RaiderDuck vs. EurekaKid Interview – Part 1: Poker and Poker Lifestyle

Hey everyone! Followers of the blog will remember a few months ago I was doing interviews of some of the more interesting friends I’ve made playing full-ring poker. It’s now my turn to go under the microscope! My good friend RaiderDuck has compiled a bunch of questions for me and I’ll be putting out a series with my responses. Hopefully, once it’s all over I get the chance to turn the spotlight on him! I hope you enjoy Part 1, it will deal mostly with poker, stay tuned for later installments where I deal with questions of a general and personal nature.

What is your poker story and what led you to full-ring over other variations of the game?
I got a free $10 at Absolute Poker through my friend Hui back in late 2004, was very skeptical before playing, even with free money. Promptly busted that of course; didn’t think much of it. Not long after that World Poker Tour came on TV and I got really into that. I started reading more and learning about poker. During that time played a ton of free money sit and go’s at Absolute Poker. I was doing pretty well in them, so obviously deposited some money and started playing micro stakes SNGs, made a little bit and cashed out because holidays were over.

Not long after that I got another free $20 at Bodog (thanks again Hui). Took it straight to $10nl full-ring and ran hot to begin with. Played there for months and months, slowly learned some things, read some books etc etc. Then for the next like 3 years I was very slowly working my way up the limits, also played a whole lot of sit and go’s, bonus whored my way around all the networks etc.

In late 2007, got really into 2+2 and improving my game and learned to mega-table. From that point on I’ve never really looked back.

Full-ring was just what I had always played; I just stuck with what I knew I guess. It wasn’t really a conscious decision at any point in time. Reading poker books when you are first starting that teach a kind of tight approach I guess lends itself to finding your way to full-ring.

Have you, or do you plan to play any other forms of poker than NL Holdem?
I’ve had brief periods of flirtation with Omaha/8, limit and pot limit cash games and pot limit sit and go’s. Other than that, I haven’t really many hours playing other games.
I still feel like I have a lot more to learn about no limit hold ‘em, and would be more likely to head down the path of more 6-max and heads-up type play than to learn a completely different game. It’s just such a huge sacrifice to take yourself out of your normal game and try and learn something that is very different.
How many hands do you think you have played lifetime? Give us a breakdown of the limits and how successful (by your standards) you think you have been at each.
I have absolutely no idea, other than to say millions of hands. I spent a lot of time early when I was playing non-thinking, bonus whore type poker at the micro limits, but I was never playing a lot of tables so my hand volume probably wasn’t as great as when I moved up to small limits. I just didn’t care to improve my game at that time, so I would say that period wasn’t a success and I regret that I didn’t use that time more efficiently.
Since then though, I would say my transition through the small limits up to mid-stakes has been very conservative by most people’s standards, but a success for me.

When you get up in the morning, what makes you want to play poker?
This is a pretty deep question and something I think about a lot. Deep down I think I have a passion for the game and solving the problems within it, but there are certainly times when I question whether I want to dedicate so much time to it in the future. So sometimes it can feel kind of like a means to an end and a grind trying to achieve whatever goals I’ve set out for myself, but other times I am purely driven by the thrill of playing.

What are your poker goals for 2009?
I blogged them at the start of the year, but I won’t repeat them because I’m failing miserably at a few of them. I’m not really too fussed with a lot of them, the most important thing is that I’m still enjoying playing poker and that playing a lot hasn’t gotten old. I’m no longer playing much on PokerStars so all my VPP related goals are obviously irrelevant. My aspirations of getting into PLO and playing tourneys have been put on hold also. Playing more 6-max and on non-US sites has been successful to an extent. Later in the year I’m looking forward to APPT Sydney and meeting a bunch of 2+2ers/friends I’ve made online there.

What is behind your screen name?
The Eureka Stockade is was a rebellion that took place in my home State (Victoria, Australia). Basically it was an uprising by gold miners against the government forcing them to have licences back in the gold rush. The Eureka flag (pictured in the header of my blog) bears the Southern Cross, a prominent set of stars visible in the Southern Hemisphere sky. Individual liberty and freedom is an interest of mine, so I’m sure that had something to do with my choice of name, as well as a sense of national pride I guess.

Are you climbing stakes these days?
I’m very conservative with my shot taking for the most part, but being a full-ring specialist I mean there isn’t really much to move up to. I really don’t see the point in playing much beyond the stakes I play unless I find tables with a few weak players and not many short stackers (they are few and far between these days).

How much time do you put into poker outside of playing, and what do you do?
It varies, but probably more than most that play the kind of hand volume I do, I would say. Sometimes it’s hard to give up playing time to study, but not being locked into a SNE chase or similar helps I guess. I try and do a hand review at least a few times a week, watch a bunch of videos as they are released and do a fair bit of chatting/discussion with other players about hands.

What are the major poker epiphanies you’ve had to get you to the point of solid, winning poker?
There are so many things that I’ve learned along the way and continue to learn and I have massive breakthroughs all the time. The funny thing about solid poker is that a lot of people are not actually setting out to play in a boring solid style. They want to play loose, they want to make fancy plays, they want to 3-bet a lot, whatever. I’ve slowly loosened up my game over time, but I think I’ve always set out to play pretty straight forward and go from there. Obviously, you can’t be completely ABC, but you really don’t need to mix things up as much as a lot of players do in order to beat micro/small stakes games.

