• »
  • News
  • »
  • The Festival Series Meets Madis Müür- It’s All In The Game

The Festival Series Meets Madis Müür- It’s All In The Game

The Festival Series Meets Madis Müür- It’s All In The Game

Whichever edition of The Festival Series you will be visiting, you can be certain that Estonian poker players will be present in big numbers. The poker industry in Estonia is 'booming' to say the least, and this results in a fabulous amount of online satellite winners from one of the main Baltic countries. Madis Müür is a perfect example of a player who managed to qualify himself for the next event in Rozvadov, and as he left quite the marks with previous live poker scores, we became curious to find out who is behind the name of Madis!

Operator: Optibet

Madis Müür became hot news in Estonia when he managed to make it to the Final Table of the 2014 PCA event in the Bahamas. It was Polish Sensation Dominik Panka who won the entire Main Event. Madis became 4th eventually, as he had to let recognized professionals Isaac Baron and Mike 'Timex' McDonald in front of him as well. One hand in particular went viral in Estonia and we managed to retrieve some insights of that situation by Madis.

Ever since, Madis Müür has been active on- and off the poker tables. Nowadays, sponsored by Optibet, he tries to get back the love for the game and enjoying every single moment of it. By been successfully qualified for The Festival Rozvadov 2024, we cannot wait to see what he has to bring to the table!

* This interview has been conducted by Karev Tralla and Melvin Schroen, part of The Festival Team.

Estonia All Time Money List6th
Total Live Earnings$796,591
Best Live Cash$581,040 (PCA 2014. 4th Place)
Source: The Hendon Mob

Madis: ‘’Hi Karev, Melvin. Thanks for the intro. Yeah, I've been in many roles involved in poker. First, as a professional player, was in Estonian Hendon Mob for years also after some hits in EPT’s and PCA. Then started coaching other players which grew into a small stable, like a pro sports team with 10-15 pro players and up-and-coming players. I closed it down in 2016 and after that was giving back to the poker community as a (mostly dominated by tea) hobby player. Now learning and playing poker again and also streaming for Optibet. Fun fact my first poker tournament abroad was actually in New Zealand, the further away point from Estonia, I gambled while hungover on a Sunday morning and won two satellites in a row... morning and lunchtime satellites were usually to the Pacific region... went there, cashed 3 times and didn't look back, within a year I was already number one in the Estonian money list.’’

The Festival: You are being sponsored by Optibet, one of our great online partners. What is your take on their poker client and the games they are offering?

Madis: ‘’Optibet is pretty decent, satellite structures are good, lot of room to play in the Weekly Final. Often regular tournaments also start with 50k or 100k stacks. There could be maybe a bit more of them running but it is still a growing room. Their own Baltic Poker League was a success among local players here and the growing guarantees were surpassed again.

I really like playing tournaments there. Software is great and field sizes are medium, something to be won already but not huge like in the biggest ones that you hardly ever get to the final table. Getting to practice final table play is very important to progress as a player and earn a bit of profit. That's also one of the reasons I study and play spins as well, to be good in borderline preflop and post-flop spots, late position spots and shorthanded games which is crucial in the end stages of a tournament.''

The Festival: Poker plays a big role in your life it seems. What keeps you going on track? Is there anything you do to keep your poker skills at a certain level?

Madis: ‘’I’m studying also poker a lot yes with GTOwizard and learning videos. I want to be at least decent in what I put my effort into. Reading some poker books as well as writing summaries in Estonian. For example about Mystery Bounty tournaments and now will publish one about satellite tournaments, both were written by Dara O'Kearney. My theory is that people play less poker now because the skill level between average hobby players like I was 6 months ago and professionals has widened by a lot. I just lost way more often and had very few small wins. Very few positive emotions this way for me at least playing online or in more competitive mid-stakes live tournaments. Now that I'm learning again it has become both interesting again and I'm probably breakeven or maybe even slightly profitable already in some games. I have reason to play again! and if I can help other players to learn the game through my poker blog or streams, hopefully, they will also find a new interest and passion for the game again.’’

The Festival: We've took note you eventually put poker a bit to the side for a while. What kept you busy in the time from then towards now? And how the current Estonian poker industry is evolving for you?

Madis: ‘’I was mostly focused on my investment portfolio for the last 6-7 years and also I have two small children aged 5 and 2 so have had very little time for vacations overall. Used to go to EPT’s a lot but these are very competitive now, one needs a bigger bankroll and more work on its game. I've slightly participated in the Cash Game Festival in Estonia that Franke was organising before The Festival, and maybe participated in the Tallinn Festival in some tourneys also but can't remember. Probably, I usually did fire some events in most local festivals. But I really like the concept of The Festival, the buy-in size and the huge amount of satellites bringing a wide variety of players and not as many pros. There's little point for pros to travel for €500 tournament. That's the poker I like and how poker should be, played as a social game among fun-loving people. There are occasions for more serious and competitive poker in higher stakes or online but I really like that there are more and more these low-mid €500 main event festivals all around Europe where the games are fun, everyone still has a chance at success and are not surrounded by mostly quiet sharks, online guys in hoodies.

