We’ve seen PokerStars Ambassadors secure some massive wins in the big tournament series across the past 12 months. Fintan “easywithaces” Hand won a Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) title in May, Lex Veldhuis took down a Stadium Series event in August, and Ben “Spraggy” Spragg became a World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) champ in October.
This time, it was Arlie “Prince Pablo” Shaban’s turn in the spotlight.
In the early morning hours on Monday (Jan 18), Shaban emerged victorious in the Blowout Series $22 Progressive Knockout (#84-M) for $19,707, including bounties. That’s the biggest score ever for the prolific Twitch streamer and it came in an enormous event with 15,572 entries.
We caught up with Shaban the day after his win to find out why he took the night off streaming, how he approached the PKO end game, and how it feels to be a Blowout Series champion.
PokerStars Blog: Hi Arlie, congratulations! Did you manage to get much sleep last night?
Arlie Shaban: Thank you! I got a little bit. I was pretty exhausted because I only slept about four hours the night before.
PSB: You tweeted that you weren’t feeling well. What was going on?
AS: Yeah. It was the last Sunday of the Blowout Series on PokerStars and I love the big PokerStars series so much because the fields are so big. Sundays are already big as it is, so it just brings in a bunch of extra players. I was really looking forward to playing and I was going to be streaming. But then on Saturday, I was feeling really under the weather and I didn’t much sleep, so I woke up on Sunday not feeling great at all.
I've been super sick the last couple of days so I grinded this one out lying down on my couch. Definitely bummed I couldn't stream this one, missed out on some sick content, but can't complain because I'm too jacked up about this win!!
— Arlie Shaban (@ArlieShaban) January 18, 2021
It’s tough to stream when you’re sick, so I just wasn’t feeling up for it. But I still didn’t want to miss the last Sunday of the series, so I just hopped on my couch on my laptop and I was just lying down on this nice old couch we have here. I grinded a full session with a lot of volume. I was like 10 or 12 tabling all day for most of it.
The $22 PKO Turbo was probably the last game I registered on the day.
AS: Yeah. For my first two and a half years on Twitch, I would never grind off stream. That’s why in 2018 and 2019 I put in more hours than anyone. I would just always play.
But then last year I decided to start some sessions off-stream, so I’ve been a little more used to it recently. But yeah, it was definitely different. Twitch will take away a bit of your focus as you’re just multitasking while playing poker. You’ve got to read chat, try to be entertaining, talk through everything, answer questions etc.
This session I had a little extra focus and a bit more time as sometimes I feel rushed. I noticed that in this tournament, especially deep, as I could really just take my time. I think playing 12 tables off stream is akin to playing nine tables on stream.
PSB: After a rough start (Shaban was in for four bullets), at what point did you start to feel you had a real shot to win it?
AS: I was playing really aggressively at the start. I was at Lex’s table and managed to double up through him. But it wasn’t until the final 75 players or so that I really felt like I had a shot to take it down. There’s so much variance in a big field like that. You get down to 500 players from 15,000, but 500 is still a lot of people to beat.
I didn’t have a huge stack until the final 30. Before that I was an average stack, being patient and hanging on. I lost a massive flip for around half my stack, which was super deflating. But then about five or ten hands later, I won a massive flip. After that, I just ran like a God the rest of the game. I won all the important flips, which is obviously super lucky. There have been so many times where I lose those flips and I bust. It honestly feels like a little bit of justice!
There were some recreationals at the final table so I realized I had a serious shot. There were some pros as well though, so I was just picking my spots against the recreationals and not letting the pros push me around.
PSB: How did you approach the PKO end game?
AS: I think a lot of the amateur players who were deep were playing too tight. It was a $22 buy-in and at that stage, there were $500 bounties on people’s heads. You have to call off with wider ranges because the bounties are worth so much. So, I turned up my aggression against players I saw playing very tight.
At one point on the final table, there was a big chip leader who was super passive and five of us with around 20 big blinds. I knew I had to get above them in the chip counts so I could put extra pressure on them. Then I put my foot on the gas pedal. I won a big flip to gain the chip lead and I think I held onto it for the rest of the tournament.
We made a deal three-handed with me as the chip leader as I wanted to secure my biggest score, and I went on to take it down for all the bounties.
PSB: Like most of us, you’re stuck at home right now. Do you have a big stream grind planned for this year?
AS: Yeah, I live in Toronto and we’re on a stay at home order now. I’m just going to continue grinding really hard this year so I’ll be streaming a lot. I was thinking of changing my schedule, but I realized the nighttime grind is where I get all my viewers. They’re used to me streaming all through the night. I’ll be sticking to that pretty consistently for this year.
The fields are a lot smaller on that schedule, which is kind of why I’m even happier about winning this game. I don’t get many shots in big field games for lots of money–a lot of the games I play have only 300-400 players whereas this one had 15,000—so it’s cool to land a huge score.
PSB: It’s been a good year for PokerStars Ambassadors on Twitch. Fintan won a SCOOP, Lex won a Stadium Series, Spraggy won a WCOOP, and now you’ve won a Blowout Series title.
AS: Yeah, it’s a nice little feather in my cap. I’m a Blowout Series champion! And honestly? It feels really really good.