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Poker Player PROfile: Calvin Anderson Is On Everyone’s Fantasy Poker Draft List

Anderson Did Not Let Black Friday Keep Him Out Of The Online Tournament Scene


Born in Michigan and raised in Oklahoma, Calvin Anderson is now among the nomads roaming the world post-Black Friday, earning a living playing online in countries where it is still legal and taking to the felt in live tournaments offered along the way.

“I’m not really living anywhere,” he said. “I travel almost all the time since Black Friday.”

While he may not be a household name to the casual poker fan, Anderson has made his mark on the online tournament scene – having just been named the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker Player of the Series – and in live tournaments throughout Europe. Anderson recently played in the Card Player Poker Tour Paddy Power Poker Irish Open and was one of only two players to enter the €10,000 High Roller during the series. His name was also a constant presence among the fantasy drafts popping up just as the 2014 World Series of Poker got underway.

Card Player caught up with Anderson as he was making his first deep run of the Series.

Diana Cox: You recently won the 2014 SCOOP Player of the Series and you said in an interview with PokerStars that was something you did for yourself. Tell me about that.

Calvin AndersonCalvin Anderson: I’ve been trying to get that the last couple of years. It’s kind of one of those things, like the tournament leader board of the month or the week, if you start doing well in a couple events you might as well go for it and try to get it because you can win whatever the prize may be. I’ve tried for the year but after a while it’s just too much of a grind.

I know how to play all of the games pretty well and I’ve been playing more cash games recently, a lot of the draw games, but I’m also a good hold’em player. So me being able to play all the hold’em events and being good at the mixed games, it put me as a huge favorite to win the SCOOP leader board. That is kind of why I went for it. I did well last year also, but every year I haven’t been able to play every single event that I wanted to. I stayed in Monte Carlo too long last year and then the first SCOOP right after Black Friday I couldn’t get back online right away.

DC: Do you have a similar goal this summer for live tournaments?

CA: This is probably only my second year at the WSOP where I can play whatever I want to play and not have to worry about selling any action or any of that stuff. So I would say, obviously, I would like to win Player of the Year. Who wouldn’t? But I do think it is a reasonable goal for me coming off the of the SCOOP leader board. I wanted to go hard then and I feel like I have the skills to make a run at Player of the Year because of the format and all the events this year. There are a lot mixed games this year with a higher buy in that are weighted toward the top, so if I can get some good runs in those and maybe run good in a no-limit event I have a reasonable chance to maybe win it.

DC: You told us that you started out playing mixed games as those games seemed to be more solvable to you and you have results in those types of tournaments. So did you learn those games before you took on hold’em games?

CA: I knew how to play hold’em but I actually started out playing some deuce to seven no-limit, triple-draw, single-draw and five-card draw. So it was mostly draw games because I felt like that was the easiest thing for me to understand at the time. So I excelled in those and I did really well. I would honestly much rather just play mixed games but you have to learn how to play hold’em really well if you want to make any money, because that is where all the people are. You just have to kind of go wherever the money is at and that is in hold’em.

DC: Now we are seeing that you are being drafted in multiple fantasy drafts right alongside players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, do you think your emergence as a mixed-games player is what causing that? Or is it your online success?

Anderson on day 2 of the WSOP $25,000 mixed-maxCA: I wouldn’t say it is odd to draft an online player in live tournament fantasy drafts. I think that the best players are the online players. Just comparing online to live, playing online you can get in so many more hands so much faster. That is why all the younger kids tend to do a lot better. Games that would take a lifetime to learn live, you can learn online in just a couple of months. You can just get in about 100 times more hands a day, at least. I’m pretty widely known as one of the best MTT (multi-table tournament) players online – not to brag about myself – so I’m just more of a triple threat. I‘m really good at hold’em, so if I get really deep there is a good chance I’m going to do well for the draft, and I’m also going to play the $50,000 and the other $10,000 tournaments.

DC: Was it that surprising for you to see yourself emerging among the ranks of some of those players? Does that make you feel good about the respect it shows you have from some of your peers and other people in the industry?

CA: Getting drafted I feel like I need to play and perform and there might be times where I just don’t want to play. I don’t really enjoy the pressure but it is nice to be respected. I feel like I get respect from the guys that I respect and I may not be as well known among a lot of people but the people that I care about respect me. It makes sense and I’ve had some pretty good results live, as well in mixed games, but I haven’t had a big break out win. I don’t really appear in to many live tournaments in the U.S. or things that are on television but I’ve gone deep in some European Poker Tour events. I would say that most of the Euro guys know me really well, but not so much here at the WSOP.

DC: You said you do not really have a home right now and are traveling. If you were to score enough points here to be in contention for the POY would that open you up to going to the other WSOP stops?

CA: I would maybe but I’m not too worried about it. I’m just going to do whatever makes me happy. If I end up doing well and I feel like I need to go for it, I will go for it. I’m going to go to Thailand with my girlfriend while she does some Bikram Yoga training. It would be nice to win, but if it is not gong to make me happy I’m not going to do it.

*Anderson finished 16th in event no. 2, the $25,000 no-limit hold’em mixed-max for $63,158.