We are pleased this week to have with us Johan “busto_soon” Van Til, one of the top online tournament players in the world. The 26 year old from the Netherlands has been playing professionally for 2 and a half years. Van Til has a fabulous resume of wins, including several in the $109 rebuy on Poker Stars, which has one of the toughest fields around. With over $100,000 in winnings in March, and a not too shabby start to April, it looks like Johan isn’t going to go busto anytime soon.
DS: So what’s your poker playing schedule like?
Johan Van Til: An average day starts at 8pm for me with the morning 109 rebuy. Then I keep playing until about 6-7am. So I play about 20 MTT’s in a normal day. And lately about 30 step SNG’s as well. On average I play about 4-5 days a week, so I get in enough hours. Sunday’s I start a little earlier with the Warm Up etc. and end with the 200 rebuy.
DS: Are Sunday’s the most exciting day for you?
Johan Van Til: Yeah, its is. Lately I’ve had some crazy Sunday’s. Especially with a lot of step 6s and the 5200 freezeouts running.
DS: How do you explain the great results you have in the Sunday Warm-Up?
Johan Van Til: Just variance lol. Sooner or later I’m going to get some results in the majors, it just happened to be twice in the Warm Up this month.
DS: What’s your general strategy early in MTT’s?
Johan Van Til: Without antes I just play a solid full ring game, similar to cash games. There are usually a lot of bad players left so it’s ok to play a little looser though.
DS: Middle stages of MTT’s, with 30-40BB, I’ve noticed you are more aggressive then most?
Johan Van Til: 30-40bb is quite deep for a MTT. Depending on the table and antes it’s profitable to open a wide range.
DS: How many MTT’s are you playing right now?
Johan Van Til: Just 4 and 1 step 6.
DS: Does MTT play not take a lot of focus for you?
Johan Van Til: No, I don’t pay that much attention. I do when it’s a higher buyin like the 1k or if it gets to the final stages.
DS: When you play an MTT, is the only satisfying outcome a win?
Johan Van Til: Heh, winning is the most fun. But if I made a good play and get knocked out in 188th I’m fine with that too. I’ll just keep going with the other 4-10 running
DS: Is it hard to stay happy when you can go on 100 buy in downswings and ridiculous draughts or do you find ways to stay satisfied?
Johan Van Til: Well, it took some time to get used to the swings. But now I don’t care anymore in MTT’s. Max downswing is about 30-35k and that’s not that much compared to steps or high stakes cash. That’s also a reason why I like MTT’s. I just know I’m winning so there’s no stress at all.
DS: Step tournaments are such a weird format, what are your thoughts on them and any tips and tricks you can give to newbies to them?
Johan Van Til: It’s probably best to stay away from the steps. The rake is ridiculous (I paid over 50k in the last 5 weeks). If you do play them, be sure to understand basic SNG strategy.
DS: In general, do you try and exploit the bubble or just hang tight?
Johan Van Til: No it’s actually better to let the short stacks tangle with each other. It’s all math though. I recommend playing around with Sng Wiz or something similar to solve most situations.
DS: How do you adjust to the tougher fields in events such as the big rebuys?
Johan Van Til: I generally open a little tighter because they’re playing back more. But against solid players it’s possible to play a little more creative and actually make them fold hands.
DS: Do you still feel like there’s a lot for you to learn in MTT poker?
Johan Van Til: About the concepts, not really. But there’s always a lot to improve regarding adapting/reading players.
DS: How do you think your play differs from other top MTT professionals?
Johan Van Til: Hmm, tough question. I don’t know really, most think I’m really loose/aggro/crazy. And I don’t think I get out of line that much. I doubt there’s a lot I do differently. My biggest strength compared to others is my consistency; I can play a lot of volume without tilting/screwing up.
DS: How do you rate yourself among the best MTT players in the world?
Johan Van Til: There are about 20-30 really solid online players, I’m one of them.
DS: How much do the Pocket 5’s leaderboards and other various tournament leaderboards actually mean to you?
Johan Van Til: I don’t care anymore. Maximizing rankings means losing money. And it’s about the $$ after all. Let’s say I want to maximize my p5s ranking. That means I can’t play outside stars/ftp/etc. And that means I miss out on value on the smaller Euro sites.
DS: What are your goals for 2008?
Johan Van Til: Play about 400 MTT’s a month. Other than that, play some fun live tourneys. And get a 6 figure score once.
DS: So what do you think your future with poker is?
Johan Van Til: Hmm I’ll keep playing for the next 6-12 months. After that I might get burned out or just bored with it, I don’t know.
DS: Alright thanks for the interview!