Interview with Kenny Hallaert
First, overall congratulations on your amazing victory and cashing $147,000 in SCOOP Event #29. How does it feel to be a Scoop Champion and how did you celebrate it?
Hi, thank you very much. Winning always feels great, whatever tournament it is but winning a big online event, especially a SCOOP-high event where the competition can be really though, feels even better. It was my biggest online result ever so I couldn’t be happier.
I didn’t really celebrate it yet since it happened in the middle of the SCOOP. I did drink a beer after I won it but that was my only glass of alcohol during the last two weeks.
Where did you grind during scoop? Did you grind with other poker players or are you all by yourself?
I prefer to play big online series from my own place (currently in London) and all by myself. I know I get easily distracted and playing with other people next to me only makes that worse.
Also having the comfort of your own home and office space is really restful and I prefer to play from my desktop where I have two big screens and a fast working computer compared to playing on a laptop and a small second screen.
I traveled in the past to places like Hawaii before Black Friday where the times of these tournaments were more catered towards American players so I could play in a better time zone but nowadays I don’t think that’s really necessary and I can focus myself better late in the evening/night compared then during the day.
There was some quite tough opponents on your final table, how was the final table for you? Is there a crucial key hand you want to share with us?
The final table itself was indeed tough. I personally knew 4 of my 7 opponents very well (including 2 fellow Belgian countryman). And all of them have had great results in the past and are very well respected by me.
Very early at the final table I won a big coinflip with 99 vs AQ that got me into the chiplead. When we were with 4 players left I called a bluff from Patrick ‘pads1161’ Leonard with 3rd pair to cripple him and eliminate him a bit later so my most feared opponent at that point was gone as well.
As far as I know, you were coached by Fedor and Bencb for your WSOP Main Event Final Table last year. Did this also help you to take down this tough final table?
Correct, I even had some coaching as well from Patrick Leonard leading up to the final table so this gave an extra dynamic to it since I knew he knew my game quite well. The coaching from them did not only make me help winning the final table. In the first place it helped me to already reach the final table.
Shortly after winning the event I put down these words in the group chat that we had for the final table coaching: “Just won a SCOOP. A big thanks to all of you! Couldn’t have done it without you guys!”
And I really meant what I said there. Without the coaching I’ve had I don’t think I was able to achieve this.
Describe a day in the life of Kenny Hallaerts SCOOP? Do you have any routines?
I am really dedicated when playing an online series and I can put in very long sessions. Usually I wake up at around 1-2pm. Then do some (healthy) cooking, household work and 2-3 times per week I go for a workout to keep my body a bit in shape and stay active which I think is very important.
Depending on the schedule of that day I start playing online somewhere between 3pm and 6pm until about 3-5am. After that I usually go through my marked hands from that day and if necessary discuss them with some friends or rail them if they are going deep in an event.
I then go to sleep around 6am just to start everything over again the next day.
Which Tournament format do you enjoy playing most?
My favorite tournament format is a shootout which I can only play during SCOOP, WCOOP and at the WSOP. I think I like this format mainly because I used to play a decent amount of SNG’s as well in the past. My favorite format after that is just regular 8 or 9-max NLH.
Are we going to see you in Las Vegas this summer?
As usual I will be in Las Vegas for the whole WSOP. I have planned to play a lot of events and hopefully win my first bracelet. I will mainly play NLH and some small PLO and maybe the $1500 Razz.
What do you think about the recent changes playing the WSOP Main Event Final Table in summer and not in November?
For me it was a great experience the period in between and I’m happy that I was able to be part of it.
For the game itself I think it will be better though. Every player will still be in the flow of the previous days although there are a couple of days in between so at least they have the time to rest a bit because the days leading up to the final table can be very exhausting as well. And they won’t be able to change as much as a player (although I didn’t mind off course).
However I was able to bring friends and family over for the event so that is something that will be harder to arrange. Also there was a lot if media attention leading up to the event so that is something that won’t be happening anymore.
Last but not least. Can you share one valuable advice with our community about approaching Tournaments like the 10k WSOP Main Event in the early stage?
The Main Event is a very long grind. I will try to never play on day 1C (the final starting day). In that way I’m assured to have a day off after both day 1 and day 2 so I’m well rested for the eventual following days.
You can’t win the tournament on the first days but you can lose it. The structure of the tournament is very deep so you can be patient and you don’t have to take too many risks. Try to be observant at all times and look for potential mistakes that your opponents are making so you can exploit them yourself in later hands. If you find yourself at a table with all good players, don’t panic. Try to play your best game and you will get a new table on the following day or get broken up during the day.