MARTINS ADENIYA WILL SEE YOU NOW
As our run-up to the WSOP begins, we look at the best hopes for Brit success. Leading the pack, and most definitely due a title, is London’s Martins Adeniya.
We’re always ahead of the game when spotting new talent here at WPT Poker, and we decided to go out on a limb this month by breaking the magazine cover cherry of one of Britain’s Bright Young ThingsTM.
You can tell that Martins Adeniya is one of poker’s new generation. He’s on time, he’s remembered to bring a change of clothes and he looks like he’s just stepped out of the gym (which he probably has). And it’s perhaps fitting that we’re meeting in the International, the London poker club that rose from the ashes of the Gutshot (which in turn launched the careers of Martins’ pals, Karl Mahrenholz and James Akenhead). In fact, his first significant ‘cash’ – the grand total of £887 – was at the 2009 London Masters here, an event eventually won by the promising India Storrar with the Hit Squad’s Charles Chattha finishing runner-up.
Time flies by in the poker world, and only a few months later Martins was bagging a $25,000 cash in the WSOP Main Event (the same tournament where James Akenhead reached the final table). It was an experience which would form Martins’ approach to big events ever since.
“The 2009 Main Event was actually my first live $10k event. I had won five seats into the tournament through satellites so I was freerolling and was really excited to play it,” he explains. “I played really well for the best part of four days but things went very wrong for me on Day 4 and I busted from a very comfortable chip position.”
As well as Akenhead, plenty of other notable Brits went deep, including Akenhead’s fellow Hit Squadder Karl Mahrenholz, and Jeff Kimber. During the breaks the group would get together and discuss hands.
“We had all been living in the same apartment complex that summer and had a sick time which ended with James making the November Nine so we all got the chance to come back for a ridiculous trip in the autumn. I know now that if I ever get a decent stack together in the Main Event again I would definitely be a lot wiser with it and use my experience to try and make a run [at the final].”
THE EARLY DAYS
That Main Event experience was a long way from Martins’ humbler beginnings a couple of years earlier. The tale is a familiar one: college games for fivers led to him making his first deposit on an online site, Ladbrokes. Before long, he’d built up a bankroll of $10,000 migrating through the levels till he was focussing on 2/5. And here’s where the story also hits a familiar note. Martins took that 10k roll to Vegas – and blew the lot.
“After Vegas and university I got a couple of placements in the city as a junior trader, but I was finding that poker was getting in the way. I’d go to work 9 till 5, get home at 6 then fire up the computer and start playing cash till 3am. I’d do that Monday to Wednesday and I was absolutely spent. In the end I just had to stop.”
MAKING THE LEAP
Deciding that poker was where his destiny lied, Martins put the promising city career on hold (and given the economic climate, that might have been the best move he’s ever made). Explaining his decision to his parents, he simply took them out to dinner, told them he was turning pro, and handed them a cheque each for £10,000.
Martins has been a “full time” pro now for the best part of two years, and ever since he made his decision, his live results have taken a noticeable upward curve, with some significant cashes, particularly in Europe.
“I do like travelling but it takes a massive hit on my bankroll. To be a live touring pro you almost need $250,000 in a year to make it round to all the events,” he says. “Even if you have a big cash that’s a big dent in anyone’s bankroll.”
LUNCH IS FOR WIMPS
Three tournaments in particular perhaps illustrate just how big a star Martins is about to come. In an alternate universe, we could be talking today to a double EPT and WPT champion, but were it not for some unfortunate flips and downright bad luck (plus the odd mistake) Martins has gone from chip leader in three big events to bust out short of the winner’s spot (see his hand dissections for more).
As it was, a 7th place finish at last year’s EPT London and minor cashes at EPT Deauville and WPT Prague all came after dominating solidly for days. In fact, Martins was chip leader in every event going into the final stretches of those events.
Not that it’s put him off taking part in any more circuit tournaments. He wants to play even more EPTs and WPTs.
“I love those big live events because of the fantastic structures, and there’s so much value with European players, he explains. “American fish [at the WSOP] are different to European fish – American fish will call you down with top pair, they’re quite passive, but Europeans – an Italian fish – will just raise with anything, absolutely anything. You can get caught out a lot against them.”
VEGAS, BABY, VEGAS
With the World Series just around the corner, and with staking from sports betting site Matchbook.com (who have had pieces in a lot of pies in recent years, like Sam Trickett, Jake Cody and James Akenhead) 2012 could be the year Martins is having his name chanted drunkenly from the rail. He’ll be taking things seriously this year, though.
“I’ve done the whole ‘villa’ thing in Vegas but I find it a bit of a trek to the Strip. I also usually leave things to the last minute. Last year I don’t think I booked my flights till about three days before the WSOP started,” he sighs. “I normally stay in hotels, or I’ll buddy up with James [Akenhead] but myself and some of the British guys have started booking the Meridian Apartments just off the Strip, because that’s where a lot of models stay [laughs].”
SIX OF THE BEST
Plans for Vegas certainly include gunning for a bracelet, and you could see Martins gracing the podium for a 6-max event come the summer.
“Still the biggest event I’ve played in is the $25k 6-max event in 2010 when I finished 13th. I feel like 6-max is my strongest event and against a tough field I seem to do very well,” Martins says. “I got very unlucky to lose a pot for a huge chip lead late on Day 2 but that was a fun experience and it’s just a shame I couldn’t have gone deeper. I’m not afraid of anyone, though. I play a lot of high stakes tournaments and cash games and have played with nearly all of the big names [in Vegas]. I’ve probably played the most with Daniel Negreanu in tournaments; we always seem to end up on the same table deep in 6-max events.”
Whereas Martins would have flown under the radar somewhat before, his recent exploits at successive EPTs and WPTs mean he’s quickly gaining a reputation as a strong, aggressive tournament player who you’ll see at the top of the chip counts come the end of the day. If a mark of being a recognised live circuit pro might attract the wrong sort of attention sometimes (he’s been burgled twice while away on EPT duty) he’s now looking for attention of the right kind. And with an ever-growing group of fearsome Brits making the trip over the Atlantic this summer, expect him to be even more in the public eye.
MARTINS’ TIPS FOR THE WSOP
I see James Akenhead having a big 2012. He’s started it off well by winning the Sunday Million and after a quiet two years I think he is going to turn up big time at this year’s WSOP. Matt Perrins kind of fluked his bracelet win last year [laughs] but he’s got a good chance of winning something again. Other than that, Praz Bansi is a consistent big winner at the Series and after a quiet 2011 I think he will crush and could easily become the first Brit to win three bracelets. I would like to see Roberto Romanello complete his Triple Crown this year; it would be an amazing achievement. Terje Augdul may be better known as “Terken89” online, but he’s recently turned 21 and I think he will make a big impression if he can drag himself away from the cash games. Chris Brammer has been doing big things online in the last 12 months and I think he has made quite a few adjustments in his game that will allow him to make some very deep runs. Finally, you can never dismiss Sam Trickett to take something down for the Brits if he finds time to play a few tourneys between the high stakes cash games.