Dan O’Brien – Good For Poker

Front page photo credit: Jonathan Boncek, PokerNews.com World Series of Poker Europe 2012.

The poker world tends to qualify certain events and results as “good for poker,” or “bad for poker.” Most of these things rely heavily on variance, and we tend to forget that there are also very stable and reliable people that are “good for poker”. Dan O’Brien is one of those people in the poker world. Open honest, and always with a smile, he’s a lot better for poker than random incidents of luck. As a representer of the game, and a successful one at that, he’s been around the block a few times. Today you can read what goes on inside the head of the man who’s just shy of two million dollars in live tournament earnings. Today O’Brien speaks about his attitude towards poker, being staked by Jason Mercier and both the Instapoker and Open Face Chinese Poker app.

Let’s start off with something I’ve been wondering about for a while, do you even have your online poker accounts set up outside the US?
No, I haven’t done that. I haven’t had much desire to, and the only thing worth for me to travel for is SCOOP. Last year I was doing some other stuff and I wasn’t too worried about it. This year I would like to get my account set up and play some of the bigger tournaments while I’m traveling. Depending on how the online landscape looks like in the US, I might go up to Canada for the winter next year to snowboard and play online. I would really like to live somewhere where I can snowboard so it’s either going to be Tahoe, Breckenridge or Whistler up in Canada. If there’s online poker in Nevada, and it’s decent, I’ll probably just go to Tahoe. If not, then I’ll head up to Whistler, but we’ll see.

One of the things that stand out to me about you is your positive and up-beat demeanor. Is that something you need to have or do in order to deal with everything surrounding being a professional poker player?
I think it has a lot to do with my personality and how I try to approach everything. It is also a choice on how to look at things, because it’s easy to let yourself get caught up in the fact that you’re not doing well. You might even be doing pretty well, but everyone around you just seems to be doing better. Especially with tournament poker, it can be really, really difficult on your mental state sometimes. If things aren’t going well they might not be going well for a long time. Especially when you’re like me and not grinding every day, and just playing let’s say around 50 big buy-in tournaments per year. You might go a year, or two years, without really doing much. I think it’s important to be consious of how you are looking at your job, at the tournaments and also just life in general. For me obviously, I’ve had some good times and I’ve had some bad times, but if you think about it, I’m pretty fortunate to do what I do. I love playing poker, the people that I get to meet and hang out with, and there’s really nothing to be too upset about. Tournament poker in general is kind of a crapshoot. There’s tons of skill in it, but the fields are big in the tournaments that I play so you’re not going to be able to do well too often. You are just going to have to go into it like, “I’m going to enjoy myself and do my best, and if I happen to make a ton of money that would be awesome.” 

So it’s not a performance you’re putting on when you look all happy and positive while being on a bad streak?
Obviously you’re going to get down every now and then. For the most part no, I’m pretty happy and I love living in Las Vegas. Even after, let’s say, going to London where I didn’t do anything and lost every tournament that I played. Beforehand I didn’t really want to go because I was enjoying the Vegas weather and getting in shape, but still there’s nothing to be upset about. I went, did my job, took my shot and then went home. It’s good to be home and I was looking forward to seeing my roommate, my friends, my dog and just getting back into my routine of being healthy.

Do you feel like the way you are approaching poker, with playing around 50 events a year? Is what you had imagined doing when you decided to become a professional player all those years ago and do you think you’re maximizing your potential like this?
I know I said 50 but when I think about it some more it’s probably closer to 75. I’m definitely not on the crazy tournament grind. I travel a lot and I play a lot of the big events, so it is a lot of work. But I’m definitely not working to my potential because I’m not playing 150 tournaments a year on the live circuit. I’m also not moving to play a ton of online tournaments, but that’s okay because this is what I want to do right now. At some points I’ve been a little more on the grind, but even so I’ll be more on a cash game grind than a tournament grind. That’s because playing smaller tournaments doesn’t really appeal to me all that much. Most of the times it’s just not worthwhile it to spend three or four days on a $300 event. I’m just really happy with what I’m doing right now and I’m exploring other options as well. I’m doing some other poker related things as well like the Instapoker app, commentary for the WPT, and I’m writing a spread in Bluff Magazine starting in May. So I’m trying not to focus on the grind of poker. I’ve been doing that for a long time and I really, really do love poker but I just don’t love playing every day. I’m just focused on some other things in my life such as being healthy and enjoying myself. I definitely could be putting more into it, but I think right now I’m putting exactly as much into it as I’d like to.

