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The Well: Jman28 (summary 12/25/2007) The Well: Jman28 (summary 12/25/2007)

02-14-2008 , 10:16 PM
The Well: Jman28 (summary 12/25/2007)

A stranger is being shown around a village that he has just become part of. He is shown a well and his guide says "On any day except Saturday, you can shout any question down that well and you'll be told the answer."

The man seems pretty impressed, and so he shouts down: Why not on Saturday? and the voice from in the well shouts back: Because on Saturday, itís your day in the well.
I owe too much to 2p2 to not have gone into the well. Seems like a good time for giving back, it being the holidays and all.

Also, all of my roommates and other friends are away celebrating x-mas with family and I have nothing to do other than sit here and be Jewish.

Well thought out questions will be met with well thought out responses.

I know this is supposed to be about you, but what do you think of my game in our time played together?

I don't want to do this for everyone who asks, especially since I play against many of them, but since you seem like a good guy and you asked first:

I don't think I know your thought process well enough to comment on it, and I think that's the most important part of a poker player. I believe many different styles of play can be successful. You seem smart, but I would need to read more of your posts or maybe watch some videos on you new site (yw for plug) to get a good feel for the way you think about the game.

Overall, I think you're a good player. I assume you want to know how to get better so I'll talk about what I think your leaks might be. I hope it doesn't make you think that I think you suck.

As far as style, and I know that this will shatter the hearts and explode the heads of many a 2p2er and CR member who don't think this is possible, I think you're too aggressive.

THB, it makes you annoying as hell to play against, and your style will tilt and beat up on a lot of weak to decent players. However I think that it's not optimal game theory wise, and top players in bigger games can exploit it.

Having an AF as high as yours, there are too many spots where you are representing such a small range (hand combo wise) of legit hands.

So like, HU, you raise, TAG calls. 5k stacks

Flop is Q74r

TAG c/r your 250 to 850

I think that you should be calling this spot with most of your range that you want to continue the hand with. (depending on your opponent) You can rep a much wider range of hands that way.

I think, correct me if I'm wrong, that you would 3bet this flop with many hands that you'd continue with.

(I started with another hand example that I need to think about more and hopefully post later)

In the same vein, you cbet too often. (again, fine v weak to average players)

There are probably a lot of spots where (I think) you cbet with midpair or AQ high against a player who is calling every better hand, and folding or raising almost every worse hand (which you have to fold to).

Cbetting with these types of hands might be profitable in a vacuum (but might not be) just because of how often it works, but they make your cbetting range to heavy in hands that have to fold to a raise.

I would imagine there are a lot of spots that you bet or raise with the best hand in a spot where checking behind makes more sense. Spots where worse hands can't really call, but might pay off a bet later,or bluff/vb too thin. Also spots where you can't stand a raise.

A lot of players have the problem of betting or raising just because they think they have the best hand. That's not enough reason to bet. I don't know if you have that problem in your thought process or not.

I'd guess that your style is the result of being a tournament player (I was too). The gap concept gets drilled into our heads, and rightfully so. Tournaments demand a high AF style.

Hope that was helpful. If for some reason you want it deleted let me know, or a mod if it's too late.

OH, you 3bet too much HU too.

Total hands played this year?
Amount won this year?
Average hours per day spent playing?
What are your goals for 2008?

I honestly keep terrible track of hands. My PT acts up a lot and I'm too lazy to fix it.

I do know how much money I've made, but I don't want to discuss it. I'm sorry. The last few months have been crazy though. A $600k downswing followed by a long breakeven stretch, followed by a $1.3m upswing, followed by a $450k downswing. I need to start playing lower I think.

As far as hours, I have a very obsessive personality. I often will go for about 4 days to 2 weeks playing 8-14 hours most days. Sometimes I'll play less than four hours over two weeks.

The most important thing I've learned is that until I'm in desperate need of money and have to grind a bunch, forcing myself to play is always a bad idea. Both financially and emotionally.

I'm looking to buy a house/condo in 2008. I want to spend time with family and friends, stay in good shape (I've been working out steady for about 7 weeks now and it's been really helpful). I want to keep working on my game. I think lately I've just assumed I was good and didn't question enough. No monetary goals. There's too much variance in the games I play to make reasonable goals.

Nice, I've always respected your play. What path did you take to get to where you are and how did you start out? i.e. did you grind up from the low limits and how long did that take you.
Also what do you feel was your toughest limit to beat as you were moving up and why.


I started with sitngos. I played them for 1.5 years. I started with $50 at $10 sngs (which is too high). I lost and redeposited $50. I found HPFAP by Sklansky and then found 2+2. I slowly moved up, playing $30 sngs for a loooong time. I actually was way overrolled for them and made the leap from $30 to $100 for some reason. A while later I was doing very well at the $100s and $200s when Party started running $1k-$5k tournaments. I took a couple shots at these and ran very well. Actually, I realize now that I ran pretty well for the first 2 years I played poker. Had I run normal or badly, I might not have redeposited again and again and might've never gotten to the point I'm at now.

Anyways, Apathy told me that I should try cash games (He played sngs with me for a while) so I sat down at 5/10nl to try my luck. I had no idea what I was doing. There's very little postflop play in SNGs. Luckily I was a huuuuuge nit from playing SNGs, so I actually made some money since there were so many stations on Party Poker at the time.

I started to read the cash forums and study more. I also hired coaches. I was coached by whitelime briefly, Tommy Angelo, and a well known tourney player who doesn't like to be talked about.

The coaching helped me a lot. It mostly got me to break outside of the box and realize that rules and formulas weren't the best way to play deepstack nlhe. (SNGs they are)

I started beating 5/10 for about 5.5pt over a good sample size. I had trouble with 10/20 for a while adjusting to aggressive players. Eventually I moved up and could beat 10/20.

Right around before PP closed to US players, I started playing on FTP and UB. I had terrible BR management. One time when I had an 80k roll, I played 25/50 and 50/100 on UB with 15k in my account, ran it up to 105k, and then lost it all over the span of 2 days.

That summer, which was the summer before last, I lived in Vegas with who you might know as the SIHBs. I learned so much that summer. OMG I learned so much. Talking to people about poker who know what they're talking about is amazing. Watching them play and discussing every possible line you can take. It improved my game so much.

Around that time I took the occasional shot here and there at 25/50 on FTP. I found one huge fish who loved to play me. I ended up playing him at 50/100 and ran terribly. I remember one hand where I reraised his minraise to 900 with KQo. He called. I bet like 1400 on the flop of 632r, he called. Turn 3o, I checked. He potted for like 4800 or whatever with 4500 behind. He was floating flops a lot and playing.... basically I was sure he wouldn't play a strong hand that way. I shoved for his last 4500. He tanked forever and called with 1 sec left and KJo. Valuetown!!!!!! J river. That was the same night that good2cu got owned by Wayne Newton at the Bellagio at 25/50. It was actually a funny night.

I lost about half my roll that summer, mostly to that one fish. Overall though, it was a great summer. I improved so much.

I stepped back and grinded 5/10 for a long time. I won a bunch and slowly moved up. The next time that I took a shot at 25/50 and 50/100, it stuck, and I played big ever since. That was a little over a year ago I think. I've had up and downs since, but nothing else super notable in my journey to where I am now.

That summer completely changed my future in poker. I had all the skills naturally, but it took meeting the right people to bring them out IMO. All of the guys in the house helped me a ton.

Meeting Tom (durrrr) was a huge part of my move to high stakes play. He opened my mind to thinking about situations completely differently. I remember one time when he was discussing a hand with h@ll in front of me, where he had something like weak top pair and was facing a big river bet. He was like, 'I think a call is better than a fold' and I thought to myself, 'yeah I agree' and then he said 'but I would shove' and I exploded. I realized that you should think of every possible option you have in nlhe. You usually have a ton of them.

I also met Dan (Unarmed on 2p2) that summer. He lived in the house and coincidentally met a girl the previous year who lived in Madison, WI, where I live. He moved in with her, and we hung out a lot. He would come over, set up his laptop on my 3rd monitor, and we'd play for 8 hours and talk about hands.

I know Dan is fairly unknown in the poker world, and he's 'only' a 10/20 player, but I can say without a doubt, Dan has taught me much more about poker than anyone or anything else.

If you are near someone who plays poker and is smart, spend as much time around them as you can if you want to improve your game.

ive never played with you i dont think, but ive always respected you a bunch.
list some of your poker "epiphanies" that you have had over the past several years. what do you think your best strengths are as a player? your weaknesses?

Thanks jfish.

I'll probably miss a bunch of epiphanies I've had. Maybe if I searched through my old posts it would help, but I'm trying to get through these questions. I'll come back if I think of anything else.

I just posted about the time that durrrr made me realize that you have more options than you think you do. Thinking outside the box, turning made hands that are good enough to call into bluffraises that turn out to be even more profitable, cbetting 1/3 pot in a rr pot, etc.

One thing that occurred to me at some point was how to use your style/image and balance your range accordingly. I started out being pretty nitty before realizing that I could use my image to bluff. Then I started to get called down. I got angry, like 'I'm so tight, how can they call!?!' before figuring out what my ranges really consisted of in certain spots.

I was a nit and not making thin 3 street vbs. So when I bet 3 streets, I had two pair+ and bluffs pretty much. If you are a player who doesn't make very thin value bets, you have to bluff less, otherwise your range will be weighted heavily towards bluffs when you're pounding on the pot.

It made me think about how I can create an image for myself.

I made a post once in HSNL about a thought which helped me a lot. It basically was the idea that every time the action is to you, it's an opportunity for you to make the perfect play. Thinking about poker that way is great for your game.

Lastly, I've realized that working out regularly helps your game more than you might think. I highly recommend it.


I think I have as good a mental skillset for the game as possibly anyone. I think the three most important areas of intelligence in regards to poker are logic, probability, psychology. They actually are pretty close in order of importance, and change depending on game structure.

I think I excel in all three of those areas. There are players who can calculate probabilities better than me, but almost all of those players don't understand people as well or have as firm a grasp on logic as I do. Many who are strong in player psychology are very weak in the other areas. You get the point.

I don't think that I'm the best poker player in the world, but I think I could possibly have the best mind in these areas combined. I think because of this, I'll always be successful at poker since these are things that are more naturally occuring than teachable.


I think my main weaknesses are personality based.

I'm an underachiever. I'm lazy. I can't do any hard work unless I'm extremely interested in it. Luckily I'm interested in certain aspects of poker, so I'm able to work on it. However I don't spend any time going through PT, checking my hands for mistakes, going over hands to take notes on players, calculating my equity vs. ranges of hands (except when I have to write an article about it), etc.

I also don't have the right overall personality for poker. I'm a very passive person by nature. I don't like to cause trouble or upset people, and I'm very non-confrontational. I absolutely believe that your personality affects the way you play poker.

It took me a very long time to push my level of poker aggression to the point it is at now, still a bit lower than it should be IMO.

I also am very indecisive in real life. I'm afraid to make a mistake and I always fear the worst might happen. This translates to me misplaying hands, erring too far on the side of minimizing losses and not enough on the side of maximizing gains.

If I reraise AQ and get called, cbet A98r flop, and the turn is a J, my first thought is '****, what if he has AJ or QT?!' A lot of times it causes me to play the hand much more passively than I should. My default move when I get scared like this is to call a lot, hence my reputation. I have to be focused to catch myself and use my logic to overpower my tendency to shut down and play from behind.

I guess another one of my strengths is that I'm self aware.

sickest bluff youve made in last 6 months? sickest call?

Unfortunately I don't save most of my hands. I remember a big call I made against a Ziigmund overbet river shove with TT or something. I know it was posted on 2p2, so if someone finds it, that'd be cool. I know I've made bigger calls than that, but I don't remember any specifically.

As for bluffs, I don't make many sick bluffs. I'm sure it was some river c/r, but I don't specifically remember any.

I'm sorry.

Assume an unknown TAG villain opens from the CO, folded to you in the BB with KhQh - standard 3bet?

I 3bet this maybe 80% of the time. I change this % A LOT with further reads.

Assume you cold call, flop comes 7h 5h Js - merits of bet/3betting flop? Do you c/raise flop? Assume you c/raise - do you jam any turn?

Assuming stacks are right for it, my standard line is to c/r flop, hoping to fold out midpairs and get it in with 9s8s type stuff. I would shove most turns. I sometimes call for deception, and I would lead sometimes, but it looks a little transparent to lead 3bet this flop. I think it's fine since you're rarely far behind with KQhh, but with say, well, 9s8s I would expect to be called too light and not have a ton of equity.

Simple situation but I just wanted to address the logic behind 3betting a hand like KQ or AJ pre-flop against a normal TAG without history - is playing a big pot OOP against a normal TAG's 3bet calling range going to be profitable with these hands? (not implying it isn't necessarily) As for flop - doesn't c/raising and jamming turn if he flats let him play his top pair or overpair hands perfectly against you? Whereas bet/3betting isn't great since he will likely be commited with any hand that raises your donk unless he's bluffing or messing around with mid pair or something. Thanks.

Against some players, you're 3betting to get them to call with worse hands. Against some, you're 3betting just because they fold a lot and you'd rather take down the pot or find out you're behind than play a hand OOP (Also these hands strengthen your 3betting range so it isn't just junk and monsters). Against some players who 4bet a lot with a balanced range, and don't call quite light enough, it's better to call hands like these.

As for the flop, you're thinking about it wrong I think. You're thinking that he's gonna play his overpair perfectly. You're right. It's pretty easy to play an overpair in spots like these. You aren't gonna make money very often with a draw OOP v an overpair. bet/3betting and c/r'ing (c/c too) are to get money out of (or fold out) other hands in his range. You're trying (with the more aggro plays) to either get it in with worse draws, fold out as many made hands as possible, or get it in flipping. You might opt to c/c against some players who will either define their hand on turn and let you bluff the river often, or who might rep the flush and bluff off their stack if it hits.

is it true u called down 3 streets with k high once?

