Michael Lech is a 28 years old American poker player who has recently won his 4th ring at WSOP( World Series of Poker) circuits in France.
Can You tell us your story?
My story could go on for pages haha, I have fortunately kept a journal among all of my travels just for that reason. I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor degree in International Business in 2013. I enjoy most sports, hiking, traveling, and of course poker! I started playing poker for fun, with many other games with my grandmother and other family members anytime we visited together, then it evolved as I got older and merged into online poker around the age of 17, this continued through university and up to the present day. I evolved to play in more casinos and travel more as I got older and have had more success. I play all forms of poker, I enjoy the mixed variants even though they are not as popular and thus harder to find tournaments to play them, first and foremost though I play the Texas Holdem variant, as it is the most popular in the world. At first my parents were skeptical, they support everything I do, but as I graduated from University and still had no job, it was a small borderline timeframe, but now everyone is extremely happy and proud of my life and accomplishments.
Is there a difference between playing in Europe and USA?
For sure there is a large difference in almost all regions I play. There are still the same basic game principals, but the game style and general environment are slightly different, European casinos are obviously much more fancy as in the USA everyone is very very casually dressed and come from all forms of life. South America has more relaxed players after getting unlucky compared to French who tend to throw a hissy fit anytime they get unlucky. I enjoy playing everywhere, but probably more so in the USA at casual events where its ok to have a few beers and actually talk with everyone comfortably in English.
Do you prefer playing live or online?
I prefer live these days as I have came into my groove and feel not as scared as when I began playing for large amounts of money at live casinos. Online has gotten much more difficult in the recent years and takes much more work to be at the top of your game. It’s a phenomenal learning tool to practice your game though, with a little side money to be won if things go well.
What are the main skills you need for poker?
Patience and Aggression, with the perfect mix of both at the right times. Math is a factor, but as most people tend to have minimal math skills and pull off some wins, it can be done without, I am quite proud of my math skills and the ability to calculate percentage ranges quite quickly in real time so that’s probably an advantage over the general competitor. My strongest skill would be my ability to spot differences in patterns of peoples betting styles. This comes from my online background and have applied it to the live game so that I don’t rely upon the common conception of reading people, but instead their patterns of plays.
If you weren’t playing poker what do you think you would be doing?
Yes I think I would be doing something with people interactive, I volunteer quite a bit at home at the local boys and girls club, a youth center, for teaching, sports, and crafts. I never felt I would fall into the normal category of getting a normal job. Not quite sure where I would be.. just like all of us I suppose.
How do you “train” yourself for poker?
Training just means practicing, and the cheapest and best way to practice is to play large amounts of volume, or tables at once, online and see how many different scenarios you can play and practice for a real time situation. I say online to practice because casino tournaments are usually quite expensive and require external travel costs. Yes Scott, and other friends who play, we talk quite a bit about different situations we get in and discuss both sides to an argument of what to do or what could be better. I never read any poker books although there are many, and I have watched many videos of other tournaments with cards showing so I can see how people play situations also to apply it to my own game.
Do you have some poker player that you look up to or just like the way they play?
Not really anybody I look up to, some top players in the game that I try to watch videos of how they play spots and see their tendencies, but other than that not really.
I know you love traveling. How many countries have you traveled through and what would be your top 5 destinations?
As of now I have been to 52 countries, and counting! My top 5 between mixture of scenery, culture, and experiences, would be in no order: Ecuador, Estonia, Macedonia, United States, and Bolivia
How do you cope with losing?
Losing is never fun, I cope with it by finding a new way to win, I hate losing. I think maybe this helps to my success as I know poker is a luck based game to an extent and losing is a guaranteed part of the game. It’s all about keeping focus and a good head on your shoulders and keep trying.
What has been your proudest moment in poker so far?
Proudest poker moment… winning 4 World Series of Poker rings in 4 different countries is right near the top, but probably getting 2nd place in the WSOP in Vegas in 2016 for my biggest win to date and big life changing moment, just because it pushed me over the edge of people worrying about me playing poker, to them all supporting me and congratulating me on all poker related aspects.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
5 years, if I have found the right person maybe I will stop and settle somewhere, who knows. I plan to play poker, at least as a hobby, for the rest of my life. I would like to have continued seeing the world and maybe completed the globe and finally be ready to chill out and see where life goes. I am not a big planner haha.
What advice would you give someone that is interested in starting in poker?
I recommend everyone to try it, it’s a great game that puts everyone on an equal playing field, there’s no minorities, male or female in poker, everybody has the same game to play, and you don’t have to be in shape, the richest, or the smartest person to play and have a good time. Practice a lot for free when you can if you are just beginning and never play with more money than you are willing to lose.
Lastly, where are you going next?
Next, I had plans to come down to the Balkans again but it seems the plan is falling through… sorry Ann.. and will be going down to Spain to spend the rest of my time here in europe until I leave in April. Then I have a wedding to attend in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic of an old roommate I lived with in Bolivia for a few months. Then I will be out to Vegas for the duration of the summer, June and July, to play the World Series of Poker where I have a house rented with 5 friends there, some from Lithuania, Italy, and also USA.