Tom Middleton (left) known online across PokerStars and FullTiltPoker as hitthehole, under this alias Tom has had a number of five figure scores with his biggest coming in July 2008 when he won the FullTiltPoker $1K Monday for $97,750.
Although one of the most successful live and online tournament players in the UK he’s genuinely humble amongst all his success and a first class guy to have a drink with whilst at or away from the tables. He’s always happy to share his thoughts if asked and all his advice is invaluable, I genuinely have the utmost respect for this guy as a poker player and as a friend. Finally welcome to FTP mate I’m pleased you agreed and hope our readers enjoy reading this brilliant interview as much as I enjoyed being in the tank with Tom Middleton.
DT "When and how did you get started playing poker? Did you have any inspirational poker players, books, moments, shows, etc that were instrumental for you turning professional?."
TM "I started playing poker at school during dinner times and was pretty hooked from then on. I don’t think you really turn pro at poker but I guess I gave up on uni around summer 07 when I started playing on full tilt poker and grinding the 45 mans. At that point I didn’t really know many poker players and Dickie Jones had been grinding on ftp for a while and he was a real help in getting started with online poker."
DT "I understand you’re an affiliate of poker group the Shrewdies, I have a few questions regarding these guys. How was the name ‘Shrewdies’ born? How and when did the group come to fruition? Who are the other Shrewdie associates? Does Shrewdies have a captain or are you’s all equal amongst the team? Has anybody left/joined since it’s launching or all original members? Do you’s all swap equity with each other if entering the same tournament?."
TM "Lol, the shrewdies thing started probably sometime in 08 when we started calling one of my mates Rich Hare (chiprich) shrewdie, mainly because of how un-shrewd he was and his love of trying to land 1st goal scorers. Then a few of my friends wanted to start a thread/blog on blonde about our planned trip to Vegas for the WSOP that summer and someone decided to call it the shrewdies on tour. It’s not really a team or anything just the name of the thread but we're all good friends and often do % swap in live tourneys etc."
DT “NPF, AWOP, Blonde?.”
DT "You have a reputation as being one of (if not) the biggest degenerate in the UK poker community, are these accusations true? Could you give us an example of your degeneracy and how you have been labelled with this image?"
TM "Lol, not really sure how I’ve got that title I can definitely think of a few people who beat me too it! I guess it’s probably something to do with me playing almost every day. In fact I think before this summer id played poker at some point every Sunday bar maybe 1 or 2 for the last 2 years."
DT “Poker, Golf, Football, Girls?.”
TM "I’m supposed to say girls but I guess this answers the last question when I say poker lol."
DT "I assume your online alias ‘hitthehole’ was born through your love of Golf, I’m interested to know about your golfing exploits. What’s your handicap? If you don’t know what do you shoot approximately? Who is the biggest golf hustler out of your golfing associates?."
TM "I use to play golf quite a lot when I was younger I was never really any good but got my handicap down to about 17. I usually play to within 6-7 shots of my handicap but like most high handicap golfers I’m very inconsistent. I can’t really think of anyone who could be described as the biggest hustler since we never play for meaningful amounts. But I guess I’d probably give that award to rookieitb who by the last day of a golfing holiday we went on he somehow managed to get himself a 54 handicap."
DT "Are you freeing up your schedule to head north to Newcastle and hit it up with the NPF boys for the NPF Championships? I understand it’s sometime in October but no date has been confirmed yet. First one’s on me ;-)."
TM "How can I turn down a free drink!"
For those not familiar I first met Tom whilst we were studying in Newcastle circa 2004, however much of our time was spent loitering the then three casinos Stanleys, Grosvenor, and Bannatynes and not revising which I guess would have been an optimal way to spend it. This leads me onto my next question;
DT "Had you decided by university you were going to take poker seriously or was it still very much a recreational hobby whilst you studied for your ideal profession? What course’s were you studying at university? Would you ever consider going back to university to study and do something other than playing poker for a living? Or is it just too much fun playing poker full time? It’s my belief that after you crushed our £10 NLH SNG sessions that this gave you the confidence and bankroll to become the player you are today, is this an accurate assessment?."
TM "When I first went to uni I was already hooked on poker and won occasionally but definitely wasn’t a long term winner. The idea of pissing about playing poker rather than studying definitely appealed to me more but I wasn’t really on a position to completely quit all education and solely play poker. I'd like to think I could go to back uni and then go on to have successful career doing something more normal but in reality I’m kind of lazy and for the foreseeable future I think my best option will likely be to continue with what I’m doing."
DT “Who do you consider the best all round poker player in the world and why?.”
TM "I don’t think anyone could argue it isn’t Phil Ivey when you look at his tournament and cash game results."
DT "What’s the most extravagant way you’ve spent your winnings from poker? Do you consider yourself to be balla and spend cash like your printing it or more reserved with your bank account?."