I don't remember specifically, but I'm sure I have.

did he show u a full house?


vn post, ty.

np, good questions.

Some more strengths/wekanesses I thought of:

I do get upset when I lose a lot, like most people, but I almost always wake up the next morning and am 100% fine. I don't know why it happens to me, but I'm very thankful that I can do it.

I'm also not as overconfident as most players (I guess this is just my opinion obviously, but I'm right). This is kind of a strength and a weakness. It makes me get upset with myself easier because I relentlessly question myself as a player when I lose. It's bad to lack confidence when you play.

On the other hand, since I question myself a lot, I often improve my game and don't go on autopilot very much. I see a lot of players, once they reach the top, just assume that they have it all figured out and seemingly stop trying.

1. Describe me as a player, but in a poem.

This ended up being more like a tight ass rap than a poem. I hope that's okay.


If you sit down in a game with a player like Krantz,
Chips are gonna hit the felt so hard the table might dance
Things are going pretty well, he's a fish at first glance
Realize 5 buyins later, you're the Bass like Lance.

Sure every now and then he gets his money in dead, yo
You look back at the hand and think, "**** where'd his head go?"
Yeah you might call him a monkey or an action junkie
Just make sure you call him when you need to stack a red pro

For those who play with him, if he's not playin nice.
I'll try to leave y'all with some solid advice.
If he's pushing you around and your stack starts to whither
Check back the nut flush. He'll check shove the river.


2. Why did you seek out coaching with Tommy Angelo, and what was it like?

I decided at one point that it made so much sense to get a coach. I realized that I might be playing poker for a long time, so a slight boost in hourly rate would end up being a ton of money. I made a post in hsnl (i think) saying I was looking for a coach. EL D basically said Tommy /end thread. A couple people agreed and I went with him. The experience was overall very very good but not at all what I expected or thought I wanted. It sounds like a line from a movie, but I like to say that Tommy didn't teach me the things I wanted to learn, but he taught me the things I needed to learn.

A lot of people don't get the most out of coaching because they ask the wrong questions. I think a program like Tommy's, where he sets out a lesson plan and tells you what he knows you need to learn is much better. I know I've written about the experience in detail somewhere. If anyone can find it, I'd appreciate it. Otherwise remind me later in the thread to look for it somewhere.

3. What do you think you do better (in poker) than anyone in the world?


I don't really know tbh. I guess just the things I listed in response to jfish's questions about my strengths.

Actually, I have one.

I think I can understand and adjust to players very well. I can figure out how they think, and logically deduce the way to counter it pretty quickly. Actually, here... I've written a bunch of 'unreleased' stuff for a project I was working on. This is part of a series about adjusting to specific player types (this one is adjusting to the bad lag):
I teach improvisation, and one thing that I've leaned from improv that carries over nicely to poker has to do with character work. When developing a character, you have to get inside their head. A character is much more than an occupation, hobby, voice or posture. The most important thing to think about is a character's motivation: what that person wants.

In poker, every player has personal motivations. They're more than the hands they 3bet preflop, their bet sizes, or how well they understand pot odds. Through watching their play, you can get a general feel for what they want, what they fear or worry about, what they are comfortable/uncomfortable with. Most importantly, you get a feel for what they want, at their core.

From there, you can better understand how they will react in certain situations and why.

These are generalizations, but are true for most people who play these ways. You can find out more specific details about a player's personality by paying attention.

For instance, in the most simple sense, a nit is afraid of losing a lot of money with the worst hand. They're uncomfortable in big pots with marginal hands. They often fear coin-flipping for a lot of money.

The loose passive player usually plays for fun. He wants to see flops and wants to showdown his hand. He wants to see if the cards in his hand can match up with the cards on the board, or if they're good enough to rake in a pot. He wants to see your hand.

So let's talk about the bad LAG. The Bad LAG wants to win THIS POT. RIGHT NOW. Anytime he gives up on a pot it's because he's holding himself back. He likes to gamble, and usually doesn't mind getting his money in without proper odds.

He often (but not always) has pride issues, meaning he wants to show you how big of a man he is. If he trash talks, you can be especially confident that he has pride issues. This means that he very badly doesn't want to be bluffed off of a pot or miss an opportunity to bluff himself. It also means that if you have any history with him, whether you won a big pot, showed a bluff, got bluffed by him, really anything, he's more likely to bluff you or call you down light.

So those are his main character traits. What else does he do differently?:
etc etc.

Can you tell me a bit about Urindanger's and Genius28's game (without giving away too much obviously)? I've always been curious about these two. Can you talk about the other nosebleed reg's games as well, but I'm most curious about the aforementioned Uri and G28.

Urindanger is a very good friend of mine. He's a great player and an awesome guy. I would rather not say what I think he does specifically good or bad.

Genius is also a great player. He's one of the few that I really don't like playing against. He's very smart.

I don't think it's a good idea for me to talk about specific players' leaks or strengths. I guess if you want to matchup two players and ask who I think has the edge, I could probably answer those.

K, I never ask questions in these and I'm not sure how much you'll be willing to reveal, but I'll try anyway:
1. Which of your regular opponents do you find the toughest/have the most respect for?

I don't play much shorthanded or any hu vs. durrrr raptor or urindanger bc we're v good friends and talk poker all the time. So I'll leave them out.

I have a lot of respect for genius and lars. I think they are two of the smartest players/best hand readers, though that doesn't neccesarily mean they're the best players.

Aggro players like PA, aba and krantz/wl are annoying as hell to play against. Also aba always wins allins, which is a tough style to counter.

I guess I'm pusposely avoiding the question kind've. I've learned that saying who is good and who isn't usually ends up bad.

2. Any chance of seeing some PT screenshots for the year? I'm not so much interested in $ won but in things like WWSF, W@SD, aggression and so on. Maybe one filtered for 5-6 handed and one for HU?

My PT is pretty busted. I can find my numbers though...

21/16 preflop, 2.4 total AF

W$WSF 45.45%, Went to SD 28.88% , W$@SD 55.56%

Flop AF 2.6 Turn 2.0 Riv 2.5

3. PokerEV game analysis graph? :X

I need to make my computer work before I can do this. I'll try later.

4. Everyone always asks this, but what do you think are the biggest differences between the really good nosebleed players and your average 25/50 regular? Is it just small details?

Intelligence, time (different point in career), Being able to play shorthanded and adjust to players.

A lot of it though is honestly variance and being in the right place at the right time. There are a top players who aren't any better than some 25/50 players. They just ran good at good times, and have the roll and the risk taking ability to play in great games. It's not that rare that a 200/400nl or plo game is softer than a 25/50 game going on at the same time.

5. Make some more CR vids!

We'll see.

Mr Galfond,
Love watching you play and i would love to see a few more CR videos from you.
My Q is how do you decide optimal bluffing frequency, i read your "gbucks" article and im trying to employ a few of the concepts into (50nl and 200/500nl live ) my game but i just wondered how you decicde how often you are gonna bluff particular opponents? I tend to bluff a lot of rocks using a game theoretic style, ( betting pot sized 33% air, 67 % nuts) and at the mo got mixed results, tend to get looked up real light - which can be good )
So my question is, what are your river bluffing ranges (im assuming ~0% to ~45%), how do you decide how often an opponent is bluffable and how do you ensure your bluff/nuts ratio is randomized against tough opposition to make you inexploitable?

Thank you.

The truth is, as much as I hate it and as unelegant as it is, against 99% of opponents, you don't have to worry about balancing your bluffs that much.

You should look at every hand individually. Sure you should think about your range, but only what you opponent thinks of it. Not your true range. You should think about what kind of hands your opponent might have and how likely he is to fold them.

Game theory is important to understand, but not so useful in practice (in most games).

Just make sure you aren't using game theory to justify bad plays. If you bluff a river against a station, don't think after he calls with midpair "well he's an idiot and I'm making money in the long run since I bluff there 10% of the time"

You are making money in the long run if you bluff 10% of the time there. You probably would make more money if you bluffed 2%


- Do you agree with the idea that 1 or 2 tabling higher stakes will help your growth as a player better than multi-tabling medium/lower stakes?

Yes, less tables definitely. Especially with another smart player watching you and discussing concepts. And especially HU tables.

Higher stakes, not really. It might make you a bit more interested, and the competition will be a bit tougher, but you might not play your best. You can learn a lot about the game 2 tabling fish hu though.

- What dictates your decision to quit/go on with any given session?

The one thing I learned most from Tommy Angelo, is how awesome quitting is.

You should pride yourself in making a good quit. I really mean that. When I'm playing and make the decision to quit, I'm very happy with myself.

The two real reasons to quit are if playing is -EV financially or -EV emotionally. I know the latter isn't a real thing, but I use it all the time.

Basically, if for whatever reason I think I'm not a favorite (or a very small favorite), I'll quit (Ideally).

Or if I'm unhappy or stressed out by playing, or would be much happier doing something else, I quit (Ideally).

Reasons you become -$EV should be obvious, and you should realize when you are unhappy.

Most pros love the freedom that poker gives them but it becomes a very restricting job actually. Much more consuming than a real one. For me at least. The problem is that we think of things in hourly rate, and we can work pretty much whenever we want. I hate it so much when I'm out with friends and just having an okay time and I think to myself "I could be working now. I wonder how much money this is costing me." Or when I weight the decision to go hang out with friends against the decision to work. It's not like I'm starving. I can afford to take some time off and be a person, but it's so hard for me, and I'd imagine, for some other players.

- Why "OMGClayAiken"?

When I started playing, so many people had macho screennames like bignutz69 or whatever. I think being macho is ******ed. Actually it's much worse than ******ed. Being ******ed is cool with me.

Anyways, I made OMGClayAiken because it was not macho at all. I liked the idea of arrogant macho dbags guys losing money to OMGClayAiken.

- Why did you check top pair to Eli Elezra after you raised on a KQx board with 2 hearts, this one has been driving me mad since I bet out 10000% in these situations because so many worser hands are calling and giving free cards seems bad.

I think a bet is usually standard. I think a check is fine too. The reason I checked is that I was clearly viewed by the table as a nit. I didn't think that he would call me down on all 3 streets because he'd expect me to have it too often. People know not to call down nits.

However, people also know to bluff nits! I thought he would almost definitely bet the flop with any missed hand, and 3 barrell with any draw. I also thought he might possibly raise me on the flop either to bluff me bc I'm a nit, or because he flopped a big hand, or to "find out where he was at" with 2nd pair. Live players do that a lot I've found. I didn't know what I'd do to a flop raise followed by a turn bet. Combined with the other factors and my FPS, I think it makes it a check.

- Can you make another CR video?

I guess I should answer since I'll keep getting the question: Probably not.

Thanks for doing this. I have a pretty boring one but I'm still curious. I'll think of something better later

If you were to 4-table 0.5/1 6max (mostly seeking out full tables, so no HU etc) on full tilt or stars for 10k hands, what do you imagine your stats would look like? vpip/pfr, maybe WWSF and aggression numbers or something if you have an opinion on those. Your goal is to maximize your winrate, maybe you're doing a propbet of some kind. Does the answer change significantly if you change it to 0.10/0.25? To 3/6?


I don't mean to duck this question, but I'm really not the guy to ask. I jumped into nl cash from SNGs at 5/10, and never played below 3/6 pretty much. I'm also not that much of a stats guy.

My guess for low low stakes, is that I'd play something like 28/10. I would want to play more hands because I can outplay people hardcore postflop. I also would want to keep pot sizes small so I have more room to work with once I can put them on a hand.

I don't recommend doing that, and I'm also very unsure if I'm right.

whose tougher heads up, phil ivey or sbrugby?

Ivey is slightly more annoying to play against, but Brian is usually tougher.

favorite movie?

I'm much more of a TV guy than movie guy. I watch a ton of TV. I dunno. I liked Eternal Sunshine, V for Vendetta, ummm, I don't think either are my fave though. Just first thing that popped into my head. I forget about a lot of movies. I probably will think of my fave later.

sickest hand/best poker story?

Nothing super awesome, or that can be appreciated if you weren't there. Most of my favorite poker memories come from playing drunk 2/5nl live with friends.

One time a few of us were playing at the Wynn. I staked my friend, Mikey for the game. He's one of the funniest people I know. Everyone thinks their friends are really funny, but I'm serious about this. Most posters who know me can vouch for this.

Anyways it was a really fun night, but the highlights started when these two dbags came and sat at the table. They were more drunk than us, and they used the word 'brah' non stop. "Hey you want another drink brah?" "Nice bet brah" etc.

When the cocktail waitress was taking orders, one of them ordered "a vodka cranbarry... and your phone number"

We all laughed at him, but Mikey went on for probably 5 minutes straight making fun of him. I'm not gonna try to recreate it.

Anyways, later in the session, the vodka cranbarry brah is down to about $90. He's been suuuuper nitty and very chatty. Folded to Mikey, who's right next to me in the HJ. He opens to $20. Folds to the SB brah who shoves for $90. Folded to Mikey who has a pained look on his face.

Mikey is a very smart guy and he totally understands the game. However, he's a self proclaimed 'feel player'. He looks at me and says "I know you're not gonna like this, but I have a good feeling." And calls the last $70. I figure he has something like 44 and knows that this guy has been a huge nit, but just wanted to call.

Flop comes T57. Brah flips up KK and starts to dance and sing "make it rain"

Mikey says to me "Well, I guess I need a five or a duece." wtf?

Turn 2 river J. Mikey tables 52dd and rakes in the pot. Brah is completely stunned. So is other Brah. "That's so ****ed up brah"

They both leave while Mikey does an impression of them.


