Kevin Rabichow: The Bobby Flay'er of High Stakes HU

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 074

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Today’s guest on Chasing Poker Greatness is Run It Once Elite coach and high stakes HU crusher Kevin Rabichow.

I very much see a lot of my own spirit in Kevin.

He thinks deeply about poker’s myriad of complicated issues, he genuinely loves when his students find success, and he wants to leave the world of poker as a better place than where he found it.

It’s going to be pretty tough for you to not enjoy my conversation with Kevin.

We nerd out on recreational sports, controversial/predatory practices in poker like grimming/ghosting, and take a deep dive into his amazing journey from competitive academics to the world of playing cards.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

How long it should take your typical cash game player to transition to MTT’s.

Why poker players make the best rec sports coaches.

Why taking breaks for months at a time has been essential in Kevin’s poker career

And much, much more.

So without any further ado, I present to you Run It Once Elite coach and HU bringer of pain Kevin Rabichow.

Click any of the icons below, sit back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Kevin Rabichow on Chasing Poker Greatness.

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 074: Kevin Rabichow

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Brad: Coach Brad here. I just wanted to take a quick moment to let you know about the Chasing Poker Greatness VIP newsletter. Hopping onto the VIP newsletter is the absolute best thing you can do to ensure this plucky little podcast keeps going indefinitely into the future. When you sign up, you’ll get exclusive behind the scenes Chasing Poker Greatness content, access to the private Chasing Poker Greatness slack community, notifications for product launches, entries into monthly free coaching giveaways and much, much more. So, if you’re wondering what the absolute best thing you can do to support your favorite poker podcast, head to and access the newsletter today, one more time that’s And now, back to the show.

Brad: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome my friend to the Chasing Poker Greatness podcast. As always, this is your host, the founder of, Brad Wilson. And today’s guest on the show is Run at Once elite coach and high stakes heads up Crusher, Kevin Rabichow. I very much see a lot of my own spirit in Kevin. He thinks deeply about poker’s myriad of complicated issues, he genuinely loves when his students find success, and he wants to leave the world of poker as a better place than where he found it. In my humble opinion, it’s going to be pretty tough for you not to love this conversation. We nerd out on recreational sports, controversial slash predatory practices in poker, like grooming and ghosting, and take a deep dive into his amazing journey from competitive academics to the world of playing cards. In today’s episode, you’ll learn how long it should take your typical cash game player to transition to MTTs, why poker players make the best rec sports coaches, why taking breaks for months at a time has been essential and prolonging Kevin’s poker career, and much, much more. So, without any further ado, I present to you, Run at Once elite coach and heads up bringer of pain, Kevin Rabichow.

Brad: Kevin, welcome to the show, sir.

Kevin: Thank you, Brad. Good to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Brad: It’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. Starting this thing out. I wanted to ask you about your career playing cards. Tell me the story. How did that happen?

Kevin: It’s been, it’s been a while now. I was pretty enthusiastic about poker like early years in university. So, I was at University of Chicago in, I mean, I guess if you read my bio page on Run at Once, they’ll say it started when I did a program at Stanford in 2005. But that was like, like, I played probably two home games or something. In university I happen to like, draw a roommate, who was already playing online poker for a year prior. He was a second-year student. And then my buddy Henry and I moved in as first year students, we were both like pretty enthusiastic about poker.

Brad: Why? What was it about poker that lit you up?

Kevin: I think that it was kind of like, I don’t want to say like an escape from school, but like, I was in a pretty competitive high school. And my friends and I would like to like when we got together outside of, you know, just whatever. Like being literally at school. We weren’t just hanging out to like, do nothing. We were usually getting together to like, play a sport or compete in some way. I guess this was around the time that poker was on television a lot. So, we found ourselves like playing home games reasonably often just like for pennies in high school. I think

Brad: Have you been competitive your whole life?

