:columns, interviews, james potter, jonathan karamalikis, monser dong, poker
|IN 2009 I was fortunate to captain the Australian team in the first-ever World Team Challenge at the Asian Poker Tour (APT) in Macau, China.
Needing to form a good, well-balanced squad, I went on the hunt for a young internet gun, and all roads led to a quietly spoken guy from Adelaide who was making more money than most CEOs playing poker online.
I found it odd that shy and retiring Jonathan Karamalikis was better known as “Monster Dong” on the web, but he was certainly making his mark.
Last year, Karamalikis joined a select group of Australian pros when he was sponsored by online gaming giant Full Tilt Poker, and he immediately repaid their faith in him by winning the PokerStars Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Grand Final in Sydney in December.
Not only did the victory catapult Jonathan into the top echelon of Australian poker, it also saw him take home just under half a million dollars in prize money. I had a chat with the Dong at the recent Crown Aussie Millions tournament in Melbourne…
Okay, Jonathan, why “Monster Dong”?
Haha! It’s always the first question. Obviously, I had a lack of confidence when I invented the name. I made “Monster Dong” my online handle to make myself feel better about my adolescent issues, and to try and convince everyone that I actually have a big dong.
When did you start playing poker?
My mate taught me how to play when I was 16. That same night, I created an account at a play-money website and played endlessly. It took me about six months to learn the basics, and from there I’ve never looked back.
|Winning the APPT Final is your greatest achievement so far. What was your highest poker achievement before that? This probably sounds pretty stupid, but winning my first Aussie Millions ring gave me the happiest moment in my poker career, even though the APPT was worth more money. There’s just nothing like the feeling of your first major win.
What are the most obvious differences between playing online and playing live tournament poker?
Being able to see who you’re playing against live is a huge advantage. I can usually work out what kind of people [my opponents] are in the first 20 minutes. Online, there’s a lot more re-raising and aggressive play. Live play is more focused on post-flop action.
Outside of poker, what else do you enjoy doing?
I spend most of my time hanging out with my mates, watching basketball and going to the gym, when I have the time to get into a routine. I also love travelling and seeing new places. I spend four to five months of the year on the road.
Where to next, Mr Dong?
I want to do Europe sometime this year, go play some tournaments on the EPT [European Poker Tour] circuit and perhaps visit London for World Series Europe. And obviously I’ll be going to Las Vegas for the World Series—that’s a “can’t miss”; however, I might just go for the Main Event this year because my mates and I never actually play poker when we’re there…
Do you see poker as a career option, or just a hobby?
I consider poker to be both a career and a hobby. I see it as a competitive sport because you’re always looking to improve. I’m more than happy to keep doing this for now.
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