Stories from the Showdown: Ryan Hoenig Goes on Incredible Heater at Seminole Hard Rock

Ryan Hoenig

Variance is always a factor in poker as anyone who plays the game seriously knows, but that doesn’t always have to a bad thing. Sometimes it can go the other way and you get to ride the wave if you have the poker skills to take advantage of it. Ryan Hoenig has been riding that wave and playing great here at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, and he has an incredible run of results to show over these last few weeks.

Hoenig has cashed seven times during the Showdown, and all seven of those deep runs found him at a final table. He won three Showdown trophies and made it to the heads-up finale five times. It’s the first time someone has gone back-to-back-back to win in just three days time at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and only the fifth time the same player has won three trophies during the same tournament series here.

Hoenig’s exuberance and energy for the game is apparent after just a few minutes of talking to him a few days ago. You could tell he was appreciating the run he was on as well. “I mean, a lot of good fortune. I’m definitely playing as well as I can play. I love the mixed games, I’m learning the mixed games. I make a lot of mistakes as I’m learning, but I really pride myself on when I have that voice in my head that says, ‘Oh, what is the table going to think of you if you do this thing that’s unorthodox or looks stupid.’ When I don’t listen to that, and just listen to my intuition and try different things I usually have success, and that’s part of it. Running really well helps with that too, but it’s the combination of the two,” said Hoenig.

Since a lot of his results during the series have come in the mixed games, we turned the attention of the conversation to his growing love and learning curve for those games. Here is what he had to say: “I’m really getting into, my main game is Omaha Hi/Lo. I just kind of fell in love with that game, and through that I’ve started to play the other mixed games. That’s the reason why I came here. The hold’em is just secondary to me. The Big O last year when they ran the $1,500 last year got like 1,400 runners, it was massive. It’s cool that they’re other games that got popular.”

Hoenig continued, “I tend to be overly aggressive, which can sometimes get me in trouble, but I tend to thread that through each game that I play. But that’s why I love tournaments, because the dynamics are constantly changing. I feel like I’m able to adapt really well to different games, and I’m able to notice the pressure points in certain situations. And I love that, I love the discovery aspect of the different games. The eight-game mixed I bubbled; and Calvin Anderson is on my right, just amazing players all around me. And I’m fairly new to the games so it feels like I’m just able to keep picking things up. There was a stud hand with Steven Wolansky, and he called me down with a pair of sevens in this spot. And he did this thing where it was late at night and I was kind of tired, and I just kept betting. I was bluffing the whole time, and he was talking to me about checking dark – that if I had a value hand I would at least consider what his board was a little more on the last card. But because I’ve hardly played any Stud before, it’s little things like that. And once people realize I’m showing down bluffs and stuff, and even today I’m playing the Eight Game, and I’m getting called down more already, so I’m like yeah, people are realizing so you gotta adjust for that.”

As he mentioned above, the mixed games were what attracted Hoenig to the Showdown series, and now that he’s been here to experience it firsthand it sounds like Hoenig will be back soon. “I love it, I love just jumping into the next thing. I’ll definitely be coming back. I love how open the room is, I love the selection of games. And getting to know all the people here. Some pros have moved here to play,” said the Fort Collins, Colorado resident who can usually be found playing tournaments up at poker rooms in the Rocky Mountains in Black Hawk when asked about his first impressions here at Seminole Hard Rock.

We couldn’t end the interview without talking about his amazing run once again, and how much confidence that instills in you as a poker player. Hoenig responded, “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence, I think what I’ve improved on in this trip – and it’s a constant process – is staying in the moment and following through. Because if I have an initial read on a situation, and if I’m following that, good things usually happen. But sometimes a voice in my head stops me. You kind of divert to some type of emotional decision or something like that. When good things are happening that are out of your control it helps for sure. I really try hard to have the same mentality whether I’m winning or losing. And I think also it’s just been an awesome experience, it’s been pretty surreal. I love playing poker, and it helps when you’re winning, but I would hope to say that even when I’m getting crushed I still have a smile on my face.”