The world of online poker can be a blurry and mysterious one, as a player can garner a following and reputation without anyone actually knowing who that player is. ‘Isildur1‘ is and was the most well known case of that happening but when New Jersey online poker went live a few years ago, ‘mygame’, a player on WSOP.com and BorgataPoker.com, had the same anonymity. In a relatively small player pool, Mike Lavenburg was eventually identified as the player behind the super aggressive, super successful handle.
Lavenburg has since kept up that success into 2016, nearing the midway point of the year second in the New Jersey Online Poker Rankings leaderboard, thanks to a strong two month stretch to open the spring calendar. Lavenburg seems to thrive in the bigger buy-in, higher guaranteed tournaments in New Jersey and since March has taken down six ‘Sunday Major’ or $10,000 daily events.
Heading into the summer though, Lavenburg is planning on taking on a bigger live tournament schedule, something that got off to a great start in early May. Lavenburg recorded a career-best live score in the Parx Big Stax XVI 300, finishing 2nd for a nearly $50,000 result. For a lot of the New Jersey online community, that run finally put a face to a name that has been tormenting them for the last few years and could be a sign of things to come.
“I’m really excited for this summer. I’ve never been to Vegas and it will be my first full World Series, minus a few days for a friend’s wedding.” Lavenburg said when talking about what is next after that Parx score, something that he’s been thinking about since the start of his poker career.
That was pre-Black Friday, where Lavenburg used the basic knowledge of the game he learned from his grandmother playing Rummy, Stud and a few other games to transition to online poker. He found online poker when he was enrolled in college and from that point on, he had one goal in mind.
“My plan and goal was to study and grind to try to get to the top of the poker world. It was the freedom, the competition and the money that came with it that drove me to study my ass off and become as good as I could,” he said. But then, like so many other poker journeys, it was cut short.
Without a steady bankroll and interest in playing live, Lavenburg put the poker dream on the back burner, instead taking a job with his father’s electrical company. While working for the aptly named Lavenburg Electric, he knew that there was something more out there to stimulate his mind and competitive nature much more. Eventually, he got back into poker, thanks to Jake ‘jitsnakes’ Perry, who “got my ass in gear”, as Lavenburg puts it.
‘mygame’ returned to the virtual felt in New Jersey and began his ascent up the leaderboards, as he started as more of a cash game player. He then made the jump to tournaments and over the last year has seen many improvements in his game.
“I think online poker is an invaluable tool to become good and fast. You just can’t substitute the experience and feel for the game you obtain live by playing online because of how many hands per hour you get.” he said, adding, “That being said, it’s the same game live and online. There are some differences though and I’m finally getting comfortable with them.”
Those differences include game flow and dealing with opponents that are actually at the table, something Lavenburg struggled with when he first took the live felt. “People staring at you is weird and really sucks for people with anxiety. There’s legit been times where I felt I was having a seizure at the table. That was embarrasing.” he joked.
Lavenburg has thankfully gotten past those live tournament problems and heading into the summer, the focus will be on that live game. “Staying on top of the POY race doesn’t really interest me that much, it’s cool but I think it’s more plus life EV to get out, travel and take advantage of every opportunity this profession has to offer.”
That profession has taken an interesting path for Lavenburg to be where he is right now, a few weeks from his first full summer in Las Vegas. Starting out as anonymous online crusher to someone that the East Coast player pool knows and better watch out for over the next few years, Lavenburg is slowly but surely proving that poker is his game.