I guess there is just lots of small things you come to realise over time, how important position is, people aren’t bluffing you as much as you think, table selection is really important, bankroll management is key, studying and improving all the time to stay ahead of the curve is crucial and a lot of other stuff.

It’s actually pretty funny to look back and think about my time at lower limits and my view of the regulars when I first started in those games. It’s pretty bizarre to think about how I used to sort of aspire to be as good as them and fear them a little. I think there is a lesson in that. When you think about your current limit, there is sure to be a player that gets the best of you or whatever and it’s really crucial to recognise the fact that, I constantly re-enforce to myself, ‘they are just a dude with a range’. With hard work, practice, patience and discipline you can beat just about anyone or at least not have them smack you around. I’m sure there a lot of people reading this who have had that feeling of intimidation, I’ve struggled with it in the past and still encounter it all the time.

How do you consider your game? Sum up your style of play. Are you a nit, a LAG/TAG. Why are you the player you are?
I would say that my full-ring game has linearly progressed from me being one of the biggest nits in the game to one of the looser TAG regulars at my stake these days. I guess my style of play is just a product of how I was introduced to the game. My basic goal in the beginning was not to lose much/win marginally and make money grinding bonuses and the best way to do that was playing really tight. When you aren’t very skilled post-flop, you instinctively tend to stay out of trouble by not playing many marginal hands and that’s what I did for a long time. When I actually started thinking, learning and improving the loosening up came naturally.

What do your friends and family think of your poker playing?
I imagine my parents were quietly worried initially, but I don’t think it took them long to realise I wasn’t maxing out credit cards to indulge in poker. I think they always knew I was very frugal when it came to money and that I had a good head on my shoulders, so they had no reason to be worried. I kept good grades up at University as well, so I’ve never really given them too much reason to think twice about it. My wonderful girlfriend has always been fine with it, apart from missing me when I’ve gone on poker trips. We were together before I got into poker, so it could have been an issue, but never has been.

As for my extended family I’m not sure how much of it they understand other than that I don’t have a gambling problem, I’ve been to Vegas/Macau a few times and I have a blog. Poker is just one of my many interests; I don’t really see that it should be define me in any way to anyone really. Same with my high school and Uni friends as well I guess. It’s not something I’ve really discussed with a lot of people. I don’t really care how I’m viewed and what people think of me in terms of my choice of hobbies.
These days a lot of my closest friends have either come from poker circles or gotten into the game themselves anyway. I’m happy that I can share experiences and relate to them well I suppose.

What kind of reactions do you get from people outside of poker when you tell them that you play? What are some of the funniest, ill-conceived, tilt inducing and fishiest responses that you get?
There are only two instances I’ve come across where someone has reacted like I have some sort of problem. No real surprises, they have both come from religious types. I guess the notable one was when someone asked my mum if I’m “still addicted to poker”. As we all know, there is absolutely no way to be passionate about playing cards for money unless you are 100% addicted to it and in need of a soul cleanse.
Most people I ever talk to about it are pretty open to it, they’ve seen it on TV or they play sometimes themselves. I get all the usual things like their poker/bad beat stories, tales of other people they know that play and the fishy stuff like can I double their $300 for them.

You have a strategy group known as ‘Life Fish’. Who is in it and what is it about?
It’s basically a private strategy discussion forum, mostly for full-ring. I asked a few regulars from the spectrum of poker sites to join. Some agreed to join and never got involved much, so they were culled. We are left with about 10 members now and at the moment there are about 4 or 5 of us who take it seriously. We might look to get more members in the future. Essentially, it is just a far better alternative for discussion of hands as opposed to a public forum.

What are the best and worst parts of being a poker player?
Winning and losing, of course (not really). The only bad part about poker I can come up with is how sedentary an activity it is. I could make a long list of things that are great about it. I really love that there is always something new to learn, there are always games going, there are always people that think they know more than they actually do, there are lots of cool/interesting people I’ve met playing (and now call my friends) and I guess one of the most satisfying things is that I’ve actually become a decent at it.

If you are having a really bad run, or a really good run, does this affect your day to day life outside poker?
Not really. I can’t really think of a time where I’ve lost any sleep over poker (which is more than can be said for the trials and tribulations of other passions of mine, such as my sports teams). Sure, if I’m going through a rough patch I might get a tad grumpy now and then, but nothing major.

Who’s your favourite famous pro?
I’m not really massive on following the tournament scene, TV poker or railing nose bleeds online. I’ll watch High Stakes Poker and occasionally some high stakes videos, but that’s about it. My favourite TV tournament pro would be Allen Cunningham. As someone who really quietly spoken myself, I can relate to the way he carries himself and he just comes off as a really humble nice guy. He seems to be pretty sick good a poker too.

In terms of an online cash hero, it has to be BalugaWhale. I’ve learned a lot from every single thing he’s written or recorded. He might not be one of the biggest names in high stakes, but he has a way of breaking down the game that really works for me.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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