With poker you need to work on your game all the time in order to stay at the top. Do you think your game is at that high level right now, or are you getting by because your opponents in live tournaments aren’t of the highest quality?
I think that my game would definitely be well served to play more and be in more of a poker environment. Let’s say I would live in a house with three or four other top professionals where we would be playing every day…then yeah I would be better. So my game is probably not at 100%, but I do talk to some of the best players in the world on a regular basis. I do play often enough and I am still extremely confident that I’m at 95%. Personally I think that my game is better than it’s ever been but I think that’s just kind of an evolution; you should always feel that way. You should always be striving to get better unless you are taking some crazy time off. Hopefully every year you can look back on how you’ve played last year and think, “Wow, I didn’t really know what I was doing back then.” It’s important to keep learning and to keep improving, but I don’t think I need to play every day to do that. I think I can do well enough by doing what I’m doing.

One of the big things that gave you mainstream media attention was the story in ESPN The Magazine back in May 2011, about how Jason Mercier was down a lot of money staking Allen Bari and yourself, among others. What kind of perspective did that story give your friends and family on how you were living your life, since that was kind of a negative article?
I could not be more honest about this than to say that I didn’t really care. It definitely wasn’t a good article. I guess the writer and the editor needed to sensationalize it, or whatever. We weren’t under the impression that it was going to come out the way it did, not only before but also during. It was fairly honest at the time since Allen (Bari) and I weren’t doing well at the time and things were not all that pleasant. If someone thinks that I’m just a losing player because I’ve lost for maybe a year or so, which is probably like 75 tournaments, they really don’t understand the variance in the game. For me personally, negative or positive press, I don’t pay too much attention to it. Not that I’m in the press all the time, but I don’t watch myself on TV or read anything written about me. It’s not because I’m trying to avoid it; I just don’t really care.

But how do you think it was for your friends and family to read such a story, because they don’t get to see you all the time since you’re traveling most of the year?
I don’t think so. I don’t think people took it as badly as it could’ve been taken. Honestly I don’t remember it all that well. All I know is that we weren’t too pleased with it. I don’t even know what my parents said, but they probably just wanted to make sure I wasn’t broke. Some friends probably thought it was cool that I was in ESPN The Magazine, but no one approached me saying, “Are you broke?” or “Are you sure this is the right thing?”  Maybe Jason’s friends and family were a little bit wearier, wondering if he should be backing us. If he was doing the right thing, since the article made it seem like we were just losing him money. For the most part it didn’t really affect anything, and after that Allen and I actually did really well for a while. When you’ve been in the game for as long as we have you understand the ebbs and flows of it all. When I’m losing I don’t think I’m the worst, and when I’m winning I don’t think I’m the best. 

Three friends; Kyle Julius, Dan O’Brien and Jason Mercier

Are you famous?
(laughing) No. Not even close. More people know me than the average guy I guess, but it doesn’t really matter and it doesn’t really mean anything. Fame, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder. There are some confused people out there maybe that think that I’m famous, they are incorrect.

On your HendonMob we can see some pretty impressive results among which are a lot of close finishes…
(laughing) Yeah, I tend to almost win tournaments a lot!

…but that big win is still missing. Last year you finished second in a World Series of Poker Europe event after a dreadful heads up. How was it to know that you were so close to a bracelet but eventually you ended up in second place?

