Lucky #13 : interview with fergwrx, UBOC champion

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Andrew Ferguson, known to Pocketfives as fergwrx is somewhat of a newcomer to the online tournament circuit. He has been involved with online poker for almost four years, but unlike the majority of his peers he was first attracted to the industry from a business opportunity perspective. As he spent more time in the poker community he decided to try to learn the game himself. With a little help from his friends he is well on his way to becoming great player in his own right. Earlier this month he won the UBOC event #13 for an impressive $181,575. Hopefully this is the first of many big scores for fergwrx.

Andrew Ferguson has the mind of an entrepreneur, and is very comfortable with risk, but he was nonetheless slow to embrace the idea of gambling for a living. Ferguson has started several successful websites and projects, and some not so successful. Through it all he applied solid business principles and practices that have helped him make his way in the wild west of ecommerce. The maturity that served him so well in business is equally, if not more important in the poker world. In a line of work that can see your profit margins swing from deep in the red to a spike way up in the black, a level head is an invaluable asset.

I had the opportunity to talk to fergwrx about his recent success and plans for the future:

Lenny: So, you have some decent scores under your belt, but you kind of came out of nowhere with this UBOC win. How did you come to enter, let alone win a $1000 buy-in major online? To what would you attribute your recent success?

fergwrx: First, I would like to say that I have been working very closely with Faraz Jaka (aka The-Toilet; pictured left) on my online tournament game over the past year. Without his dedication to coaching me I would not have been able to accomplish what I have so far. Even though I only have a few major scores from tournaments there will be many more to come and I will continue to use the strategies he has taught me in poker and away from the tables for the rest of my life.

Lenny: How did you get hooked up with The-Toilet? Did you just meet him online?

fergwrx: I met him through my T$/W$ trading service. He was one of my best customers and every time we did business together there was always had some sort of small talk, from poker strategies to things at school. We just seemed to get along well and I had been interested in learning how to play poker tournaments since I had been grinding out limit tables for about a year at that point. I had just started to play MTTs, so I asked if he was interested in taking on a new student. We agreed on a deal and he has been unbelievably helpful. I suppose I got pretty lucky to find him when I did.

Lenny: Can you tell me a little bit about some of the strategies he has taught you?

fergwrx: Unfortunately not, but he is always looking for new students and does offer many different kinds of coaching services for both live and online play which have helped me tremendously. This summer we rented a house together in Vegas and I took second in the first live tournament I ever played. Faraz taught me a few small tricks which ended up helping. He is not only a great online player but maybe even a better live player.

Lenny: Were you nervous about playing live going in?

fergwrx: I was very nervous actually. There were two guys on my first table that claimed to be "pros" and just never shut up the entire time. Initially I was a bit nervous, but after the first few levels I realized how horrible they really were and just kept my mouth shut and tried to use the same thought processes as I would online.

Lenny: Tell me a little bit about your UBOC win.

fergwrx: First of all the UBOC final table was absolutely ridiculous. Seven out of ten players were just sick, sick poker players. I think my ability to take advantage of the ultra-aggressive players and maintain a tight image, combined with my position at the table catapulted me to first.

Lenny: Who was your toughest opponent?

fergwrx: My position from 13 left to the finish of the tournament was directly to the left of mr. Menlo, who was obviously playing his A+ game. He tried to take over the table, so I just did my best to pick the most optimal spots I could.

Lenny: What did you think of the UB Radio broadcast? Did you listen to it?

fergwrx: Actually, I got into a little bit of a fight with Annie Duke at one point about her commentary. She was discussing some of the basic strategies people seemed to be using, including me. I objected because I think you just shouldn’t talk about strategy in a live broadcast that all the players can hear. I didn’t mean any harm by it, I just didn’t think anyone should gain any edge from an outside source with the amount of money that was on the line.

Lenny: Are there any key situations you remember?

fergwrx: I just tried my best to adapt my game to the flow of the table.

Lenny: Were you just trying to pick off the aggressive players?

fergwrx: Correct. With such aggressive players to my left I couldn’t get away with anything even close to crazy. I had Menlo on my immediate right and he was playing absolutely insane so I was able to pick up quite a few chips off him. I just made sure I didn’t "mess" with anybody too much, so that I could fly under the radar until we were 5 handed.

Lenny: So, the whole table was playing aggressive poker?

fergwrx: It was the most aggressive poker table I have ever played, but it wasn’t like $10 MTT aggressive. These players truly understood when to slowdown or pick up the pace and they were shifting gears constantly.

Lenny: So, you do plan to hit the live scene next year?

fergwrx: Yes, I have already qualified for the Irish open in March of ’08. My goal is to play at least on major live tournament, plus five other live tourneys along with 50+ online tournaments each month.

Lenny: That’s an ambitious schedule, so you aren’t in school or working?

fergwrx: I am actually at the University of Maryland, but I am taking the Spring semester off to pursue poker and grow my businesses.

Lenny: What do you parents think of that?

fergwrx: They are not happy to say the least, but they don’t really understand my life on a day to day basis. My main focus for the coming year is to continue growing my business ventures. Poker is extremely profitable, but it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am naturally an entrepreneur and I love running my business. Poker has its limitations, but growing a block of businesses the potential can be limitless.

Lenny: What are some of your interests outside of poker and business? What do you do for fun?

fergwrx: I love hanging out with all of my friends. I never put poker or business in front of my friends or family, even though it may seem like it at times when I am super busy. When I am away from running my business and poker I love to snowboard and just relaxing, not thinking about my professional life.

It was a pleasure to talk to Andrew “fergwrx” Ferguson. I conduct most of my interviews over instant messenger, and he was among the most lucid, and coherent interviewees I have ever had. Few people take the time to compose full sentences and complete thoughts over IM. Andrew lives his life very thoughtfully and it has paid off for him big time. I would like to thank fergwrx for the time, and wish him the best of luck in the coming year.