Identity Outed, "LLinusLLove" Ready to Become a Force in High Rollers
Critics and cynics will tell you the poker dream is dead.
Untenable high rake at microstakes, they say. The rising skill level across even the smallest of buy-in levels, they say. Those factors and more conspire to make it impossible to climb the poker mountain, to build a bankroll from the depths of penny poker until one can take on the titans of the game at stakes that see the worth of several nice cars won and lost daily.
Those people would be wrong. For proof, look no further than Linus Loeliger, seated in the field until an elimination just before dinner break in PokerStars Championship Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller.
Don't know the name? Or the face? A quick look at Hendon Mob won't tell you much either, revealing three live cashes for about $85,000. But the online poker moniker "LLinusLLove" should ring a bell. A relatively recent entry into the high stakes sphere on PokerStars, Loeliger spent some time known as only the mysterious grinder with the cute Chansey avatar — a chubby pink Pokémon with a white egg nestled in a pouch by its belly.
"It's definitely what is the most fun to me in poker, playing three-handed games at the top."
"It used to be my favorite Pokémon, or at least one of my favorite," Loeliger said with a laugh, adding that several creatures from the famous Nintendo series have adorned his circular space of virtual real estate. "I don't know, I just like the look on its face. I imagine all the regulars playing and seeing this weird-looking Pokémon."
While Loeliger opted for the likes of Chansey and Vaporeon, he'd have perhaps been best represented by Mew, a powerful enigma hidden deep in the coding of the original game about whom little was initially known. However, recent events have forced Loeliger to step out of the shadows and reveal himself to the poker world.
The 22-year-old Swiss player remained undercover as recently as late April, when he told PokerStars' Brad Willis that he preferred to stay anonymous because "usually there's nothing good coming from it."
Loeliger, however, frequents TwoPlusTwo, where he often helped facilitate the movement of money between high-stakes regulars on various poker sites. The mechanics of the transfer system require the use of his full name, and eventually, he said, someone leaked the info to HighstakesDB.com.
"I mean, it has to happen at some point," he said. "There's nothing I can do about it."
Identity compromised, there was no point in hiding out anymore. Evidently deciding a €50,000 tournament in Barcelona was worth his time, Loeliger showed up and fired. It's a far cry from his last live tournament, a UKIPT €2,200 High Roller that he played on a whim while visiting poker friends in London last April.
Naturally, he won.
Much has changed since then, although it's only been about 16 months. At that time, Loeliger could be found grinding away at $10/$20, mixing in the occasional $25/$50 shot. Reaching that level was miracle enough for a player who had started a TwoPlusTwo thread in 2013 planning to document his ascent from $10NL to $100NL, starting with a $240 bankroll.
As amazing as that is, though, it's perhaps that final jump that's the most difficult and elusive. Reaching greatness is one thing. Plenty of great players exist all over the world, making comfortable livings but residing a level below the very best. The move from merely great to the stratosphere of the truly elite might be the toughest one of all.
Loeliger relishes competing against the best, exuding a passion for the game that's apparent when he talks about his exploits at the highest stakes. It's that type of passion that enabled him to put in the work required to make that leap to stakes like $200/$400.
"As long as it's super fun to me and I'm making money, I'll keep playing."
"It's very fun," he said simply when asked what it's like to trade blows with the likes of the legendary OtB_RedBaron. "It's definitely what is the most fun to me in poker, playing three-handed games at the top. Swings are fun, for me at least."
Playing a €50K also qualifies as fun, he confirmed. Something like the €5,300 Main Event, not so much, so don't expect Loeliger to suddenly become a tournament regular. However, it's a format in which he feels quite comfortable, more so than many cash game regs who suddenly find themselves playing stacks of 20 big blinds, unable to fully access all of the weapons at their disposal.
"I've actually done quite a lot of work in MTTs as well," he said. "I used to play the occasional Sunday. My roommate plays tournaments for a living. I'm feeling very, very comfortable in my tournaments. It's not a big transition.
"Of course, it's different. But, the concepts apply almost everywhere, and you can find similar concepts even playing 200 big blinds to what we see here, 30 big blind poker. When you're very into poker, you can apply these concepts."
How long will Loeliger remain this into poker?
That's a question for which he doesn't have an easy answer. It took him a mere four years to climb the fabled mountain, achieving the dream that lives inside the minds of so many. He could a see a situation where he one day seeks another mountain in a different discipline, but that day doesn't appear near enough to seriously consider at this point.
"I just always tell myself, as long as it's super fun to me and I'm making money, I'll keep playing," he said. When the time comes, and I'm feeling bored or something, I'll look for something else. But, it's difficult to say now when that would be."
Until then, poker players across the highest stakes of online cash games will have to watch their chips shipped to Chansey's smiling face. And thanks to some anonymous HighstakesDB informant, the ones populating the seats of the biggest live tournaments might share a similar fate.
Be sure to complete your PokerNews experience by checking out an overview of our mobile and tablet apps here. Stay on top of the poker world from your phone with our mobile iOS and Android app, or fire up our iPad app on your tablet. You can also update your own chip counts from poker tournaments around the world with MyStack on both Android and iOS.