The top-ranked online poker player in Australia isn’t actually in Australia right now. Rory Young is hanging out in Rosarito, Mexico with a few other grinders, preparing for the grind that is the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker.
And he couldn’t be any happier.
“I owe my love of Rosarito to ‘JWProdigy‘, Jordan Westmoreland,” said Young, who met Westmoreland a little over a year and a half ago while traveling with good friend Alex Lynskey just after Lynskey finished fourth in the Aussie Millions Main Event. “Then we ended up traveling around Adelaide. We went up and stayed at my parents’ beach house up in Central Coast. We had a grind house up there for a little while. That was a lot of fun. We figured we’d keep the momentum going.”
Young, Westmoreland, Benjamin ‘spektah’ Leblonde and Timothy ‘Weygang’ English rented a house in Rosarito and instantly fell in love with the place.
“Everyone’s helpful, it’s just a really relaxing environment; margaritas by the beach, waking up every day to good weather, and great food. The cost of living here is like really cheap as well,” said Young. As 2016 SCOOP approached, they packed up and headed off to Cabo San Lucas for the series. There, Young and his group met up with some more of Australia’s finest poker players; Jonathan ‘xMonsterxDongx’ Karamalikis and Stevan ‘random.chu’ Chew. While the camaraderie was great, Young found that poker was taking second billing to everything that Cabo offers.
” I’ll never do that again. It was more like we were there to party and play SCOOP on the side,” said Young. “When SCOOP’s so big it’s probably not the best idea to be partying so much. Do more of a low-key thing this time and then party in Cabo afterwards.”
And that’s exactly what Young has planned for this year. He’ll be staying in Rosarito through the end May when his attention turns to the World Series of Poker. His poker-playing roommates this year include Adrian ‘Knightsgee’ Attenborough and Corey ‘Corlusion’ Kempson.
The group plans to take advantage of the two-week break between SCOOP and the start of the WSOP with lots of relaxation. Having played a full WSOP schedule before, Young is looking at a different approach this year.
“I’ll probably focus a lot on cash games in the World Series and definitely find all the good tournaments but I wouldn’t be on that every day tournament grind,” said Young, who won’t be sitting in every single tournament in pursuit of a second WSOP bracelet. ” I’ll play the good ones. The Millionaire Maker and stuff like that but I’m not going to be sitting there flicking $1Ks from the start. It’s just too much of a grind and I want to try to enjoy my life a bit more rather than just like the live grind is very, very demanding.”
Lots of tournament grinders dream of winning a WSOP bracelet. Young did that in his home country in 2014, winning the $1650 Dealer’s Choice event at WSOP Asia Pacific. Just don’t tell Young it’s a WSOP bracelet or ask him to show it to you.
“It feels like ages ago. It’s not really a bracelet win. It was like a 60-person mixed game field in Australia. I lost the bracelet actually,” said Young. “I lost it in Mexico last year. I brought it with me because it was in my safe at home in Sydney, and I hadn’t taken it out since I won it. I’m not really a sentimental person, so I thought I’d maybe melt it down and make it into a cool necklace or a ring.”
Over the last few months, Young has climbed up the PocketFives Rankings and broke into the top 20 last week for the first time in his career. He’s currently #19 in the world but if you ask him, it’s basically a months-long heater.
“I’m barely playing. I’m just playing majors and just seem to bink something every week. It’s not down to any improvement of my game, I’m just running better now,” said Young. The run good couldn’t possibly come out a worse time for Young – or any Australian poker player for that matter.
In March, the Australian senate voted to effectively ban online poker. While the law hasn’t taken effect yet, most of the bigger online poker rooms have indicated they won’t operate in the country once it does. That means Young and his friends could soon find themselves looking at places like Rosarito as a more permanent solution, just like American grinders did after Black Friday.
“It might be a bit apathetic, thinking that I have no bearing on the decision, but I’m more of a realist,” said Young. “There’s not much that I could have done to have swayed the decision. Basically, I’m not too hopeful.”
Young may not leave the country. He recently signed on as an ambassador for Star Casino in Sydney and could see himself focusing on playing live once he returns home after the WSOP.
“If I can’t play online in Sydney, so be it. I’m not desperately out here grinding four days a week of online MTTs anyway. Worst-case scenario, I can just fly to New Zealand for the weekend whenever I want to play majors,” said Young. “I think I’m just going to take it easy and put my time into the Star and look at doing some stuff there instead of playing online. But I know quite a few people who are looking to relocate.”