Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Patrick Leonard

Patrick Leonard at 2023 WPT World Championship
Dave Woods
Posted on: December 30, 2023 24:00 PST

We ask the questions...

Patrick Leonard is one of the most respected poker players in the game. He's won close to $3 million in live tournaments, but many multiples of that online. His Instagram account records his total career winnings as $28 million. This year, Leonard pipped Benny Glaser to the overall WCOOP Player of the Series , winning four titles along the way, taking his total to 16 COOPs overall.

He's the co-founder of bitB , an "elite coaching for profit community," along with Samuel Vousden and Tomi Brouk, and is part of the Run It Once crew with an MTT course titled Pads on Pads .

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who loves the online grind as much as he does.

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

"I’ve changed my time zone. I used to play at 6pm in England until 2am. Now I play from 9am in Vancouver until 5pm. I’m playing a lot earlier, so I try to get outside, literally just to get 10 minutes of fresh air and get a coffee. One thing I always do is never eat until I’ve finished playing. Even playing live, I won’t eat until I’ve busted out. I also try to do something positive, as well. A few years ago, I used to message people and tell them something I was grateful for that they’d done. I don’t do that anymore. Maybe I should."

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

"To play tight. I used to play in the Grosvenor Casino in Newcastle, and if I looked at one queen under the gun, I wouldn’t even look at my second card—my range UTG was kings plus. So I’d just look at one card because I didn’t want to get tempted by AQ-suited or pocket queens. I was playing $20 tournaments at the time, and there was a GUKPT in town. Jake Cody was the superstar back then. I saw him peel back his cards, and he had T-3 offsuit. I thought he was just posturing, and then he three-bet. I was folding queens and he was three-betting T-3 offsuit! That opened my eyes to a new crazy style. So then, I had two very contrasting styles and I think both were dangerous."

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

"I was playing my first ever $25k, and there was a guy who was like a gangster, from a country I won’t name. We got into a huge, unnecessary flip, and we both stood up. I went to shake his hand as he won, but he didn’t really shake it quickly, so I pulled my hand back, and then he went to shake my hand, but instead of going back to shake, I just committed out of the whole thing, and he slapped my hand. He had hands like shovels, probably five times bigger than mine. I definitely should have gone back for the handshake. Instead, I lost a flip and got my hand slapped by a gangster."

What’s your most memorable hand?

"Back when I played mainly cash, I got to the Sunday Warm-Up final table. There were nine people left, and I three-bet J-Q offsuit. The board came down xyz, I potted and the guy folded. I took my shirt off, threw it off and I was like, “I’m the best in the world, no one else could win that pot!” I always remember that, it was so stupid."

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

"Try to reduce your ego and amplify your soul. Try to do things for you, not for other people. Don’t play tournaments because they look cool on social media if they’re out of your bankroll; play what makes sense. A lot of people might play a $2k tournament and sell 50%, where they could play a $1k tournament and have 100% of themselves and have a lot higher ROI. Poker is a long game, and you’ll always get chances at higher stakes if you do the right things. You don’t need to rush things to look good, and people won’t be impressed anyway. If you’re playing a $2k, someone else will be playing a $5k. There’s always going to be someone playing bigger than you. Do it for yourself."

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

"I would want someone who would give good business advice, rather than just wearing a patch. Anyone can wear a patch, and I don’t think people play on a site because of people wearing patches. I’d want someone trustworthy, someone who stands by my brand, and someone who would get players to deposit because they trust their word. Someone along the lines of Jason Koon or Daniel Negreanu. If they say your money is good on a site, people will trust them."