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High-Stakes Internet Poker Pro: 'I've Treated Poker Like A Video Game'

Andreas 'Skjervoy' Torbergsen Talks About His Mentality On The Virtual Felt

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Andreas “Skjervoy” Torbergsen, hailing from Norway, is one of online poker’s all-time greatest players. He has been grinding at the highest stakes in the world for years, turning out profits in the millions. He is still under the age of 30.

The poker pro got his start playing low stakes and benefited from being stubbornly aggressive with his progress in learning the game. He tried to emulate the playing style of Gus Hansen, who was a TV poker star back when Torbergsen was just getting his feet wet.

Torbergsen said he received lot of support with regards to his choice in professions, as well as encouragement to chase his dream, which began shortly after he turned 18.

After climbing the ranks and becoming one of the most talented pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em players in the world, he has stuck was cash games. Though, he has a handful of tournament results to his name, including a cash in the 2008 World Series of Poker main event.

Here the poker pro opened up to Card Player about a wide range of topics related to the online poker realm, as well as what his plans are for the future.

Brian Pempus: Can you talk about your rise through the stakes? How did you go from playing small to playing so big?

Andreas Torbergsen: I always tried to push myself hard, see how far I could go. That’s part of the reason I play poker; the fun and the challenge in taking on very good players. I did take lots of shots versus supposedly better players, and in the process I learned. I play a pretty high volume. It was really hard, especially to breakthrough to $25-$50, but I’m very stubborn and believed in my own game.

BP: What do you think you do better than most in pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em?

AT: I’m fearless, confident, and have the ability to grind consistently. I can detach myself from the monetary value we play for every day.

BP: Was the ability to detach from the money something that developed over time?

AT: It has grown over time — one step at a time — but in the end I’ve treated poker like a video game, grinding out more resources to battle the higher bosses. It’s a bit scary to have to detach in that way, but I don’t want to stress about having big losing days.

BP: So money is like points?

AT: Yes, I see the monetary value but it’s easier to keep ‘score’ for me that way. For me, poker is about having fun, not earning the most money. There are way too many people who aren’t enjoying it or not trying to get the recreational value out of this beautiful game.

BP: What do you play these days mostly?

AT: Almost exclusively mid-high stakes PLO. I think it’s simply the most fun game and also very good for recreational players since the equities run closer, and they don’t get punished so much preflop. It’s also easy to go on big rushes. I hope poker sites are going to start marketing PLO specifically — but also the cash games more.

BP: Which opponents do you respect the most? When you were younger, who did you admire?

AT: I respect the professionals at Full Tilt — Tom Dwan, Viktor Blom and Gus Hansen. They are great signings because they understand that you have got to give action to get action. They are smart guys with lots of tricks up their sleeves. I’ve also always thought Brian Hasting was a superb player; probably the one with most raw talent I’ve ever played.

BP: Speaking of Gus, it seems he continues to lose. Why do you think that is?

AT: He is very volatile, but we should not forget about the rush he had in early 2011 and how unlucky he was that Black Friday happened then. He probably needs some time to get back to his prime online self again, and he has chosen to do it versus the best.

BP: What’s the craziest hero call you’ve ever made in PLO?

AT: I had Q Q 9 9 with two diamonds after facing three donk-barrels (bets) on a 3-4-5-7-6 board. There were two diamonds on the flop. The hand was in heads-up pot-limit Omaha ages ago on PartyPoker, versus some Finnish player that lead every flop.

BP: Can you talk about the hands you remember and the hands you forget?

AT: I don’t remember many hands unless they are absurd coolers, intense heads-up hands or at the nosebleed level. The hand I probably remember best is one versus Cadillac1944. There’s not much to say about that one other than I wish I had won. I continued to grind that day and went from being $700,000 in the hole to up $11,000, if I remember correctly.

Years ago, Torbergsen lost a massive $543,000 pot at $300-$600 pot-limit Omaha after getting it in with top set against his opponent’s two pair and gut-shot straight draw.

BP: Is it difficult to continue grinding after a pot like that?

AT: I’m usually too stubborn to quit, so I continue to play. It’s annoying, but it’s how the game works. I like to play too much to consider quitting when I’m down.

BP: What types of things annoy you the most in the online poker world?

AT: Any form of cheating. I think and hope poker sites will do more in an effort to catch multi-accounters and account sharers. I don’t think it’s too bad, but it definitely happens, especially after Black Friday with new Canada, Mexico and Macau accounts.

BP: Can you talk about how Full Tilt shutting down affected you?

AT: It was bad for all of online poker. There was less liquidity, so people played smaller. It was more boring. It was good that PokerStars helped the image of all online poker by rescuing the company. I was a red pro there as part of my CardRunners deal, and that’s expired now, so I’ll probably work with some new site soon if the offer is right.

BP: How’s your bankroll management? Did you ever struggle with that part of poker?

AT: You obviously have to play within your bankroll to not bust and it’s always a dilemma with regards to how much you can risk relative to the reward. For myself, I try to play within my bankroll, something everyone should do, in order to avoid the risk of busting. It’s tough to balance safety versus reward at the highest stakes. I’ve always thought it’s better to test yourself and then rebuild at the lower stakes if the experiment goes poorly.

BP: Can you talk about your relationship with poker training site CardRunners?

AT: As the leading poker training site they contacted me for a while and in the end we found a deal, including a FTP red pro sponsorship. I have a background as a substitute teacher, and I’m from a family of teachers, so the opportunity felt natural for me.

Going forward, in the short term, I’m going to do two quick videos for them and continue to blog more often. CardRunners has a sick archive I want to help expand in the future. I also read that Brian Hastings will do more videos this year so I look forward to watching those as well.

BP: Do you think growing up in Norway helped give you the fearlessness? For example, if you go broke, there’s more of a support system than in the United States?

AT: I never considered it like that, but maybe, unconsciously (about Norway). I think it always has been a culture among Norwegian poker players to try to rise to the top and challenge yourself as much as possible. There’s been quite a bit of crash and burn because of this, but it will also get quite a few people rising up from the lower stakes. It’s partly a Norwegian poker culture thing, disconnected from our support system.

Photo via Arthur Arnesen

Follow Torbergsen on Twitter and at CardRunners.