Mark “Loki” Abboud was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions from us, get to know one of the friendliest players in the state of Minnesota — so friendly he almost always greets a new dealer when they take their seat — and who also has some very impressive tournament results on his resume.  Without further ado, meet Loki who you can follow on twitter @LuckboxLoki.

Schneids: First of all, congratulations for just coming off that win at Running Aces for over $31,000 last weekend. Be honest, how many times did you get it in bad and suck out? Just kidding, let’s talk a little bit about your poker playing history: when did you begin, what got you into poker, what games did you play, where is your game going or whatever you’d like to say about your development as a poker player?

Loki: Thanks buddy. It was a fun day. Limped into Day 2 with less than 10bb (49k). Won an all-in in the first orbit (J10hh > AQoff) to get out of the danger zone, then was at 350k before I knew it. It’s funny you should ask about getting it in bad, as was trying to figure that out myself for my own knowledge.

I started playing card on youth soccer road trips with teammates as a teenager. Got a little more serious in college with buddies, then more serious (meaning more money at stake) with teammates when I was playing soccer. We’d play on the bus rides and plane trips – poker variations, guts, in-between, and hearts. Super fun memories!

Started playing LHE in the early 2000’s at Canterbury. Late night trips with buddies to splash around in the 4/8 games, then more seriously on my own in the 15/30 and 30/60 games.

Got married in 2004, and had my 1st of 3 daughters in 2006, so poker took a back seat to parenting. Went through a divorce in 2013, and found myself back at Canterbury – not only for the love of poker, but more so for the social aspects. Now, my closest friend circle is made up of poker buddies, many of whom I also golf with frequently.

Schneids: Was there any “ah hah” moment for you? Do you credit anything in specific for helping you get over the hump, be it specific studying, local or national super heroes?

Loki: I will ALWAYS be thankful to my good buddy Gennady Shimelfarb for getting me started in tournament poker. I had been back to Canterbury for a year or so (playing the mix game with him), and saw him bring in some decent scores in the first half of 2014. I thought to myself, “If this guy can do it, I probably can, too.” 🙂

With that confidence in hand, I registered for my first poker tournament – the Fall Poker Classic $1,100 Main Event. I really had no idea what I was doing. Read a book (a golf book, not a poker book) the entire day 1, and managed to limp into day 2 with 26k. Somehow ended up taking 6th for just over $18K, and I was hooked.

Yes, you have to run good in tournaments. Everybody knows that. But there is SO MUCH to the tournament game that you don’t find in a cash game, and now that I’m no longer playing high-level soccer, I think tournament poker fills my desire to compete in something. I just love the challenge.

Schneids: Some may already know this about you, but you have lead a real unique life. Can you tell us a bit about your soccer career?

Loki: I grew up in Rochester (MN) playing the sport, and was fortunate enough to be decent at it. I had dreams of going to play DI soccer at Duke or UVA (DI power-houses at the time), but my parents forced me to attend Macalester College (St. Paul, DIII soccer). I was so mad at them at the time, but as I tell people now, it was the best decision that I never made.

Not only did I love the school, but moreover, I credit a lot of my soccer development to that program; a program I was able to come into day 1 as a starter – something that would not have happened at a top DI program.

I ended up being the only DIII player drafted into the top American Soccer League in 1992 (by the Tampa Bay Rowdies), and spent my first summer as a pro down in Florida. I spent 2 years (winters) playing abroad in France and Belgium, and a bit in the United Arab Emirates), then spent my lat 6 years as a pro here in Minnesota with the Thunder.

Schneids: And nowadays, when you aren’t playing poker, I know you’ve still got a lot going on, including being a business owner. Can you fill us in on that and any other of the many ways you fill in your time away from the table?

Loki: After retiring from pro soccer in 2000, I spent a decade coaching in the youth game. I had been working with young players since my first season in 1992 – focusing on the 9- to 11-year-old age group, and specifically on the girls side of the game. In 2008, I started looking for a new coaching challenge, and picked up the varsity coaching position at the newly opened East Ridge HS in Woodbury (where I was living at the time). Left that position in 2016, as I knew my own girls were going to be starting to play more seriously, and I wanted to be able to coach and be more involved with them during the fall seasons.

I started a company (Skillzys, Inc) in 2009, based of work I’d done in the youth development environment, and had a staff of 14 employees in Woodbury. Sold the company in 2013 and closed the doors here, only to re-acquire the company 3 months later (too long of a story for this interview). I now manage things from home, and this affords me the flexibility to play poker, golf, etc.

Schneids: I also know you play a LOT of golf these days. Regularly with other poker players. Have there been any crazy prop bet stories or experiences with any of them you can think of?

Loki: Ha! Our golf game has actually toned down a bit over the years with my poker buddies. We used to play a dollar-a-yard game, which got to be pretty big at times. Again, like in poker, I just loved the challenge, and loved trying to perform well under pressure. We still gamble quite a bit on the course, and some of the games can get a bit crazy and out-of-hand at times, but no one is playing with money they can’t afford to lose, and it’s all in good fun.

Schneids: One last Q I love asking everyone: you get to fill a table with whoever you want, living or dead, who’s invited and what is being played?

Loki: Geez. That’s a tough one to answer. I guess I’d could go with my last 9 girlfriends. No, wait. That might be just a bit too awkward. I think it would either be Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam, and we’d play whatever they wanted, or I’d look to get in the 9 current best pros and play NLHE to watch and learn first-hand.

Schneids: Thank you so much for your time Loki, and I wish you continued good luck at the tables, unless you’re at my mix game table then I hope I make a lot of wheels against your 2nd nut lows 🙂