That was extremely difficult. That was probably one of those moments where I wasn’t as cognizant of my image or trying to be entertaining. As much as it’s important, I mean if you watch Negreanu, it’s a big part of the reason why he is what he is. He made some big finishes at a good time during the World Series when it was coming up, but he’s also very personable at all times. There are also times where you just have to sit there and realize that this is very important, and you need to put all your energy in what you need to do. In that time, and as much as I wanted to be entertaining, I just really wanted to win. 

People felt bad for me but I don’t know how they watched the whole thing, because I played some of the most boring poker imaginable. I just limped everything as the blinds were getting up there and I didn’t want to increase variance against that guy. I just felt comfortable playing flops with him and I thought I had a pretty big edge. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you want and I also made a couple of mistakes. I probably should’ve limp-called a little bit more and taken a couple more gambles. At the time it just seemed like I shouldn’t gamble on anything because I really felt like I could control the situation. It was tough because I was up 11.5 to 1 in chips against an amateur player, and even against a pro that would’ve been tough to deal with. If you look at the situations, I got it all in with ace-king versus pocket queens for 10 blinds each and he won. Then he proceeded to pick up some pots and we ended up all in four times with about even equity. I lost them all and it was pretty tough to be in those situations. I did everything that I could and I was pretty proud of myself for sticking to my game and not losing it. I was even able to take it into the next day, and from an 11:1 lead I got down to a 6:1 disadvantage. From that I battled back to around two or 2.5 to 1. At that point I turned down a deal from that guy, because I didn’t want anything to taint my bracelet. I just wanted to win and was very confident on the uptick. The blinds ended up getting really big and I ran some big hands into bigger hands, and that ended up going against me unfortunately. 

Besides the monetary gain of finishing in a higher position, you already have a second, third, fourth and seventh place finish, is a bracelet still the one big thing missing from your life as a professional tournament player?
I don’t think so, and I don’t put too much stock into it. It will be really nice, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely not why I’m playing. It’s not why I’m going to the World Series; I go there to make money. I’d much rather finish third in the Main Event than win one of the other bracelet events for even, let’s say, a million. It’s definitely more important to me to make some money, and I think that’s how most true gamblers are going to feel. Of course winning has always been a dream of mine since I started playing poker, and I will go out and play as many events as possible. Especially in some of the smaller field ones I think I have a pretty big edge. Games like No-Limit Deuce to Seven and things like that are some of my better chances, so I will make sure to play them. 

Let’s say the World Series of Poker keeps going like it has been for the last few years, do you still think there is value to bracelets in the year 2050 or will an EPT maybe mean more since those are more sparse?
It’s tough to predict how public opinion will change but I definitely think that it will lose a little bit of its luster. That’s just on the fact that there are so many more events, and now even in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region. Obviously the more you have, the less impressive it is that you’ve won them. I think that in the foreseeable future it will always be pretty big that you’ve gotten some of those WSOP bracelets. Anyone can win one or two bracelets, as we’ve seen, but if you have say five, six or more it’s a lot more impressive. In 2050 it might be a big deal if you have 15 or 20 bracelets to your name. I think it will stay relevant in the public eye, but you just have to win a bit more.

What is your proudest accomplishment in life so far?
This is one of those where you don’t want to give a bad answer, it’s my whole life here (laughing). It’s need to be good!

Do you think it is poker related?
No, it can’t be. I mean, I’ve accomplished enough in poker and I’m proud of a lot of the things that I’ve done for sure. I have a history of starting things and not finishing them. But in poker, even though I haven’t given it 100%, I’ve definitely taken a lot of strides and worked hard to get where I am. As far as “the greatest accomplishment in life,” I just can’t see it being poker. I’m trying to think of something huge, but I guess I just haven’t done anything huge to consider for this question. 

Would it been have different if you had won that bracelet last September?
I would’ve definitely been pleased, especially because of how I sat there and battled through adversity. I was proud of the way I handled the game and myself during that heads-up match, because it was so brutal. It would be up there for sure; just in terms of finally getting to accomplish something I worked really hard. But I don’t think I could ever consider one poker tournament victory as the best thing in my life. You’re just beating variance and you work hard. But it’s really all about your daily, weekly or monthly struggle, not so much about one time, or the few times, when you’ve gotten to the place where you wanted to be.

