Poker player profile: Chris Oliver

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Relentless aggression. If you don’t know what it is or how to use it, just ask Chris Oliver. The 21-year-old from Holiday, Fla., is very familiar with using the full force of his chip stack to dominate live and online poker. His results speak for themselves. In August 2010 he became the top-ranked online player in the world (pocketfives.com) and recaptured that title in December. Recently he placed runner-up in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event for a monstrous $1.8 million.

Oliver, a.k.a. “ImDaNuts” (PokerStars) and “Gettin Daize” (Full Tilt), started playing poker with a small online transfer from a friend. He was staked in a $3 rebuy and made the final table. From there it was no stopping him. He was so confident he dropped out of high school to play professionally. Other achievements include a runner-up in the PokerStars Sunday Million ($158K), a third-place finish in the 2010 PokerStars WCOOP Event 44 ($67K), and victories in the Full Tilt $1K Monday ($83K) and PokerStars Sunday 500 ($87K).

Ante Up’s Garrett Roth got the opportunity to speak with Oliver about his career, his most recent seven-figure score at the PCA and his future ambitions.

When your family and friends heard about you dropping out of high school to play poker, how did you explain to them this was a profitable career path?

“Nobody liked it, but I knew I could do it. I just blocked everyone out for a couple of years and focused on making it work. I knew I wasn’t the best player but I knew I could outwork everyone and that was all I could control. Everyone was shocked to see me on TV winning that much money. My mom and dad are thrilled now and all my friends from high school watched the PCA final table. I put so much work into poker and I just wanted to make sure I made it all worth it.”

How did you use your aggressive image to your advantage at the PCA?

“In the first day of the tournament, I chipped up from 35K to 100K with no showdowns. The second day, I had Casey “bigdogpckt5s” Jarzabek and seven fish at my table so my VPIP (voluntarily put money into pot) for the first five hours of the day had to be close to the 90-percent range. There was a hand where a player opened and I three-bet queen-deuce offsuit on the button and he flat-called. The flop came out 10-8-4 with two spades. He led out for half the pot and I snap min-raised him. He folded and I showed the bluff. I wanted to make it as hard as possible for people to play against me.”

Were there any other big hands that propelled you to the final table?

“On Day 3 there was this one big hand where I opened {7-Diamonds}{5-Diamonds} to 23K (5K-10K blinds) from middle position. (Harry Kaczka) three-bet me to 65K. My options were to flat and play a pot in position or put in another raise. I four-bet him to 112K and I expected to see a five-bet in that spot a lot (we were over 100 big blinds deep). He did five-bet to 255K and at this point I’m not four-betting a hand like 7-5 suited to fold it that deep, so I just put it in. He called with {a-Diamonds}{k-Spades} and the board ran out {5-Hearts}{k-Clubs}{5-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{6-Hearts} for the biggest hand of the tournament up to that point.

“A little while later, I raised with jacks and got three-bet in position. He was about 100 big blinds deep and I wasn’t really sure what to do, but I clicked it back to induce a shove and he obliged. I called and he showed kings. A player at the table told me he threw away a jack, but the first card that came on the flop was the case jack. This gave me a huge chip lead to end the day.

“I played snug early at the final table because I knew there were going to be a ton of good spots since I had been playing so crazy earlier. When we got down to five players, I started playing crazy again, three-betting a few hands in a row. I picked up some pots and ended up knocking out Sam Stein on a cooler hand, my A-Q to his A-9. There were no other really big hands except where I had A-2 on a 2-3-5-2-A board and Galen Hall made an absurdly good laydown with a four. The final hand was another cooler, my A-9 to his Q-Q all-in preflop. Some people say it was a bad play but A-9 heads-up, with my image, is pretty much the nuts vs. a capable player such as Galen.”

Since you’ve achieved so much at such a young age, what are your future goals for poker?

“My main goal to start the year was to have a million dollars in the bank from playing and backing players. Backing is a way I can help my buddies come up and make some money for themselves. I want to have everyone I grew up with living good. I also plan on buying a house in Vegas in the near future and trying new things to be successful at everything I do. I want to inspire everyone around me to do the same thing. I would also like to get to the level where I can beat the $25-$50 cash games and the $2K-$5K heads-up SNGs on a regular basis.”