TM "My car is probably the most extravagant thing I’ve bought. I definitely burn though money than your average person in the street but compared to some of my poker friends I’m a life nit."
DT "What’s your thoughts on the recent Neil Blatchly controversy that had the whole poker community talking? For example how do you think it compares/differs from the current Marc Wright revelation?."
TM "When I first cam across Neil he seemed like just a normal guy who played poker definitely not some high stakes sports bettor/ gambler. Then some time during 09 there started being posts and references to Neil winning the lot on tennis and other sports. I mean if you see some random kid come on a poker forum and making out to be making massive bets and getting the lot you usually just ignore them and assume they are making it up to try impress or w/e. But when a lot of people who know Neil in real life almost backing up his stories you assume it’s true. Then when he starts his trading thread people see he’s winning there and also with his image of the successful gambler people are keen to get involved. I didn’t have any £s invested but I know a few friends who did so I was pleased and surprised that they all got paid back as soon as they did.
The Marc Wright incident isn’t really news. When I first met marc at a GUKPT in January 09 he was outgoing and a good laugh. He asked to do swaps online but messed me around a bit and had also ended up owing some of my friends so I avoided financial dealings with him after that. Then one week he reappeared getting a chop in the Sunday million, the people he owed got paid back and he seemed to have sorted himself out. I wasnt really suprised to hear new storys of him owing people money. It was amazing though at how many different people he owed and from all over the world.
I guess both of the situations show how with the right image it’s easy to con poker players."
DT "I understand you’re a big Leeds United fan, so I’ll briefly focus on football. What’s your expectations for Leeds in the current campaign? Favourite current Leeds player? All time favourite Leeds player/legend? Any sick football bets either in the past or for this year?."
TM "Ye I support Leeds, I’m a bit of a glory support though and only really go a couple of times a year now they aren’t in the premiership, Hopefully this season we avoid any relegatin battles then next season we can be looking to get back in the premiership. One of my favourite players when i was younger was Tony Yeboah mainly becaose of those 2 goals he scored. The only football bet I've got on is a $500 fantasy football league but I’m lying 13th/14 at the moment so it’s not looking good."
DT "You’ve been out hitting it up over Las Vegas with the Shrewdies for the WSOP during the last couple (maybe few I’m not sure) years, so lets talk about that place and series for a bit dude. How does playing WSOP $1K compare to playing a GUKPT £1K main event?. I read in a poker magazine that James Dempsey was very blasé about winning his first WSOP bracelet referencing tournament poker as all about the money and the bracelet being insignificant, does your view on WSOP bracelets mirror that of James’? It was reported that during James’ final table that the rail was so loud that Mike Matusow complained to the tournament director, were you involved in the drunken profanities that prompted Mike’s complaint?. Finally do you have any degenerate/balla stories of drunken nights out while in the bright lights?."
TM "GUKPTs are way tougher than your average WSOP $1k. I mean it’s not like sitting down at tough table in the 100r where there might not be any spots but in the last year or so with the field sizes drastically decreasing in GUKPTSs the concentration of good players makes it likely that you'll get drawn on a table with 3-4 good players. The WSOP $1ks are incredible value, you can easily get drawn on a table where most of table are drawing dead. I'd say the standard in a WSOP $1k is similar to that of a UKIPT. I'd definitely value winning a bracelet over winning some random tourney. Not only does it give you the opportunity to get a lucrative sponsorship deal (like James has with ftp now) but also recognition of achieving something in poker.
The day of the final was one of the best ever. It started at about 12 with danskemann ordering jaegerbombs and by time we got to heads up we were a little rowdy lol. There's definitely been a few big nights out in Vegas, you usually realise when you've had an expensive night when they give you a complimentary limo to get home lol."
DT "What does the close of 2010 and opening of 2011 hold for Tom Middleton? Can we expect to see you following the UK circuit or looking more at concentrating on the online grind?."
TM "Well next few weeks I’m going to be playing big sessions everyday with the WCOOP being on and all the extra traffic that brings. Then I’m going to London for the EPT at the end of the month and PCA at the begining of 2011. I'm also looking forward to my Late night poker heat being shown. Not sure when it will be on but I went to film it last week so hopefully not too long. I had Devilfish, Feldman, Colclough, Barny Boatman and Mike Binger in my heat so I was feeling quietly confident about getting a result but the structure was quite fast and no antes meant playing tight for most of the tourney the correct strategy. Unfortunately I didn’t really pick up any cards and busted out in 4th. I plan on playing a few of the bigger UKIPTs and GUKPTs over the next 12 months. When it’s a 100 runner field in Walsall or a £500 when hotels cost £800 in Edinburgh ill probably give them a miss."
I’ve really enjoyed bringing FTP fans this interview and hope you’ve all enjoyed the insight into both one of poker’s sickest degenerates and nicest guys. All here at FTP would like to wish Tom continued success both at and away from the felt.