But in the same way, I also like to study and play online also, I get to learn and test my skills at a fraction of the price online. Big mistake in a €500 can cost you literally €500 but when you've made it in a €10 tournament I have hopefully learned from it for cheap. So yeah I'm planning to go to The Festivals more than in the future for sure.

I had invested in start-ups which went great for a while when money was cheap and the economy was growing. Many of them continue to grow but many are also struggling now which is a pretty standard outcome both in start-ups and poker tournaments. In a way, start-up investing and poker tournaments are very similar in bankroll/portfolio distribution with start-ups being the less "risky" ones. You get into the money more often in start-ups, in theory at least. I tried crypto also in 2017-18 but I'll leave that pump-and-dump scheme to others, there's fewer real-world uses for crypto now than 5-6 years ago - hardly a sign of any progress. Using it as casino chips in crypto casinos don't count, they could use tree leaves for that for all I care. Overall for most people, the most time-efficient and historically best returns have also been in stock market indexes of course.''

The Festival: In some way, our core values look quite similar We (The Festival and you) both care about the community. Speaking about the community, the next topic has flown to you I guess many times. You were folding "Queens" preflop on the PCA event back in 2014. If it's not a secret, please describe to us in your own view, how hard that decision was (coinflip for a half million or behind if you are against AA, KK).

Madis: ‘’Back then I had played tournaments for less than a year, didn't know much about ICM. Now I might even flat or just 3bet and call a 4bet with Queens. But as played yes it was a clear fold against a shove, we were both over 120bb deep in a big final table with over $1m for first. His range was KK+, AK. Even against AK, it is still a fold in a final table that deep, I still had the second biggest stack left after folding. Shouldn't have played it as big as I did preflop. But back then everybody knew a lot less about ICM deep in tournaments. This hand has been discussed probably thousands of times in Estonia, every player still needles me with it 10 years later. I was pissed at it 1-2 years after the final table when everyone had seen it recently, remembered it and asked about it but it's cool now. Just some of the things you can't change in life and it's easier just to accept it... Maybe I deserve it? Probably the best-known hand in Estonian poker history.

As the medium stack of 20-40bb, I'd go with it any time but no point playing for stacks as one of the chip leaders. You don't get it in good, at best a flip and mostly behind. also no point flipping as chip leaders among each other but putting pressure on the medium stacks. That's where the profit comes from.''

The Festival: Speaking about Flips. Have you heard about the famous Franke Flip Flops? (Our defending champion, Keito Kaljulaid, comes also from Estonia) Will you plan to take part in our side events as well as Blackjack, and Roulette tourneys? Or what do you think about casino games in general?

Madis: ''Playing against the house is not my thing. I'm trying to find +ev spots and these are not it. I just don't get the positive emotions from playing and there's no real thinking involved, but losing still sucks a bit. I have played flip tournaments though! My only EPT trophy actually comes from winning a small flip tournament where only the final table played out as actual poker. In a way, it's not a "real" trophy but I'd still take it. Would love to hear more about this flip-flop game, as you can see I also have some experience in such things! (Also, we played 1-round roulette satellites with friends, to high rollers. It's less rake this way and over in a few seconds. Never won one though!)

The Festival: Besides poker, are there any sports involved in the life of Madis?

Madis: ‘’I used to organise an amateur football team of poker players back in 2010-13 and we even managed to make one of the biggest losses in Estonian football history. In the Estonian Cup, we went against a local Premier League club called Tartu Tammeka. As they were a semipro team and we had more professional sportsmen in our team, I said to the Estonian Football Association in an interview that these guys would go back to their hometown crying etc, and we'd crush them easily. God plans, man laughs or whatever the saying was, we lost 24-0. Next year we lost against one of the best Estonian teams only 17-0 which was already a visible improvement!

But now very little time for sports, gym 1-2 times a week, some running sessions outdoors and plan to run two half marathons this year, which is clearly doable. The 17-0 was against Levadia by the way! It actually took 7 minutes to get all the goals into the video. Without any replays! Of course, our pro sportsmen in that team were pro poker players. somehow that professionalism didn't translate into results that time but I blame it on variance.''

The Festival: You've won a package through an online satellite. How much are you looking forward to the event in Rozvadov and what is your take on the tournament schedule? Any expectations?

Madis: ‘’Coming to Rozvadov yes, but it's my first time for a while again. I haven't travelled to poker events since 2016 I think, it was just a background hobby for years. Had a slight overdose of poker back in 2015-16 when besides my international poker career, I ran a poker stable as well and had a slight burnout. Played only occasionally a few times per year a few years after that. So I don't know much about Rozvadov except what I've heard from the news and other players that it's a sort of poker Mecca of Europe. We all need to pay our dues and do our pilgrimage there!’’

Unfortunately can't stay the whole schedule so I'll have to miss the Hendon Mob Championship that I'd love to play but I'll definitely play Hold’em events like the Main Event, Mystery Bounty, and the Pokerlistings tournament, and maybe some satellites as well. These are for sure on my schedule but other than that I'll see when I get there, let's see where the flow and the Festival take us. I'll likely play some special mixed games events also that you don't find elsewhere.’’