In the YouTube series about Russell Thomas preparing for the World Series of Poker Main Event final table you said something very interesting, “Luck and variance are basically the same thing.” Could you explain to everyone how it is you see this?
Variance is just a mathematical term for luck. If you don’t really deal with mathematics too often, then you’re going to look at certain situations and say, “I was lucky to land this job,” or “I was lucky with this near miss of my car because this guy almost hit me.” They are totally right in saying that, but sometimes people get a little bit silly, and think luck as more of a long-term thing. “This guys just has very bad luck,” or “That guy has really good luck and if he goes to play Blackjack I want to play next to him.” That is just people misunderstanding the way that math and the distribution of numbers work, when there’s randomness involved. If you’re dealing with randomness and probability, there’s going to be a distribution from what is expected. I’ve been out of math for a while, but that’s called standard deviation. So you’re going to deviate from what you’re expected to gain, sometimes that’s a lot and sometimes a little. 

If you’re playing in a $1/$2 cash game, and it’s really soft, you can expect to win $20 per hour. You might not deviate too much from that, and every week you come pretty close to that, because the game is soft and you’re playing ABC. In tournament poker the standard deviation is enormous because the fields are huge, and the prizes are so top heavy. So you might expect between 20% and 50% in a tournament; but you may go years as a loser before making anything. Or, you can just win a couple at the beginning and be a god in poker for a while until nobody hears from you again. It’s really just about understanding that things kind of fall one way or the other, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You have no control over it, and you’re just hoping to be on the right side of them. It’s all about understanding that, and knowing how to deal with it because it’s a part of the game.

One of the things that always stands out to me is how people like to classify certain events, things and results as “good for poker,” or “bad for poker.” Can you explain to me, what’s good for poker?
It’s good for poker if everyone’s playing. More people equals more money and especially from amateur players. More publicity and excitement from the general public in regards to poker is also good. As far as specifically what’s good, if one guy wins or the other that’s pretty worthless nowadays. From what I’ve seen the only thing that really matters, from a media standpoint, is the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. There are just a few more things on top of that like the NBC Heads Up, but for the most part that’s the only mass public presentation we have. So that pretty much shows off the entire poker community for one year. For a bunch of quiet online kids to make it, it’s fair to say that that’s not that good for poker. If there were some more colorful personalities; young, old and some females; that would be good for poker. Unfortunately we just missed out on having two females at the final table last year. 

Getting more women involved is always a good thing, since it’s a giant market of people that are not generally that into the game. For the public image of it, it’s also good because you don’t want it to be just an old boys game. But even if Gaelle (Baumann) and Elisabeth (Hille) both made the final table, it still wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. What we really need is big money behind it, like from PokerStars and Ceasers. They need to start advertising it more and keeping it in the heads of your average consumer. That’s really what we’re all hoping for. 

Are there still things bad for poker right now, or has Black Friday ruined poker so much that nothing could really do more damage to its image right now?
Things can still be bad but it takes a lot to really be bad for poker. You need like scandals and shit like that. Public scandals, which give the impression that poker is dirty or full of cheats, are obviously not good. For the most part now, people that would hear about that stuff would already know that it’s not necessarily encapsulating of poker. Since there’s not too much public interest in poker right now, nothing can be all that bad. If things get bigger again and money starts coming back in from the US, those things could be a bigger deal.

What’s your opinion on the state of poker right now and the growth, or the possibility to have growth in the future?
I think we’re in a limbo. It remains to be seen and I’m looking forward to legalization. I’m very optimistic about a lot of the states getting involved in it. Of course that’s not because they care about people’s freedom to play poker, but because they will see that other states are making money doing it. Between that and Caesar’s and MGM’s ability to lobby and make money, I think there’s definitely a huge chance that poker will be close to being national in the US within the next two years. As far as how big that will be, I’m not really certain. I don’t think it’s going to be 2003 or 2004 by any means, but I think it will be pretty good. I guess it also depends on how the economy is doing and the willingness of people to spend money on gambling, which I’m not in entirely optimistic about.

