fiance Lorelei and serving as stepfather to her two children, Busquet feels that he has found that balance. “I can credit the fact that I was maturing and that I wasn’t playing online 80 hours a week anymore, but the biggest reason I have found some stability is that I have fallen in love with my fiance, who has been the single most positive influence in my life that I’ve ever had. All of those factors together really made poker more of a palatable profession in the eyes of my family.”

Olivier Busquet at 2009 WSOPBusquet has very quickly gone from a one-dimensional obsessed poker addict to a mature, responsible all-around human being who can now claim many different hobbies and interests. He recently served as a celebrity poker host alongside Justin Tuck of the New York Giants at a charity event to benefit The Children’s Storefront Organization and hopes to get more involved politically, especially when it comes to continuing adult education.

“To be quite honest, if poker is my main focus five years from now, I’ll be genuinely disappointed. I hope that I can make enough money to provide for my kids and get them the best possible education, but I’ve come to realize that there is more to life than making money. As long as my family and I are happy, that’s all I can really ask for.”

 
 
 
 

Comments

oldskool
over 7 years ago

Great to see this kind of article. Busquet obviously has skills, but the most important part of this story is how he, as an "ordinary" guy, managed to put his game and his life together. Rock on, dude!

 
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billyjoe1234
over 7 years ago

Yes. Olivier is a top tier hu sng player. He is not regarded as the best hu sng player amongst his peers. He is one of 15 guys that are all relatively equal. Roi %'s clearly illustrate this. He simply plays MORE than the other top tier players. Secondly, he is a rotten human being. It is well documented the way he talks to people, treats people and carries on to levels that almost all of his peers think are classless.

 
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