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Dan O'Brien - Good For Poker

Dan O'Brien Good For Poker

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.

Interview by Remko Rinkema
Remko Rinkema - Interviewer

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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