The Event Center inside The Borgata has been buzzing this entire week with players taking their shot in the Winter Poker Open $2,000,000 guaranteed opening event. Over 4,000 entrants are anticipated to register when all is said and done, with a crop of top New Jersey online players among them.
Already through to Friday’s Day 2 is Ryan ‘shipthesherb’ Hohner, one of the up-and-coming players among New Jersey’s youthful online base. Hohner anticipates that he will be playing most of the major events at the Borgata during this WPO series and has a plan to keep himself fresh during the three-week long grind.
“During the WPO, I’ll typically make a couple trips back home to spend time with friends and family to kind of hit the reset button if I’m not playing well. After you [register] tournament after tournament after tournament, it can become mundane and with long Day 1’s, fatigue can definitely be a factor.”
Hohner credits his friend and fellow New Jersey online grinder, Ryan ‘hags21’ Hagerty, with introducing him to yoga. As Hohner notes, yoga “has gone a long way towards making me feel much more relaxed and ready to take on long days.”
The 25-year-old Hohner says he started playing online poker as far back as 2008 and during his first two years of college at Ramapo College, he started to commit to the game as a means of making a long-term living. Once Black Friday hit in 2011, though, Hohner soon saw his bankroll vanquished and with it, his vision at that time for being a professional poker player. Despite the life downswing, Hohner remained optimistic he would have another chance and took advantage when the opportunity presented itself.
“During the final years of my college education, I worked nights at a local grocery store and continued to pursue a degree in journalism, but knew I wasn’t finished playing poker. I continued to work, save money, and sure enough, a door opened up here in New Jersey to play online, and I never looked back.”
Hohner has gradually grown more accustomed to the live game in the last year and acknowledges the stark differences between the two.
“The foundation to beating live is having an overall good core understanding of game theory and being able to step into the ring psychologically to beat your opponents.”
New Jersey online Sundays offer five-figure guarantees on a weekly basis but for live series like the Winter Poker Open, multi-million dollar prize pools are up for grabs that draw players in from up and down the East Coast. With fields numbering in the thousands, some players have a certain strategy for outlasting the masses. Hohner, on the on the other prefers to base his strategy on his the immediate opponents he is up against.
“Poker is so very dependent on your opposition and being able to adjust accordingly to fit whatever playing style will win you the most chips. I’d say the biggest aspect as I continually progress my game, as well as my students (since I have recently begun coaching NLH), is being increasingly aware of your opponents at the table and the manner in which they perceive you.”
First place prizes numbering in the hundreds of thousands do not come around often and Hohner has a chance to secure the largest tournament cash of his career should he advance deep in the WPO kickoff. Hard work has a tendency to pay off and Hohner is hopeful the time he has invested will pay dividends by week’s end.
“It’s hard to put into words what exactly making a deep run and notching a significant score would mean to me. This past year, I’ve put so much work into progressing my life on and off of the felt. A title would be bittersweet and prove to myself that the countless hours of studying amounted to a significant result.”