Is the possibility of the game getting bigger again a specific motivation for you to stay in the game and not venture out to different exploits?
Yes for sure. If online poker wasn’t going to be regulated for the next ten years, I’d have a lot less optimism as far as my career as poker player. I think not only is it good for my ability to do what I want to do, which is basically to focus on other things. But to still be able to play online and make a reasonable living from my own home also gives me motivation to travel and play all these big tournaments, and hopefully increase my brand to the point where I can add value to a company, and get paid to do some of the things I really enjoy doing, like making media content, appearances, coaching, MC-ing and commentary. All those things that I enjoy; that aren’t playing poker but affiliated with poker, I’m hoping to have a lot more opportunities to do, with online poker coming back to the US.

Poker commentary is something that you’ve been doing for a while now. Your style is to be open, honest and straight up about what you see on the felt. Do you think that’s a good way to approach poker commentary going forward? The majority of the crowd that watches will maybe get a negative feeling about themselves since they might also think the way most of these amateurs tend to?
There’s a huge difference between commentary for live streams and commentary for television. It’s partly the audience that I’m catering to, and it’s partly the amount of time that I have to dedicate to each piece of analysis. If I’m on TV, I will cater to a broader audience and it will be a little bit more simplified. I will also have a very limited amount of time. So then I will just get some sound bites in and discuss some hand analysis, as well as my feelings on a person’s play in a very concise manner. Now I haven’t had that opportunity yet, so for the most part, what I do on a live stream is trying to be entertaining for a very long period of time, where not all that much is going to be happening. There’s going to be exciting moments, but for the most part we’re just trying to entertain the viewers, have some banter and teach them about some of the plays. All of that, without, taking too much away from the guys that are actually playing. So it’s definitely a different kind of feel compared to what guys like Lon (McEachern) and Norman (Chad) do. 

Maybe I was a little bit hard on people in the beginning, but for the most part now I’m quite fair. I think that it’s important to understand that even good players make bad plays. Whenever we say that someone makes a bad play, we’re not condemning that person to be an awful player. If you watch me play for eight hours I’m sure there’re going to be a couple of plays where you’d be thinking, “Well, he shouldn’t have been doing that.” I’m probably thinking it myself, maybe like two minutes after I did it. Sometimes you just don’t approach the right decision at the right time and that happens. I think we should definitely be honest in our feelings about it, and not really worry about people’s feelings all that much. You put yourself out there and you just have to deal with what we talk about. 

You provide hands for the Instapoker App, a poker-training app for IOS and Android.  Is that something that keeps you honest and looking at yourself from a more judging perspective, because you have to provide content, and explain to people why you are doing certain things?
It’s always helpful to think about the game, and how to play certain hands, and which routes you could take to get somewhere that might be better. So definitely writing the hands is helpful, but I think the most helpful thing is recording the hands while I’m playing. That really makes you focus on your mental toughness throughout the play. Let’s say it’s Day 25 of the World Series, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been getting your ass kicked or if you’re have some good results, and you’re playing in a $1,000 event. It’s early in the tournament, and it doesn’t really have an effect on your bottom line. Then it’s easy to just do whatever and gamble, when you don’t mind busting and going to the pool. It’s sometimes easy to get into those spots where you might want to gamble for a big stack, and give your mind a rest in case you bust early. If you’re recording the hands and you’re thinking about it, it’s really hard to make a play you can’t explain to anyone. Every once in a while I’m sitting there thinking, “Why the hell am I doing this? I would never tell anyone to do this.” So it helps me to stay more disciplined in situations where it’s easy to lose that discipline. 

Photo: Vivek Rajkumar. Dan O’Brien playing Open Face Chinese Poker with Jason Somerville and Vivek Rajkumar.

