In its eight-year history, only two players had won multiple bracelets at the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker ( WCOOP ). Unknown Canadian player spawng was the first to accomplish the task, picking up his first bracelet in 2005 and his second just a year later. In 2006, Kyle “kwob20” Bowker won both of his bracelets, becoming the first player to win multiple events in the same series.Then 2009 came along, and the series made room for more. Though he was eventually joined by both Daniel “djk123” Kelly and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier , online professional Ryan “g0lfa” D’Angelo became the first to do so in this year’s series.After winning event No. 18 , a $300 eight-game mix tournament, for $50,250, D’Angelo tore through event No. 29 , a $300 half-Omaha, half-hold’em tournament, this time banking a cool $69,245. Those scores brought his lifetime winnings to more than $700,000, the majority of which came from a third-place score at the 2008 WSOP .In this interview, D’Angelo talks about how he got started in poker, the source of his screen name, his WCOOP success, and what he plans to do with his winnings.The InterviewJulio Rodriguez: So, how did you get into the poker scene?Ryan D’Angelo: I guess I have a similar story to a lot of poker players in the sense that, I watched Rounders back in the day with a bunch of high school friends and that got us started with some low-stakes home games. We just played $5 buy-in games, but that was enough to make me hooked.JR: What about the game grabbed your interest?RD: I was honestly fascinated with the idea of not having a normal job. After I started to get pretty good at the game, I figured it was just a fun way to make some money.The problem was that I was kind of a degenerate and would always play outside of my bankroll. After high school, I went to the University of Buffalo for a year. Like a lot of other poker players, I dropped out and spent about a year playing online and losing money. Luckily, I turned a corner and started to win not too long after that.JR: Wait a minute … You dropped out before you became profitable?RD: Yeah, it was not good, man. I wasn’t very smart about it and wasn’t the greatest player at the time, but I had made a lot of good friends in poker along the way who helped me turn things around.JR: Who helped you out in the early going?RD: I’m really lucky in that I have a close group of good players for friends. When I turned 18, I started going to TurningStone Casino and that’s where a lot of great players got their start. Shaun Deeb and I go way back. I met him playing cash games there right when I started. Others, like Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke, Jonathan “driverseati” Tamayo, and Brent “Astrolux85” Roberts, all played there.That’s one of the most important things in poker. Just having a good stable of minds to pick from, so that you are always advancing your game to the next level.JR: Any other help?RD: I’m an avid training-site video watcher. I can’t tell you how much I have learned by watching all of these geniuses put out videos week after week. So, I’d definitely say that those have greatly contributed to my poker success.JR: Can you explain your screen name, g0lfa? I’m assuming you hit the links every so often.RD: I started in middle school and played on the team in high school. g0lfa was my messenger screen name for a while, and then it transferred over to poker. It’s just what I’m known by now, but I don’t play as much as I used to. When I do get on the course, it’s nice that it lends itself so well to gambling.JR: How has live play gone for you so far in your career?RD: I’ve done the WSOP the last three years. My biggest score was two years ago, when I came in third in the event that Alexandre Gomes won against Marco Johnson. Yeah, I had all of the chips three-handed, and somehow managed to bust.JR: Did you have a tough time transitioning from the mouse to the felt?RD: Luckily, I had a lot of experience from cash games at TurningStone. So I didn’t have that same typical adjustment experience that most 21-year-olds have when they play live for the first time. I was very fortunate in that sense.JR: When you’re at home, what does your online playing schedule look like?RD: I’m no Shaun Deeb, man. I really only play when I feel like it. I mean, I try to play every Sunday, but other than that it’s really a toss up on when I’m going to play again. I’ve been traveling a lot this year, which has thrown my schedule upside down a bit. I spent a month in Italy, went to Las Vegas, traveled to Macau and then I did the Barcelona trip.JR: Let’s talk about your two WCOOP victories.RD: I got lucky a few times in both events that I won, but the cool thing about those events is that I feel that they were much more low-variance than, say, a regular no-limit hold’em event. I was able to avoid being all in, for the most part, and by the time I got heads up, I had massive chip leads, which I was able to hang onto.In the first event, I was heads up with David Pham.JR: David Pham?RD: Yeah, I didn’t know it when I first got to the final table, but I was later told that vui-qua-di is actually David Pham on PokerStars. It was definitely intimidating to play against him, and sure enough, we got heads up. I had a nice chip lead, but he owned me in the stud games to take back the lead. When the games switched to the hold’em and Omaha variations, I made some moves to chip back up and finally finished him off.JR: Is stud one of your weaker games?RD: Yeah, I mean, I obviously have less experience in those games, but I feel like I have a good grasp on what starting hands to play. A lot of it is being able to use up-cards to your advantage, knowing what to represent and being able to steal based on that information.JR: You earned about $120,000 for those two wins. Are you planning to jump on the tour?RD: I’m still not at the point where I can play all of the $10K events or anything, but I’m definitely going to branch out a bit. I’m leaving in a few weeks to play in Aruba and I’ll head out to the PCA ( PokerStars Caribbean Adventure ) in January.JR: Do you see yourself playing professionally forever?RD: I don’t know, to be honest. Poker definitely affords me a very, very nice lifestyle, and I’m not one to work for “the man,” per se. I mean, as long as I’m still making money with poker, I can’t see myself just quitting. It still stimulates me as a game, but I understand that eventually I’ll have to do something else, at least on the side. Maybe I’ll invest in a business, something that I really enjoy.Poker’s not going anywhere, it will still be there. I’m definitely going to play the main event at the WSOP every year until the day I die, but I eventually want a family and a normal life. I realize that can be difficult for the average poker grinder to achieve.
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