One cell phone, one WSOP.com online circuit ring. That’s how things played out for Brian Altman on Monday night after not leaving his home for eight days. He won a $215 turbo event for $32,781 and his second circuit ring as part of the operator’s Online Super Series.
It was supposed to be an easy month for Altman. The Boston poker pro had just finished playing the WPT Rolling Thunder and planned to stay a bit in Las Vegas afterward.
The WPT Hublot Player of the Year leader was set to play the final table of the Borgata Winter Poker Open. The event would be filmed for television on April 1. He planned to relax a bit, study his opponents, and, of course, play poker.
“I came to Vegas and got an AirBNB for a month to wait for my final table, just to kind of be here for it,” he told USPoker. “Unfortunately that got postponed and with everything going on with Coronavirus, I’ve been staying put.
“I haven’t really been leaving my place and been playing WSOP.com on my phone. I was just one-tabling on my phone. It was just something to do to keep me busy.”
Huge year continues at WSOP.com
The online title was just the latest big score for Altman. In January, he won his second WPT title and $482,636 at the Seminole Hard Rock in Florida. The win made him the first person in tour history to win the same event twice.
He also finished third at WPT Maryland Live! this season for $149,515 and 10th at the Legends of Poker for $45,940. Altman may be one of the hottest players in poker at the moment. The WSOP.com win only adds to that record of success.
“It’s pretty wild,” he says of the win. “I played a couple other events prior, so now I have a little bankroll on there and can play the rest of the series.”
Not only was Altman excited about the ring and the win, but also earning 50 points in the circuit standings. That moved him in the Top 50 with a shot at earning a seat in the WSOP Global Casino Championship. That event is set for August at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.
“I’m pretty thrilled about that,” he says, “and I’m going to play the rest of the events to maybe be the points leader and earn a seat.”
Shifting gears to the online poker grind
Altman plans to stay in Vegas for now at least and keep playing. He was a regular online player before Black Friday, but has now mostly transitioned to live games. His recent shift to the virtual tables may represent a similar story for many pros.
“It’s nothing really new,” he says of moving back online. “I guess the software I’m trying to get used to. But in terms of comfort, I’m quite familiar with the online landscape despite being more of a recreational online player the last handful of years.”
The Coronavirus has left much of the casino industry temporarily shut down. Altman seems to be picking up where he left off at the online tables.
“I’m kind of taking it day by day, week by week at this point,” he says. “There is some more online stuff that has only just been announced so I’m going to see how things play out over the next couple weeks before I make my decision.
“It looks like I’ll be playing more online now because the live poker scene has just kind of been put on pause. As a poker player you’ve got to adapt.”
More US players transitioning to online poker
Operators have moved in to offer expanded tournament series to meet online demand. WSOP.com has seen increased numbers for its Super Series from players in Nevada and New Jersey.
Longtime pro Matt Stout won the second event of the series with WPT regular James Carroll taking third. Fresh off a sixth-place finish at Rolling Thunder, Shankar Pillai won the $1,000 High Roller Six-Max event on Tuesday for $74,777.
The WPT postponed Altman’s WPT final table to May. A win would give him his third title on the tour. He’s disappointed, but understands the need for the delay.
On the bright side, he’ll have more time to prepare and play online. He’s not one of those players who study for hours every day and work through solvers online. Instead, Altman prefers talking with friends about hands.
“I just do a lot of reflecting, thinking about the hands that I played,” he says. “I just like to play and think about the game and what I’m doing.”
So far, what he’s doing certainly seems to be working.
Photo by WPT/Joe Giron