Kevin: You know, I mean, educationally. Yes. That’s probably the main place where I’ve been competitive. I went to like, like my parents put me into a grammar school that had testing. And then I went to like a very competitive High School and that high school funnels you into a very competitive universities, like the whole educational side of my life was really competitive. But as far as like, I didn’t really play many sports growing up or when I did, they were you know, I’d like some little league baseball or high school tennis or something. But like I was never at a high level in any of those things. So probably, I would say it’s like the educational track that led to the way that I frame competition or like the way that I engage in competition. And that makes sense with my poker journey too, because a lot of what kept me enthusiastic about poker was like, discussing strategy on the forums, and like getting theoretically better, and like, not so much about my results. I think my roommate was probably a little more results driven. So, the guy Henry that I was talking about, we were both starting to play online the summer before we moved in to the dorms. And then like, once we were there, it was like every minute that we weren’t busy with homework, we were just like, playing sit and goes on Full Tilt or playing whatever, like ten, five cent, ten cent cash games on full tilt. So, like obviously not doing it for the money and just doing it for like the sake of playing games. But we definitely had different motivations, I think, in retrospect.

Brad: Why do you think that is? Why do you think as a human, you were not as results oriented as your roommate?

Kevin: You know, I haven’t thought about that. The, the results, it’s not that they don’t like appeal to me, or like, they’re not something that grabs my attention. I think when I was a younger poker player, the results would frustrate me. But while I mean, like downswings would frustrate me, but I think it went, yeah, well, but it was more like, like a more connected with me emotionally, when the results didn’t line up with how I felt that I should be doing in the game, so to speak. So, like when I had no expectations when I was just like, you know, playing whatever, $10 buy ins, $25 buy ins and didn’t think I was particularly good. And I don’t think I really cared so much when I was losing, because like, I wasn’t there with the purpose of succeeding. But I think once I got to, like a certain level of strategy, and I was like, emotionally invested in the, in the skill level that I held, then the results like that didn’t, that didn’t line up with that perceived skill from like, the, from the point of view of, I guess, what motivates me. Like, I’m more motivated, I think to be like, accurate, and, and progressing intelligently than I am to just like, hit a target of 50k or 100k, or whatever like that. That wasn’t really the point. I don’t think.

Brad: Yeah, that’s, I can certainly empathize with that. And I think a lot of folk’s poker journey kind of goes through those stages where you have no expectations, and then you start working hard to try to improve. And it’s like, you know, you’re training yourself to play basketball better, and you work hard. And now you’re shooting worse than you were when you started. Is that making sense?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And so, there’s this frustration, this anger based on the expectation. And then as you keep playing poker longer, that cut that the expectation kind of starts going down, and you just kind of start looking at it as like, decision based. Am I, am I analyzing all the information correctly? Am I finding all the information? Am I arriving at the right conclusion? And then whatever happens, like who cares, right?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: I mean, this is on the show, sometimes, I’ll do a hand history with my guests. And like, it just we never know the result. I forget to ask them what happened at the end, because the result is pretty irrelevant at this stage. And I think that’s part of the natural, just progression as a, as a poker player.

Kevin: Yeah. Or at least it’s not like the, yeah, I actually I talked with, I guess I talked with students but also just like friends of mine a lot about you know, how to detach I suppose emotion from poker, or like how to get away from emotion and poker, because I think a lot of my friends and family and probably a lot of people who just know me well think of me as like robotic, and, you know, very, very even keeled. And like, you know, I don’t look like someone who wears losses and wins on their face. And so, they’ll, like some people view that as a, as a positive thing. And they’ll ask me like how to accomplish that. And usually, if I’m trying to give an honest answer, I think that comes from just like, continuously grasping at more accurate understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. So, like, the more you separate like your goals from the outcome, than like, the more even keel you become about the outcome itself. And so like in the past, it was always like, well, if you don’t want to till in a spot, like just learn to spot better, right? Like, you know, you’re not going to tilt if you, if you fully understand what was supposed to happen. But like when there’s that disconnect between, unlike your theoretical understanding and the actual execution, then like you get frustrated at the results when they don’t go your way.

Brad: Let me challenge that for a second. Have you always been even keeled in competitions growing up? Has it, have you ever been known for like having an outburst and some competition are just showing, you know, where your emotions on your sleeve like that?

Kevin: I mean, so I’m going to, you know, pretend that my memory of when I was 15 is accurate. I think I was, I think I was a lot more emotional when I was, you know, 15 to 22 for example.

