Ionel Anton, the great Romanian poker player has confessed to us, exclusively, that this year, after the World Champions in America, he would ‘retire’for a year or two. ‘I do not have the same motivation as I used to, this is why I think a break would feel very good’ declared he in the interview for our magazine ‘Casino Life & Business Magazine’, to be read below.
Last year, you won $1,350,000 at PokerStars in the Caribbean. Could you tell us what you did with that money?
Well, that money is not for me. I have something to do, no details for now. The idea is that it is untouched.
How did you take up on this sport? Is it true that Bogdan Naumovici is the reason, your college mate?
Yes, Bogdan is my friend and my former college mate. He is the one to tell me, while seeing me hanging out so often in the casinos – instead of losing time with blackjack and all the other games, we should go play poker, to use our brain. Imagine that we were the ‘geese’of the table. They would just rip us off every Friday or Saturday, when we were around.
How much does luck count in poker?
It depends on how much you give to it; even though you are a good player, you should not give it more than 10%, and then you can be a winner, too. If you give it more, you will probably win on the short term, but on the long term you are a loser.
How much money did you make in the tournaments abroad and in Romania?
From the tournaments abroad, I made 1.8-1.9 million dollars in the last year. I won very many tournaments in the country, smaller indeed, even before the Bahamas win, but I don’t think they go over $100,000.
You were saying earlier, during the discussion we had about the poker in Romania, that you do not want to play in Romania. Why is that?
It is a quite sensitive issue. I am not playing here because I don’t like the people coming to the casinos and it is not an appropriate setting for sport. It is ugly, I really dislike it.
Do you live off the money from poker or have other sources of income?
Luckily, I do not live off the money I made in poker. Poker is still a hobby for me and hope to stay that way.
People say that you taught coach Victor Piturca poker and playing strategies. Can you give us more details?
No, no. When Victor Piturcă was playing poker, I was putting my shoes viceversa. It is true, I met Piturca at Texas Hold’em and I started giving him some advice. But from here to being his mentor, no way.
What do your daughter and wife say about the passion you have?
Different opinions here. My wife was not happy about is at first; now, I still think she feels the same way because I spend too much time for it. On the other hand, my daughter is thrilled, as she thinks her dad is ‘cool – that’s what she says.
I understand that as a child you used to be very good at soccer – they would call you Pele. Why did you give up to this career?
Yes, I used to love soccer, but I did not give it up willingly. I was sophomore in high school, right before the exam for going into my third year – a very difficult exam. I remember that my mother went to the coach to ask him to kick me out of the team, for real. And when I went to the training class, he told me: ‘Ionele, don’t come to soccer anymore; you know, to become a big name in soccer, you have to be a thug, skip classes, curse a lot. Or, you are a good guy and have good grades. You won’t be a good soccer player.’ I started crying and then I realized what really had happened. And I asked him ‘Was my mother here and talked to you?’He said, Yes, you mom was here and asked me to not let you come here anymore….’
I know that you are a good mathematician. How are all these getting along – mathematics, soccer and poker?
Well, they are hobbies, but there is some mathematics in every one – if you ask me, being crazy about mathematics. Well, I do not know how much there is in soccer, but there are probably some angles that you need to analyze. As for the rest, mathematics and poker are perfectly compatible – even more than that, I think they are one for the other.
Do you think that the success you had in Bahamas is owed to mathematics?
To mathematics also, but firstly to the discipline. Discipline before anything else.
What international stars did you run into while touring abroad?
Many, very many. I think that the first star I met a few days ago was a Swedish soccer player – his name is skipping me now – but I think is the one who scored at the World Championship, where they kicked us out. Oh, I remembered, Brolin is his name. Then, I met Boris Becker, many soccer players – very many, from tennis, all sports – I think that poker is more universal than other sports.
What are your plans this year for the poker?
I will tell you something to surprise you. I think that after the World Championships in America I will take a break for a year, or two. I do not have the same motivation, this pause will do me good.
And how do you think you will go back to poker?
A, not a problem, it’s easy – the bug is there, I just have to find my motivation again.
How did you think to organize the Masters of Poker of Romania?
It just came from my discussions with the boys, going to the tournaments outside the country – I just realized that we, the ones with good results – I am including myself here – have never played for real, ever. So, we all agreed that it would be a good idea to have a tournament and to have the other children to see ‘in flesh and bones’ the ones they watch on the forums to see those people playing in a tournament that was, in my opinion, a success.
Is it correct to understand that this tournament – Masters of Poker of Romania will become a permanent event, to take place every year – irrespective of the fact that you are ‘retiring’ from poker for a while?
Oh yes, sure. It is my baby, as a matter of saying, and I hope to make it grow, at least until it turns 18, when it is mature enough and can do things on its own.
We have all seen how many players registered for the stages at Pokerfest. What do you think about the progress of the poker in Romania?
It is amazing how many good kids and players are coming. More and more, and Sorin Constantinescu should be given all the credits – he is the one who has built all this interest. And I congratulate him and help him as much as I can.
Our magazine – ‘Casino Life & Business Magazine’ – intends to award a bracelet to the winner of the Masters of Poker of Romania so we can align this tournament to the international tournaments, to make it look like them. Any intake on that?
I salute the idea, it is wonderful. If you are asking me, I think it is part of the normality.
Have you heard about our magazine? What do you think about it?
It is an interesting magazine, covering many areas and I hope that poker will not lose its first place in the future.
Any thoughts for our readers?
To finish school, use their brain while playing poker and not to forget that a million of dollars is made one hundred at a time, not at once.
Thank you and good luck from now on.
Same to you.