Heidy May Interviewed by Somuchpoker’s Gaelle Jaudon
Somuchpoker: So, first simple question, where in Australia do you come from, and what brought you to the poker community?
Heidi May: I’m from Tasmania, a Southern island. It’s really mountainous and with lots of nice solitary beaches, I love it here. I started playing around 20 years old with friends. I won a little PokerStars tournament online and thought I was very good, so I kept playing and tried to become a pro.! But I was not very good, actually! I ended up traveling to Vegas for the first time, and that’s where I met my poker friends. In Tasmania, there aren’t many players, and it’s a very small community, more like small poker leagues where you play at the pub for 20$. So I mainly met my poker friends from overseas.
SMP: On your Hendon Mob, you have around 360K$ in live results, and your first score was in 2011, but when did you really start to be a professional player? Because you were playing online too.
Heidi May: I played online mostly when I started so around 2012 I was already playing online full-time. I played full-time for a couple of years, and then I had a break to study the game before going back to play after losing my bankroll many times! I also went back to University during covid because we couldn’t travel anymore, and online poker was banned in Australia 6 years ago, so there was not much to do. So I started studying Marine and Antarctic science, because that’s what everybody does around here, it’s a very marine environment! But finally, I went back to Vegas last year.
SMP: About your online games, I saw one of your interviews from 2014, saying you were playing big cash games online and live in Macau. Is it still the case today?
Heidi May: I haven’t been playing much online anymore, and I still play a little bit of live cash games but not big high stakes. I’ll play high stakes when I’m back in Vegas; it will be easier there. My biggest games were in 2017/ 2018 when I was playing some 50/100 NLH tables at the Bellagio. But I was mostly playing 10/20 there, and it was going really well, so I jumped sometimes to the higher tables. Today I still play a little bit, but I need to go to Perth to find some good tables.
SMP: You won the WSOP Ladies Event in 2017 for 135K$. How much of an impact did it have on your career?
Heidi May: It was always a dream to go to the World Series, like every poker player, and it felt pretty unreal. At that time, I didn’t really feel excited about it, I didn’t realize what had happened but it hit me after. When I came back home everybody was congratulating me. I was a little celebrity here for a couple of months. It was pretty cool! After that win, it also helped me to sell action way easier and play more tournaments and higher buy-ins. Instead of playing 5 to 10 events usually during the WSOP, I was able to play the full schedule, which is great. It helped me get more backers and made the variance of tournaments a bit less scary to take on my own.
SMP: Today, how do you manage your career? What do you want to focus on?
Heidi May: At the moment, I’m focusing on getting my cash game better. I’ve been studying a lot of poker tournaments lately, and I feel that my deep stack poker is maybe not as good as it should be, so I want to work on it for some time until it’s time for the next big poker series around June. I want to play some cash games for now and see what happens.
SMP: Why does it seem you don’t travel that much on the poker circuit anymore?
Heidi May: That’s true. I don’t play full-time anymore. I’m flying back and forth in Perth for a couple of months to play cash, and then I come back and try to go to Vegas at least every year. But that’s pretty much it at the moment. I really like the EPT circuit. I would love to go back to Barcelona, but that’s a long trip!
SMP: It also seems, unfortunately, that the Aussie Millions are definitely over. That was a popular venue, and you had many results there. What’s your feeling about this news and the future of the poker scene in Australia?
Heidi May: That’s obviously a big blow to poker in Australia. It was a great time to see all my poker friends from overseas; so many people were coming to Australia for the Aussie Millions. I loved to be able to be sort of a tour guide for the players visiting! But the poker scene in Australia is still ok. We have our own little series, and they attract pretty big fields, even if it doesn’t really attract international players. We have the APL Million, which is quite good, and a few other series. So the live poker scene is still alive and doing ok. But losing the Aussie Millions was a big disappointment, it’s true.
SMP: About your poker community, we saw you a lot with Belgium poker players. Who is part of your poker crew?
Heidi May: Yeah, it’s true. I think the Belgium people are really cool! I can’t explain. I just really connected with the Belgium guys, who are super lovely and down to earth. We love going on hikes together. Last year we went to Zion, which was great for a break in the middle of the series. Mostly I hang out with Johan Schumacher and Michael Gathy, and we talk a lot about poker hands. I also have a couple of Australian poker friends, like Tanja Vujanik, who mostly play PLO online.
SMP: And besides poker, what are your other projects?
HM: Besides poker, when I’m at home, I volunteer a lot at a farm animal sanctuary called Bright Side. It’s mainly rescued farm animals and dogs. I love doing this and enjoy spending as much time as possible there. But actually, I don’t have that many projects for now outside of poker. I wish I could say that I did! I mostly spend the days with animals!
SMP: Overall, what is the biggest lesson you learned through your poker career? You already said you went broke a few times and that bankroll management has been a real issue. So in which areas did you improve the most thanks to poker?
HM: In general, poker has taught me interesting things in life. Definitely, bankroll management is one of the most important. You treat money differently when using it to make more money. That was a hard one to learn because I was pretty bad at this for quite a while. I was making money in a tournament, and thinking, “Yeah, I’m rich!” Then it was all gone quite quickly if you don’t deep run more tournaments to stay afloat. But I’m way better at that now. I just had to learn the hard way for sure! In general, poker teaches you about risk management. And I’ve been getting good at prop bets. I’ve been teaching all my non-poker friends how to make pro bets, which is quite funny.
SMP: What about the next WSOP, will you be there, and what would be your schedule?
HM: Most likely, yes, but I’m still not 100% sure. But if I do go, I’ll pretty much play all of the 1K$ to 2K$ tournaments and then obviously the Main Event. Last year I only played tournaments, and this year I would like to break it up and play some cash games in between. Especially if I haven’t won anything the first weeks, some cash games could help! At first, you’re very excited to be in Vegas during the WSOP, and after some time, not having any results can become very sad, so cash games could be a little bit more refreshing and bring some poker wins, even small ones.
SMP: Last question, we just talked about prop bets, and I remember in Vegas last year, you were wearing a big sombrero at the Ladies’ event because of a bet you lost. What was your funniest prop bet?
HM: I haven’t done any really crazy ones. The one with the sombrero last year was pretty funny. But I remember the year before, the one you played the worst hand of the day in our group of friends had to wear these really ugly suspenders. And actually, I never had to wear them that year. So I don’t know if that’s because I played really well or I just didn’t share enough hands with my friends! But I never did any wild ones.