Jorn Walthaus is a Dutch professional poker player who is regarded as one of the best high-stakes players from Europe. In 2013, Jorn finished 26th in the World Series of Poker Main Event, his most accomplished live tournament score. Jorn then moved to Macau where lived for almost a year, hitting the casinos on a daily basis and participating in some of the region’s biggest cash games. We caught up with Jorn to find out more…
Jorn, how did you get started playing poker, and how did it then turn into your full-time job?
I first started playing when I was at university, I played with some friends and tried my luck online. After a few months I discovered I had a talent for it, so playing became my ‘job’ alongside my studies until I finished my degree. After that, I decided to pursue a professional poker career and I’ve been doing it ever since.
What was the most unexpected poker game you have ever played?
I only play in casinos, because I want to know everything is legitimate, but there are a lot of people who play in the underground games where I guess more ‘unexpected’ things go on. People like it because they can do things that wouldn’t be allowed in a casino – like rabbit hunting (when you play out a hand that’s already concluded to see if you would have made a particular hand or not) or ask for a deck and rip their cards to shreds. There’s a lot of that in China, especially Shanghai, with really high stakes. In the past I played in some of the underground games in Holland but you’re never really sure they’re legit, and if I’m not sure then I don’t want to play.
What was the longest poker game you ever played, and also the most exciting?
I think my record was playing 40 hours straight in Macau. I’d play every day when I lived there and it was always the same routine – I’d wake up around 10 or 11am, put on some clothes, walk to the poker room and put my name down. Then you get the text, and I’d sit down at the table and play straight until about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. There have been a lot of exciting games – some bluffs with a lot of money on the line that have got my heart racing for sure.
Why did you leave Macau, Asia’s gambling capital?
There started to be a lot more professional players and less recreational players, so you would win less. Especially when they brought in the smoking ban at the tables, the recreational players stopped coming so much. I saw a lot of regulars moving to the lower stake games because it’s began to get harder.
Do you have any tips you’re willing to share to increase the chances of winning a game?
The key to a good poker game is patience. You can’t let your emotions get to you, the moment you are feeling afraid or angry is the moment you’ll start losing.
If you weren’t a professional poker player, what would you be doing?
I have no idea! I probably would have done something with my degree, which is in Computer Science, or maybe start my own business.
What is your favourite Timothy Oulton design?
The Spectrum Poker Set of course!!!
Can you read a Poker face?
A games night is all in good jest of course, but in the spirit of friendly competition, check out these six tips to suss out your opponent’s hand…
Are they leaning?
Leaning forward or reclining in a relaxed manner suggests they have a good hand.
Suddenly sitting up.
If a player suddenly sits upright in the chair and becomes attentive, they’ve probably got a strong hand.
The Long Stare.
If a player stares straight at you it’s likely they’re trying to show strength because they have a weak hand.
Biting, licking or sticking out lips are all signs of a weak hand.
Our voice tends to go up when we’re excited, so a higher pitch than normal is a sign of a strong hand. Clever players may try and overcompensate – so watch out for an unnaturally low voice too.