Poker profile: Maurice Hawkins

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With the media all abuzz over the World Series, it’s tough for players doing well elsewhere to get some ink. But, when you had the kind of month Maurice Hawkins had, word is bound to get out.

At the Venetian DeepStack series, Hawkins chopped a $550 event for more than $50K, and then a few days later he won another DeepStack event for $67K. Those two wins made him the series points leader for more than a month. Ultimately he finished second in that race and won $15K for that accolade. During the month-long trip he also won a $10K seat to the WSOP Main Event (though he was one of the shutout players on Day 1D so he had to settle for the cash) and he won a couple of Caesars tournaments, including the Sunday Main. All told he took home $165K.

It’s about time the Ante Up Nation got to know Maurice Hawkins, who also won a pair of WSOP circuit events recently as well.

Nicknames: “Hawks” and “The Favorite.”

Residence: I live in Ft. Lauderdale. I bought myself a house from my poker winnings.
Has he always lived here? I came from St. Louis. I actually came here to go to college. (He had a full scholarship to Alabama A&M but was robbed his first semester. His mom told him it wasn’t safe there so he moved to Florida to play nickelback and outside linebacker for Bethune-Cookman).

Career plans before poker? I was going to be a heart surgeon (he eventually graduated from St. Thomas with a degree in biology), but I was a natural at poker. I’ve been playing for six or seven years professionally.

Game of choice? Hold’em. There is no other game for me. I’d rather be a master of one game than a jack of all trades. And it’s hard for me to say I’m a master because I believe that I become better every time I take a trip somewhere. … But I’d like to try to become better at hold’em than trying to control a bankroll and learn all the games. … Hold’em is hard enough.

Favorite hold’em hand: I like pocket threes, six-deuce suited, 5-3 and 6-7 (laughs).

We said favorite hand. (Pause) Probably six-deuce suited. (laughs) Most of the time you have a gutshot and a flush draw and people never put you on it. Poker’s all about the hand they think you have and not the hand you actually have.

Why was he so successful out West? It was all about adapting to the Vegas style of play, which was a very aggressive and very calculated form of play, as opposed to South Florida, where you can sit back and pick your spots because you have time. In Vegas it’s very hard to get chips from people and it’s very hard to know where they are in a hand because there are a lot of great players in Vegas. The first two or three tournaments I had to re-evaluate the play and strategic moves I was doing. From then on I pretty much had to redefine myself as a poker player and I had a lot of success.

How often does he travel? I used to travel maybe three to four times a year, but lately I decided to try to start to build a name for myself and become a successful tournament player. I’m probably going to be traveling all the time now. Two weeks out of every month and then just relax when I’m home the other two weeks. … And then I’ll go out for the World Series for the whole 30 days.

Does he play online? Not at all. I believe that’s poker death. I believe online play teaches you to be mechanical. Although there’s a lot to be learned from online poker, I just don’t like how mechanical it is. … I have never played online.

What’s the object of poker? When poker players are first getting started they think the object of poker is to play every day. But it’s really just to keep a clear head and be smart about your bankroll.

What will an increase in limits mean to Florida and him? I believe it would be great because tournament players in Florida are the best in the world. As far as the cash games I think it might be a really bad situation for a lot of poker players because Florida players don’t really know how to play cash games. But I think it will be great for our economy, and for me.