Joris “BillLewinsky” Ruijs took down one of the larger first-place prizes during the Spring Championship of Online Poker. It came in the Sunday Million Special Edition and was worth $217K.

The Dutchman now has $6.2M in online earnings, two SCOOP wins, and a WCOOP title to boot. But Ruijs is looking for a change of pace after almost a decade of battling at the highest stakes online.

As he told us during SCOOP, Ruijs is now setting his sights on the world of live Super High Rollers. With $1.79M in live winnings to date he’s no stranger to the live felt, but as we found out, his goal is to get to the $100Ks.

We caught up with him at his temporary grind station in the Dominican Republic to talk about his huge win, how he came up in the game, and his plans for the future.


PokerStars Blog: Congratulations on your SCOOP win. How is life in the Dominican Republic treating you?

Joris “BillLewinsky” Ruijs: It’s pretty excellent. We have a big swimming pool for an office, a lot of sun, and nice grinding hours. Last WCOOP, I went to Mexico to play as I was sick of getting stuck in a time zone where you’re playing until 6am or 7am every day. My friend said it was a good idea to come the Dominican Republic. We start at 11am and play until around 10pm, so you can still go out to dinner.

You’ve now added a SCOOP title to go along with your WCOOP title. How does this one compare?

It’s pretty good. This one feels great. It’s such a huge amount of money. SCOOP is always nice because the structures are always so good, it’s more prestigious. This win feels amazing, it’s my biggest online score by quite a bit.

You’ve final tabled the Sunday Million before (finishing fourth in 2018 for $52K). It must be nice to have gone all the way to take down this Special Edition version?

This one doesn’t really feel like a Sunday Million. That’s usually a $215 or a $109 now, whereas this one was really deep and there was a lot of play at the final table, which lasted quite a bit. I know it was a Special Edition, but it felt different to the regular Million.

You were also on a High Roller Club final table at the very same time as the SCOOP final table (Ruijs finished fifth in the $1,050 Sunday Warm-Up for $18K). That must have been exciting, right?

The whole SCOOP has been exciting actually, I’ve been making a lot of deep runs. You get to play pretty high stakes everyday. The SCOOP was already so big, so compared with that the High Roller Club final was pretty small. It didn’t add extra pressure, but it was nice. A really great day.

And you came back the very next day and made yet another final table, finishing second in the High Roller Club $1,050 Daily Warm-Up for $23K.

Yeah, y’know, we’re just out here playing everyday. No days off. We went partying yesterday for the first time, but we’ve been playing everyday.

Do you look forward to the SCOOP every year?

Yes, and this SCOOP we came over-prepared. For a month and a half in advance we had things we were working on, ranging from mental game things to technical analysis. We did heaps of study and work on specific spots and analysing opponents we were going to see a lot. We arranged for a personal chef here in the Dominican Republic to make us healthy food, to take care of us whilst we’re grinding. We were very prepared and absolutely looking forward to SCOOP.

I don’t think I’ve ever been on a healthier schedule than here. We wake up at a normal time, go for a run in the sun, play some golf, go for a swim, eat breakfast and start the grind. It’s ideal circumstances.

How do you think that lifestyle has impacted your poker?

If you’re playing 10 or 12 days in a row and you go deep in one of the later events, and it’s like 5am or 6am, your concentration just drops, there’s no two ways about it. We’ve noticed it a lot in the late tournaments. We see a lot of good players starting to make mistakes, which we think is due to fatigue from just having played so much. Some players seem to either want to quickly run up a stack, or bust and go to sleep. We have none of that. We can play. Our mental fitness is at its strongest point when everyone else is at their weakest point. It feel likes a huge difference.

How did you first discover poker?

I started playing when I was 18 or 19, and I’m 27 now so I sort of feel like a dinosaur in the online poker world. Like everyone else, I started playing really small stakes and freerolls after a friend introduced me to the game. I was always into strategy games.

The low stakes went well, and I slowly moved up from the $1 and $2 games. After a year I noticed I was making quite a bit more money than I was in my job as a chef. I moved and left that job, and never got another job again.

I then had a huge score and that was a big kickstarter for me to move up stakes and play higher. Ever since then I’ve always been super competitive online. I started my own company so there was a three-year stretch where I wasn’t playing as much online, but other than that I’ve always been competitive at the high stakes. 

Joris Ruijs

Joris Ruijs at the 2018 EPT Barcelona High Roller final table

What are you ambitions at this point in your career? No.1 in the world, perhaps?

I’m working with a couple of guys at a coaching company, and the idea is just to improve to the level where I’m going to be able to compete in the Super High Rollers, so the $25K, $50K and $100Ks. That’s really the ambition at this point. To get to a level of play where I feel comfortable in those events.

Online, the stakes are so high at this point–even without SCOOP, with the High Roller Club you can play $20K in buy-ins a day–so I’m just making sure my performance is good. It’s really important to me. I don’t think I can beat Lena900 or C.Darwin in the online rankings, so I think I’ll just have to leave that to them! Getting to world no.1 would be really fun, but I don’t think it’s realistic. A couple of those guys play so much–two months without missing a day–and I just can’t do that. I need some days off, and I like playing live.

With the plan being to move more into the live Super High Rollers, how do you think the level of play compares from the higher stakes live to online?

The stakes in live poker are much higher and the level of play is far lower. One of the things that people do live is lose patience or they start making mistakes and trying to force the issue, which you don’t really see online because everything goes so fast. I think the level in online high stakes is higher than it’s ever been. There’s a group of guys that are consistently playing them and they’re all excellent at poker, so you really have to battle it out for the small edges. Whereas with a live $10K, you could have a table where three of four people are sitting there because they enjoy playing the game or they won a satellite or something. It’s quite a bit softer than online.

For me, I have a list of things I want before jumping into these stakes, and one is being comfortable and having an edge. It feels silly to play a $100K and not be sure you have an edge. I might join in, I might not make it, you never know, but that is my ambition.

Will you be in the high roller mix at the World Series of Poker?

I’m only heading out to Las Vegas for the Main Event. After this I’m going back to the Netherlands for a while, and I’ll try not to see a computer screen for a few weeks!


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