Jerry Vanstrydonck has had an odd journey to poker success. After getting into poker in high school, Jerry confessed he was a losing poker player from 2004 to 2006. Any good poker player friend of Jerry’s probably would’ve told him to quit right there. Luckily no one did. In the beginning of 2007 Vanstrydonck won the FTOPS ME for 150k. From then he still had swings, but things have still went well. A Senior at Cornell University, he has enjoyed some solid success in mid and high stakes cash games. In tournaments recently, Jerry received 2nd place in the $100 rebuy on Poker Stars and 2nd in Event #3 of FTOPS VII, a HORSE event, for just over $50,000.
DS: So you decide to enter into Event 3 which is a HORSE tournament. How confident were you at your HORSE abilities going in?
Jerry VanStrydonck: I definitely suspected I was +EV in it, obviously or else I wouldn’t have entered. I’ve played lots of Omaha 8. I would say that’s my 3rd best game behind NLHE and PLO. But Stud and Stud8 were pretty sketchy for me. Razz is totally simple so I wasn’t worried. I was kinda learning how to play the games as I went along, as bad as that sounds, lol. But I think tournament know how is actually more important than having a complete knowledge of how the individual games work.
DS: Take me through your tournament up to the final table.
Jerry VanStrydonck: Well pretty much I started off running semi-hot, but the play in the early stages was just soo bad. People lacked any concept of the game so it wasn’t very hard to accumulate chips. Then I started running super hot when the blinds started getting high and won like every pot that got all in. I ran stud 8 every hour which was very nice.
But once we got close to the money I just couldn’t buy a pot. I lost AK to AT in a 4 bet pot in Hold’em followed immediately by losing KK to QJ in a 3 bet pot. Obviously, there is betting on all streets in these pots. Then that next razz level my bad luck continued and I couldn’t scoop anything. At one point I actually folded on the river in razz with less than 1 bet remaining (yes, you heard him, one bet left in his stack).
I just could not justify calling off my stack knowing I had very, very little chance of being ahead. Well after that I went on a super luck-sacking spree and won like 4 all ins in a row. So I got back to average and from there made some big hands, including the nut high/nut low in o8 on two occasions, and kept getting paid. I also abused the final table bubble nicely since my table was full of shortstacks who didn’t want to gamble it up.
DS: So you’re at the final table. What are your thoughts on the players there and how is your outlook? Did you call any friends or family?
Jerry VanStrydonck: Yeah the final table didn’t seem that hard to bust up. There was a Full Tilt pro at is, Jenns Voertmann, I’d never heard of him but he was solid, and I was fortunate enough to have him on my right. Other than that there was one really aggro fishy type guy to my left which sucked but everyone else just played very tight and seemed happy to be there. My plan was basically to play tight at first just to make sure my initial reads on the players were correct and to establish a tight image. I felt like once I had this image established I could beginning to 3bet Jenns Voertmann when he would try to steal in obvious pre 4th street stealing positions that I had been letting him get away with. Well pretty much the aggro clown was just being way too aggro for me to put this plan into effect. I eventually started just trying to play pots with him and raise his bring in because he was just defending always in every game and just playing absolutely horrendously post 4th street. He actually took a couple pots in a row and I got short at one point and then from there I just started running like fire and busted probably 5 of the 6 players before heads up. Then headsup was a nightmare, including me raising after 7th street on razz with what was shockingly the worst hand. I was like positive he had 86low and i raised with 76543, but he ended up having 76542!
DS: You bust out in 2nd. Are you disappointed or happy with a near 50k score?
Jerry VanStrydonck: You’re always disappointed when you don’t win the tournament, especially when you get so close. I mean i’m not even sure if anybody else has ever won two ftops events, let alone in two touranmetns as different as NLHE and HORSE, so it would have been nice to accomplish something special like that. After the tournament I just closed my computer and went to bed. I had told my friend that was at my apartment that I would get drunk if i got top 3 but I was just too diasppointed. The next morning though it was nice to look at my full tilt cashier and see 50k more than the day before. I realized that HU is just such a crapshoot in limit poker so I didn’t feel too bad.
DS: Do yourself a live player or an online player?
Jerry VanStrydonck: I’m a full time student for now unfortunately, but definitely an online pro for now. I’ve made 2 live final tables in 1k events, but ran like garbage and busted 8th both times. Although, after I graduate I’m moving to Vegas and will probably find myself playing more live. The cash games are just soooooo much softer. I’ve had more success playing online. Live play takes a lot of getting used to. I mean I had like 6 or 7 consecutive losing live trips. Until my most recent trip to tunica for the WSOPC/WPT tournament series. Actually, I panned out with a strong 5 figure win. I think I’ve figured out live play for the most part. You definitely can’t play the same way you play online.
DS: You told me you were a big time losing player for 2 years. Many would likely look at you in the beginning of 06 and say you will never be a good player. How were you able to rebound and become the caliber player you are today?
Jerry Vanstrydonck: I wasn’t THAT big of a losing player. I mean I was prob -2,000 lifetime up to that point. Mostly running 50 dollar deposits up to like 3-4 hundo and then just playing silly poker, managing my funds incorrectly and playing games I was a dog in for the most part. I always felt like I was better than the clowns I was playing but the results wernen’t there.
DS: You recently actually finished 2nd to your friend and FTR poster Sauce123 in the $100 rebuy on Poker Stars. How weird was it to play your friend at the final table of a big MTT HU for 1st place?
Jerry Vanstrydonck: Well it wasn’t that weird I mean we’ve played each other at 10/20 heads up before and we had both just made a ton of money so it was a good time. He ran VERY well, although he would argue differently. Heads up in touranments arent that skillfull so I just kinda felt like we were flipping for the difference.
DS: What are your plans for the future?
Jerry Vanstrydonck: Well the immediate future, work hard, get my degree, and have a good time for the rest of the semester. Then I’m moving to Vegas with a friend of mine for a couple years at least, try my luck at a bunch of the live donkaments. After that though I really have no idea, I don’t ever really think I will use my bio-engineering degree but who knows. I guess my ideal occupation in the future would just be to make the money I make playing poker work for me, invest well and hopefully never get a “real” job in my life.