Sida Yuen is probably not a name you recognise quite yet, but he has the backing of Neil Channing and Nik Persaud, so you probably will be hearing it plenty over the next few years. Yuen is one of the 8 Brown Belts from the BlackBelt Poker Grading Process. Sida is an online high stakes cash specialist and is looking forward to his first WSOP as a sponsored pro.
Pokernews: Talk to most of the other graders and they all said you were one of the favourites to win a Brown Belt, were you aware of that?
Sida Yuen: I was kind of aware a lot of people expected me to do well, I was very vocal in the first workshop, I knew a lot of the intricacies of online play, I think that made people notice me. Plus it does help when you win 17 buy-ins on your first day of grinding.
PN: Unlike a lot of the graders, you had the added pressure of university finals to deal with alongside playing, how did you find the time?
Sida Yuen: LOL – It was a big test of character, that's for sure. I would get up at 11, study for 3 or 4 hours, then play a 6 hour straight session then study again until it was time for bed, rinse and repeat. I didn't really see my friends that month, I hardly saw my girlfriend. 2 weeks in I felt really worn down, which was round about the time I went on a big downswing. Studying didn't go as well as it could have (please don't let my parents read this) but I think the benefits outweighed the negatives, for my long term future. It's taught me a lot of how to balance things in life.
PN: It must have been worth it to get the live phone call from Jesse May saying you made it?
Sida Yuen: I was the last one to be told, which was tough during a three hour show. It was funny; I invited a few friends over for a mini celebration waiting for my name to be read out. I was shitting myself towards the end, my friends started saying maybe I wasn't going to get a belt when they kept hearing other names being read out, I started to wonder if I messed things up a bit towards the end, I was so relieved to get the call.
PN: So what did you do after the grading was over?
Sida Yuen: I took some time off to finish my studies, after that I started playing a few online tournaments to work on those skills as I am mainly a cash player, I also went to the Vic, my local, a few times to get some live play in. I'm flying out to Vegas this Sunday, it will be my 2nd time in Vegas and I will be playing about 6 bracelet events as well as doing another workshop while we are out there. In any free time we have I will probably be playing the cash games at the Wynn or the Bellagio.
PN: You play some pretty high stakes online poker, what was the incentive to go through the grading when it could be argued you are financially better off playing on your own dime?
Sida Yuen: Nik Persaud told me about this big idea of his that sounded interesting, I thought it could be big, there isn't a massive UK strategy community like 2+2 and BlackBelt could be that one day. I really wanted to be a part of it because it could be huge.
PN: So how does it feel to be a Brown Belt
Sida Yuen: It feels good, it feels like maybe I have achieved something. I have been helping some of the blue belts as a coach online on Skype, which is really fun and helping them is also good for my game. I played the DTD £300 the other week which was nice because all the other graders were there. I'm not a 'known' player but last week 3 random strangers congratulated me at the Vic, which was a nice feeling.