Brad: That’s a that’s an emotional age.

Kevin: Yeah. Probably just, yeah, like, it’s hard for me to think of a time in my life specifically, where I feel like it would be unreasonable to have an emotional reaction. And I did have an emotional reaction. So, like, you know, I haven’t always been, like, totally level, but also like, I was probably more level than the average person.

Brad: Yeah. I think back. One of the stories that I remember about myself, when I was eight years old, again, I was eight years old. So maybe the memory is distorted by my 36-year-old brain. But I remember, I was playing Little League, and we were playing all stars, we won the Little League World Series. And it was a big deal. Like teams came in from hundreds of miles away. It was like, you know, it was a big deal. And I remember the final out. Sharp ground ball hit to my first baseman, he caught it, tagged the bass and like, you know, the bleachers just erupted. My teammates are like jumping around and just yelling and screaming. And like, I just remember, complete, stone face, stoic, like just hardly any reaction. Like, my mom asked me like, are you not excited that you won? And like, for years afterwards, I even thought to myself, like, why didn’t I act excited? Like why did, why was my reaction so different than everybody else’s? Right? So that’s why, you know, I asked you just like, you know, historically, how have you, how have you been?

Kevin: I mean, I can think of you know, I’ve been a baseball fan since I was like, I guess before I was a teenager from when, like the from when the Cubs had kind of their first World Series push in 2003. I was kind of like, attached to baseball. But like, I was never the baseball fan who would like cheer at games or like, yell at the television or anything like,

Brad: What happened to Bartman? That’s the Bartman year, right?

Kevin: Yeah, that’s the Bartman year. That was the year, I think that was my first year at my new high school. Yeah, I would have been like just going into ninth grade. So, I was pretty, I don’t know, I was just like, at the right age to get like engaged in sports pretty, you know, seriously, either by playing it or by watching it or whatever. And, and all of that happens in Chicago. So, I was just like, so, I was very emotionally invested. But I was not someone who would like outwardly show emotion with respect to a game of baseball, like it just didn’t click with me that way. So yeah, I can relate for sure.

Brad: Cool. I, that was where my intuition was leading me, but wanted to, wanted to check in. So, you love the game of poker, you’re in college, you and your friend immersed whenever you have time playing cards. What happened next?

Kevin: So, I guess, over the course of, let’s say, like three years, so the first three years of university, I found myself like more and more involved in the poker community more than just like being an enthusiast about poker. And like, I stayed in school, I finished university. But by like, the time that I was a third year, student, I would say that poker was taking up like equal hours to school, if not, maybe slightly more, which was not the case in my first year.

Brad: What is it, and being, being involved in the poker community? Like, what does that look like?

Kevin: Well, in, in 2008, 2009, this was a lot of like, two plus two forums, basically, like, you know, instead of, you know, I was too young to play live, and I wasn’t. And I was basically like, jumping from game format to game format. So, there weren’t like any regs in particular, who I was friends with, or like I knew away from, from my roommate, or whoever else was like at my university who played poker. But through two plus two forums, and then eventually through, like coaching work, or through the training sites, I like, started to actually meet people. And in meeting them and talking with them, I mean, I was part of like, because it wasn’t really Skype in 2009. It was probably like MSN Messenger groups or something like that, but you know, some, some sort of platform where I could actually like communicate with other poker players, other professionals and like get ideas. And I think that was like a rapid growth for me in terms of strategy, in terms of success. And once I’m like involved in that community, it kind of quickly became clear to me that like, you know, I wasn’t going to spend time like trying to land a job or start a career in some other way. I was just getting more and more time, like year over year in poker, and that was going to stick.

Brad: What about your friend? Was he also immersed in the community? Does he still play poker? What happened with that?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s funny, he, he does still play poker. I still talk with him fairly often. He was not a major, like, he didn’t really dive into the online community the way that I did. I think that he was like, reasonably involved in like the, the two of us ended up so like posts, post Black Friday, which is just like, not even a year after the time period I’m talking about right now. The two of us ended up moving to Toronto with two other people who like we met through two plus two forums. So, like, it wasn’t, wasn’t that he was like detached from the community. It’s just that I was like, very involved, like I was posting, I was posting probably dozens of times a day for a while and very, like, very strategically involved in just like exchanging ideas.

