“It Was Kind of an Old School Final Table”


Earlier this month, Jon apestylesVan Fleet (pictured) ran away with the win in the Full Tilt Sunday Brawl and took home $22,000. In the process, he defeated a field of 533 entrants and a final table loaded with former World Series of Poker bracelet winners and European Poker Tour champions.

“It was a really nice week overall,” Van Fleet told PocketFives in an exclusive interview. “I had a few other scores and one close finish, so it felt great to close one out. I’ve never won the Brawl before. It’s always nice to have a good run before SCOOP because SCOOP has the potential to go really badly or really well.”

Let’s get to the final table now. The group included David BakesBaker, who finished in sixth place, and Steve MrTimCaumO’Dwyer, who took third. The latter won the EPT Grand Final Main Eventtwo years ago for $1.6 million and followed that up with an ACOP victorya year-and-a-half later for another $1.8 million, among other scores. Baker has two WSOP bracelets, which came in 2010 and 2012, and almost $3 million in live tournament winnings.

“Both of those guys have been around for a long time, winning for a long time, both live and online, and they continue to adjust to beating the game,” Van Fleet said of his two competitors. “Come to think of it, it was kind of an old school final table. I remember I always thought MrTimCaum (pictured) was really good and his results didn’t match his talent. Then he went on a mega-heater and I wasn’t surprised.”

Van Fleet disposed of Baker from the final table after Baker put his last eight big blinds in with pocket tens from the cutoff and Van Fleet called from the small blind with K-J offsuit. He said, “It was a marginal call with ICM. However, strategically, if I won the pot, I would become the chip leader and have leverage over the table. If I lost the pot, I would stay in second in chips, so losing didn’t change much for me.”

O’Dwyer, meanwhile, had position on Van Fleet throughout the tournament and played solidly. “Generally, Steve was playing a passive and trappy style versus me, which is a good adjustment,” the eventual Sunday Brawl winner said.

So what are Van Fleet’s plans for the money? He has been highly successful over the years, but told us he has learned an important lesson: “In the past, I used to spend money on fancy stuff that doesn’t retain any value. I’m shifting my views towards money. I don’t want expensive watches or cars. I respect the guy who has millions and doesn’t have to show it off.”

He even made a “Duck Tales” reference to explain what he’s doing with the cash: “The money is going into the vault in all gold coins so I can swim in it like Scrooge McDuck.” Love it.

Van Fleet has been a member of PocketFives since 2005, our very first year in business. Nowadays, he is saving up for property and learning about investing when he’s not playing cards. And like other US PocketFivers, Van Fleet is getting into daily fantasy sports on sites like FanDueland DraftKings.

“My life is really full,” he told us. “I take on a lot of projects and coaching and feel it helps me grow as a player and as a teacher. I try to strike a balance with outdoor stuff like hiking, community service, and yoga. I’m roommates with Adam Roothlus Levy and we’ll probably play some basketball at some point. I just got back heavily into fitness, but the problem is I love to eat.”

Van Fleet is about to give it the old college try on a new adventure as well, as he’s doing a 10-day Vipassana silent retreat. We’re fairly certain that much meditation is involved. No talking is permitted during the retreat. Also banned are electronics and books.

He closed by sending a shout out to poker mind coach Elliot Roe. “I think one major reason people don’t stick around in poker is that the mental leaks are hard to fix and this game can make you go crazy,” Van Fleet argued. “I would definitely recommend getting some help with the mental aspects. It can improve the rest of your life as well. The swings and isolation of being a professional online poker player can be really tough to handle.”

Congrats to Van Fleet on beating a few old school players en route to a Sunday Brawl title!

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