Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Lex Veldhuis

Poker player Lex Veldhuis smiles during a live game
Mo Afdhal
Posted on: March 02, 2024 24:35 PST

Like his fellow PokerOrg Player Advisory Board member ElkY, Lex Velduis honed his love of strategy games with early years spent playing StarCraft. Aged 21, he played his first real money hand of online poker thanks to a $10 transfer from a friend, and a long-time love affair with the game was born.

Veldhuis has represented PokerStars as long as anyone, first as a live poker ambassador and then as an online pro, regularly streaming tournaments as well as the occasional cash game session. His dedication has seen him rise to become one of the most popular poker streamers on Twitch and YouTube.

What’s one bit of essential prep you do before a big tournament or cash game session?

"I would say I generally try to not rush too much. I think going into a session rushed or really busy is a recipe for disaster.

"If I plan too many things right before a big WCOOP grind, or if you plan too much in the morning, like media stuff, before a big tournament it usually results in rushed, stressed feelings, and this goes especially for big cash games. So, I just try to isolate myself a little bit and just go in calm and not let other people dictate the pace for me."

What piece of strategy advice did you get when you started playing that you wish you had ignored?

"Wow, this is a big one.

"Back in the day when I started playing, the general advice for bankroll management was that you needed to have 10 buy-ins or something. We were out there smashing four, five, six $5/$10 tables with only a $10,000 bankroll. And this was considered very normal, but obviously leads to huge swings and massive tilt because you could literally lose half your bankroll in two hours.

"I mean, one hand and 10% of your bankroll is gone. That was very bad, but it was the way to do things. There wasn't that much knowledge about it and, unfortunately, I decided to also not use my own brain!"

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen or done at the poker table?

"I played in a cash game in London, and there was somebody in the game who was a spiritual leader in a country very far away, with a lot of recognition and a lot of followers. He was a regular in that game, but he was incredibly bad, and he played with donations that people made to him. It got to a point where even the regulars in the game wouldn't really sugarcoat things when he would do things wrong.

"It was one of my first times playing Omaha - I only played because this person was playing and I saw how insane the action was. And this was very modest stakes– $5/$10 Omaha.

"At a certain point, on the river, somebody pots, he re-pots, somebody instantly calls on a four-heart board and this spiritual leader person shows A❤️. People at the table ask, ‘Do you have another heart?’ And he says, ‘No this is the heart.’ And they say, ‘Oh my God, come on, you know you don't have a flush.’ The other person in the hand, and people that play PLO know that this is not a regular re-pot call at all, had called with an eight-high flush – instantly – because he knew that this person didn't know the rules of Pot-Limit Omaha.

"Meanwhile, this person continued playing and made the same mistake again later on in the evening. And, even crazier, people were on the waiting list to play with him, because of the spiritual following that he had and the guidance that they could get from him. Nobody batted an eye at the money being wasted and gambled away. That was one of the most peculiar things I've ever seen.

Lex Veldhuis eyes an opponent at the table during EPT Paris 2023

"And then my dumbest thing at the poker table would be that I've played quite a few sessions where I played way too long, like 60-70 hours. I think it's okay to play that long in a game where everybody plays that long and I would definitely take myself in those games to do well. But I'm talking about playing for 40-50 hours, and then two people that you've been playing with leave and fresh blood comes in, all showered and fresh from the gym. Those are some of my worst poker sessions."

What’s your most memorable hand?

"My most memorable hand would be one I played against Doyle Bronson on High Stakes Poker, calling him with bottom pair for a $200k pot. I’m very proud of that moment, for the hero call and for figuring out the legend that is Doyle, you know, in a hand like that. Just having the spidey senses with the way he normally plays. Everything came together in that hand, which was the highest stakes I’ve ever played. That was definitely a cool moment for me."

What’s your best piece of advice for poker players?

"Be honest and curious. I think there's a lot of people that either have just started out, or who are already winning in mid-stakes, and they think they’ve figured everything out and that the only difference between them and the top is just playing higher.

"But if you watch some of the best players in the world, they’re still curious when they see something they haven't seen before. They would be the 'law' in terms of what's good and bad for as much as we know so far in poker, but even they are curious. Then you see people playing lower stakes and they instantly say ‘That's bad, that's terrible’ or ‘I'm just running bad’, instead of ‘I need to work on this.’

"That's where honesty comes in as well: honesty with yourself about where you're at; honesty with yourself about the mistakes that you're making; honesty with yourself about the process. It's very important."

If you owned a poker room, who's the first player you'd want to sign as an ambassador and why?

"If you’re talking a brick-and-mortar poker room, I would say somebody who was a huge name in a live setting. We all know who they are, but somebody with a huge name, probably semi old-school, that still does well.

"But if we're talking online, I think what's really important - if you want to move the needle - would be to sign somebody that has a serious interest in poker. Somebody who plays a lot and loves the game, not somebody that's just looking for sponsorships. Someone who would play poker even if they weren't sponsored, and who's big in their field. Magnus Carlsen, Alexandra Botez, Ninja; those are people who come to mind who have really big names that I know also enjoy poker very much.

"I’d love to work with Ninja, it would be great. You know, he could carry me in Fortnite a little bit."

Images courtesy of PokerStars Live