Another cool poker story was when Tom Dwan and I couldn't sleep one night. We invented poker games and played them HU until like 9am. We bet in 'units'. Every game we invented, we played 1-3 freezouts and the winner won a certain amount of units. We'd bet on each match. One unit was redeemable for the other person doing something stupid/embarrassing. I completely owned him and ended up like 18 units. At 10am we went to breakfast with this girl Kaitlin who was staying with us. (I had to mention she was a girl bc me going to breakfast with Tom after staying up all night with him wouldn't help all the rumors about him being gay (I love you Tom))

We made him do 20 pushups on the floor of a crowded Denny's. He had to high five our waitress 3x, and use some words we said in a sentence to her. I remember one was 'girdle' but I don't remember the others.

Afterwards we went to Best Buy, where he performed a quadrouple pump fake. That means he asked a guy for a high five, pulled his hand back when he went for it and said "pump fake", got him to go for it again 3 more times, saying "pump fake" each time, and then actually high fiving him on the 5th. It was awesome to see.

The best part was owning him in hu poker though.

Planning to ever quit poker? Any other aspirations?

I've thought about this a lot. Most people have dreams/aspirations...things they'd really like to pursue. Being an actor, writing a book, traveling the world. Most of them can't pursue their dreams because of their real jobs or families or financial situation. I'm lucky that I have the freedom to pursue a dream.

I've had some from time to time but none that have really stuck with me and made me think 'man, I really wanna do this.'

I've decided that poker is too good of an opportunity for me to pass up right now. So I'll play for now. That's all I should really worry about, imo. Hopefully I'll make enough money so that when I do figure something out that I really want to pursue, I'll be able to do it.

The short answer though, is that I don't want to play poker my whole life, no. It's okay for a job, but I don't really enjoy it usually.

Best and favourite posters on 2p2? (Mainly active ones to some extent, not the old dinosaurs that havent caught up with how the game has evolved.)

Well, you are a very good poster.

I've always liked strassa's posts. I didn't read as much back in the olden days of 2+2 NL forums, so I'll probably leave out some legends.

I learned a ton from Bld, though probably more just from observing and studying his game than reading his posts.

Samo was an amazing poster before everyone ran him out of town.

Bobbo always brings up interesting things.

Back in my SNG days, I learned a lot from Daliman and Raptor. Strassa there too actually. Oh, and Irieguy. He's a cool /smart mfer.

I don't read 2+2 as much as I used to. There are lots of good posters/players. I feel bad that I'm prolly leaving a bunch out, but it's just bc I don't read that much anymore, I'm tired, and I have 10000 questions to answer.

Was there a saying/quote/maxim that changed the way you view the game?

I can't think of one specifically. Tommy has a bunch of cool 'Tommyisms' on his website

A couple that I remember (paraphrased):

"Saying position is important in poker is like saying distance and direction are important in golf."

"It can never be that wrong to not play"

Also I know some poker writer said something like "Think of what your opponent wants you to do, and then do the opposite"

Was there a saying/quote/maxim that changed the way you view life?

There's one quote that struck me pretty hard which I read somewhere on 2p2, just because it's something I need to listen to more. It was something about decision making like 'Approach every decision as if it were tomorrow and you were looking back upon it'

Will you ever finish your HU match vs. Boosted J ??
This was so fun to watch...

I don't know. TBH, probably not, but maybe.

It was kind've a grind for both of us. I do feel bad that we didn't finish though.

i know we've heard the thoughts of many different players on this subject, but i'm interested in what you have to say regarding the difficulties one faces during rough downswings; confidence issues, tilt, emotional effects, etc.

I think this is a huge part of poker. Almost everything there is to say about emotional aspects like this has already been said. Definitely read everything that Tommy Angelo has written on it.

It's been said before, but it's so true: It's easy to play when things are going well. How a player deals with a bad run is what defines him as a poker player.

The most important thing is the be honest with yourself. Admit when you aren't focused or playing your best. Take breaks all the time. Get outdoors if you can. All the time means every 90 minutes or less.

If you're afraid of losing your seats, take 3 minutes and walk into another room, do 20 pushups, go to the bathroom/grab some food, and come back.

Taking time off when on a downswing is always a better idea than you want to admit. Getting away from poker for some reason usually helps you get your confidence back.

As far as tilt, everyone tilts. Some more than others. The edge in many high stakes games shifts from one player to the other based on the way the match is going, and how well they each handle losing or winning. Yes some people tilt when they win.

Be willing to quit games when you find yourself tilting at all. Most people tilt by going on autopilot and don't realize they're tilting.

I think it's probably possible to stop most of your tilting. It's very difficult though. Understanding that you tilt, and being able to identify it and quit is your best bet by far.

Also don't play tired, like I am right now, unless there's a very big fish in the game.

Who on these forums could be billed as a philosopher of poker - i.e. who thinks about the game the best - Strasser? You? And for what reasons?

I mean, if I said I think about the game the best, that would sound arrogant. So I won't say that.

I will say that I think you should give me "Philosopher of Poker"

1st of all, my name is Phil, which is part of the word, Philosophy.

2nd, I was a philosophy major in college before dropping out.

3rd, I wrote the Gbux article, and random thought posts like this one ( ) or this one. ( )

tough winning nosebleed players would be much more fitting.

jman, how specifically did you move up in stakes(from say, 25/50 to 200/400)? taking ~5 buyin shots, having people buy action of you to start off, adding in one table of the new higher limit to your normal setup, go on a sick heater and just ride the rush all the way to the top? i always thought hearing these types of stories was interesting.

EDIT: you answered this for the most in the other post, but anything you want to add would be great. thanks for doing this.

Yeah, the part I left out was what happened once I moved up to 50/100. The truth is I don't really remember. It was a lot of bouncing back and forth between 25/50 and 100/200, then back and forth between 50/100 and 300/600 and in between. I remember all of my biggest losing days, but not many of my biggest heaters.

I think for the most part I ran normal. I mean, my first shot I lost half my roll, and then my next shot went better. I was just lucky to run normal since I started by playing 50/100 and 100/200 on a 10bi roll. I would never risk my whole roll on shots like that, but I'd put 1-2 bi in play and then move back down when there was a really good game.

in playing the highest stakes, aside from the rare and egregrious fish, what are some subtle distinctions between winning/marginal/losing players?

Adapting to opponents is a big one. Some players just 'play their hand' too much, since that's what they did when they 10 tabled 3/6nl. The better players change every part of their game based on the table and the players they're up against.

I also think that a lot of medium-good but not great players probably undervalue betsize/timing tells. Especially against weaker opposition.

Also, do you believe that some inherently winning players (that is, with the skills to win) end up losing longterm, and vice versa? Or is the proof entirely in the pudding?

I'm not sure which of two interpretations of this questions you're asking, so I'll try to answer both.

Some players are smart enough and work hard enough to win, but lose because of 'soft skill' leaks. Things like game selection, BR management and tilt control. It definitely happens.

On the other hand, there are a lot of medium strength players who are successful because they don't have those leaks. It probably is wrong to call them medium strength players because they have higher EV than some of the 'better' players.

The other way I take your question is as a question about the players you see in the biggest games or in highstakes db as the biggest winners/losers.

In the long run, the best players will always win, but I think most people have no idea at all how long the long run is.

I wouldn't trust 3 full years of data on highstakes dbs to tell me who the best and worst players are.

are you up lifetime at 25/50+ plo

Yes. Though I'm probably close to even at 25/50. I went on a nice heater at 100/200+ recently.

I still think I have more to learn about plo, but so do a lot of people who play it. Some very soft games have been running, where I'm good enough to be a decent favorite.

Looking back what are some things you would change or stress for someone looking to get to your level to do or not to do? Any mistakes you made a lot that took you a few times to learn? All please work it out with CR for more Vids

I definitely made some BR management mistakes. I talk about them a lot, so it probbaly sounds worse than it really was. Realistically, it wasn't THAT bad. I was never at risk of losing everything.

The best thing I ever did for my poker game was meet other people who played poker. My poker friends and coaches helped me move up 3x faster than I would've on my own.

I'd also recommend trying to eliminate autopiloting. Too many players can't make the jump into bigger games because they don't know how to think for themselves. They just play a TAG cookie cutter style and think it will continue working because they crushed the lower limits with it.

At what point do you feel playing "abc poker" does not cut it anymore?

I can't really name a buyin level that it stops working.

Basically, as soon as your opponents are smart enough to realize what you're doing, it's no longer effective.

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you have to play 30% of hands preflop and c/r every river. You can be a winner in the biggest games playing 16/14 if you want to. You just have to mix up your play and balance your ranges postflop.

I know you might not take the time to answer this, but feel free to PM the answer to me or acquire my AIM and we'll talk about it, thanks:

What do you think of leading into the pfr?

I feel like I can comprehend general theory behind it, but I just haven't really worked it into my game, and I feel like I should be "able" to do anything.

If you'd like to just answer your thoughts on it, or your thoughts on balancing (i.e. if I always CR with big hands and bluffs, how okay do you think it is that I'm only leading like 1% of flops, and half of that 1% is a misclick?), as opposed to actual theory of board texture and player types, I will forgive you.

Additionally, feel free to ignore multiway pots and pots where your relative position dictates leading, and just focus on HU pots in button/bb or even just HU in general.

Really good question.

The truth is I haven't figured it out yet myself.

I think leading into the pfr is will become a much more common practice in the future of poker. I think it's the next 3betting light, c/c lead turn, fastplaying sets, or c/r rivers. Each goes in style at one point and then people figure out more about it.

The reason I think I can't figure it out yet is that so much of the value of the play has to do with how your opponent will react to it. I don't really have a good idea of how people react to leads. Some people spazzraise any two, some completely shut down and give up on the pot, and everything in between.

I'm probably afraid to try it more because I usually won't know how to react when I get raised, or called, since the lead evokes such a wide variety of reactions. It puts me in a spot where I have to do a lot of guessing, whereas I usually feel I have a very good grasp of how my opponents play their hand ranges in more standard spots.

The easy way to avoid that is to only lead strong draws, monsters, and air. That way your decisions are easy and you don't have to fear the unknown.

However, I think that optimally, leading a much more well balanced range is best. I just need to figure out how everyone will react to it first and make sure they'll do what I want them to.

One thing to think about is how often your opponent will cbet flop if you check. If someone cbets way too much, I would just let them do it. No good reason to lead into them, unless they react in a way that makes the hand much easier to play. If someone rarely cbets, I think leading is a much better play against them overall.

Also think about players who lead, what they lead with. If, for instance, someone leads all their draws and two pair hands, but checks their sets, air, and weak 1pr hands, you can cbet MUCH more profitably against them since their range is much weaker once they check than the range of someone who never leads.

PM me in a week or so and maybe we can talk more about it. I'm too busy with this thread and other stuff right now.

OH, you 3bet too much HU too.
Why do you think this is a leak? In a grander sense, how do you value the creation of a unique image in heads up matches?

Against someone who knows what they're doing, there are only so many hands you can profitably 3bet imo. Otherwise you're putting too much money in with the weakest hand OOP.

Sure you'll take some down preflop and some more with cbets, but the times you don't take pots down, you'll lose a decent amount of chips. I suspect that most ppl get carried away with 3betting because of the mental reinforcement of winning most of the time when they do it.

Winning the most post does not equal winning the most money.

As far as creating an image, you have to know what you're doing, but it's awesome when you can. I usually like to start by playing hands the way I think is most +EV, and then evaluating what my image is. However, I've definitely gone into a match trying to create a certain image from time to time.

I usually like to do it when I know my opponent has certain leaks. I create an image to help reinforce them. So, if he calls to much, I try my best to make it look to him like I'm bluffing all the time. Then I just valuetown him later. Sometimes I'll make what I know are -ev bluffs in smaller pots for the +EV later. Stuff like that.

Is that what you were asking?

Also, I see a lot of players justifying plays they make, saying that they are trying to create or maintain a maniacal image. The plays they make aren't bad, but the justification is, especially since most of them go on and continue bluffing. They should be making the light 3bets and big bluffs, or whatever they're doing, to max their EV in that hand, and to keep their ranges balanced.

They do the same thing in the opposite direction, trying to maintain a solid image.

For the most part, I think you shouldn't try to create a certain image. You should just be able to realize what your image is and play off of it.

A. You mentioned that you're a passive person by nature (I'm in this camp as well). Do you think this has helped your game in any way?

Not much, honestly. Being an agressive person by nature is probably best for poker. I suppose it's good that I don't get super involved with pride type issues. If a guy is running me over or talking **** in chat, I don't really feel the need to 'show him who the man is'

B. Can you describe the biggest differences in your game moving from mid stakes (2/4-3/6) to high stakes (20/40+)?

I started at 5/10nl. Check out my poker story somewhere on the 1st page.

I guess the biggest difference is that I bluff much more now. However, that's as much of a response to my opponents changing as it is to myself growing as a poker player.

I think the main thing is that I think much more clearly about hand ranges. At first, I kind've played my hand more than my opponent. Now I approach every hand thinking about the hands he might have, and the best way to play against each of them.

C. Favorite band?

I listen to Hip-Hop mostly. I change my favorites a lot. Right now it's Talib Kweli.

when you mucked the hand on high stakes that would have split you the pot, did you know right away or did you actually figure it out when you spoke up. gabe kaplin made it seem like you knew but you didnt want to look stupid. it didnt look that way to me. just wondering.

I haven't watched the episodes. I kind've hated the experience and wanted to forget about it.

It probably took me about 1 minute to realize what I had done. I was much more embarrassed about being a live poker noob on national TV than I was upset about losing the money.

to what extent do you think you will be successful in life given your laziness?

This one is kind've a vague question. It depends how you measure success. I suppose though, in all ways you might measure it, I won't be as successful as I otherwise could be if I had more motivation.

I don't think there is a whole lot I can do about it though. I know a lot of people think lazy people are kind've pathetic, but I don't think it's as easy for me to be motivated to do things as it is for most people. What I mean is, I don't think it's as much my fault as most people probably do.

I think a lot of laziness is just part of the personality that you are born with. I've always been the way I am. Was always bored and unable to focus in school.

