Interview with Paul Johnson, Runner-up in MPNPT Tallinn
Here’s an interview with 32Red Poker regular, Paul Johnson, who hails from Pencaitland, Scotland, and is no stranger to the MPN Poker Tour. Coincidentally, the day we celebrate his success in Tallinn is 365 days since he joined 32Red Poker…
Why 32Red Poker?
As a forum (Kracked Kings) our site of choice was Stan James. When that moved off the network we needed a new home and 32Red fit the bill perfectly. I play a lot of satellites to go on the tour as the weekends away are always fantastic.
Do you tend to approach tournaments with this kind of field and structure the same? Did you have a pre-tournament strategy?
I just try and play my game. I appreciate I am a tight player. However, if I get chips I can open up. I tend to play a game of survival, so I am possibly a little overcautious. I regularly make Day 2, and the money, so it works fine for me.
How did your tournament situation progress? Was it a smooth ride with a gradually growing chip stack? What were the specific, significant moments that you consider decisively contributed to your going deeper in the tournament?
The stack did grow well, with a few spikes. A treble on Day 1 helped me finish the day with a healthy stack. I won a few pots on Day 2 and was well over average when a bigger stack shoved on my queens. I called and won a monster pot to make me well ahead of average. Basically, I won a few races, and you need luck as well as some skill to go deep.
These events can be long, tiring tests of stamina. How do you cope with the physical aspects of big tournaments?
I have been deep in a few of these so I am used to the test. It is tiring, and by the time I was heads-up I was shattered. The adrenaline certainly kicks in when you consider the amount of money involved.
Do you eat at the table?
No I try to eat well in the breaks, so I don’t get too hungry. A lovely filet mignon in the break helped on the final day…
Do you drink alcohol during a tournament? What are your thoughts about alcohol at the table?
I don’t drink much, so I never drink while playing.
How would you describe your table image?
Too tight. But I can exploit this, too, as my image can get folk to fold the best hands.
Do you use communication as a tactic? From the other perspective, how do you deal with those players who try to use such an approach with you?
I quite like table chat. I found there was little chat on the tables but that might be down to the language issues.
Did being at the ‘Live’ Feature Table elicit any changes in the way you played?
It probably made me even tighter. I was dealt 33 on the first hand on the feature table and folded as didn’t want to exit so early when so many were watching from home.
What was your plan at the Final Table, given the prize structure and the potentially large(r) sums each time players are eliminated? Was there anything from your previous MPNPT Final Table experience (Morocco, 2016) that helped you this time around?
I was constantly the short stack. This potentially makes it easier as you have to pick spots and hope to get through. Less thought is required. I got lucky once in Morocco then lost my stack all-in pre-flop with AA. The cash jumps are so big I was hoping to ladder to the chunky cash.
Does being heads-up suddenly require a different mindset? How important is actually winning an event such as this, and could the desire to finish in first place make you over-cautious or, conversely, tempt you to take more risks?
Getting to 2nd was huge to me and I was up against the best player on the final table. My lack of aggression was always going to be a problem. Winning and taking home a trophy would have been amazing. You won’t get heads-up many times for a big event. The money was already huge so the extra €9,000, whilst nice, was not going to make a massive difference.
You won a tidy €40,000. How did that feel, and will you be splashing out on anything special?
Such a massive amount of money. That would have repaid my first mortgage. My wife is now talking about the age of her car, so some will go on that. I also gave my kids some of the money. They deserve it after sitting through the stream at home.
Qualify for MPNPT Prague
You, too, could be sitting at the next Main Event Final Table when the MPNPT visits Prague (2-5 May). We have an ongoing qualification set-up that starts with €1 satellites, and regular €1,500 Package/€550 Seat Finals during the week. Have fun, and we’ll see you (and Paul) in Prague.