Kevin Vandersmissen Interview

Kevin Vandersmissen Interview

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Meet 'civel'.

It's not just Belgium's footballers who are causing a stir at the moment - their poker players aren't doing too shabbily either! Following his recent victories, Eve Goodman catches up with pro player Kevin 'civel' Vandersmissen.

Hi Kevin. You had a great SCOOP, and now you've just finished 2nd in the Sunday Second Chance for $32,308. Are you on a heater right now?

I obviously have had a good two months online, but I do not think it can qualify as a heater in my eyes. This is SCOOP and Sundays are very expensive days to play. Each day, you play for over $10k of buy-ins as a high stakes MTT player. Without those scores, every now and then it can be hard to stay alive with those buy-ins. A heater in my eyes is a period where you get two $100k+ scores, or like three or more $30/$50k scores in a short period. Either that, or a period where you final table a decent amount of live tournaments in a year.

How did the tournament go for you leading up to heads up?

From what I remember, it started off very good, which helped me to survive/gain some chips getting closer to the money. I'm not sure what stack I had around the bubble, but I think it was not that much. After the bubble, I was able to sustain myself in the middle of the pack until I won some key hands to start the FT 7/9. Stacks were pretty shallow and pretty close together so anything was possible.

The FT went well – I played good, and I had a good run of cards which helps a lot too of course. Four-handed I had like 2.5x average, until I got coolered four-handed against the guy 2nd in chips with Tens against his Queens. This gave the eventual winner a massive chip lead, and left me with the same stack as the other two. the chip leader busted the player in 4th and I busted the player in 3rd place with a flip where I jammed J-9 in the small blind for around 10BB.

It was a good and challenging heads up. 'hdjgkfkgsl' is definitely a very good player. I am not 100% happy about my heads up play though, because I didn't feel that fresh. I had been to a good party the night before, while rest probably would have prepared me better. It's true I have played until 7:30am many times before in my life, but this time I could feel I was much less focused then I normally am. So I'll blame my friend for the good party, and particularly the great gin and tonic the day before that! Normally I try not to go out on Saturday nights, or drink that much before a Sunday.

In September, I will be moving back to Playa Del Carmen in Mexico for a year to enjoy life and grind in a much better time zone. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

Second is obviously a great result. However, is it ever disappointing to be pipped to the post? What is your mental game like?

Most of the time, I am not really disappointed, because in most tournaments getting second is already huge, and you always have a nice score. It is a little different in live tournaments, because winning live always gets all the glory and its just so much more money and epicness. Although it doesn't matter what tournament it is, you always want to win when getting heads up and you will always feel a little disappointment when finishing second.

I personally think my mental game is one of my strong points. I don't really get upset very often while playing, and if I do it's just for a very short time and it almost never affects my game. I have also played poker long enough to know the swings, and I think I am pretty sure how to handle them.

You're not in Vegas this year – why is that?

At the end of 2013 I had a month or two where I had no motivation to play at all. So, I thought about the stuff that needed to change about my poker routine. I decided to only play the live tournaments that I really wanted to play – not just play them because they are good value. As a result, I decided not to grind the whole WSOP this year; instead, I am going to watch some World Cup football here in Belgium with my friends before leaving to Vegas. But now the the WSOP has been going for a few weeks I do regret not going early. When you read all the news surrounding it you just want to be there. So chances are high that I will be there for the whole Series next year.

Do you prefer playing online or live?

I like both. When I play a lot of online poker a really feel the urge to play live events after a while, and vice versa. If I had to choose I would have to say live poker because I enjoy the social aspect of poker a lot. I think I am a better live player than an online player.

When playing online, how many tables do you play, and what is your setup like?

My setup is two 30inch screens connected to a laptop. When I play MTT's I generally have between 12-20 tables open. I use Hold'em Manager 2 and stack and tile to help me multi-table easier.

Here is a picture of my setup:


You used to be a pro CounterStrike player – can you tell us a bit about that? Did any skills learned from that help with you poker?

I was never exactly a PRO CS player – more of a semi-pro more on a national level. I was always playing in the top 3 teams in Belgium when I played Counterstrike: Source. Here and there we would win some small prizes, but nothing big. I stopped playing after a while because I started to work long hours in construction and just didn't have the time. I still love the game and eSports in general, so maybe in the future I might do something in it.

I definitely think my CounterStrike skills helped me a lot with my poker career. First of all, I was used to putting in the hours behind the computer with CS, so it was easy to do the same with poker. As well as this, I am sure it helped me a lot to multi-table a lot easier in the beginning compared to other players without an eSports background. It helped to me to learn faster by playing more tables at once. If you look at the poker scene, there are so many top pros that used to play competitive games; Elky, Griffin Benger, Lex Veldhuis, the De Meulder brothers (who are also from Belgium) and so many more. I think it is fair to say eSports is a good preparation for a career in poker, and I am sure more will follow.

Belgian poker got another boost recently after Davidi Kitai won another bracelet in the $3k Six-Handed NL Hold'em. What is the poker scene like in Belgium?

Davidi is one of the heroes in Belgian poker for sure. If you are a starting Belgian player wanting to get somewhere in the poker scene, I am sure he is one of the guys you look at and say, 'Damn, I want to be as good as him!'. I remember when I started playing – I went to a casino to play a €200 event, and saw him at the cash game table with a lot of money in front of him. I knew then that I wanted to do that too one day, and compete with the best just like he does. Nowadays I am good friends with Davidi and play the same tournaments as him. I know I am a very lucky person to be able to compete at the same level.

The Belgian poker scene has two different scenes in my eyes. You have the Flemish speaking scene and the French speaking scene. The French scene is more based on live poker, while the Flemish scene is more based on online poker. The reason behind that is because live poker was much more available in the French casinos when poker started to rise. On the other hand, there was almost no live poker in Flemish casinos. Most Flemish players learned poker online, and that is why I think there are more good players in Flanders then in Wallonie – simply because they have played more online, and we all know you just learn how to play faster online.

The fun part about Belgium is that it doesn't matter which side of the scene you are. We all support each other and we are all happy when one of our countrymen wins a big tournament!

What has been the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome in order to be successful in poker?

I would say the day I decided I wanted to play poker for a living. I was still working in construction for really long hours – like 9-10 hours a day. Most of the time I would drink a few beers after work, and I was also playing football 2-3 times a week, so I had to find time to play poker. Ultimately I decided to never drink after work so I was fully fresh in the head. I would play one day until late at night then rest one day, all while still playing football a couple of times during the week and going out with friends at the weekend. I did that for more than a year. That definitely took a lot out of me sometimes, and it was not always easy. Luckily, there were some frosty/rainy days in between, where I could focus fully on poker and pursue my dreams.

I remember one hot summer day at work looking up at the sky to see an airplane flying by. I just thought, 'Damn, one day that will be me in there, flying to live tournaments all over the world.'

What are your poker goals at the moment?

I think setting goals in terms of results is stupid and just not a great idea. In poker, you should set goals of how much you want to play/study, or maybe to learn a new game. If you keep your focus on that instead of results, then results are going to come anyway.

Tags: Eve Goodman, interviews, Kevin Vandersmissen, Belgium, Davidi Kitai