Besides having the tendency to be lazy in my personality, it was reinforced throughout school. I never did any work in school, but always was an A or B student just because the work was easy. I remember getting a mini lecture from teachers almost every year, "You know, Philip, you did fine this year, but things won't be so easy in 3rd grade. You're gonna have to start working harder."

"This won't cut it in Middle School"

"You're not gonna pass High School classes without doing the work"

It probably is a bad thing that I've been so lucky, because perhaps I would've been forced to learn to work hard.

Every year I didn't try and every year I was fine. Everything has always worked out for me, so I just kind've expect it to. I mean, I was a Philophy major with no plan for my future (which didn't worry me at all) and then poker came along.

I guess that brings me back to your question. I became a little bit obsessed with poker. I have an obsessive personality, and a competitive one. So I wanted to be the best. I still was too lazy to do work I found boring, like analyzing equity in spots, etc, but I found reading poker books and forums, and thinking about the game fascinating. And playing and seeing myself improving and making money was amazing.

So, I think I'm able to do 'work' if the work interests me. So I believe that if anything that comes along that I really badly want to do, I'll be interested in learning about and working at it.

is your world view currently almost entirely selfish? (when i am realistic, mine probably is at the moment but that could easily change).

I guess I'm fairly selfish. I don't think more than the average person though.

Hmmm. Tough question. I definitely care about other people. I have a a few very good friends, and of course family members, who I probably care about their wellbeing almost as much as my own.

Other than that though, most of my actions are motivated by self interest, though I think that's normal.

I do a lot of seemingly selfless things. I'm non confrontational, and a bit of a pushover, so I let other people get their way a lot. I don't do that out of caring for their happiness, but for my own comfort.

I think I'm a nice and friendly person. I help friends out all the time with their problems. People end up coming to me for advice a lot, and I always try to help. Part of it is because I want them to be happy, but a lot of it is because it makes me feel good about myself. Is that selfish?

I definitely have a problem with selfishness when it comes to poker. When a good friend of mine makes a big score, it's tough for me to be happy for them. Well, it used to be much tougher than it is now. Basically, I can be happy for a friend if they do well as long as they aren't doing better than me. Then I get jealous. Especially if I think I'm more deserving.

Luckily I do pretty well now, so when one of my friends final tables a big event, he can triple his roll and I can still have more money than him. Then I can be truly happy for him.

I know that's pretty lame of me. I'm not sure how to fix it though.

given that you are smart, logical, and understand people well, you should be able to achieve anything you want in life; what would you consider the most awesome possible thing (for you) that you could achieve (but may not, through your own apathy)? are you happy living a life of upper class 'moderation' or do you want to do anything that you would personally consider 'significant'? when i say awesome btw i don't mean awesome to other people, i mean for you personally.

My main life goals are to not have to worry about money, have good friends, and start a family/be a good father. It would be cool to be completely filthy rich, but I'll be fine with being in the upper middle class. Looking back it looks like you didn't really ask about money I think. But there, I answered anyways.

I like writing. Maybe I'd like to write a book. One not related to poker would be cool, but I don't know yet what about. I'm still young and idealistic, so I have dreams now and then. I'd like to write movies and TV shows. Probably TV shows since I'm more into TV than movies.

I used to think that I wanted to be famous. But being an R level online celebrity has made me realize it's probably not as cool as I thought it might be.

As far as doing something significant, I dunno. I think there are a lot of problems with the world, of course. I always kind've assumed that anyone in a position of power knows what they're doing. I've started to realize that a lot of people who make decisions aren't all that smart, just because most people aren't. The general public has no understanding of a lot of important concepts, mostly logic and probability related. It completely blows my mind that anyone making huge decisions doesn't understand logic and bayesian probability in and out.

I just wrote out a few paragraphs about government before realizing that I dont know **** about government and I'd sound stupid. The basic idea is that I believe the public needs to be better educated in order for a lot of things to work better. I was always interested in education. I think I might've ended up teaching if I hadn't found poker.

If I were to do something significant, (I think this is what you mean) it would have to do with rehauling the public education system. I took a pretty cool class on philosophy of education once actually. I really enjoyed it. Anyways, I'm not sure how I could possibly acheive it, but I am pretty sure that if I were put in a position to change public education, I would definitely change it for the better.

As for working to acheive something like that, I'm sure laziness would get in the way. As well as the fact that I'm a college dropout gambler who none of the public would respect as an authority on anything.

I think I mentioned in earlier posts, but the opportunity I have right now with poker is too good to worry about anything else right now. I think what I should do know is work to make as much money as I can, so that when I have the drive and opportunity to do something else, I'll have the freedom to also.

I agree with your comments but had a question about this statement. Are you saying that better hands 4bet and therefore you are ahead if he calls?

Yes, but I was talking about against a tight opponents only, and I didn't mean to say that 3betting KQ is the best play vs. them. I was just listing reasons for it.

Also, how do you define "ahead" in terms of pre-flop equity - to me, I would consider it to be the fact that if we play a big pot against his pre-flop range - I am likely to be ahead - for instance he would flop a worse top pair and felt it - is this true for KQ - is he calling pre-flop with QJ or KJ and felting a K or Q high flop? (not saying he isn't necessarily)

I think this might be a leak in my game since I have always been reluctant to 3bet KQ or AJ, sometimes AQ pre-flop, without history of either light 3betting or light 3bet calls. My logic is that his 3bet cold calling range includes hands like AQ, KQ, AJ, sometimes AK and sometimes QQ-AA, along with mid PPs or SCs. Against this range, I feel like the only way I'm getting it in ahead on the flop is if he is semi-bluffing which will likely have good equity against me (this may be a result of me playing lower stakes and therefore not seeing quite as many 3bet pot shenanigans though). I would appreciate you correcting my assumptions which you think are wrong, such as maybe not having to get it in on the flop in order to extract the value of 3betting these hands or not overestimating the tightness of people's preflop 3bet calling ranges. Thanks again.

Your logic is pretty much on. I think you might be overestimating the tightness of players' calling ranges, but you may not be. The main differences between profitability of plays like that for you and me are the games we play in and our images. Both result in people calling you much tighter than they would call me, I assume.

You are thinking in the right direction though.

One extra factor to consider, it's not a terrible thing to rr with AQ oop, have him fold J9s and win the money in the pot already.

My question is about the stakes you play. Yours and mine mentalities have seem to diverted. You seem to be constantly trying to throw yourself into games you are barely rolled for. I used to be this way, but in the last year or so I think I have lost that need to play as high as i think i can play. Lets call it "gamble" I still enjoy poker but the first day i lost 100k i think really got to me. What is it do you think that constantly makes you want to play as high as you can? You said you really should play lower, but what do you think contributes to you always playing it ego to show you are best at the highest level, is it because losing and winning 10k or whatever a day at 25/50 no longer excites you? or is it something else altogether? I would like to regain that mentality of going for it in terms of higher stakes, and i think your answers might help me reflect on it. Thanks.

I don't gamble as much as I used to. My roll is bigger now, and I still grind 25/50 quite often to offset the bigger games I play in. If I'm running bad and there is a good big game, I sell action from time to time.

I guess there are a couple reasons I'm drawn to the bigger games. One is that I'm a competitive person. I want to be the best in the world, often times more than I want to make money.

Another reason is that though, money. I think my hourly rate in most of the bigger games is significantly higher than my hourly at 25/50. The swings that come with it are enourmous though. That's the drawback of course. I'm willing to accept the fact that I have very little control over the short term in return for my average EV to be higher.

In the short run, it totally feels like I'm just gambling. One thing I caution you against if you move up, is to lose sight of the basics. At times, because of the crazy swings that I have no control over, I think that my decisions don't matter. I just autopilot and wait to run good. Don't forget how EV works, and that the reason we play the game is to max EV, which will see results from in the long term.

I guess that was more of a note to myself than you.

Where do you see poker going in 5 years? Where do you think you'll fit into it then? Do you think you'll still be beating nosebleed games or do you think a younger, more talented crop of players will rise within a short period of time?

I'm not really sure what's gonna happen with poker. I think it'll still be around. I could see plo becoming the main game a few years from now, though maybe it's too complicated for the TV audience to enjoy and the casual gambler to want to learn. The variance involved and the fact that you can play so many hands and hit so many flops makes it a game that will attract fish.

I'm not really following the legislation right now. I have no idea what the future holds for online poker.

I wouldn't be surprised if the games continue to get tougher, but I don't think the 'new class' in 5 years or so will have any inherent edge over us as long as we stay in touch with the advances in theory. I expect to be beating the biggest games if I'm still playing.

Unless of course I decide to play lower variance poker.

Phil - From your other posts and this thread you seem really down to earth and humble with all of your success. I bet you're friends with a lot of other high stakes players, but you don't seem like the "Ship it Holla Balla" type.

Do you enjoy and/or try to live this type of life that this website seems to represent? Or are you detached from your income in letting affect your overall lifestyle?

I'm friends with the SIHBs and technically a crew member. And I love them. The truth is, the Shipitholla Balla image is as embarrassed of me as I am of it.

I'm pretty much the anti-baller.

I've lived in a college town with regular broke roommates since I started playing poker. All of my friends that I hang out with regularly here don't know anything about poker.

I don't own anything that costs $5,000 or more. Actually, besides my one TV and my computer stuff, I don't think I own anything worth $1,000.

I mean, I definitely don't think twice about buying a lot of things. My friends think I'm wasteful because I order delivery food all the time, buy plane tickets at the last minute, and because I go and buy new clothes sometimes when I don't have any clean clothes. But those are just for convenience. I like to think I'm pretty down to earth, all things considered.

Could you talk a little bit about how you go about balancing your range from a strategic point of view? (perhaps in 3bet pots oop, for example?)

I feel like when people try to talk about balancing or playing unexploitably against good players it's mostly an exercise in assuming/talking out of their ass/trying to sound cool thinking they balance or "mix it up" because in their head they say "well i'm capable of checking back TP here" or "i fast play a set and draw so therefore i'm balanced" -- but I'm wondering if there's something specifically you do, either by the math of it or by analyzing hands later and consciously saying to yourself "although I have hand X here, he can put me on hand A, B, and C as well and based on the pot odds I'm offering him he's ****ed if he calls or folds"

If you do stuff like that, how do you go about organizing these thoughts and the math? Also how often are you going through this line of thought at the table?

I don't crunch numbers as often as people probably think I do.

I think I am good at doing some rough math in my head on the fly, as far as hand combos and ranges go. Lemme think about my thought process...

So, in any situation, my first thought is what I'm trying to accomplish with a play (a bet, ck, raise).

So I decide, let's say, I want to get my opponent to call a river bet (because I have a strong hand that I want to get value from). If he's gonna call a river bet, that means he has to think he has the best hand often enough to justify a call.

So then I think about what hands he might have. If he has marginal made hands a lot, I have to make him believe I'm bluffing, since he can't beat a value bet. I think about what hands in my (perceived) range I might bluff in this spot, and what my bluff size would look like (in his eyes). Then I bet that amount. If I know my (perceived) range is completely full of strong hands, I decide not to VB as thin.

If I think he often has strong hands, but my hand looks very made, I'll often try to make it look like I'm value betting a worse hand (by considering how he thinks I might play 2nd pair top kicker, and doing that)

If I'm considering bluffing a river, I make sure that I can credibly rep something. I make sure that it looks to him like a large part of my range in this spot consists of legit hands. I often over think things and don't make a bluff just because I know that I wouldn't play many legit hands that way.

I agree with you that people overuse the excuse of "that's a terrible call vs. my range" to justify bad plays of their own, and to sound smart.

I don't try to put my opponent in spots where he can't make a right decision vs. my range. I try to get him to make the wrong decision for my hand.

I am, however, very very careful to never take a certain line with only one kind of hand, unless I'm playing a complete fish. This is more of a weird obsessive compulsive thing with me. I know good players that only check shove flops after 3betting with their draws. It tilts me so hard knowing that they do that.

you or antonius

Me at 100/200, PA at 300/600

(PA at any stakes when I don't know it's him playing )

cts or genius

In a single 100bb freeze out, I guessssss genius.

If they played continuously, I could see Cole burying G28 if he got out to a big early lead, and I don't see G28 capitalizing on the momentum as well if he starts out hot. Soooo, that might make Cole the overall favorite.

Do you think poker has made you a happier person, on balance?

No. Maybe a tiny bit less happy on average. I'm still a happy person, but I was probably even happier before poker.

It's definitely made me a more confident person.

What are your primary motivations for playing, in rough order (money, competitive drive, enjoyment, needing something to do etc)?

At first: Enjoyment, competitive drive, money, something to do

Now: Money, competitive drive, end of list.

Have you ever honestly felt better emotionally after losing 4+ buy ins at nosebleed stakes (after playing what you consider very well ), than you have after winning 4+ buy ins at nosebleed stakes (when you considered that you made some significant mistakes)? Actually, let's say high stakes = whatever stakes were high for you at a given point in your poker career. If this has occured, how far into your poker career was it before you could truly put decisions before results on an emotional level? Do you believe many high stakes players have reached this sort of mental outlook on a consistent basis?

I can't say I ever have felt better right after a big loss than right after a big win. I don't know if I ever will.

I have felt really good on occasion after losing a lot, being upset, then recovering emotionally and being happy, then being really proud of myself for being able to do that.

1) Approximately how many people in the world over the age of 30 would you deny action to at 200/400NL HU online? What about live?

Assume somehow that you could get in as many hands per hour, the live match is 100 bb buyin, and that the inconvenience of a waitlist, travelling to a live casino, cashing out, etc. does not exist.

If you don't know someone's age who you'd deny action to online and/or live who is close to 30, I guess just name the person unless you have reservations about naming names.

I know there are a lot of other issues like how well you are playing, how badly the other guy has been playing recently, etc. but just try to average all of that as best as possible.