Do you feel like Instapoker really gives something to your every day poker player, or do things get too complicated too quickly?
It’s hard to say. I think we just need to create more content, and do a better job of building a broader spectrum and ranking things better. Less experienced players should know that they can get “this” pack, while more experienced players can get different packs. For me it’s really hard to write for less experienced players, because I’m always going to try to think of every possibility to play the hand optimally. I think that, for what it is, it’s the best. It’s on your phone and you have between 10 and 20 hands in a pack. In your free time you can look at a hand that was played, and read the play-by-play analysis from someone who is an expert in that position. You might not even agree with it all the time, but it gets you thinking exactly how to play certain situations, and why you’re making all the moves you’re making. For me, when I first started playing, that’s what I was lacking the most. The ability to open up my mind and think of every possibility to play a hand. For that, I think it’s great. As far of its overall appeal, it should be good and it’s cheap all things considered. But how many people are really looking to learn poker? There’s not that big a market for poker training, and people like to think that they’re the best at what they do. It’s hard for people to open up and think, “I actually want to learn and be objective here,” because poker is such an egotistical game. So I don’t know if it’s going to be the most successful venture ever, but I’m definitely proud of the product that we’re putting out.

Another App that is quite popular right now is the Chinese Open Face Poker one. The game itself seems to be quite popular with the high stakes poker players. Do you think this could also be big for the every day poker player?
It definitely can. I saw some interesting stuff at the PCA this winter, where it’s usually a ton of kids playing online, but the Coral Towers lobby was now filled with people playing Open Face. It wasn’t even just people playing for $100 or even $20 per point, but just $1 or a quarter a point. So it’s definitely a game that people can really enjoy, but it is just a matter of understanding it and getting that information out there. When people see Chinese poker, there are 13 cards, and that can be a little intimidating at first. I’m not sure if it will catch fire in the amateur community, but it definitely has the potential to. I taught one of my friends in Vegas, and she’s never played poker before in any form. I taught her Open Face before teaching her anything about even Chinese Poker. Within a couple of days, she had a really good grasp of how to play, and where to put all the cards. Even now I would put her up against a lot of the professionals that I’ve seen play, because for the most part people just play so badly. She loves it. Pretty much everyone who has seen it loves it. I don’t know why, but it has an incredible amount of appeal, and I like it because everything is new and interesting. 

There has been some discussion about the security of the iPhone app for Open Face Chinese, and you also had a conversation on Twitter with the company about their flaws. Have they been taking advantage of the fact that they are the only ones offering the game, and therefore they may not react as quickly to things that need to be worked on?
That app kind of sucks. It’s been pretty buggy and insecure for a while. That’s obviously bad for anyone who’s playing for money on there. That’s not really my problem because I don’t know how to make an app, and it’s probably very difficult. I’m very grateful for the fact that they made one, so a lot of us can play. However, I’ve been really annoyed with the way they handled a lot of the bug issues. Not really saying anything about those issues, and I don’t like the fact that they’re acting like it’s just a game people aren’t playing for money. They have a free version where you can play the computer and pass-and-play, but there’s also a seven-dollar version in which you can play anyone. I don’t exactly know what people charge for apps nowadays, but for the most part a game costs one, two or maybe three dollars. There are very few seven dollar gaming apps out there. So in my mind, and I don’t care about the price of it, that means to me that they are very aware of the fact that people are gambling on it. When you’re gambling on it, seven dollars obviously doesn’t matter. If you’re aware that people are gambling on it, you are taking advantage of that, you need to be really cognizant of the things that can hurt your customers. 

For a while that was the insecurity of the first version. More recently there was the problem where you could reset the score from the last round by hitting refresh. These are problems that could happen to anyone, and I’m not upset that they have them, but when things like this come up, you need to announce them. You need to let everyone know that this is a problem, and you need to Tweet about it and put it on your blog. Otherwise, you’re just going to have people getting cheated. It seems to me that they are just very aloof when it comes to the money part of it all. They like to say, “The game is not supposed to be played for money,” but everyone that I know that has the seven-dollar app plays for money. Sometimes it’s for $500 per point, but sometimes it’s for a quarter, and that means that everyone is playing for something. It’s important to let people know when there are problems like that and I feel like they could do a much better job at it. Also, when games are going to get deleted because of an update, which should also be very explicitly communicated. They don’t have to say, “We know that you guys are gambling on it,” but they should at least act like they know.

