We love seemingly random stories about how PocketFivers came up with their user names. For Toronto’s melontown, a friendship with another PocketFiver was to blame: “My very good friend bananazoo was the original person who got me interested in poker, so when coming up with a screen name, I figured I might as well use some type of fruit.” And so it began.
You might have noticed melontown’s name atop the leaderboard in a PokerStars TCOOP $320 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Super Knockout in late January for nearly $100,000. “I’m quite excited,” melontown told PocketFives. “I’ve been working full-time as a web developer, so I hadn’t been playing much at all. When I was playing, I was mostly playing cash games since I didn’t have long hours to put in. Now, I’m especially excited for SCOOP because winning a title would mean a Triple COOP, which would be crazy.”
In January, Shawn Buchanan became the very first Triple COOP winner. Shortly thereafter, James Andy McLEOD Obst became the second.
His WCOOP win, the second leg of a potential Triple COOP nod, came in 2012 in a $530 Rebuy and was worth nearly $200,000 officially. Why does he retain his job as a web developer if poker has been so lucrative? He commented, “One of the main reasons is that I’m in Canada on a work permit, so I have to put in at least one year of work in a field related to my degree in order to get my permanent residency. Also, I wanted to give something a little different than poker a try. I love poker, but figure that experiencing the working world will be a great experience regardless. If I hate it, then it’ll just get me to appreciate poker even more.”
He has $1.5 million in tracked scores in his profile and reached an all-time high of #38 worldwide in the PocketFives Rankings two years ago. He is one of nearly 2,700 PocketFivers with PLB scores in Canada and said of his eclectic past, “I’m originally Syrian, but was raised in Dubai. I moved to Toronto after high school for university and have been here for about six years now. I absolutely love Toronto and consider it my home. It’s a wonderful city.”
Next on his radar is SCOOP, whose final schedule hasn’t been announced, but took place last year in May on PokerStars. “Being a Triple COOP winner would mean a lot to me,” melontown gleaned. “I mostly will be playing on the weekends for the majority of the year, which I’m always excited about. I’m also working on my cash game on the weekdays, which I’m equally excited about.” He has also been able to hit up a few live events, including a recent series at Niagara Falls.
He added that positioning himself for a run in 2015 was near the top of his list of priorities for this year: “I’m hoping to set myself up to be able to play comfortably in 2015, when I intend on making Supernova Elite or doing some traveling on the live circuit. I feel like a full-time job has definitely given me some much needed work ethic; I’m a little lazy by nature.”
melontown’s WCOOP victory was massive any way you slice it. The prize pool of the $530 Rebuy passed $1 million and there were well over 700 entrants. He said of the colossal score, “At the time, I felt I was playing the best I had ever played and was consistently making deep runs without having any big scores. That day, I was actually supposed to do something with a friend who cancelled at the last minute; I wouldn’t have played otherwise. I felt I played the final table perfectly and the whole thing felt very surreal.”
That score put him in position to play virtually any game he wanted, which has allowed him to rise up the stakes ever since. He noted, “Regardless of how my poker career turns out, it’s certainly something that will be one of the highlights of my life.” PocketFivers made up 10 of the top 20 finishers in that tournament and scooped 47% of the prize pool.
He started playing poker in home games and discovered a passion for the game. He met bananazoo at university, where the two were enrolled in the same program, and melontown said, “bananazoo was already making a killing playing cash games and I couldn’t believe that was something you could actually make a living doing. I started playing small heads-up games and quickly moved up. I then played six-max cash games for a year or two before transitioning into high-stakes MTTs.”
bananazoo recently hit $2 million in tracked scores and has been a major influence on melontown’s game. The latter said, “I would like to give a shout out to bananazoo and Adam001. I wouldn’t be here today without them. I really owe a lot to those guys and I’m proud to have not just two of the best poker players around, but also two of my best friends.”
The COOP series run regularly on PokerStars. If you don’t already have a PokerStars account, sign up through the links on PocketFives to get a 100% up to $600 deposit bonus and one free month of PocketFives Training when you make a deposit. Get started here.