Man, this is gonna get me in trouble.

Assuming I'm in the mood to play 200/400nl HU (most of the time, but occasionally I don't want to swing), I wouldn't deny action to anyone over 30 online.

Live, I think wouldn't play Ivey (Maybe I would to see how good he is and for a challenge, but I don't know if I'd expect to be +EV).

I definitely wouldn't play PA live, and I don't like to play him online either unless I'm reallly focused, but I don't think he's 30.

I don't think I'd deny action to anyone else 30+ live, but I reserve my right to change my mind after playing with them for an hour. I've never played in a big live HU game, so I don't want to say I'm sure I would be a favorite over people until I have more exp.

2) What's the biggest criticism of my game you can provide? (Just one, since I know this can get out of hand if everyone starts asking)

You're one of the players who I haven't been able to find a strong leak on. I think everyone has leaks and I'm able to identify them for almost all of my opponents. I think I haven't played with you enough, or maybe you just don't have any glaring leaks. Also, a lot of the time I've seen you play, you've been living with people in Vegas and I don't know how much of certain plays were you and how much were KRANTZ et al.

If you went back 3-4 years (or whenever you first took up poker), would you still take up the game or pursue a different career path?

I definitely would still have taken up the game.

If you still would have taken up the game, how would you have approached learning it differently?

I think I approached it pretty well. If I knew then what I know now about learning, I probably would've skipped ahead maybe 6 months. I wouldn't have spent my time learning and playing SitnGo's. I would've gone straight to cash games. I would've gotten a coach and made poker friends sooner.

Also, of everyone that you have ever spoken to about poker, who had the greatest raw technical knowledge base (outside of yourself)?

Hmmm, raw technical knowledge base is a kind've specific way of putting it. It reminds me of SitnGos actually, where everything was about the numbers and playing a formula. Curtains always struck me as the most technically knowledgeable from the STT forums.

If I can change the question a bit, Tom (durrrr) definitely has the smartest, most creative poker mind of anyone I've talked poker with.

Hey jman, thanks for doing this, its been an exceptionally interesting read so far. You're only one of the best poker players around, but you are the best at writing about poker out of any of the top players online right now. I've got a couple questions:

I noticed you have made exactly 1 video ever (unless there are others I can't find). why did you stop? did it have anything to do with worrying about giving away information? how much do you think it costs you for your regular opponents to see that? i'm curious because i have an offer to start making videos and i'm really on the fence about doing it.

also, feel free not to answer or to answer only briefly but i'd be really curious to hear any thoughts you have about my game.

I'm not sure how much I wanna say about this.

I made one video as an audition of sorts. CR wanted to see how I would fit into their system, so I agreed to start a blog and make one video before they presented me with an offer.

Long story short, I thought the offer was -ev for me.

I was a bit worried about my opponents seeing my style of play, but that wasn't a main factor.

I g2g to bed now, dudes. I might talk more about this later, since I know it's a question a lot of people have. I need to think about it.

Also, if you could wind down the original questions, and focus more on questions/clarifications brought up by responses I've already made, that would be cool. I have to end this sometime. It's taking forever.

its amazing how similar you and i are (aside from you being a poker god and all that). i think a lot of us can relate to your story about being intelligent and unmotivated. i suppose thats how a lot of us found poker?

no questions or anything, just wanted to remark on that.

Yeah I'd imagine there are a lot of us.

There's no reason this thread can't become a discussion amongst people besides me. I would hope my answers might bring up some interesting thoughts. Maybe start a new thread and link it here if you think something might be cool to discuss further.
02-14-2008 , 10:16 PM
How did you approach Omaha to get good so quickly? I asume you haven't played long, so was it just a natural transition for you from NLH? Do you think your edge is bigger vs shortstacks or fullstacks? You can't really have that big edge vs shortstacks I guess, but it seems that's all there is in nosebleed PLO.

I've been learning longer than you might think. A lot of concepts cross over but it's a completely different game. I still have a lot to learn, but the nosebleed plo games have been pretty soft lately.

I'm much more comfortable playing PLO at about 40bbs in the big games than 100. If the game is very fishy, I'm comfortable with 100+ too, but when there are strong players like PA and nikki or brian, I don't like to be deep with them.

What is your take on limping button HU vs a player who 3bets a lot, vs tightening up your PF range?

In plo or nl? In both cases I like open limping some buttons. It annoys aggro players, and if they don't adjust, you own them.

Where do you c/r the turn/river as a bluff in terms of board texture/villain line and villain tenancies?

I wrote an article on river c/r's. It probably just came out. I dunno, it actually wasn't that good of an article.

It's hard to explain in depth, but you should be c/r'ing more turns and rivers, with bluffs and non bluffs, against players who bet them more. So players who bluff more/vb thinner. That's the main tendency to look for.

Board texture isn't as important as what you think his hand strength might be and what he perceives yours to be. Or I should say, that those things are the factors, and baord texture should affect those.

Do you think 3 pair should beat 2 pair?

3 pair should beat a full house.

First, it was cool meeting you throughout the WSOP, and I'm glad you ate the 500 balance at RBKs celebration dinner, I was sweating the flip when I realized you and I were the only ones with maryland bank cards at the end You're a stand up guy and it was a good time.

That was a good time besides the 2-3k i spent on dinner. I had 3 friends from home who I was paying for in addition to losing the flip.

I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the pros and cons of playing online vs live. I assume most of your experience is online but I've often struggled with the idea of trying to get more live volume in. I've spoken to many 2p2ers, both those that play mainly live and obviously those mainly online, and was wondering if you felt there were any clear benefits/disadvantages to one vs the other that were worth discussing (other than the ability to multi table online I guess). Sorry if that question sucks, this thread kept me up an extra couple hours. Thanks.

TBH, I don't think about this much. It's kind've a non issue for me. I could never become a live pro. Basically, I hate Vegas and I hate being around most people.

I think for most people, online is more profitable. You get sososososo many more hands in.

Live winrates will definitely be higher for most, so swings will be lower, which might be nice mentally. But the long run takes longer.

edit: thought of another question. I know cash games are generally the way to go in terms of really "learning how to play poker" and attainable earns long term, but, having experience with tournaments, can you tell me why you still play them given that cash is generally "the way to go" at this point in your career I would imagine? Or more broadly, why a good cash game player should play tournaments if at all (even if in low volume)?

I play tourneys mostly for fun, though they never turn out to be much fun.

I guess the thrill of a big score is exciting, and making a TV final table or two could lead to recognition/sponsorships/book deals or something.

If you don't enjoy playing tourneys, and you don't care too much about those things, definitely don't do it IMO.

I'm mainly a 200 and 400 NL player and lately I've been thinking a lot about the concept of turning a "made" hand into a bluff.


I call a raise OTB with QThh vs. a 24/17/3 solidish player who raised UTG (I figured blinds would come along because they were extremely donkish). It got HU and I called a bet on a Q93r board. Turn was a T, putting out a FD. He led 25 into 39. Is a raise here for value or a bluff? Normal stacks, 200NL. He should see me as a winning TAG, and I believe he does because he doesnt play me HU.

Mmm, against almost everyone this is a value raise. Turning top two pair into a bluff is something that should rarely be done, and would require him folding a hand better than top two pair. Do you expect him to fold a set of 3s if you raise?

The above might not be the best example, but maybe you can elaborate on the whole idea of where and where not you should turn a made hand into a bluff? Or do we think too early that we are turning a made hand into a bluff? I think there is a lot of confusion surrounding this idea, especially within SSNL.

If you're against a tight solid opponent, and you realize that your made hand no longer is good enough to merit a call (or it does but a bluffraise has more value) you can choose to turn it into a bluff. The reason it's a good play on certain boards/actions is that good hand readers will put you on a made hand, and realize you can't have air. Then they can make a big fold.

I remember a bluffraise I made deep in a WSOP event. Kristy Gazes opened in the HJ, we were prolly 50bb deep with antes. I call in BB with T7s. Flop Q75r I check-call 2/3 pot. Turn 6. I check, she bets like 1/2 pot. I know she's a solid player, and doesn't have a wide preflop opening range. Basically I think I'm beat by QJ or so almost every time. So I can't call my midpair. Since I figure she's smart and a decent hand reader and doesn't know me from an average tourney player, I raise to about 2.75x her bet, and she thinks and folds.

She has to assume I can't call the flop with air, and that I won't raise with worse than QJ for value. She probably puts me on something like a set or 76/98.

Make sense?

awesome stuff... Bankroll recommendations for 25/50 plus sh/hu, biggest downswings (in $ and buyins) that you have experienced? thanks

BR reqs are a function of what you're comfortable with. I think most people underestimate variance. Most people don't understand how bad it can get.

Looking back at the way I started, I might not be playing still had I not run good for the beginning of my career.

Most pros probably started out running good. Most 'would be' pros who run bad at the start of their career probably lost interest and/or confidence and many give up.

Since a lot of us ran good to start our career, we have a romantic sense of how poker should go ingrained in our minds, even if we've experienced average luck since.

I think 5% of pros I know think that they've run average or above average lifetime. I would guess that 65% of them have run above expectation.

Anyways that was a tangent, but my answer is I don't really know what a good BR management system is. I don't believe in many rules like that either. I suggest you have more than you think you need. Much more. But if you want to take shots, and think you're willing to deal with the consequences ($$ and emotionally) and step down and grind, I support it.

Amazing thread - thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there any chance of you writing a poker-related book? If so, would it be a strategy one or something else? What would be the biggest roadblock in having this happen?

I've thought about writing a book plenty.

I'd probably write a strategy book if I did. I don't think many people care about my biography or a fictional story I might write.

The main thing standing in the way is how much work it is to write a book. And how much money you can('t) make. If I thought I could make around 60% of my hourly rate writing a book instead of playing, I would do it.

As many others have mentioned, you are probably the best poker author around. In the quote above, you talk about a bunch of 'unreleased' stuff for a project you were working on. I really hope this project is the writing of a book. I would love to read a couple hundred pages of your work put together. If it's not a book then where/when will the other 'unreleased' stuff be made available to the eager public?

I wrote the material for a specific project that may or may not end up working out.

Since it's already written, I likely will release what I have done in some form or another no matter what.

My question concerns HU play. I usually try to only play fullstackers that I have a good edge on, and halfstackers that are usually terrible (this goes from 200NL to 1000NL). I notice many fellow posters who engage in long battles with other fullstack players who are decently good and thinking, and this results in a "variance war" of sorts.

You are a player who will play HU with the best of them, and your edge is likely quite small against a large amount of these players (feel free to disagree with this assesment).

What could I learn from playing other good players fullstacked (multitabling) that I have a small edge on? Right now I will just pass on these opportunities to do "real life" things and wait for better spots.

A small edge at 200/400nl is still a pretty decent winrate.

I don't think you need to play against good players to improve your game, though it is a nice challenge and might motivate you.

I think you're probably doing it the right way though. Real life things are good.

You mentioned you made up some HU games w/ Durrrr. In general how comfortable do you feel playing a new game against really talented (or awful) opposition. Say if a good high limit razz, 7 stud, etc game was running would you have no problems hoping in despite that game not being your forte?

I basically have zero limit experience. If I limit game opened up, I think it would have to be full of megefish before I jumped in.

If a new pot limit game was invented tomorrow, I would probably play in any 6 handed game.

How much do you think your PT database is worth?
Last place you visited?
Place you want to visit most?

My db is broken up into like 4 dbs across 3 computers, and I'm missing half the hands. I would guess it'd be worth 10k to certain people, but it would be worth more than that to me for them to not have it.

I visited my family in MD in September. Does that count? Otherwise, family in NC. Otherwise Vegas sometime.

I don't really like to travel. If I could teleport to anywhere in the world right now, I would stay right here in Madison, WI. Though maybe I would teleport 3hrs into the future and to Jamba Juice.

if you were to recommend Tommy's program to someone, at what stage in their poker development(to simplify i guess use $ limit they play/win @) would you suggest they get his coaching so that they maximize its potential?

He's not right for everyone. As with any expensive coach, I'd recommend that you have a decent sized roll, and that you were serious about playing poker semi-long term. That way it will definitely payoff.

When I signed up, he did a consult over the phone to see if it was a fit for me. I assume he still does that.

Obviously one must be somewhat intelligent to be successful at poker, but to what extent is this statement true? How important would you say intelligence is overall in poker? How intelligent do you think you are relative to some of the other top pros. There are obviously different types of intelligence, perhaps you can discuss how this factors in as well (?).

Intelligence is mandatory at high stakes. You can be fairly unintelligent and develop a 'system' of sorts to beat even midstakes games.

Everyone defines intelligence differently. I think in the areas of intelligence that translate best to poker ability, I'm in the top handful of players.

I touched on it earlier, but I think the important areas are logic, probability, and psychology.

how and where did u learn about game theory, u knew about it before u started with poker?
u think HU NL-holdem with 100bb+ stacks is a solvable game?

I never studies game theory formally. I just kind've picked it up from poker books and talking about poker.

Solvable? I don't think so. I mean, well maybe. I think there's a chance they could possibly create a computer that would be a favorite HU v anyone. I'm not sure though.

Realistically though, no, I don't think it's solvable. I have no fear that a bunch of 100bb bots are gonna ruin the games, or that some author will figure it all out, release a book, and then everyone will know how to play perfectly.

what is your 3-bet range HU? i think a lot of people RR too wide but I'm not sure.

Vs. an unknown (assuming a decent player) at 25/50nl, prolly something like:

99+, AJo+, ATs, KQ, KTs+, 54s+ (75% of the time), 75s-QTs (50% of the time)

It's player dependent as well as flow of match dependent. So this changes a lot based on who I'm playing and our history, especially recent history.

Just a few questions, if you have the time. In your opinion:

1) Who are the top 5 HU NLHE players online?
2) Who are the top 5 6max NLHE players online?
3) Who are the top 5 6max PLO players online?