Brad: That’s a lot of strategic posts every day.

Kevin: Yes, I think I think I left two plus two, I actually looked at this recently, I had forgotten like how long it had been since I was active. I stopped posting and like late 2010. And I had 9500 posts or something like that. So, I was very involved for, for a few years there.

Brad: So, you’re realizing in college that after this competitive academic career, you’re not going to go for a job, you’re going to go for poker?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: What did your family think? This family that puts you in a competitive school? I can’t imagine this being a very easy conversation for you to have.

Kevin: Yeah, not the easiest. And you know, I don’t know that there was like one single conversation where it was like, Mom, Dad, I’m not going to get a job. Like that wasn’t really the thing. It was just like this, I kind of like strung along maybe in retrospect, like it was, it was this gradual, like, you know, here, here’s the success I’m having. And oh, by the way, I bought a car, and maybe irresponsibly. And, you know, when, when I, before I even graduated, I took I guess it was a quarter, but my school wasn’t on the semester system, we were on like the quarter system. So, I took a quarter off at the beginning of my fourth year. And I was supposed to be working at, like an internship. But in like, the way it worked out, I didn’t like quit the job. But the way it worked out was that I spent basically the whole time like trial running professional poker career. And, and I made a lot of money for that time. So, I kind of had like little, I think, nudges in the direction of like, hey, this might be something I’m committing a lot of time to. Even like during University, like I’d come home from the summer, and I would basically just play poker the whole time. Like, I never, I don’t think I ever misled them to the idea that it wasn’t like a huge part of my life. So, by the time I graduated, I would say that my dad was like, fully on board. And my mom was like, extremely hesitant, but supportive. So, it wasn’t like a big event necessarily. Telling them I was moving to Toronto, like three months later was maybe a big event.

Brad: Yeah, how did that go?

Kevin: Yeah, I mean, same kind of thing. Like they, they make fun of me now because you know, all as well, but the, I think the act of moving there at the time, to me was like a temporary necessity. Like, just, you know, I’m going to go rent a place for the maximum visitor’s stay because I can’t play online in the States right now. So, it felt like a working vacation, right? It was like, hey, you know, like, I’m going with my friends. You know, my roommate, Henry. Like, you know, these, these other guys. They seem nice. Like, we’re just going to get a normal house and not do anything crazy and, and work for six months. And then I’ll be back. It was kind of like the implication, right? Like that was, it wasn’t like a hard stop like, oh, and by the way, I’m, I’m moving to Canada forever.

Brad: Oh, yeah. I mean, online poker, it’ll resolve itself. It’ll be legal and you know, six months or a year, we’ll be good to go.

Kevin: How naïve, how naïve of thinking I suppose that was, but that was that was kind of the impression I had.

Brad: Well, it was, I mean, at least for me, it was shock. I mean, it was there was shock and then there was like, kind of disbelief. And then it was just, you know, it was like dealing with getting fired, which as a professional poker player, I had been a pro at that point for like seven years. I didn’t know I could get fired. So, it was it was this like shocking event that was like, okay, it’s going to be fine. Like, it’s not that big of a deal. And then like, as the weeks and months were on, it’s like, holy shit, this is actually going to be a big deal.

Kevin: Right. Yeah, that must have been weird like I was, I was essentially just about to become a pro so to speak. So, it must have been very different, if you were essentially like, comfortable, right? Like you were you were in that world and already comfortable that, that was, that was certainly not my situation.

Brad: Yeah. When, so you moved to Canada, which, you know, it’s cool. You’re, you’re young. You’re having an adventure.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: You’re getting out of out of your hometown. How did that go? And you’re still in Canada, right?

