Coming into this year, Dylan Wilkerson had a solid live tournament resume. There were a few tournament wins and over $270,000 in cashes, but is was nothing compared to the fist 10 weeks of 2014.
He finished runner-up in back-to-back World Poker Tour events – first in the Fallsview Poker Classic for $228,806 and then the Bay 101 Shooting Star Classic for $728,650. Wilkerson began as an online pro but his story is different in that Black Friday really didn’t effect him all the that much.
“I started back in 2003 when I was in college at UC Berkley and that’s when the Internet games really took off,” Wilkerson said. “I got kind of serious about playing poker online, not full time but on the side. I kind of just took it from there. I started playing full time in 2007 online and have been at it ever since.”
One of Wilkerson’s earliest cashes was at an APPT event in Sydney, Australia in 2008. “I won a qualifier on PokerStars to go on the trip. Back then I was playing for what just seemed like fun trip for me,” said Wilkerson. “Italy and some other places I thought would a cool adventure for me. Playing live wasn’t a full time thing back then.”
Following his cash in Sydney, Wilkerson went almost three years without a live tournament result – a time during which he played almost exclusively online while splitting time in California and Washington. “I was mostly playing tournaments, I’ve never really been a cash player at all,” he said. “I played tournaments or Sit & Gos online – that’s what I’ve always done.”
Most online players that have found recent live success point to Black Friday as a catalyst that pushed them towards live poker. But not Wilkerson, “I haven’t played much more live now than in the past, I just see a lot more results that run together,” he said. “For the most part, I’ve played a pretty consistent online schedule since I started playing full time. I never made live poker a huge priority to be honest. I’ve probably played like 50 or 60 events this year and that includes 30 or 35 at the World Series this year. It’s not so much that live isn’t a priority, it’s that I pretty much stopped traveling all together. ”
But 2011 was a big year for Wilkerson – he earned nearly $200,000 in live events playing buy-ins ranging from $400 up to $10,000. “It was easier in poker back in 2011. There was a lot more money and people were a lot more carefree with investing and taking shots in tournaments,” said Wilkerson. “For the most part, whenever I’m playing a high buy-in for me, generally a $10K or so, I’m usually going to be pretty confident that it’s something that I want to be playing.”
“There were a few bigger buy-in events that I sold action to because I thought they were solid value, even at a higher price point. That’s pretty much how I’ve played my whole career – I’m pretty conservative with my buy-ins and how much action I want to sell,” Wilkerson added. “I definitely consider every event I play pretty seriously.”
While Wilkerson had a good year in 2011, it appears at a glance that he suffered through a rough two year downswing – he earned $24,182 and $55,585 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. “It’s interesting to look at it that way. I wasn’t sure what numbers you were going to throw at me. I guess I really didn’t play much,” Wilkerson said. “I didn’t travel a bunch but I still played a full schedule at the World Series. It really wasn’t tough for me because I was playing full time online. When you factor in online earnings and live earning it was really just business as usual – it wasn’t something I had to overcome.”
Wilkerson has had a breakout year in 2014 earning $1.1 million – a good portion came from back-to-back World Poker Tour runner-up finishes – which begged the question of what kind of changes he made in his game. “I really didn’t (change) at all,” Wilkerson said. “Most people realize that when you play poker for this long you’re going to have upswings and downswings. I guess I’ve just gotten really lucky, or random, that I got back-to-back huge results.”
“This year has been a big turn around and I haven’t really played much online at all. I’ve been playing a lot of live poker. Poker is poker and money is money, so it doesn’t matter where it comes from,” added Wilkerson.
Players with seven-figure scores tend to move up stakes faster than normal, but Wilkerson remained within his bankroll. “Going into the World Series there’s always a ton of events that you want to play and I had a lot more freedom and could keep a little bit more of my own action for higher up buy-in events if I wanted,” Wilkerson said. “But like I said earlier, I’m always going to be pretty conservative in the route I take. So it didn’t really didn’t change much, I played a very similar schedule this year like I did last year and it worked out this summer.”
Wilkerson’s live success in 2014 has landed him in multiple BLUFF Player of the Year races. He’s currently 28th overall in the World standings, 13th overall in North America and ninth in Triple-A North America rankings. But Wilkerson was totally unaware of his rankings, “It’s not some that’s even crossed my mind. I don’t play poker for the accolades and winning a tournament isn’t even really my goal. It’s solely about making money, but they do go hand-in-hand,” he said.
“Obviously, I’ve had a great year so far so by the end of the year I’ll probably play more tournaments than I would have. It would be great to make a run at a Player of the Year title. I’d love to do that.”
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