Also, I've seen ActionJeff comment that Lars is not as good a player as most people think he is (I think his comment was along the lines of "I'm surprised more nosebleed players don't play him HU"), but you seem to suggest the contrary. How high would you rank Lars in NLHE?

Thanks and happy holidays!

I'm sorry to say this but:

1-2) I don't want to say
3) I'm not qualified to say.

I think Lars is very good. One of the best. He has leaks, but he is clearly very very smart.

"Against some, you're 3betting just because they fold a lot and you'd rather take down the pot or find out you're behind than play a hand OOP (Also these hands strengthen your 3betting range so it isn't just junk and monsters)."

sounds very familiar to raising for info? do u ever think that is justified?
i mean with very deep stacks and against an opponent who you will know exactly how he reacts maybe but otherways seems spewy and bad and u wont get more info anyway?

Yes, this is essentially raising for info. I don't recommend raising for info against smart tricky players, but against a straightforward player, it's totally fine.

I don't understand the last part of your question. What exactly do you mean?

I hope this question is greeted with a proper response, although the question is intentionally vague - I lack creativity. You mentioned making 1/3 psb bets in re-raised pots, which is something my arsenal does not encompass.

Could you share an interesting/non-standard line youv'e taken recently or thought about regardless of whether it's fictious?

Thanks for taking the time to do the well and giving us things to think about.

I haven't played a ton of nl lately. Maybe I'll make up a cool hand.

Oooooh actually, I'll tell you about a play I like. I didn't name it but I think I'll call it the 'Root Beer'.

$10k stacks.

Loose semi-aggro decent player opens to $350 from the HJ at 50/100. I make it $1300 from SB with AJss or KK.

Flop T54 two spades. ($2700)
I give him the root beer and bet $650

He usually won't have a hand, but he won't want to fold for $650 into that pot. So he can either return my root beer and make it $2500 (I shove, he folds usually), or he can make a float.

Let's say he chooses to float, which he will fairly often.

Turn Qo or T or 7o, or whatever.

There are two options I like on the turn after I root beer the flop.

One is a check shove. That's kind've the logical one, right? We've forced them to float, so we should let them bluff. But sometimes they check behind, and sometimes they have a weak made hand.

What I like to do more is bet $1500 into the $4000.

What usually happens is that they fold, since they don't have a hand. But a lot of times what happens is they think "hmmmm I can't call this, I have 4 outs/no outs/bottom pair. But why did I float then? To take away this pot. RAISE"

They make it $4k and I shove and they fold. Tada!

It also works nicely with bluffs because you lay yourself a nice price.

what are banana thieves?

A Banana thief (n) is one who has successfully banana theifed (v).

I realize I may not have made this clear to everyone, but yes, it's always an 'F' whether you pluralize or put it in past tense.

Are you going to the PCA?

Sorry to burst your boners, but I don't think I can make it this year.

I really do wanna go, but I have one of my best friends visiting, staying with me till the 5th, and my brother visiting on the 10th. I don't think showing up from the 6th to 9th would be worth it.

Can you describe the process of deciding to drop out of school to play full time? What factors pushed you to the decision? Did you deal with your parents/family head on with it? Was that a factor at all? Any advice you'd give to the aspiring young players that may be faced with similar decisions that you went through? Any thoughts at all on the subject are much appreciated, thanks.

The way it happened for me:

I was a junior in college. I was making about $150/hr playing sitngos, or I thought I was. Was prolly closer to 100. Right when I turned 21, in January, I decided to go last minute with a friend to Tunica, where there were 2 10k events going on. (Yes I bought into two 10k events with a 100k roll)

I went, ended up cashing in one but only for about 20k, so I broke even.

When I came back, I had missed the first week of the new semester. I figured I would go talk to my teachers and make up the work. But then I remembered that I was me. I decided to take the semester off instead.

My parents weren't happy with it, but they trust me a lot. I don't know anyone who's parents trust them more than mine trust me. As they should. I convinced them it was a good idea, or mostly that it was too late to go back.

That was about the time I switched to cash, or soon before it. After the summer, I actually had less of a roll because I had just gone on a big downswing. But I was making probably 4-500/hr at 5/10 and 10/20, and was taking occasional bigger shots.

I couldn't take class seriously. I basically stopped going. I thought about it for a while and decided to take more time off to give poker a try. I told my parents, who didn't like it at all. I explained myself as best I could, which helped.

My mom was upset, but she trusts any decision I make and just wants me to be happy. My dad is a genius with a masters in Statistics, so I was able to explain everything to him, winrates, standard deviation, how I get my edge. He still wished I'd stay in school but admitted he would've done the same thing that I had.

As for advice to younger players. It's tough to make a generalization. I would guess that for 95% of you, school is the right choice. It's not like you can't do both, or can't play poker after you get a degree.

I do believe that college isn't for everyone. And I believe that taking time off from college to figure out what you want out of it (or if you want it at all) is a good idea.

However, being a professional poker player isn't for everyone either. Very few people are cut out for it. It has its perks, but it's a hard job, especially emotionally. If you aren't making a TON of money now, and over a large sample, school is probably a better choice.

How long (hands/time) does it take you to identify fish in the games you typically play in?

If I'm paying full attention, not too long. If there's a new player that I don't recognize in a big game, I make sure to watch his play, and go back and look at any hand he showed down. That's where I get the most info.

What are the top 3 or so indicators that first tip you off you are playing a fish? (what are the ones that first surface, as opposed to ones you only figure out over time)

Preflop play is the most basic tipoff. If someone is playing a ton of hands, or open limping all the time, you can expect them to play badly elsewhere.

The second fastest is probably bet sizing. Usually regulars keep to a standard bet size style.

Usually what helps the most is seeing a shown down hand, and realizing that whatever logic he was using doesn't make sense. I know thats vague but I don't have an example in mind.

What notes do you take on your opponents? i.e of what you type in the notes section or the mental notes you have?

I don't take many notes unless I'm playing HU, in which case I take a ton. I notice a lot more things about people HU because I often ignore hands I'm not in. Important notes for me have to do with any unusual play, be it good or bad, just to know what they're capable of. Floating, leading xxx flops with xx, c/r bluffing rivs, 3 barrelling often, slowplaying in non-standard spots, 4betting light, calling 3bet with AA rather than 4betting, calling 3bets light, making hero calls. Things like that. Also if I know someone is capable of 4betting light and 3 barrelling a lot, I can assume they're capable of a c/r river bluff when one happens.

For the type of notes you had on Ansky for example (i'm not asking about ansky, but about that type of overall "scouting report" -- how do you generate those? ie. see behaviors, typecast people? Or something else?

I definitely typecast people, though I describe it as a psychological profile. I like to try to think about what they're thinking when they make certain plays, and I usually get that from hands they've shown down.

Ansky's stuff was mostly based on his agression numbers, and my view of a lot of overagressive pros.

What are the key reads that you find most important to use? or the ones you use most frequently? ie. how he plays draws? how thin he valuebets? timing tells? etc?

Flop and turn play are big for me. How light people call flop/raise flop is important. As is how often they fire turns, and with what hands. Are they pot controlling top pair? Are they checking the turn back with 8+ outs sometimes or always firing?

What changes/adjustments from how you play NL do you make shifting to PLO? What were your key learnings about PLO? can you be specific (position, tightness, aggression, draws/made hands, reads, etc

To be honest, I still have a lot to learn about PLO. I think my player reading ability is the only thing that gets me through. That and playing tight.

I make sure to not play many pots OOP, and to balance my ranges well. I know that I pot control a lot in plo, so I have to bluff less to balance it. Sometimes I have to slowplay because I know a raise from me in certain spots looks too strong. Things like that.

I don't think that it's a smooth transition from plo to nl. The hardest thing for me to get through my head at first was that often in PLO you have the best hand, and still want them to fold. I kept trying to look weak and get action from worse hands, but there's nothing wrong with pushing out someone who has 30% equity and implied odds against you.

What do you think is the most important game trait a HU player can have to be successful and why? Tilt control, patience, hand reading, aggression, game selection, etc.?

And what do you think was the most profound concept or tool you added to your HU game while developing it?

Your excerpt on exploiting the psychology of certain player profiles is awesome, I like to think in a similar fashion when playing HU. Please finish that side project and release it.

Tilt control is huge. Hand reading is important in all poker, but moreso heads up, because less hands play themselves.

I realize as I'm going down the list, everything is important, heh. You have the right idea. None are really more important than others I would say, and HU poker isn't THAT much different than regular poker.

I think though, understanding and adapting to an opponent is the most important thing I've learned to do for my HU game.

Amazing thread. Can I ask what was your background like before poker, like did you play any sports or stuff like Magic cards?

I was into a lot of sports growing up. Was very big into football throughout high school. It was kind've my life at the time. I definitely felt a void in competition when I was finished playing. Poker filled it for me.

Would you go on HSP again?


I guess so. Probably.

Jman you talked about betsizing, do you keep yours standard against good opponents or do you try and manipulate them?

When I don't feel like thinking really really hard, I just bet standard amounts.

I think I would have a slightly higher winrate if I always messed around with sizing, but it's a huge headache and puts you in a lot of spots where you have to think really hard.

How wealthy were you before poker? Is the money from poker life-changing in any way?
If so, what kinds of things do you spend the most on? Do you fly first class when you travel? How are you managing your profits in terms of investments, tax planning, etc. How many tables do you play at once (I imagine not many since there is so little action at levels over 25/50NL).

My parents are well off, but I personally had very little money. The money from poker is certainly life changing.

I don't really spend money. Splurging for me is playing 300/600nl..

I've flown first class 3 times I think. It's ok.

I don't do anything with my money really. I'm working on that currently.

When I play big, I generally 2-4 table. When I play 25/50 I usually 6 table if games are going, but I can play up to about 12 if none are 4 handed or less.

hi, awesome thread, anyways here a question, what do u do in this very common spot, u 3 bet a CO raise with lets say AJ, flop comes KJx, what line do u prefer? villian is a solid reg whos a winner and doesnt really do anything crazy.

Very opponent dependent. I usually check and then read his soul. If board is two tone, sometimes I'll c/shove, but usually I c/c and see what happens on turn.

What are your feelings towards teaching aids such as twoplustwo, coaching, cardrunners, etc..?
I'll be more specific..
If you could turn a switch and totally remove all of the "easily accessed and reasonably priced" teaching aids available, would you? Why, or why not?

I absolutely would switch them off without thinking twice. They make the lower stakes games tougher, so less weak players rise to the bigger games.

Do you feel like you "owe" anything to the poker world? And if so, do you feel that posting on 2p2 (or coaching, or making videos) satisfies that?

I don't think I owe anything to the poker world other than to be a role model and good representative of professional poker players.

I post on 2p2 because I learn from it, I have time to kill, and I like the sense of community.

I've coached for free before, but at this point, I wouldn't coach a non-friend unless I felt it was a +EV financial decision. Same with making videos (especially since this is -ev itself).

Do you post (not lurk, post) on 2p2 for personal benefit of seeing what other people think about your ideas? Or is it mostly to help others?

I guess I kinda answered it. I do think it's personally beneficial to gain respect amongst the 2p2 community though. You never know when it might come in handy. I've received a ****ton of offers for training sites/writing jobs, largely due to the level of respect I have amongst 2p2ers imo.

And when it comes to "helping others" learn how to play... is it rightly justified to teach someone you've never met and have no idea what type of person they are morally to play the game and take money off of other people whom you've also never met?

If I teach a random person to take other random people's money, the average moral goodness of people with money should be the same.

FWIW I consider pros to be in competition with other pros, though many don't treat it that way. The fish will lose money. It's a question of who gets it first.

How has having huge amounts of money changed your day-to-day life?

I don't think about what I spend, and I have conveniences like the ability to order food whenever I want or buy something cool when I see it. Otherwise not very much.

I've been thinking about buying a house/condo this year, so I guess that would be a change.

What do you think the number one misconception about poker is? (On 2p2, not the general public consensus that its all about bluffing)

Ugh, so many. I basically don't talk to non poker players about poker. They're all so ******ed when it comes to poker.

Misconceptions the average person has:
-they understand poker
-it's mostly luck, I'm gonna lose eventually
-tv pros are the best
-it doesn't take intelligence
-poker players are low life degenerates (becoming less and less true. I get personally offended anytime this stereotype is reinforced)

What are the chances (%-wise, if you want to give it) of you writing a book in the next couple of years?

25ish %

Thanks Phil for answering all of these questions. Here are mine:

1) In a lot of your responses you mention the importance of having the right thought processes at the table. Can you please elaborate on what some of the correct thought processes are and what a player should be asking himself or thinking about at the table and during a hand?

2) You also mentioned that when players have coaches, they often don't ask the right questions. In your opinion, what are some of the things most players should be focused on but aren't?

1) Your first question is a good one, but one that I would answer over 12 hours of coaching or an entire book. In short, you should be asking yourself why you want to make a play, ever play. If you have a good reason for it, better than your reasons for other plays, then you should make it.

2) Along the same lines, a player should go through hands he's played or is playing and say "I (bet $x/called/raised/folded) because _____" Is my logic good?

The coach should ask more questions about what the player is thinking... "why is (bet x) better than (bet y) or c/r?" "What hands that you think he can have are you hoping will call/fold to that bet?" and listen to the players' response. For the first session, the coach shouldn't volunteer what he thinks the correct play is IMO.

EDit: All, don't PM me plz, I'm not coaching right now and I have a million PMs

Assume the button opens on your BB and the sb folds. You look down at JTo and JTs (or for that matter offsuit or suited broadways) I'm assuming you both defend and 3bet these hands. Do you prefer to 3bet or call the suited handed and the same for the offsuit hand? Or do you just mix it up on gameflow, etc.

I muck JTo to almost anyone's button raise.

JTs I always play. Prolly split 50/50 raise/call based on the player.