Kevin: Yeah, I am. It was, I mean, a, I guess it sounds like it was all just like one big decision, but it was sort of like a lot of little decisions over the course of the last 10 years, right. Like, when I first moved there, I would say it went really well, all things considered. I was very broke, the kind of compounding effect of Black Friday, and then also turning 21. And going to Vegas for my first World Series of Poker. It was like this perfect storm of losing money. So, I needed to work hard. And it was like the perfect environment to do that. Because we moved to a new place with no intention other than to play online poker. And, you know, like, all things considered, I was pretty well established as a winning player. And I was moving way down in stakes. So, it was not like, it was not that risky. It, knowing all the, all the factors, like I knew that I would make money. I just didn’t know how much or how quickly.

Brad: And even if, even if you would have went broke, like you’re posting 30 times a day on two plus two, you can get back pretty quickly, I would imagine.

Kevin: Yeah. Well, I was backed. I needed to get a backing deal. I mean, I call it a backing deal. I wasn’t really like securing a brand-new deal. I already was someone who sold action to various things, as I was kind of like trying to move my way up in stakes. So, once I moved away down, I just like kept those deals on that I, that I normally probably wouldn’t have needed to keep on. So, I had backing already in place. I was able to make you know, enough, at least to easily cover like rent and living expenses. And I would say by like to within the first two years, I had kind of like returned myself to the same like stakes and success that I was having in like early 2011 before that all happened. So, it was, I think like fortunate timing to be able to jump on that opportunity and like, commit myself to working full time and recover from like what could have otherwise been a pretty devastating series of events.

Brad: Yeah. It was, I mean, you were in a good situation, I guess. You’re in a right, the perfect situation that allowed you to be flexible in a time where flexibility was kind of necessary.

Kevin: Yeah. And if I hadn’t like, the, the wild thing, I suppose is like, if I hadn’t spent so much time working my way up the stakes in like 2009 and 2010. And instead had like, fully committed myself to finishing University, then like, I probably never get the chance to try playing full time. Because, you know, I wouldn’t have been so confident that I could be like 100 nl, for example. I wouldn’t have been so confident to like, go pay six months’ rent in another country. Yeah, probably just wouldn’t have happened. So, kind of kind of nice in retrospect that I spent so much time on it during University.

Brad: We follow our passions, right? And when pokers your passion, for somebody that is a pro, and you know, like I said, I’ve been playing professionally, effectively since 2004. Poker is a passion. And you get two poker players together, they’re just going to talk about poker, especially if they’re both, you know

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Early on in their poker career, everybody around them is going to be like shut the fuck up. We don’t understand what you’re saying.

Kevin: Yup.

Brad: And you just can’t stop it because you love it and you want to and you know, you’re so thirsty and hungry for this information.

Kevin: Yup.

Brad: And just the thrill of improving so quickly, when you’re early on in your career is just, it’s amazing. It’s like, euphoric, right? You get the dopamine, dopamine drop, and you just go.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: So, I would imagine that like, if you weren’t the type of person who was investing themselves in poker in college when you did, then you’re right. You never would have had the opportunity to move to Canada, but you probably never would have been as successful as you have been at poker anyway.

Kevin: That’s fair. It’s funny as you were describing that I was like thinking about how I experienced that whole dynamic like a second time when I started getting involved in Ultimate Frisbee once I after I moved to Canada. There’s like this community of like, amateur sports enthusiasts who are like dying for something, something outside of their day job to like put focus into, put their attention into. And that, that idea of like being at a dinner table or whatever and like not being able to shut up about poker, like the exact same thing happens with these people in Ultimate Frisbee. It was, yeah, all-consuming for sure.

Brad: I was going to ask you about Frisbee

Kevin: All different things

Brad: Actually, it’s on my it’s on my list of things. Are you, you’re one of these people, right? One of these people that

Kevin: Yep.

Brad: Is all consumed with the strategy.

Kevin: Yeah, for sure. I got, I got a taste of that with both like playing it and also coaching it.

Brad: How did you get involved in ultimate?

