The World Poker Tour World Online Poker Championships (WPT WOC) is in full swing and keeping many of the world’s top pros glued to their computer monitors. Even so, CardsChat managed to lure Partypoker pro Patrick Leonard away from his keyboard long enough for a quick chat about his take on playing poker in 2021.
In our time with Leonard, we got his take on the state of poker in the wake of COVID-19 and how it’s shaped the recent rise of online majors such as the WPT WOC. And, with the WPT World Online Championships running until Sept. 14, we asked one of the best MTT players in the game what it takes to win a prestigious online title.
WPT prep, WCOOP wins, and words of wisdom
CardsChat: Firstly Patrick, congratulations on winning back-to-back WCOOP titles this week. With the WPT WOC, WSOP Online, and WCOOP all running right now, did you do a lot of preparation?
Leonard: Thanks. I didn’t really do anything special to prepare. Since COVID started though, I’ve either been playing or studying six days a week, so I guess it’s been one long period of preparation.
CardsChat: COVID-19 can’t be described as a positive, but do you think poker has come through this period in better shape thanks to new ideas such as the WPT WOC?
Leonard: It’s been a challenging time for everybody during the pandemic. All [of] the online poker operators had such huge numbers initially, but obviously, when restrictions cooled down and sport came back, things took a little hit across all sites.
Online series at the moment are smaller than they were [at] this time last year. However, I think it’s clear that poker operators have had a chance to pick up a lot of new players and, importantly, retain them during the pandemic. I think this can only be a good thing.
Bridging the divide between live and online
CardsChat: The WPT WOC has quickly become one of the standout online majors. Do you think the series captures the spirit of the WPT?
Leonard: I do. I feel like the special backgrounds already give it a good feel. I also like the fact real names are displayed at the tables. That makes things feel more like a live WPT event as opposed to an online tournament.
CardsChat: What are your highlights from the WPT World Online Championships schedule?
Leonard: Undoubtedly, the highlight will be the $5,300 buy-in Main Event. The $5-million guarantee is ridiculous, and everybody knows these fields are the best online. I just checked the lobby and there are over 100 people who have qualified through satellite preregistration. That’s how you know it’s going to be a good one!
The future of poker majors
CardsChat: Do you think online championship events have enhanced the WPT or is there a danger they could devalue live titles?
Leonard: I think they’ve definitely enhanced the WPT brand. In fact, I have friends in Europe that had previously never played in WPT series. However, after seeing the online fields, they’re seriously considered moving to the US so they can play on the live WPT circuit over there.
You are absolutely right Mr WPT.
— Patrick Leonard (@padspoker) August 22, 2021
CardsChat: Even though WPT Online events are popular, do you think people still see them as less prestigious than their live counterparts?
Leonard: I can’t speak for anyone else, but winning online means way more to me. I think there is more skill online. It’s where I like to do battle because it feels like home to me. However, if I lived in a city that hosted a live WPT event, I might feel differently. Let’s put it this way, if Newcastle ever hosts a WPT, I’ll be trying my best to win, that’s for sure!
How to win a WPT online event
CardsChat: Are there any events or ideas you’d like to see implemented in future WPT online series?
Leonard: I try and put my thoughts forward for each series. Personally, I love seven-handed tournaments. When I started playing online, everything was nine-handed. Then it slowly migrated to eight-handed, and now the rush is going toward seven-handed. Hopefully, this trajectory continues.
CardsChat: What’s your best piece of advice for someone playing their first WPT Online event?
Leonard: Patience, patience, patience. Partypoker’s tournaments are different to anything you’ll find online because you get so many chips and so much time to play. That means you don’t have to take marginal spots. If you feel like, ‘Wow I don’t know what to do here,’ it probably isn’t a good spot and, at best, you’ll only be slightly ahead. So don’t be afraid to let things go. Unless, of course, it’s me you’re playing against. I’ll definitely be bluffing, so always call!