The fall season tends to bring out the best in popular high-stakes regular, Andrew Lichtenberger.
Last September he won the 2022 Poker Masters $25K buy-in event #7 for $465,750. This year he binked the best 36th birthday present ever with a $204,000 payday for winning the PokerGo Poker Masters $10K NLH event #5 on September 20th.
Ten days later, Lichtenberger followed up with a magnificent performance at the $300K entry Super High Roller Bowl VIII. He battled heads-up against the talented, Isaac Haxton, as the chip lead teetered back and forth. He would eventually finish second for $1,680,000, when his pocket kings couldn’t outrun Haxton’s A4 suited.
The perpetually humble Lichtenberger had only high praise and congratulations for his opponent after the devastating last hands were dealt. “Ike is an immeasurably talented poker player,” said Lichtenberger. “He’s incredibly relaxed, measured, and absolutely a most genius theoretician.”
Lichtenberger would make four final tables and hoist one championship trophy at the PokerGO Studios in September and walk away with a hefty $2,047,450.
A successful transition from cash to MTTs
Lichtenberger began his poker journey online under the prescient screen name — “LuckyChewy.” He mostly grinded cash games around the clock, as he moved up the stakes ladder to the nosebleeds.
A couple of years later he got the itch to test his growing skills in tournament competitions. “I migrated from the cash threads on the Two-plus-Two forums to the MTTs and acquainted myself with some slightly different strategy ideas,” shared Lichtenberger. “I did go on a big downswing at the beginning of my transition, but soon thereafter found solid footing.”
To say it was a good decision would be a monumental understatement. That year he finished second in the 2009 WSOP $5K NLH Shootout and 18th in the WSOP Main Event for a combined total of more than $700,000. That was a mere glimpse into the beginning of an impressive poker resume to follow.
Over the next fourteen years, Lichtenberger would amass over $17,600,000 in career cashes and numerous titles. A few of the most prestigious titles include the 2014 WPT Five Diamond and Alpha 8 $100k buy-in, the 2022 WPT SHR Showdown, and a gold bracelet at the 2016 WSOP $3,000 NLH event.
For the love of the game
Through the years, Lichtenberger has gained the respect of his peers worldwide as a fierce competitor as well as one of the most beloved poker artisans on the high-stakes circuit.
Whether its hauling in huge pots or sloughing off a horrific beat, a sly Buddha like grin rarely leaves Lichtenberger’s countenance. It’s just another day feeling blessed to be able to play a game he loves so dearly.
PokerOrg’s Craig Tapscott sat down with Lichtenberger after his recent run at the Poker Masters and SHRB VIII to talk about life, love, the nature of reality, and of course, a lot of poker.
Craig Tapscott: The first time I came across you was listening to an audio series called “The Memoirs” from high-stakes cash game killer, A.E. Jones.
Andrew Lichtenberger: Wow. Definitely a bit of nostalgia, which I love. I had met Aaron through the Two Plus Two poker forums around 2006. We chatted a lot to help each other understand the deeper aspects of the game.
Aaron was ahead of his time to say the least.
AL: He definitely was. The Memoirs were my first poker business experience. Essentially, it was just Aaron and me (mostly Aaron) talking about poker, generally from the basics and whatever more advanced ideas we had at that time. We were focusing primarily on six-max cash games.
How did you evolve into mostly a tournament competitor?
AL: I just decided this game I loved was very meaningful to me, poker as a whole. So, I definitely saw the value in learning how to play tournaments over cash games and having both of those skill sets.
Let’s just both agree to say the transition was a huge success.
AL: Thanks, Craig. It took me awhile when I first started playing to find my way. But I kept learning and eventually had some nice scores. And since then, I’ve sort of dabbled between the two with definitely more of a focus nowadays on tournaments.
Along the way you found time to become an author. You wrote a book called ‘The Yoga of Poker.’ When did you start pursuing your own personal growth, which you shared quite extensively in the book.
AL: If I’m being honest, it started from the very beginning of my poker career. There was always an ever present aspect of that inner all-aware voice. As I played poker more and learned more, I was able to actually listen to that voice more. But it started with the baseline of poker fundamentals.
