George Sandford Shatters Stereotypes: Refuses to be a Card-Carrying Poker Nerd
"A wise man (Roald Dahl) once said, "So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in place of it, install a lovely bookshelf on the wall, then fill the shelves with lots of books." We're not asking you to throw out your TV, but you could do what our next interviewee did, which is to buy a bookshelf for your home filled with dozens of poker books that George has read through. And when you've read all these books, it may happen, like it did with George, that you take a break from the books and instead turn to television. Because George is doing it so well, in our opinion, that we have asked him to comment on our television broadcasts in Nottingham. And here, with the help of our reporter Melvin Schroën, we introduce you to our television commentator.
Melvin TF: Hi George! We hope that your 2023 has started great and thank you for taking the time to chat with us. You have been around in the poker community for quite a while now, as well as entertaining our Twitch-Stream with your excellence. Every viewer knows your face by now, let’s see if we can show them as well how George became the George who he is now! You are well-known in the poker industry. What is your history with poker? How did you end up playing it yourself?
- George: I started getting into poker around the age of 18. I’d just joined KPMG on their school leaver program and came across YouTube videos of Daniel Negreanu and Tom Dwan whilst tucking into a meal deal on my lunch break. I grew a very fast interest in the mechanics of the game and the beauty behind how many layers it had. Psychology, math’s, making decisions under pressure and competition. With a background in competitive sports during my childhood (golf, football & table tennis) the game instantly appealed to me. I never wanted to slave away feeling like a number in a soulless corporate hierarchy, so I left KPMG and enrolled at Cardiff University. It was there I joined the poker society and began playing tournaments on Full Tilt Poker. To begin with I simply played micro-stakes tournaments on Monday-Thursday, so I had some spare cash to waste partying at the weekends. I remember those days vividly. Deposit $50 on Monday and try and withdraw over $200 by Thursday. One day I won the $5.50 Velociraptor for over $500 and felt like the richest guy on the planet! At the time I was big into sports betting and ran an online blog finding value bets in the English Football lower leagues, so poker wasn’t my sole focus.
Melvin TF: I know you as a real fan of mixed-games, but it seems you play it all. Would you consider yourself a live player or an online player? From where the preference for mixed-games?
- Mixed games are so intellectually stimulating. I really love the challenge of working out something on the fly. The Festival Series is an great and unique event for this reason, we always have a cash game table where any game you can think of is permitted. Games like Hold’em and even Omaha to a degree have been over-saturated with content so the games have died in comparison. But mixed games are still extremely fresh. It’s quite rewarding to ‘figure something out’ quicker than your opponents and the skills are transferable to my main game (Omaha cash games). I play mostly online, $2-5 to $5-10 Omaha 4/5 card but I enjoy playing live cash games from time to time to break it up a little bit. As an extrovert, it’s not the best idea to sit in front of the computer all year, so I will never be a full online nerd!
George Sandford has got around $150,000 in career live poker earnings and started off back in 2013. A fair amount of mixed-games are involved. Hereby an overview of his biggest cashes to date:
|DATE||TOURNAMENT NAME||BUY-IN||PLACE||CASH PRIZE|
|Mar/19||GG Poker Masters, Gormanstown, Ireland||€ 350||2nd||$ 15.814|
|May/19||CashGame Festival Short-Deck, Malta||€ 150||1st||$ 1.395|
|Nov/19||WPT Short-Deck, Cambodia||$ 300||3rd||$ 5.000|
|Sep/20||Slovak Poker Series - High-Roller, Bratislava||€ 1.000||1st||$ 14.431|
|Aug/21||WSOPC PL Omaha Hi/Lo, Rozvadov||€ 440||6th||$ 3.656|
|Sep/21||The Festival Series - Sviten Special, Bratislava||€ 220||1st||$ 3.365|
|Oct/21||All Stars - High-Roller, Bratislava||€ 2.000||2nd||$ 14.523|
|Mar/22||Spade Poker Tour HR, Bratislava||€ 555||2nd||$ 7.155|
|Jun/22||Slovak Poker Series Main Event, Bratislava||€ 150||1st||$ 17.520|
|Aug/22||Poker-SM 2022, Bratislava||€ 800||2nd||$ 4.511|
Melvin TF: The year 2022 you have gathered 17 cashes. In regards of previous years, you have had had good year, is it? What are your short-term and long-term goals in poker?
- George: I started playing professionally in 2019 and had the opportunity to travel around the world playing live tournaments on a staking deal. The first couple of years I played a bit too much live, had a bit too much fun and didn’t focus enough on improving my theory or working with Omaha solvers. This was the breakthrough year in terms of approaching the game in a more nuanced way, achieving unconscious competence in not juts exploitative play but applying a higher level of theory to my game. There’s no substitute for hard work in poker, you can get lucky once, but you can’t do that your entire career. So, the improvements in results have been largely through that and studying with friends and talking hands constantly. Short term I would like to move up and compete at $10-20 PLO4 on GG and longer term I am looking to become a regular in bigger live cash games upwards of €25-25.
Melvin TF: Who is George in daily life? Tell us a bit more about yourself outside poker. Hobbies? Wife/kids? Location?
- George: I’ve recently made a big decision to move out of my apartment and into a grindhouse with an online poker buddy. I was getting too comfortable and not grinding as hard as I would like to and am already seeing improvements to that. The energy is great we spend most of the time playing, studying and poker is the sole focus. I’ve pissed away a lot of time trying to do too many things over the past few years; online tournaments, sports betting & too much screen time on the phone being the major things that held me back. Now living in Bratislava after getting a 3-year residency permit and the plan is to go with online poker! The beauty also is how rapid the growth is here for live poker. The Winamax series collected over €1m, The Festival Series Main Event smashed records also & there will be a WPT event in May. So, you couldn’t really ask for a better spot to be located. There are even weekly €500 one-day tournaments on which are a nice break from online from time to time.
Melvin: You are in the commentary booth for The Festival Series for quite a while now. What is it that our stream makes unique? What would you advise our viewers, and players as well, for the upcoming period to come in regards of stops in Nottingham (UK) and St. Julians (Malta)?
- George: The Festival Series encompasses the beauty of grassroots poker like no other. The energy in the room is always electric and this is because the concept is built on it being a family. Everyone who comes at least once is so likely to return for this reason. I’ve been to many live stops and there can often be a ‘funeral’ type of energy but not at the festival. It’s fun and there’s even many things to do outside of poker during the week. It really covers all the angles. My advice is getting your flights booked and buckle up for a chaotic week of poker!
Melvin TF: If there is anything in the poker world you would like to see improved, what would it be and why?
George: There’s a lot of harping on about shot clocks, the game is too long and laborious bla bla bla. No! Poker is a game that’s designed to reward durability and patience, it’s about making as few mistakes as possible, not mindlessly gambling. I’d like to stop making everything a hyper-turbo knockout to suit short attention spans or attract new players. One of my other passions is golf and people have tried and failed to make these changes there also. The issue with the modern day is everything is trying to be designed for instant gratification and stimulation but the biggest reward in any endeavor is perseverance and effort over time. Why should poker also be crammed into the time restraints of a tik tok video?