Some players really embrace the spotlight. Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth are two who come to mind. Any poker TV show, any awards ceremony, any special event, any charity gala, they’re there. But, the limelight isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Take David ‘davidv1213’ Vamplew, for example, who just hit $2 million in career online tournament winnings, all of which has come on PokerStars.
“It says something about how long I’ve been playing. I’ve had continued success to still be playing high-stakes games,” said Vamplew, the top-ranked player in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He officially hit $2 million on March 14 and was the fifth player to do so this month.
Unlike Negreanu and Hellmuth, you won’t see Vamplew telling everyone he knows about his latest milestone. You won’t see him on any nationally-televised show nor, outside of this interview, would you even know it happened.
“I’m not aiming for titles and glory,” Vamplew said. “I want to continue working hard and have it pay off with some successes to give me some satisfaction about my job. If you gave me the choice between first place in a big or prestigious tournament or several smaller scores adding up to more money, I’d take the latter.”
Case in point: the annual World Series of Poker. Vamplew says he would rather have several smaller cashes that total more dough than one bracelet win. For many in the poker world, however, a bracelet is the be-all and end-all of the live tournament scene.
“The recognition from winning televised main events, having a winner’s picture posted everywhere, and what comes with that is not a big deal to me,” Vamplew said. “I get more personal satisfaction from more consistent successes. A huge score just feels like a lucky bink, whereas cashing 10 times over a summer for a healthy profit would feel more like something I had earned through hard work and perseverance. Personally, I’d see that as more of an achievement, although clearly there’s luck involved either way.”
Vamplew has racked up almost 2,100 in the money finishes over the years and has wins in the PokerStars Sunday 500, Sunday $109 Rebuy, and Sunday Supersonic, just to name a few. He is averaging almost $1,000 per in the money finish.
In the live world, which has more mainstream recognition than its online counterpart, Vamplew is #1 on the all-time money list for Scotland, according to the Hendon Mob, and won the European Poker Tour London main event six years ago for $1.4 million. He has twice finished runner-up in a WSOP bracelet event and has reached one World Poker Tour final table.
The Scot certainly has the stats, cashes, and final tables resembling an exemplary career. But, how does Vamplew measure success?
“In the end, your bank balance is what you’re really working towards. That encapsulates everything,” said Vamplew. “You can always tell roughly how you’re doing if you’re playing a session online, for instance, and consistently making it to the 2,000/4,000 level in tournaments. That should give you some feeling of success and accomplishment by itself.”
His EPT London victory came shortly after he began taking live poker seriously. In fact, it was just the second in the money finish that the Hendon Mob recorded for him.
“I would probably embrace the spotlight more if I hadn’t already experienced some of the attention and fame after winning an EPT not too long after I started playing live tournaments,” he said. “As it is, I am more focused on if I am pleased with my work rather than what headlines other people are reading.”
After his EPT win in London over John Juanda, there were interviews-a-plenty lined up, some via email and phone, and some under the bright lights of television cameras.
“I would usually get my picture taken at the table and have my picture taken with fans now and then,” he said.
“I am not the most outgoing person, but usually I’m willing to give up a small amount of time for an interview,” he said. “If I were just coming into the poker spotlight now, I’d definitely be more selective in what interviews to give my time to and focus more on quality. I’d focus less on telling people what they want to hear. Going forward, I’m happy to work toward personal achievements quietly even if they don’t come with major bragging rights.”