Over the course of his career in professional online poker, Randy “nanonoko” Lew has done very well for himself. By 2009, he made over one million dollars in online winnings. At live events, he’s banked more than $1.1 million since. Now, nanonoko intends to try his hand at a new card game: he’s signed on to represent Team Liquid in Hearthstone.
If those winnings don’t spell it out for you, I will: nanonoko is very good at poker. In addition to picking up wins at major tournaments like the Asian Pacific Poker Tour, he’s got a unique knack for keeping track of—and winning—literally dozens of online games at the same time. That may be hard to hear for those of us who can’t text and walk without crashing into signposts, but it’s a good testament to nanonoko’s unusually high analytic abilities.
While he isn’t the first poker player to begin a professional Hearthstone career, nanonoko is probably the best
Even so, it’s odd for an esports organization as large and established as Team Liquid to sign someone with no professional experience in a game. Clearly, nanonoko knows his way around Hearthstone; this summer, he achieved Legend, the highest step you can reach in the ranked ladder. But nanonoko had yet to actually appear in a professional tournament until last weekend at DreamHack Winter 2016, the same event where he announced the start of his professional career.
So far, he seems to be off to a good start. nanonoko began the tournament by sweeping Tempo Storm’s David “justsaiyan” Shan 3-0, a bold statement for the rookie player. Overall, he went even in wins and losses, with two of each. For his first professional event, he could have done a lot worse.
The worlds of competitive poker and Hearthstone aren’t strangers to one another. Before he made his debut, Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy won over $134,000 over the course of his career in competitive poker. While he hasn’t played professionally in more than two years, his former career has clearly left its imprint on him. Before each move, Lifecoach likes to run through any possible counter play he can imagine; he typically uses all 75 seconds of his turns down to the rope fuse, which led fans to give him the nickname “Ropecoach.” It’s not dissimilar to the mental guessing games anyone who’s serious about poker must develop.
While he isn’t the first poker player to begin a professional Hearthstone career, nanonoko is probably the best, and he’s confident he can bring those skills over with him. He said as much in the announcement of his signing with Liquid: “Hearthstone has many similarities to poker in that it’s a turn based card game where you are trying to figure out your opponent’s moves so you can optimize your turn. I think my experience in poker will allow me to learn quickly and fulfill my desire to be one of the best in Hearthstone.”
In addition to his run at Wizard Poker, nanonoko will continue to play good old regular poker, continuing his sponsorship with PokerStars. You can catch him playing both games on his Twitch channel—though, as of this posting, he doesn’t do so simultaneously.