Interview With Team Ivey Pro and 3-time FTOPS Jersey Winner Mike Leah
PokerFaceNews was fortunate to sit down with Team Ivey pro Mike Leah. The Canadian top gun, who recently won his 3rd FTOPS jersey, is one of the great performers in FTOPS history. We picked his brain about leaving a sales career, joining Team Ivey, finding an edge and fantasy sports. Enjoy this unfiltered interview with Canada’s infamous “GoLeafsGoEh”.
Tell us about leaving a sales career to become a professional poker player.
I worked for the same company since right out of high school, I had a 16 year career with them. I started as a sales rep and worked my way up to sales manager. I helped expand the company across Canada, I was actually the national sales manager when I took a permanent leave in September of 2008 to give poker a full go.
Was there an “ah-ha” moment that gave you the reassurance to leave your sales job and play poker full-time?
I was always very confident in myself and poker, I felt I could be one of the best. Early on, I was naive. When I look back at where my game was, I still had so much to learn. I always think of myself as the best, even though I may not be. I made a lot of contacts during my first summer at the WSOP, and then got a staking deal. That was a biggest factor for financial security, I didn’t have to spend the money I saved.
You mentioned contacts that helped your career, who were your early poker mentors?
The two main guys were David Fox and Matt Brady, they’re really well known amongst poker players but not to poker fans. They were running a staking organization for a hedge fund, they offered me a deal after talking a lot and seeing my game.
You’ve had success both live and online, how do you post successful results in both?
The biggest thing is I’m good at adjusting to my surroundings, whether it’s live, online, a deep stack event or a turbo. There’s a big difference between live and online, but there’s also a big difference between a live tournament in Biloxi Mississippi and Las Vegas. Making adjustments versus the players is the biggest recipe for my success.
Where do you have the biggest edge in poker?
Online mixed game tournaments during a series, like a WCOOP stud event or something like that. It’s similar to a WSOP mixed game event where there’s a lot of people playing that don’t normally play those games, they have no idea what they’re doing.
Were you affected by Black Friday?
I was affected very little, the initial shock hurt the volume but the prizepools on PokerStars never really changed. None of my horses or backers got stuck with any money left online.
How did you become a Team Ivey pro?
I turned down some opportunities with other US poker sites because I wanted something with long-term vision instead of a quick money grab. The Team Ivey name is amazing; anything associated with Phil Ivey will have better long term success. The mobile app, social gaming and training interest me more than some other sites. Its’ been a great experience, they’re going about it the right way.
You final tabled 2 events at this year’s WSOP, tell us about your summer.
Anytime you represent a team and more people are watching you it gives you extra motivation to do well. Wearing the Team Ivey hoodie may have intimidated a player or two this summer, so who knows. It was a good summer, I didn’t quite reach my goals but made a step in the right direction towards wining bracelets.
What are your future goals?
The goal is make another final table in WSOP Europe, but the ultimate goal is to win my first bracelet. My long term goal is to have a big picture of my face next to Hellmuth and Ivey, I wanna’ start chasing the ladder of multiple bracelets, that’s the most important thing to me by far.
What are you doing outside of poker?
This is a busiest time of the year for me with fantasy baseball playoffs, the NFL season and Draft Kings million dollar giveaways. I’m getting excited for fantasy hockey leagues and keeper trades too, it’s a fun time of year.
Will fantasy sports have a “boom” similar to poker?
The money is definitely getting bigger and bigger, but I’m not sure how much you can improve. There’s dead money in those contests and a lot of similarities with poker. I guess it would be hard to make a living, but if you work hard and you’re one of the better ones you definitely could.
Any parting words?
Check out my twitter feed @GoLeafsGoEh for bonus codes on Draft Kings and Ivey Poker. Peace.
That’s Mike ‘GoLeafsGoEh’ Leah for you! With a knack for tearing down prestigious tournaments both online and offline, this dude is all set to chase multiple bracelets and we think he isn’t too far from achieving that dream. Here’s what you can do to know more about him – like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and don’t forget to check out his recent bio on Ivey Poker.