Glad you told the Wynn $1/2 NL story, also Mikey is probably the funniest guy ever. Hopefully both of you guys are going to PCA so I can stack you at drunken $1/2 NL again.

You said you were very aggro in taking shots when you started playing cash. Was that out of character for you in comparison with your non-poker life? For example have you been aggressive or conservative when deciding how to invest your money? Is poker basically an anomaly of your personality? It definitely is for me.

Hmmm. I haven't really invested any money. So, conservative?

Being aggressive is definitely not like me. I never thought about my BR decisions as aggressive. I guess they are though. I'm not sure why I do it tbh. I'll do some thinking about this.

What are key differences between live and online play? Do you think online is tougher if limits are held the same? I.E- 400NL = 10-20 live. If so, how does 3-6 or 5-10NL online compare to live play?

I would guess that live games compare to online games about 1/5 the stakes, assuming you're competent at live play too.

jman you are up there with the best writers on 2+2, just wondered if you had an 18 or 19 yr old kid that wants to become a good poker player, possibly in future play for a living what would would be your best tip for that person? Are you the type that would say "dont do it" get a normal 9-5 job or would u kinda promote poker and the sbrugby approach "go for it"?


I would recommend the 18yr old learned the game, and was very careful with BR reqs and tilt control. I would tell them not to play enough to interfere with what they'd be doing otherwise (school/work). Once they're making $100/hr over a 400 hr period or so, they can CONSIDER making poker their main job. I still would recommend being more careful than that.

one last question (not sure if you have answered it or not if so sorry) obv poker must be a great game when your having days when your winning thousands and thousands but how hard is it to take when your on a huge downswing and how do you deal with it? Do you ever take it out on your family or friends, or do you kinda forget about poker when your around them?

I don't let myself stay in a bad mood for more than a day after a huge loss. I don't ever talk about poker, so my friends wouldn't know I've lost, but I probably am less happy and fun after a big loss. Every single time I'm asked by my friends 'how's poker' I say 'it's okay'

ps. if you have time can you try and get tom (durrrr) to do one of these as i wanted to ask him some questions would be cool if you could, did pm him but whats the chance of getting a reply? lol

Tom is 10x lazier than I am. Good luck.

I know this question might be highly player dependent/situational but can you elaborate further around especially betsizing and timinig tells. Do you have any labels on patterns that you use?
Do you have any suggested reading covering this?

Betsize and timing tells are learned with practice.

The best general tip I can give on the subject is, there is always a reason everyone bets the size that they do or at the speed that they do. Often it's because they want you to do something, either consciously or subconsciously. Try to figure out what they want you to do. Then, don't do it.

How beneficial is playing HU on a regular basis to a persons 6max game?

In 08, i think i will make a decent amount of money from my 6max game (playing 5/10nl online), like enough money to keep me happy and have a good year financially, do you think that i should dive into the HU scene?

Ive always wanted to become a good HU player, all of the bigwinners play HU but my HU game truly sucks balls, just from lack of XP i think...also the variance really tilts me, like tilts me to the point where it effects me IRL, and the thought of losing to a player that i think is really really bad also annoys me to the point where it effects me IRL, the money doesnt concern me one bit as i play lower stake at HU, just the competitiveness of it. Can you relate to this? or is there anything you can say about this, like a tip?

I think that playing HU is very helpful for learning hand reading and good practice for being put in tougher spots.

If you're not a HU regular, consider it practice when you play, not work. Maybe that will help a bit with the stress of losing sometimes HU.

I can relate to the annoyance of losing, no matter the stakes, though I can usually leave it at the table. I don't really know what to suggest. Maybe you should take some time and study variance. I've been shown some numbers, I forget where, that shocked me. Stuff like how long a losing streak can go on with reasonable probability. It might make you come to terms with the fact that you're often going to lose to someone worse than you.

questions (take or leave, i don't mind):
1. with coaching, do you feel like its important for you to have a similar personality, playing style etc to get the most from the coaching, or does it not really matter? basically if i was selecting a coach would you advise me to select one that was a good 'fit' for me (in whatever direction), or to select the best coach i could? (i realise this are not complete alternatives but you know what i mean.)

I think having a different playing style can only be helpful. It's important you learn other playing styles. I actually had cero_z coach me for a short while. I just realized I forgot to mention him when I listed previous coaches. It was really cool to hear his ideas, not just because he's smart, but because his game is completely different from mine.

As far as personality, it probably doesn't matter either way. I think the main thing is that you get along, that you both are likeable and friendly. It's important that you believe your coach has a genuine interest in you getting better (and also important that he actually does).

I would find the best coach you can. I wouldn't worry much about fit.

2. are you a practicing jew? to what extent do you have faith/practice?

Not at all. In general, I hate organized religion.

Besides the fact that most beliefs held by major religions don't make logical sense to me, I think religion causes too much (really stupid) conflict.

We already are divided by race, nationality, sex and socioeconomic status. We don't need another thing that makes us all different. Especially one with the built in premise that everyone who is different is wrong.

3. i started this lame thread in NVG after doing a bit of railtarding post our work Christmas party: its a hand of you vs movingsand, where you timed down before betting the turn. for some reason i thought your bluffing range was wide there because there was a lot of hands you wouldn't be bet-folding. is that the sort of thing you might be thinking about there, or am i just clinging on to a thought i had while wined up?

Mmmm. I think I had a set that hand. I almost never bet-fold on a board like that. That should make it a good spot to bluff, but it isn't because there are too many hands that have enough outs to make a player like movingsand just shove in. So many pairs also have gutters or oesd's and their two pair outs.

4. have you ever heard of this book?

Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions

The author does a load of field studies of people making complex decisions in time-pressured environments (like firefighters and blitz chess players). He comes to the conclusion that, rather than weigh up the pros and cons of each possible course of action,

"you are more likely to come up with one course of action, run through it mentally to look for flaws. If you don't find any flaws in your model, you act on it, if you do find flaws, you do come up with another possible course of action, but you never compare two options, weighing the pros and cons of each. You simply don't have the time or energy."

From this thread it seems like you try very hard to follow the 'weighing up pros and cons' model at the table. do you ever follow this other decision making model (which empasises the importance of experience)? what about other nosebleed players?

I've never heard of the book. That sounds pretty reasonable. Maybe I do think that way and don't realize it. I'll try to notice next time I play.

I think that the practice of weighing the pros and cons of two different options (or more) away from the table might make you able to do it at the table in shorthand. You kind've have a mini checklist in your head 'will he call worse hands here? no. Fold better? Maybe. If I check can he bluff a lot? Yeah. OK check.'

"maybe a tiny bit less happy on average"
why do it thn? the money will make u happier when u quit poker to compensate for the loss of happiness now?
i mean u are pretty much as successful as it gets in poker and if poker didnt make u happier then what about the rest...

I'm not really sure why. I think just because poker is stressful. It might also just be getting older and having more responsibilities. Before poker, I was a carefree college kid who didn't worry about anything. My parents paid for school and housing, and I didn't really want anything more.

Now I worry about investing, planning for my future, insurance, taxes, etc. Anytime I'm not playing, or even when I am I guess, I'm thinking about time as opportunity to make money. Often a wasted opportunity. I worry about how I can make more.

It's really dumb.

Hi Phil, I have a couple of questions for you. I can relate to your quote above, as I have struggled at times to be aggressive enough in 6max games. Can you elaborate on what you did to improve your game in this area, and what players or study material influenced you whilst doing so?

Re: your workouts, do you find it helps your game generally, or do you workout at a specific time (ie. before or after playing a session) to get the most benefit poker-wise?

I guess reading the forums here and talking to other players helped me realize that aggression is important at times. My personality makes me not want to be aggressive, but I can overcome it using logic. If I know that an aggressive play is best, I'll make it.

When I workout, I feel better for the rest of the day, so I guess working out before playing is best. I often do pushups during breaks, which I try to take every couple hours, just to refocus me.

Any chance you could say something about what factors you consider when you decide whether to flat call or 3-bet with a playable hand preflop? Also, I noticed that you said that you felt some people ended up 3-betting too much, because they usually took down the pot either pre-flop or with a c-bet, but when they didn't do this it cost them too much. I never seem to know what to do when an opponent 3-bets - often it is reasonably obvious whether to continue or not, but I'm not sure whether calling or 4-betting is better.Any pointers on what factors to consider here would be appreciated.

Hmm. I mostly base it on the player who opened. How he reacts to 3bets, how he plays in raised pots as the pfr. If someone calls too many 3bets, I'm more likely to 3bet him with KJo and less likely to with 76s. If someone calls too few 3bets, I'll do the opposite.

If someone plays especially bad as the pfr in a raised pot, cbets 100% of flops and goes broke with any piece, or cbets a lot but folds anythign but he nuts to a raise, or only cbets when he hits and otherwise gives up the pot, I might prefer to just call rather than 3bet to let him make these mistakes.

If someone 3bets you, you should consider the size of their 3bet, stack sizes, how often (and what type of hands) they 3bet, how they play postflop in 3bet pots, and how often they fold to 4bets. (and your hand) I think the adjustments for each of these factors should be easy to figure out.

In position, be more likely to call, oop be more likely to 4bet or fold.

At lower levels, I've generally only been getting involved in reraised pots with premium hands, but as I move up, I'm getting 3-bet more often, and I'm not sure which hands are best to add to my range, and how best to play them.

It's tough to give you advice on this. We all know what hands are better than others. It's just a matter of where the cutoff is. And that depends on the many factors listed above.

Finally, if you have time, you were talking about how c-betting a very high proportion of the time after you raise preflop is unbalanced and can be exploited, especially in tougher games. Do you have any tips on how to balance better - should I be looking to c/r or check back some strong hands, rather than c-betting pretty much everything except when I want to give up on a pot, which works relatively well at low stakes.

You should almost never be checking very strong hands as the pfr. You should check some complete misses on flops likely to hit your opponent, like if you raise UTG with 44 and button calls, flop J97 two tone. Just c/f. You should be checking back with a lot of midpair or Ace high type hands. Sometimes with gutters or flushdraws, and occasionally with weak TP so that you can call down and discourage him from always bluffing you.

It's more dependent on the board than your hand. If you think it's very likely that the board hit your opponent, or that it's a board he might make a play on, just give him the pot once in a while.

Remember, none of this matters against a weak straightforward opponent. Just pound on him.

Most optimal way to learn and master hand reading? With that how to learn equity vs range?

As jfish said, experience and pokerstove are a big part of it.

The most important bit of quick advice I could give is to ask yourself 'why' all the time.

Why is he betting this turn?

Why did he call flop and bet river when I checked behind on the turn? What could he do that with? What is he thinking? What does he want me to do?

Why did he raise to that amount? What's he trying to accomplish? Does he want to look strong or weak? Does he want me to fold or call or shove?

Your opponent is doing everything for a reason, whether it's a good or bad reason. If you can figure out those reasons, you can figure out his hand.

Thanks for doing this Phil, it’s been a fantastic read so far.
On to my question: Do you think poker is ethically justifiable? Sometimes what I do in poker seems no different to me from what a drug dealer does to make his money.

I’ve posed this question to a few of my friends and none have really given me a conclusive answer.

Good question.

I understand your comparison. Let me first answer why I think being a poker pro isn't unethical, and then talk about the comparison.

My opponents know what they're getting into, or it's their own fault if they don't. The rules of poker are very clearcut and well known.

We're playing a game. A competition. Maybe it's different for me because I'm competitive, but if I wanted to play tennis against Andy Roddick, I would want him to try his hardest. If people are playing poker for competition or fun, and they sit with me, I would think they'd want me to work hard to beat them. They would like there to be pros to compete against.

Then there are people who play just to gamble. Some are addicted, some aren't. Either way, they're going to gamble somewhere, and probably somewhere where they're a favorite to lose. If I don't play poker with them, someone else will, or they'll bet on horses, or blackjack.

In reality, I'm in competition with all of you, the other poker pros, not the fish. We're racing to get their money, and then a bit from each other.

If I didn't play poker, every addicted person would lose just as much money. In fact, if no poker pros existed, almost every gambling addict would lose just as much money, either to the casual poker players, or to other games.

I suppose that if gambling didn't exist at all, there would be no gambling addicts. But that's an impossibility pretty much. And many would-be gambling addicts would find something else to ruin their lives with.

So, on to the comparison with drug dealers. I suppose we aren't that different. Most of what I said above could be said for dealers.

The main difference, besides the legality of it which is not a good argument, is that I don't go searching for people to make them addicts. I don't give free samples to random people to let them get hooked. I guess poker sites do though.

The fact of the matter is, that logically, if a drug dealer never goes out of his way to get new people addicted, he probably has no negative impact on the world. The people who come to him for drugs would find them elsewhere.

I guess if someone comes to him for drugs, but wouldn't have found any and given up had he not been there, he is somewhat responsible for getting them addicted. Other than that instance, he probably isn't hurting the world as a whole by dealing.

I'm fairly sure that I've had a net positive impact on the world, and that I'll continue to even moreso in the future. That's enough for me to feel good about what I do.



If you buy me a drink next time we're in the same place, and you swear to keep it a secret, I'll tell you.

do you generally just jump right into a game or do you spend anytime watching first to get a feel for the game flow and specific player dynamics?

i'm sure thatthere is less need for scouting at the higher levels as the player pool is shrinking, but ppl still play differently when they are winning/losing so just wondering if you do this and if so for how long approx.

I usually jump right in, like you said, since I know most of the players. If there's a brand new name at 300/600 hu, I'll usually jump in, but proceed with caution. Sometimes I prefer to not play and watch as he plays someone else.

I definitely think people play worse/better depending on how they're doing, but in about 75% of the games I play, I feel my edge is significant enough that it doesn't matter what mood they're in. Against the tougher 25% of opponents I play, I definitely pass on some games if they're running good and I am not.

what differentiates PA from other top players that you have also given props to but wont avoid playing HU with, like genius and whitelime?

