How Do You Follow Up a Second Place TLB Finish?

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Back in 2013, New Zealand’s asjbaaaf(pictured) won the PokerStars Sunday $100 Rebuyfor almost $80,000. That score jump-started what, two years later, is still a lucrative poker career. In fact, just a couple of months into 2015, he has already won the PokerStars Big $162 for $18,000 and final tabled the 888 Poker Whale for $13,000.

“I am very happy with how my year has gone so far,” asjbaaaf told PocketFives from the Southern Hemisphere. “I’m coming out of a very heavy volume end to 2014, so I had a break at the start of January. After that, I came in strong and the year has started off really well.”

The reason for his frenetic grinding at the end of 2014 had to do with a second place finish in the PokerStars TLB, which earned him a $40,000 PokerStars Passport that can be spent on PokerStars-sponsored live and online events and series. He said, “I spent around $5,000 on TCOOP and Aussie Millions side events and plan to use the rest during SCOOP and WCOOP.” Needless to say, he’ll be spending the $40,000 wisely. We’ll see how he does over the rest of 2015 towards a possible TLB repeat.

He switched over from being a recreational player to a full-time pro after he moved into a flat in his hometown of Dunedin, which this author can say from first-hand experience is quite beautiful. “Dunedin just happened to have two high-profile online grinders living there: eeetee2008 from New Zealand and semesa from Australia,” he remembered.

“I lived with them for about a month and soaked up all of the information I could,” he said of his fellow New Zealand dwellers. “I remember my first big tournament win was during this time, a second place finish in a $2 Rebuy on PokerStars for a little over $1,000. It was life-changing.”

He ultimately picked up shop and moved to Canada for three months to live in a grind house with friends. After all, you don’t reach $2 million in tracked online tournament cashes without grinding your heart out. While in Canada, he explained that “a crazy amount of growth happened.”

Other cashes for asjbaaaf include a runner-up finish in an FTOPS event last year for $59,000 and a final table in the PokerStars Super Tuesday seven months later for another $24,000. He is #31 worldwide in the PocketFives Poker Rankings and is the top dog among our Kiwi population. He’s 10 spots off his all-time high ranking of #21, set two years ago.

There’s still plenty of time remaining in 2015, so what is he focusing on as the world continues churning? “I’m keeping my options open at the moment,” asjbaaaf said. “I’m keeping both the TLB and Supernova Elite as viable options for later in the year, but right now I’m just focusing on playing as much online as I can, improving, and slowly working towards owning my own home.”

Away from poker, he’s usually preparing for the following day’s grind, traveling to live events, and being a tourist wherever he goes. He also plays video games. You can find him on the virtual felts of 888 under the user name colduniverse.

Best of luck to asjbaaaf on a fruitful 2015!

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