Stuart Rutter Interview

Stuart Rutter Interview

Thursday, 9 May 2013

They say the best players know all the games, which makes 29-year old Stuart Rutter one of the unsung talents of UK poker.

Many players have made the transition to tournaments but you've stuck to cash…

I disagree with the assumption that tournaments are more profitable. The cash games are definitely tougher – and the swings crueler – but there's still a lot of money to be made if you're focused and willing to work hard. I wish I’d locked myself in a room back in 2005, but I guess not many of us realised what a good thing we were on to.

What's the secret to beating today's games?

You have to game-select very well, but more than ever it’s just to do with mentality. You can't make a single mistake, tilt, or let your game dip in any way. I think that's always been a strong part of my game; that ability to remain mentally stable when facing adversity.

You're very much an advocate of coaching. How much should you spend?
Unless you’re a world-beater, I truly believe that you don't need to spend too much as there are some great coaches out there who charge around $50 per hour. You don't have to be coached by a “big name”; they might be successful, but it doesn’t mean they make good coaches. One of the worst experiences I had was with Greg Raymer who was completely useless and spent the entire time talking about himself and his fossils.

Am I right in thinking that you've received coaching exclusively in mixed games?

I’ve never been coached in hold’em. For me, the dream is still the World Series and winning a bracelet, and in 2010 I spent around six months of my life being coached in mixed games. Because I started most games from scratch and gave them equal attention, a tournament like the 10-Game event is perfect for me as a lot of players are unable to play all the games to even a competent level. It gives me a big edge.

Do you think mixed games will increase in popularity?

If they were going to get big, then they would have done so already. These games mainly survive thanks to the Series, but they’ve lowered the buy-ins and removed a couple of events for the second consecutive year, so it’s a worry. Most people who play mixed games do find them fun, though, especially when they don't play them very often. There are some cool games, such as 2-7 No Limit, which is about as pure as poker gets.

Can you make money playing mixed games?

It’s all about the Series; you'd have to be the best in the world to make a good living throughout the rest of the year, simply because there aren’t enough games around. You could be the best stud player in the world yet make more money playing hold'em. It does make finding coaches easier, though, as the options in some of the games are limited to only a handful of people.

You've recently signed up with Titan…

The Titan deal is great for me as it means I'll be able to play most of the GUKPT and UKIPTs. The idea these days is to sponsor celebrities and/or big rakers, so thankfully I still fall into that second bracket and can receive funding for live events, which obviously helps with variance.

I’m going to be part of a team of players that everyone can buy a piece of through a new promotion they’re launching called PokerBet. You get paid out at 1:1 when a player you bet on makes the final, which means there should be some great value up for grabs if you think someone is playing at, say, 1:2.

You seem to have enjoyed your spell as a Sky Poker analyst...

I really enjoy coaching and I’ve had a good experience with Sky. Although I was an “expert” analyst, I was a novice at TV, and the biggest hurdle was having to listen to people directing you via an earpiece. You had to be careful not to speak to them out loud otherwise the audience would think you were talking to voices in your head. I try to live life on two different pools of money rather than rely solely on playing, so it’s good when I receive opportunities to earn a separate living away from the table.

You used to travel a lot to live events. Where’s your favourite?

It’s cool that poker allows you to travel, especially to places you wouldn't normally go to. Helsinki is a classic. It’s such an unlikely place to play poker. The opposition is tough, and the weather is freezing, but everyone's so friendly that it feels unmissable. I haven't travelled that much recently, but it's nice to recharge your batteries and get back that enthusiasm for playing poker in different locations.

We hear you're a bit of a party animal…

The rumours are true, although I might have to slow down now that I’m approaching 30. I work pretty hard when I'm at home, so it's a nice consolation if I exit early from a live tournament as it means I have the rest of the trip to hit the clubs instead and have some fun with my friends away from the table.

How do you manage at the Series?

The toughest problem that Vegas will throw at anyone is that the best time to play poker is also the best time to party. I've tried not drinking, but it's unrealistic. The key is to find the right balance. For the first time I plan to go for the whole Series this year, so I'll be putting in a lot of hours online in the coming months in a bid to build a WSOP bankroll.

Do you see your long-term future being in poker?

I think so. It's been so good to me, and it would be difficult for me to carve out another career now. The only worry is how long it's going to be there for as Black Friday proved that everything could change in a day. You need a plan B, and the discipline to save some of your money. I'll do it for as long as it's still possible.

It's bizarre. In 2006 I was flicking it in without thinking and playing 25/50 online, so in a way my career has always been on the slide.

Technically, promotion is so unlikely – you're just battling to stop the flow against you, and at the same time you're not paying any taxes or contributing to the real world, so it can be unfulfilling in a way. But on the other hand, the tougher it gets, the bigger the challenge, and that can make it more satisfying than other jobs.

Tags: Adam "Snoopy" Goulding, interview, Stuart Rutter