Actually, I'm very friendly with whitelime and wouldn't play him hu even if I he weren't a great player, which he is.

I usually won't play genius HU either. If I think he's unfocused, or I feel especially good, I will, but 90% of the time I won't.

I feel the same way about Patrik actually. I suppose I'm more likely to play Genius than Pat, because Pat never plays below 200/400, but I think they are very close in skill level.

The main reason I don't like to play Pat is that I think my edge is very small, or occasionally negative, and he only plays very high stakes with a very high variance style. There are just much better, and much less risky spots.

I remember when you made the transition from sng's to cash and you had a lot of great posts at the time. A lot of old sttfers are making the transition to cash or have made the transition over the past two years. As one who has had an ongoing transition lasting about a year now, could you provide any insight now of what significant things you learned early in the transition that helped you out? For example, it took me a long time to get out of the habit of wanting to get to showdown.

The truth is, very little can be taken from SNGs and applied to cash, much like very little can be taken from cash and applied to SNGs. It's a completely different game. Those who succeed at one are likely to be able to succeed in the other, but they have to relearn everything.

I guess I had trouble at first learning to push small edges. In SNGs you usually don't want to get it in as a 55/45 fave, but in cash you do. That makes the correct play in SNGs often to take down the pot when you have the best hand, rather than risking getting sucked out on to get more value.

I had a lot of SNG turn cash players show me hands where they pot the flop and turn with KJ on K763r board to 'let them know I have a big hand' or 'not let them draw at their straight'

I dunno if you do that or not, but basically what I'm saying is, be willing to risk losing the pot to max your value, and don't over-rep your good hands.

Trying to showdown winners rather than squeeze value out definitely falls under this category.

I claimed I could drink more water in a day than you and Max said I couldn't. Thoughts?
Also really good well you are a poker god etc.

I definitely could, but I don't want to try and die.


My question has to deal with check raising innocuous flops. Lets say the flop is k 8 3 or some other flop that doesnt really hit your opponents range very hard often at all. So if you are making a play at a flop like that, what sorts of hands are you doing it with? Against a tricky opponent who picks up on this play, how often are you continuing firing through on the turn...the river, after he calls your check raise? And the same goes for the other way around, how often are you calling the check raise from a player who makes plays on flops like that, what requirements do you have to have, in order to continue or even make a play on the turn. How often do you just call to shove the turn, when you know he is going to bet? Or how often are you three betting over his raise on the flop?

This is a tough question. Even though it's a specific scenario, it's kind've asking how to play poker in general.

What I can say on the topic:

Innocuous flops make for some very interesting psychological battles. There are very few hand combinations that connect well with a K83r flop, so it's very much a matter of how often your opponent will play fast with a set, KQ, K5, and how often he'll bluff. All of that is your job to figure out.

As for playing back at it, a float looks much much more credible, but most people won't 4bet bluff a K83r flop for most of their stack. So, sometimes a 3bet bluff is better. It all depends on your opponent.

Something to think about: If you have 76cc on a Kd8c3s board, 1/3 of turns give you 8+ outs to (call or) shove over a turn bet with. A few more turns give you a pair to shove or call with too.

Any club (9), 9 (3), 5 (3) and then 3 6s and 3 7s.

My questions: Will you ever write a poker book? Do you ever feel bad after taking a massive amount of money from someone at the nosebleeds and knowing that theyr now feeling horrible? What do you think a good study/play ratio is for an intermediate player?

I may write a book. I'm not sure.

I have never felt bad about winning a bunch, no. My goal when I sit down is to win a bunch, so if I feel bad when I do that would be silly.

I think your study/play ratio should have a lot to do with your future goals. If you plan to play for a while, I'd make it a point to improve as much as possible, as it will pay off down the road. That might mean more studying. If you just want to make a few bucks this year, play more.

That said, playing is an important part of the learning process. Probably more than studying.

In the Well a couple of times you mentioned understanding a player's personality to be crucial, and on more than one occasion you said also that understanding a player's reasoning process is crucial. When I read your first comment (about personality) I felt you could perhaps be suggesting that in the hierarchy of importance this could be number one (in terms of cruciality -lol). Then later I read your comments on the reasoning process of players and I wondered here whether you might not rank this higher than personality, ie. might be the most exploitable aspect of a player.

Freud says the Ego is the reasoning part of the personality, the Reality Principle, negotiating (if you will) between the demands of the Super Ego and the Id. So, if you understand a player's reasoning process you understand their personality.

Do you think this way, or do you have a completely different view of "personality" and "the reasoning process"? And if the latter, which is most crucial to understand in poker?

Interesting post. I don't know much about Freud, or psychology in general. Well, by that I mean I haven't studied it much. I think I understand people fairly well though.

I just read a bit about the Id, ego, and superego. I think I'll just explain how I feel in my terms so I won't confuse myself and cause a misunderstanding.

The most important thing to consider during a hand is how your opponent will reason in that situation.

However, there are an infinite amount of situations that may arise when playing poker. Even two identical scenarios aren't actually identical, as the second occurs at a different time with different history between players.

A player's reasoning process in a certain situation is based on his personality, in a sense. (It's also based on his intelligence and how he thinks about poker in general. I guess we can call all of that combined the 'poker personality')

So, when a hand is played, you try to figure out your opponents reasoning process in that hand. You use all of the hands you've seen to inform your knowledge of his poker personality, which you then use to estimate how he'll handle a new situation.

all past hands (reasoning process) -> poker personality -> this new hand (reasoning process)

It's late, and I'm out of it. I hope that wasn't gibberish.

What is the most extravagant/'Balla' purchase you have made with your poker winnings?

Heh. $4.7k on a TV. Holla!

I'm a mostly 1000nl-2500nl HU player trying to make the jump to true high stakes. Is there anything specific you suggest for me to do or think about as I try to make this jump?

I can't really give you quick advice that will make it much easier. It's still poker.

Just realize that as you move up, opponents will get better, and you need to play differently vs better opponents.

Also remember not to lose confidence just because it's higher stakes. These players are playing the same game you are with the same rules. Don't be intimidated.

Would you mind giving your thoughts on momentum during a heads up match? Specifically, any adjustments when the other guy seems to be winning the "I-miss you-miss" game?

I feel like it shouldn't be a factor between good players, but in practice it seems to be.

I think it's less of a factor than most people think. I suspect that it feels like the losing player is getting run over more than he actually is. Selective memory type thing.

Momentum definitely plays an part in HU matches though. I think that most of it has to do with the fact that people play worse and less decisively when stuck. They don't trust their decisions as much. The opposite is true for players who are running better.

Also when players are losing, they often go on autopilot and hope to run good. Players who are winning think about every hand and look for any +EV spot. This might have the effect of the losing player not fighting for the small pots.

Someone losing is often scared to make correct plays because they feel their opponent is inside their head. They can envision their (good) river bluff getting snapcalled with bottom pair, so they opt not to make it. Things like that.

As far as adjustments, you just have to make sure you're thinking things through the right way. If you notice yourself feeling like your opponent is more likely to flop a hand than he actually is, you need to quit, or figure out how to get your head straight. He's no more likely to flop a set than anyone else is, even if he's hit the last 10 flops hard.

You have to fight the images burned in your mind of him consistently raking in pots, making the right calls, and hitting big hands time and time again with logic and math.

Earlier you talked about how a lot of people who get coaching, don't necessarily benefit from it because they don't ask the "right questions?"

Could you perhaps elaborate on what types of questions, would be the right questions?

The most important thing is that your coach understands your thought process.

A coach that just gives you a few pointers, shows you how he plays, sees what hands you raise where and tells you which ones are wrong, etc. isn't really teaching you much.

He needs to understand your thought process, so that he can find the flaws in your logic.

One student I had showed me a hand. The details are off a bit, but this is the basic hand and convo we had about it:

He raised AJ and button called.

Flop AT8 two tone
He 3/4 pot, villain calls

Turn 4o
He 4/5 pot, villain folds

Looked pretty standard at first glance. Right?

Phil: Okay, looks fine. Did you have any reads on him?

Student: He is 22/18 regular.

Phil: Okay, why did you decide to bet the turn?

Student: Well, I had been cbetting and giving up a lot against him. I checked a lot of turns to him, he bet, and I folded, so I wanted to let him know I had something this time.

Phil: Okay. We need to talk.

do you feel you are addicted to poker? Do you believe you could stop playing for a month,6 months, a year if you felt it was having a negative impact on your life?

I'm not sure. I think I could not play. If I were financially set for the rest of my life, I could not play at all for 6 months. I would miss it though.

what are the 2 best and worst aspects of my game?

You are literally the only player I know of who can hand read extremely well and make monster A/K high calldowns who doesn't have major FPS.

You own fish harder than anyone. I guess you picked it up from playing lots of HU and lots of MTTs, but you always know the best way to make a fish do something extra stupid.


You make a lot of bets with the best hand when you won't be called by worse often, over-repping your hand basically. I think you sacrifice EV in order to take control of the betting or take down the pot. I think it lowers variance though.

You seem to hate poker with a passion. (Actually you hate a lot of things with a passion) With poker, I play best when I'm in a good mood. I think everyone does. It seems like playing poker puts you in a bad mood automatically. I also think you underestimate how serious a problem this is, both for your game and your overall enjoyment of life.

would i benefit from tommy angelo coaching?

Hmmm. It definitely wouldn't hurt.

I think you would probably benefit if you took it seriously, but I envision you instantly writing some of his ideas off and thinking it's all crap.

You should read his new book, Elements Of Poker, and see if you think it's inspirational or ******ed or somewhere in between. I just got my copy, but haven't read it yet. Maybe read some of his articles if you haven't yet to get a feel for whether you like the way he thinks.

Most poker players I meet have some vice that accompanies the degenerative gambling (cigarettes, alcohol, pot, etc). I'm not implying someone playing winning poker should be considered a degen but a lot of players are wayyy bigger degenerates than they would like to admit. Do you think some one can beat the HS/nosebleed stakes while still using one or more of these vices on a regular basis?

Do you have a particular vice that you indulge in at or away from the table, obv some drinks with you friends at low limit live games is cool but what about say smoking marijuana regular basis while playing poker. How much do your think vices like these can hold you back even if you are taking care of your self in ever other possible aspect (diet, exercise, etc)?

I think one can smoke, drink, or play blackjack and still be an elite poker player, though they don't help.

I don't really have any vices. I'm not into any drugs. I have a tendency to obsess over things and ignore others. On occasion I'll get really excited about poker or a project of some kind and not leave the house for 2-3 days. I think that's bad for my overall well-being, and therefor my game, so I try to make sure I stay balanced.

Hope I'm not too late! Just found this today. Thanks Phil. Awesome thread so far.
Recently I've had a growing interest in the overall improvement of the no-limit community.
40 years ago, the best bridge player in the world said he couldn't imagine anyone ever getting better than he was. 10 years later he said he couldn't believe how horrible he was when he said that.
If you froze the best players in the world in time today, and matched them up against the best players in the world, 2, 5, or 10 years from now, how would they match up?
I guess what I'm asking about, is how much improvement is left?
I don't have a specific question really that needs to be answered, but I'd like you to give your thoughts on this topic.

Wow. Really interesting question, ZJ.

I suspect that there is still a lot of room for improvement.

If you froze the best players today, I would think that they'd be very noticeably underdogs to the best players in 5 years. In 2 years, I'm not sure. They'd be at a disadvantage for sure but probably not much. As for 10 years, I don't know if the extra 5 years will help much. I'd guess very little.

NLHE appears to be a somewhat solvable game, as far as the game theory is concerned. I think we still have a ways to go before we 'solve' it. From there it will just be about psychology and leveling.

Every single player who's game I know well (meaning I talk to them or have played HU with them for a while) has leaks, and makes mistakes all the time. I'm talking the best of the best. They still all make mistakes VERY often.

I expect to be a much better player 1 year from now.

As a sidenote, it seems like PLO is even less solved. I think PLO games will be much much tougher in 2 years.

Oh, what u had against cacambo board [Qs Kc 3s 6h 5d] Total pot $64,200. I understand if u dont want to tell...

FullTiltPoker Game #4790495313: Table bmwnick1 (6 max) - $200/$400 - Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 22:30:44 ET - 2008/01/08
Seat 1: Zitadelle ($13,686)
Seat 2: Topper Mouse ($13,596)
Seat 4: Cacambo ($56,470)
Seat 5: OMGClayAiken ($37,210)
Seat 6: DaFool ($16,984)
Zitadelle posts the small blind of $200
Topper Mouse posts the big blind of $400
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to OMGClayAiken [5c Jc Ts 7c]
Cacambo calls $400
OMGClayAiken raises to $1,800
DaFool folds
Zitadelle folds
Topper Mouse folds
Cacambo calls $1,400
*** FLOP *** [Qs Kc 3s]
Cacambo checks
OMGClayAiken bets $3,200
Cacambo has 15 seconds left to act
Cacambo calls $3,200
*** TURN *** [Qs Kc 3s] [6h]
Cacambo has 15 seconds left to act
Cacambo bets $8,400
OMGClayAiken has 15 seconds left to act
OMGClayAiken has requested TIME
OMGClayAiken calls $8,400
*** RIVER *** [Qs Kc 3s 6h] [5d]
Cacambo has 15 seconds left to act
Cacambo bets $18,400
OMGClayAiken raises to $23,810, and is all in
Cacambo has 15 seconds left to act
Cacambo has requested TIME
Cacambo folds
Uncalled bet of $5,410 returned to OMGClayAiken
OMGClayAiken mucks
OMGClayAiken wins the pot ($64,198)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $64,200 | Rake $2
Board: [Qs Kc 3s 6h 5d]
Seat 1: Zitadelle (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: Topper Mouse (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 4: Cacambo folded on the River
Seat 5: OMGClayAiken collected ($64,198), mucked
Seat 6: DaFool (button) didn't bet (folded)