AL: Some of the basics I learned from Aaron were definitely key. That baseline of the logical and fundamental framework of poker was vital. It strengthened my ability to intuit more within the game flow. I was able to come up with good decisions and adjustments on the fly.
It sounds like you experienced something akin to what I do at times during a deep meditation practice. You’re able to see things from a full 360 degree perspective from both within and without.
AL: Exactly. I firmly believe that to learn something deeply is to take things from all perspectives and advance not only the metaphysical or intuitive understanding of something, but also the pragmatic academic side of things. I certainly have met people over the years that introduced me to new ideas and deeper understandings of Eastern philosophies, etc. For me it speaks to the desire that we all have to understand things in life fundamentally, like what is the truth behind existence and the nature of reality.
Can you share how you achieve a poker and life balance? Poker can become an all-consuming passion, sometimes to a player’s detriment towards the game and their own mental and physical health.
AL: For me, poker is the best possible game to learn and apply these philosophical concepts. Part of what attracted me to poker initially was it’s the type of endeavor that has an endless fascination for me in general. No matter how much I play, there’s always going to be something else to learn the next time I play. To me, that’s just awesome.
You definitely always seem to have a smile on your face at the table. You seem to be enjoying yourself immensely, even after the worst bad beats.
AL: I love the game. I don’t focus on the material component of it that much. I focus on the experience. It’s more enjoyable and more interesting to me that way.
But it certainly can become an egocentric game when so much money and aggressiveness is intertwined. You seemed to have found a path that really works for you.
AL: I guess by not focusing on the material results of the games as much that largely removes the egoic aspects of it. For me, it’s just about making the right decisions. I’ve actually had this discussion with a number of players in regard to aggressive egos in the game.
What was the consensus?
AL: I don’t find that it’s very productive if I have feelings of hatred, or warlord domination type stuff towards my opponents. I know some people thrive off of that though. It can be a powerful, profound energy in its own right. But for me personally, I don’t tend to thrive off of those things.
If you had to name one thing, what has had the biggest impact on your life and your poker game?
AL: I would say loving kindness. I think the benefits from just treating everyone as your brother or sister has been immeasurable in my life. More than anything else. It can’t get much more profound than that for me.
What advice would you give someone to be more present and aware at the tables and in life?
AL: It all starts with the desire to have more of a sense of presence and patience in life and at the tables. It helps to have some sort of routine each day to help your life get in order. It helps to get enough sleep and to eat as well as you can. There’s really no shortage of ways that you can improve your presence at the table and learn from your previous experiences and enrich the experiences to come.
Do you live in Las Vegas?
AL: I do. With my wife, Alyssa Wampole. She’s an acupuncturist. She was into a lot of the philosophies you and I have been talking about, before she and I met. I love my life at home in Vegas with her. We actually have two pet doves in the house that we adopted. They are very sweet, and we give them a great life with us.
I came across a project you have been working on. It looks very interesting, an AI based platform called Octopi Poker.
AL: I’ve been working with my friends Victoria Livschitz and Nick Shulman and others on the project for some time now.
What do you hope players get out of using the platform as it develops?
AL: It’s very much a social platform as much as it is a poker study tool. It’s also meant to really enrich the viewer experience for streams as part and parcel of our partnership with digitizing stream archives and creating a database of hands.
It’s also a database that allows for commentators to pull from the previous experiences of players against one another to further enrich the current in game. All major sports, such as the NFL, MLB, and NBA, have this very much embedded in their broadcasts.
There are so many things about the statistics in poker games that are beneficial to everyone. I invite people to check it out at OctipiPoker. They can sign up to participate in our beta stages and give our team feedback.
Do you have any last words of wisdom to share about your recent run at the tables?
AL: It was an amazing experience. Believing in and trusting yourself are necessary pre-requisites to success.
Thanks for your time, Andrew. Good luck the rest of the year.
AL: Thanks, Craig. Always a pleasure to speak with you.
Follow Andrew Lichtenberger’s poker journey on X @luckychewy