Ben "Bttech86" Tollerene could very well be the best online poker player in the world. For years he's competed at the highest echelon, but early last year he opted out of long-term online tracking. As a result, how he's fared is a mystery, though it's largely agreed that he's of the game's best, especially when it comes to pot-limit Omaha.
Tollerene took a break from the virtual felt to travel to Las Vegas for the 2015 World Series of Poker, which is where we spotted him playing Event #54: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Championship. Before busting that event in 36th place for $19,716, Tollerene, who was the victim of a missing chip debacle two years back, was kind enough to sit down with PokerNews to talk about the state of online PLO.
PokerNews: Phil "OMGClayAiken" Galfond recently said the "nosebleeds" have gotten a lot worse." What is the state of online PLO as far as you're concerned?
Tollerene: Depends on whose perspective you're looking at it from. I still think the games are great. $25/$50 runs all the time. $100/$200 has run not all that consistently, but every month we've had [a game]. It just comes and goes. Sometimes we play three weeks straight, and then we won't play for a month or something. It's definitely getting tougher. All of online poker is getting tougher and heading in that direction, but by no means do I think it's dead, it's still very lucrative, quite a soft game.
It seems the games have shifted from Full Tilt to PokerStars. What's your take?
The games have pretty much left Full Tilt. The one thing keeping them there was we had $500/$1,000 CAP. $400/$800 never ran, and we had the $200/$400 CAP, that was really the only thing on Full Tilt that ran, and those almost always ran around Gus [Hansen] and Viktor [Blom]. Gus and Viktor aren't really playing online anymore and they removed those stakes, and I think the next step is that they're actually going to get rid of the $250/$500 as well. It looks like everything has been pushed over to PokerStars. I don't think it's a problem. We can't play as big as we used to, that's pretty much the only downside.
In your mind, who are the best PLO players out there?
I don't mind sharing this. The guys I have the most trouble with, I'll give you my top five. They would be Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky of course, he makes every list of tough players in any game pretty much. Ike Haxton, very hard to beat. A guy whose screenname is "M.O.P.", "Follow The Hawk" on Full Tilt, I think he's extremely good. Don’t know really much about him, quite curious about him. That's three, ok, myself [laughs], and then who is my fifth? "supernova9," Dani Stern, he's been putting in a ton of volume. Yeah, just like everyone else, really tough, really solid.
In this week's Online Railbird Report, Russia's Timofey Kuznetsov stepped out as the mysterious "Trueteller." Read that story by clicking here.
Last year you opted out of long-term tracking. How come?
I opted out of the beginning of 2014, and there was awhile I was thinking I would try and do the branding thing, see if I could get a deal with PokerStars or Tilt or whatever. I got a small offer, I got a tiny offer from Team Online, and I held out on it, didn’t take it.
From there nothing ever came up, and once I realized there wasn't much to be made from the publicity side of things for young American pros that aren’t particularly easy to sell — I'm a pretty generic American pro I'd say, aside form playing nosebleed — then I just decided I didn't want my information out there. I got weirded out when I would Google myself and see that you could see how much money I make playing poker, and it's misleading too. I just didn't want it out there.
For more on Tollerene – specifically his reaction the case of his missing chips from the 2013 WSOP — check out this vintage PokerNews video: