UK Poker Stories: Brandon Sheils

With more than half a million dollars profit on Hendon Mob, Brandon Sheils is already an advanced player at 23. We asked him a few questions before the start of the WSOP.

Brandon Sheils, 23, Birmingham UK

Poker Analytics: Hi Brandon! Where are you from and where do you play?

Brandon Sheils: Birmingham, UK. At the moment no where in particular, I like to follow the live scene when I can and play online as much as I can whilst still enjoying it. DTD in Nottingham is probably my main go to casino.

Poker Analytics: How did you start playing poker?

Brandon: My parents played poker from before I was born, they taught me how to play when I was around 8 years old so I was playing home games and pub poker + watching it on TV off and on for 10 years before I was 18, although I didn’t get the true passion for the game until I could play in casinos.

Poker Analytics: Are you playing professionally?

Brandon: I technically do play professionally now and have off and on for years. Officially I’ve been a professional poker player since September but in reality it paid for my degree and supported my life before that too for a couple of years.

Poker Analytics: Can you take us through an average day?

Brandon: I’ve been very sporadic with my poker. At the moment I’m traveling a lot and not really playing much — although still studying. When I’m more ‘in the zone’ I’ll play quite religiously for example during an online tournament festival or live festival — I’ll happily play every day. But without reason to I’m more inclined to play 3–5 days per week on average.

As for preparation I think it’s pretty key to poker. Getting enough sleep, meditation, going for walks, clearing any residing emotional issues, staying hydrated and eating well. Everything affects your mindset more than people are aware, I know if any of these factors aren’t 100% it affects my game at least a small amount. As for stakes I play roughly the $55–320 online and satellites to bigger $530’s and $1050’s + live comps usually £330+ up to the occasional $5–10k events if I satellite in or feel up to selling for them.

Poker Analytics: If you had an advice to give to people that want to grind live poker, what would it be?

Brandon: Don’t do it unless you really love it. This game can be insane, downswings can feel like torture and destroy you if you don’t have that fire and drive to keep going. If I didn’t love playing poker I would have quit by now several times.

Poker Analytics: Do you have a player you admire most from the poker community?

Brandon: This varies a lot, for live poker ability Steve O’dwyer — I think he’s on another level in a lot of ways. Other players that spring to mind are Steffen Sontheimer and Charlie Carrel. Essentially anyone that knows they’re the shit but doesn’t convey too hard that they know it.

Poker Analytics: What did you do to improve your poker skills?

Brandon: Constantly ask questions, become like a sponge around intelligent / successful players — everyone has something to teach you. Also volume — the more you play the more familiar situations become and the more familiar you become with a spot the more you can solve peoples tendencies and make better decisions. Volume trains your intuition.

Poker Analytics: Have you traveled to play poker?

Brandon: Yes, Vegas, Bahamas, Cyprus, Ireland, Russia, Macau, Australia. I think the freedom to travel is one of the biggest appeals to being a professional poker player to me.

Poker Analytics: Are you using a poker tracking app?

Brandon: I don’t really use bankroll apps anymore, although I did a lot when I was a live cash grinder. Anything that shows me a graph I can succinctly show non poker players (such as my grandparents) to show them I’m supporting myself in a tangible way is incredibly useful. The more stats and figures involved the better.

Poker Analytics: What are you other hobbies besides poker?

Brandon: Writing:

  • New ideas
  • Poetry
  • Songs
  • Business ideas — anything really

At the moment :

  • Traveling / new experiences (as pretentious as it sounds).
  • Playing ukulele
  • Film / TV / YouTube
  • Badminton

My plans are to learn a martial art, to read and cook more, and learn how to dance with my girlfriend. As long as I’m constantly finding new things to develop myself at I’m happy.

Poker Analytics: Do you have some funny stories that happened at the tables, any memorable hand?

Brandon: Probably tonnes to be honest. On my 19th birthday I busted a poker tournament with quads against quads: 77 vs AA on 77ATA, all-in on river. I’ve also had some sick battles with some famous players. Once I 3-bet the flop as a bluff vs Patrik Antonius on the final of a $10k HR tournament. He called, I bet turn and won with the nut low zero equity hand and showed (huge highlight for me). I also won a satellite to play an EPT when I was 18 and managed to bust both Chris moneymaker and Liv Boeree, the latter was televised.

One pretty interesting one is that I once busted a tournament in 7th place, got reinstated and came 5th. It was a dealers choice PLO tournament I played with my parents and made the final table. First hand of the final table, I chose 4 cards PLO and get all in on the turn and lose. My chips are given to my opponent and as I say “GL all” and stand up. My hand is still face up and my dad who was here finds out it’s a miss deal. It turns out everyone else was dealt 5 cards — including the guy who busted me. The ruling was to cancel the hand and restart so I got to survive, pretty lucky really!

Poker Analytics: I’ve seen on your Instagram feed that you recently played in Macau,
can you tell us more about the hidden poker scene there?

Brandon: I played a lot in Macau last October, then in January and February. To be honest I’m not a fan at all. The place is very dull, grey and boring, the only thing to do is play poker and the atmosphere isn’t great. The games are mostly nitty unless there is a VIP and if there is it becomes a malicious game of bum hunting; not my kind of poker at all. But that’s just me as I play for fun and growth as a priority instead of monetary gain. Most of the grinders out there get to the poker room at 6am to list then go back to sleep and wake up to a phone call saying they have 15 minutes to get to the card room as a game is starting. Your life over there is dictated by the game running and to be honest I never plan to go back. I won on my first trip and lost on my second, it’s not a nice place to be winning or losing.

Poker Analytics: What is your preparation for the upcoming WSOP?

Brandon: I’m trying to play a lot of MTT’s and satellites as this is all I’ll be playing for the entire 1.5 months out there + speak to likeminded people and keep as brushed up as I can. I’ll be playing the C$10k main in Canada first too which will double as a holiday before a long summer grind 🙂

Poker Analytics: Did you plan a specific routine during the WSOP?

Brandon: I’ve been putting a lot more work into this, I’ve got a place with two other great poker players and I’m planning to exercise, have a good diet + do some fasting, meditate daily and keep on top of my mental game. It’s imperative I maintain my A-game for as much as possible which I know can be hard when luck isn’t on your side. I’ll take days off if I’m not feeling it but still try to play as much as humanly possible. Bracelet hunting 😄

Thank you Brandon for responding to this Interview! You can go follow him on Instagram @brandonsheils.