On a weekend in June, Ben NeverScaredBWilinofsky (pictured) fought through a field of 705 players in the PokerStars Sunday 500and banked $63,000. No chops were in store in the $500 buy-in tournament and Wilinofsky, a Canuck, defeated Lithanua’s Laurynas LaurisL91Levinskas heads-up. Wilinofsky won the European Poker Tour’s Main Event in Berlin in April 2011 for $1.1 million and sat down with PocketFives to discuss his first Sunday Major victory.
PocketFives: Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your win in the PokerStars Sunday 500.
Ben Wilinofsky: The money is nice. I’m still working toward some financial goals in terms of setting things up long-term with more passive income streams, so this gets me closer to those goals. What was really nice about it is it was my first Sunday Major, which is kind of nice. I’ve had a bunch of other wins, but that was the first really big Sunday one I’ve had. I was happier with the title than I was with the money.
PocketFives: What passive income streams are you pursuing?
Ben Wilinofsky: One of the things I’d like to do, and I haven’t worked toward it that much, is set up a few apartments and rent those out when I’m not in town. It would help to have a home base in Europe, for example, and be able to rent it when I’m not there, so if I’m traveling around the circuit, I can have a place to stay.
PocketFives: Laurence rivermanlHoughton finished in 18th place in the Sunday 500. Can you talk about his play down the stretch?
Ben Wilinofsky: I don’t remember spending much time with Lawrence. I think he’s a good player, though. He adjusts very well to the meta game and I think he used to be a lot splashier and a lot more aggressive. I feel like he’s stopped pulling the trigger a bit. Another player who jumped out at me was Max Heinzelmann (HotKarlMC on PokerStars), who finished 13th.
PocketFives: A lot of the mainstream poker world knows Max Heinzelmann (pictured) for 6betting all-in against Shaun shaundeebDeeb, cracking aces with A-6during the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. What can you tell us about his play?
Ben Wilinofsky: He has some ridiculousness in him. He also finished second in back-to-back EPT events, so he’s very accomplished. He’s definitely very aggressive pre-flop, loves to pull the trigger, and is capable of pulling the trigger. He’s good live and is very good at keeping the pressure on constantly. He’s very good at not slowing down and knowing when not to slow down. It’s sort of a tough line to walk. I have a lot of respect for guys who can apply necessary aggression and not overstep it.
PocketFives: Can you talk about your PokerStars Super Tuesday second place finish in March?
Ben Wilinofsky: I chopped for about $64,000 and finished second. Last year was the year I won the EPT. I’ve been playing a lot less volume now and getting life things in order, but when I’ve played, I’ve had a lot of success. Things have been working out really nicely. I also came third in the WPT Vienna event in April and have liked the lower volume approach.
PocketFives: Did you notice any difference in the way other poker players treated you following your EPT win?
Ben Wilinofsky: My friends treated me the same. Most were really happy for me. People always ask me if people have hit me up for money now, but it hasn’t been like that. Everyone has been fabulous. People have reacted to me differently at the tables having known I won an EPT. I think that kind of blew up some of my spots when people know me as this crazy aggressive guy from the EPT broadcasts.
PocketFives: Have you dabbled in any non-Hold’em games?
Ben Wilinofsky: I haven’t really played Limit games at all. I dabbled in PLO and lost a bit of money after my EPT win trying to learn the game. I enjoy the game and find it engaging, but there are diminishing returns in terms of time spent learning a new game. I’ve gotten very good at No Limit Hold’em tournaments, while other games cost me a lot in terms of my time and being a losing player to start. So, to some degree, it’s almost not worth it. I’m playing poker because I enjoy what I do. It gives me a lot of flexibility financially and with my time.