How many games do you have going right now and how much do you play for?
I have around 60 games going right now. A couple of games are for $100 a point and a couple are for $5 a point, but almost all my games are between $20 and $50 per point.  

What kind of swings are we talking about when you play such a large amount of games?
I play a ton when I’m at the poker table and I play a bunch when I’m on the road. When I’m at home though, I don’t like to get myself bogged down when I’m just sitting behind my computer switching between my iPad and iPhone. So I haven’t been playing that many turns lately, but the variance is high in all forms of the game, especially the more people you add. Four handed has much more variance than three, and three has much more variance than two. It’s hard to give you a good count though, because I’ve hardly settled up any of my games. I’m planning of doing that during the World Series. I don’t ever go through all my games to see how well I’m doing, because that app makes it a real pain in the ass to do that. When I looked a while back I was down a little, and now I might be up a little bit. Overall I think it’s pretty even, and I’m just waiting for a better app to come out so I can play a bit more comfortably. 

You’ve been vocal on Twitter talking about certain Open Face fish popping up online, keeping you from doing your every day things. Are there certain players that are really bad, and you just really look forward to playing?
I think I was probably just messing around for the most part. It think I was talking about Klod, Chris Klodnicki, and I was especially singling him out, because he’s just been so very fortunate over the last couple of years in tournament poker. He’s an excellent player and he deserves to do well, but he was also freaking crushing me in Open Face when he’s not that good. Especially at the LAPC when he was beating me at Open Face on the app, while we were at the same table playing. So he was beating me on the app and he knocked me out of the tournament through some nonsense! So I was especially annoyed, and I wanted to let the Twitter world know exactly what Klod was up to. I don’t think there’s anyone I’m playing who’s exceptionally bad.

Is there a way to study the game, as there are no coaching videos available for this game?
For Open Face I pretty much do the same thing I do for regular poker. I just talk about situations with Jason Mercier and Allen Bari. The three of us have played a fair amount of Open Face, and Jason has played on a very high level for very high limits. So I think we have a pretty good idea of how the game should be played. I’m definitely not proclaiming to be the best, but for the most part I know what I’m doing. There are still some situations that are difficult and I haven? quite figured out yet, but I think we’re learning the game.

Finally, Are you one of those players who like making prop bets?
I’m not looking to just make random bets, but I do enjoy the occasional $100 bet on something. I really enjoy things that are motivational for me and as you might know, I’ve had a bunch of body fat prop bets last year. For the most part I ended up winning those, but it was quite close. This year I have another one with Phil Collins, who final tabled the Main Event two years ago. He’s also a good friend of mine, and we’ve made two $2,500 bets. I have to get down to 13% body fat, and at the time I was around 17%. Now I’m on 15.5% and I have until the first event of the World Series starts. Phil has to bench press his own body weight six times at a clip. If both of us make it, it’s a wash but if both of us don’t make it, it’s a wash too. So if one of us makes it, they get paid $5,000 by the other one. It’s funny though because Phil has the way easier side of the bet upon inspection. I have to work really hard to where I want to be, but Phil is pretty tall, lanky and skinny. He doesn’t have too much muscle mass, especially in his chest, so he has a lot of work to do. Bench-pressing your own weight isn’t super difficult, but for a guy like Phil with not much of a chest, it’s going to be funny for sure.

Dan O’Brien is a part of the Instapoker app. He createst content for this IOS and Android app which is available for free in their online stores. In this app you can buy hand-packages and test yourself playing hands of the pros.

Remko Rinkema

Remko Rinkema has covered the biggest poker tournaments in the world since 2008, including many WSOP, EPT, Aussie Millions, APPT, MCOP and Unibet Open events. As an in-depth interview and story enthusiast he tries to do things a little differently. Besides the usual writings Rinkema grabs every chance to appear on podcasts, live streams and in the occasional video.

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