The classic poker cliché “a chip and a chair” runs pretty true for Edmonton’s aznxray(pictured), who stormed to a win in the 888 Poker Sunday Challenge despite being down to just five big blinds when four players remained. It was his third Sunday Challenge win all-time, which is pretty impressive considering the tournament drew 1,000 players on that fateful day.
“It was nice to win it for the third time,” the Canuck told PocketFives in an exclusive interview. “I remember making a deep run and thinking, ‘No way this is happening again.'” Happen it did. He raked in $27,000 for the win, his largest tracked score to date. In fact, all three of his largest scores have come from wins in the Sunday Challenge for $27,000, $24,000, and $24,000.
He had a solid stack at one point during his latest Sunday Challenge win and said the final nine were relatively even. Then, the bottom dropped out: “At one point, I 3bet someone who opened in the highjack. I had T-T, he jammed, and I snap called. Given the dynamic, it was a cooler that he showed up with Q-Q. At that point, I was left with five big blinds when it was four-handed.”
We bet you can guess what happened next.
“I made a pretty epic comeback,” aznxray perhaps understated. “I picked up a lot of hands and eventually got it in good at the final hand when I 3bet and then 5bet A-T offsuit all-in. The other player snapped me off with A-9 offsuit, surprisingly, despite us not really having much history, and I held.” He has $109,000 in lifetime cashes on 888 and $432,000 across all sites.
Why the success in the Sunday Challenge? Is the tournament somehow tailor-made for him? He theorized, “I feel the reason I have a lot of success in that tournament is because it has a really good structure. It’s not ridiculously slow like the Mega Deep. I can start out with 5,000 in chips then add on to 10,000. A lot of people are playing with 5,000 with the mentality that it’s a rebuy, so I feel it’s really easy to pick up chips if you’re patient.”
His two other Sunday Challenge wins came at the end of 2013 and, given his latest influx of money, we asked what he’d be splurging in. “I’m going to be playing in the World Series of Poker for the first time this year,” aznxray explained. “I turned 21 in November and am looking to play all of the $1Ks and $1.5Ks to get a taste. I am trying to satellite into the Main Event online.” The WSOP starts at the end of May and emanates from the Rio in Las Vegas.
How will he fare at his first WSOP? “I think as long as I don’t give away too many tells, I’ll be fine,” the Canadian assessed. “The most tiring part about live poker, in my opinion, is keeping track of the chip stacks at the table. I always feel more tired grinding out 10 hours live than online.”
What about tells? Is the online poker player leery of giving off potentially critical information to the live crowd? He responded, “I think the best strategy for me would be to sit still. Tells are overrated anyhow. I am mindful of the ones I give off, though.”
Away from poker, aznxray is a student, so he is only able to get in full sessions on the weekends. He’s pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce, saying, “I like the idea of having something to fall back on. Poker is a bit too high-stress for me. I don’t think I will end up doing it full-time, but you never know.”
The Sunday Challenge runs weekly on 888 Poker. If you don’t already have an 888 Poker account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a special 100% up to $600 deposit bonus, $88 free in most locations, and one free month of PocketFives Training, a $30 value. Get started here.