Fresh off a birth in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event November Nine, online poker star Joseph subiimeCheong is the featured guest this week on the PocketFives.com Online Poker Podcast. The Southern California resident is a former Mini Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) event winner and has taken down a pair of Triple Crowns. He’s assured at least $811,000 for the November Nine bid and stands to rake in more than 10 times that tally if he can capture his first career WSOP bracelet.
Cheong will enter November’s conclusion of the Main Event with the third largest chip stack of 23.53 million, about one-third of leader Jonathan Duhamel’s field-leading tally of 65.98 million. Cheong gave the PocketFives.com Podcast the inside scoop of the hoopla following the November Nine being determined: “It’s surreal. Everyone hopes to be there when you play the Main Event, but you never really expect it to happen. It’s pretty crazy. I never expected a poker tournament to be so media-based. There were so many TV cameras everywhere, interviews everywhere, and agents walking around.”
Cheong has given about a dozen interviews over the last week, all the while trying to catch up with life outside of the poker bubble: “Everything has been going pretty fast. I’ve been pretty swamped keeping up with friends, text messages, and Facebook wall posts. I’ve had a lot of interviews also. Other than that, I’ve been taking it easy and hanging out with friends. We’ve been waking up late, eating late, watching some movies and shows, and just relaxing.”
He credits poker instructors Ari Engel(pictured) and David The Maven Chicotsky with helping him build his credentials from the ground up: “Before I got successful at all, I was playing some online poker – no bankroll management and no real future in poker. I went to Maven and Ari and they helped me set up a foundation. I built my bankroll slowly and met a lot of players along the way. Talking to them and playing more and more tournaments got me to where I am.” Cheong has been a member of the PocketFives online poker community since mid-2007.
Some in the November Nine will ardently research live and online hands played by their opponents. Others will seek coaching similar to UB.compro Phil Hellmuth providing short-handed tips to Jeff Shulman last year. Cheong shared his preparation: “The final table took six hours to bust one person. Just from the eight days of the Main Event, I think I’ve learned everyone else’s game and hopefully won’t forget that in November.” Then, three fellow PocketFivers will join him: John JRD312Dolan, John $JMONEY$Racener (pictured), and Bluefire Poker instructor Jason PBJaxx Senti.
Sleep is hard to come by during the WSOP. Play begins midday and lasts through the wee hours of the morning. Couple that with high-octane final tables and sizable pay jumps and you have a recipe for exhaustion. On his sleep schedule, Cheong told the PocketFives.com Podcast, “It was hard to sleep after every day [of the Main Event]. You’re getting closer and closer to [the November Nine], especially after we got in the money. The pay jumps were looking ridiculous and I had a big stack almost every single day, which was very exciting. I definitely got very little sleep during the whole Series, maybe three or four hours a night at the most.”
For all you aspiring live poker pros out there, Cheong claims the key to being focused mentally and physically during the grueling WSOP was eating a good breakfast: “I would say that a good breakfast is what helped me. I would wake up early, get a good breakfast, and was set for the rest of the day.”
Finally, Cheong has received a barrage of questions about his future in the online poker world. Will he continue to grind as the Main Event final table nears? Will he beef up his live game with an $8.9 million top prize in the offing? “I don’t plan to grind as much as I used to, but I don’t know if I can miss Sundays,” Cheong admitted. “Bigger tournaments like the $1Ks and $100 rebuys I’ll definitely be playing whenever I’m bored, probably every other day at least. I don’t think I’ll be giving up online grinding anytime soon.”
Check out the rest of this week’s PocketFives.com Poker Podcastfeaturing Joseph subiime Cheong.