Kevin: It was pretty closely tied to when I moved to Toronto, so I barely knew the game, or the sport, whatever, when I was living in Chicago. But once I moved to Toronto, are kind of like, I say are like my roommates and I used sports leagues, like amateur sports leagues, as a way to just like try to not be the only four people we knew in the whole country. So, we would just, there’s like Toronto sport and social club, and then I eventually found like Toronto ultimate club. It was almost like, like a re, is like a rehash of two plus two forums. Like, let’s try and meet people who are interested in something like the same as what we’re interested in. So, I just tried like a few different sports. I played some basketball. I played some badminton. I played some that might have been all besides Frisbee. I can’t remember. I don’t think we ever played dodgeball or anything. But they have all those kinds of sports and frisbee just stuck for whatever reason, like it was, it was a lot of fun, the people are super friendly. The community is really, like, strong and supportive of each other. And that was just like a great way to meet friends who don’t play poker.

Brad: Yeah, you bond and create new relationships. And it’s I’m talking to, you know, a kindred spirit. Because I think it was 2008ish. Somebody just randomly invited me to go play flag football. And I went and it was like, like, it turned on to full blown obsession mode.

Kevin: Yeah, I could see that.

Brad: As a poker player, it’s like looking at like route combinations and understanding the strategy and like the game theory of timeouts, and like, just all the different things.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like, all bundled into one and it was like, okay, I’m going to be good at this.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like I, I’ve played sports growing up, I’m naturally athletic, relatively fast, like let’s, and it was more obsessive than most people could imagine. To my grandfather, recording the games and be in my quarterback, watching the tape back, and pausing it, and taking notes, and analyzing all the details.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And going out by ourselves to a field and practicing our timing routes for hours, multiple times per week. It was a full-blown obsession, and I loved it, you know, eventually, we sucked in the beginning, we got crushed, and we sucked. But then like, as it kind of is in poker, right? As you’re posting on two plus two, you start, people start gravitating toward you, like as you start getting more advanced

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And those kinds of people gravitate towards you. So naturally, we were obsessed. We started gravitating towards other people who were athletic, and obsessed. And then eventually, we got to the point where it was like we were, you know, we were a force. We’re crushing people and traveling and winning tournaments and stuff like that. But yeah, I’m definitely on board with getting obsessed with, with a sport that’s outside of poker, but has a lot of similarities with poker.

Kevin: Yeah. You wouldn’t expect necessarily like how much of a, of an overlap there is, or at least like when I first learned poker, I wasn’t thinking about it from the context of a sport. But then I remember, like, this was probably many years after I was, I was involved in poker seriously. But I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine, about tennis. And like the way that he spoke about tennis was the way that he spoke about poker and like something just kind of clicked in my head like, oh, shit, like these are the same. Like this is these are not like two distinct things that I used to do in my life. Like these are two different activities that have a lot of the same strategy and like all of the concepts apply. It’s just game theory, right?

Brad: Yup.

Kevin: With the athleticism involved as like one of the variables.

Brad: And I challenge any rec league flag football player or rec league Ultimate Frisbee player to out game theory us. You might be faster, you might be stronger, but we’re going to be fucking smarter than you when it comes to Game Theory.

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, that’s a huge thing. And like I’ve won, I’ve spoken about Ultimate Frisbee with, with other poker players before. The, I think the lack of a like starting, there’s no like startup barrier like you need to be this strong or this tall or this athletic to like play the game. And for that reason, it, it allows for that sort of like game theory minded. You know, same, same as like football, I imagine like, even if you, even if you have athleticism that’s not like, the most important part of a game like that when you’re not playing at like a near professional level.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: It’s just, it’s just like one little thing, but it can easily be outmaneuvered.

Brad: Oh, I mean, we played against people that were way more athletic than us, like gym owners. And just like, you know,

Kevin: Yeah.

BraVd: Those gym rats that stay in the gym, and like they, it wasn’t ever even a contest. Like it’s there, it’s different kind of skill sets. Don’t get me wrong, being fast and athletic is certainly helpful. And if everything else is equal, the faster, the more athletic person is going to win. But there’s just a lot of variables involved in that process.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: So, you know, you moved to Toronto, 2012. And you started a stable, right? Is that, is that still going? That was 2015, I believe?

Kevin: Yeah. 2015. Or it might have been like late 2014. I can’t remember exactly. The idea to run a heads up no limit stable was kind of brought to me. And

Brad: By a friend?

Kevin: No, it was someone I had never spoken to before. I mean, we ended up becoming friends. But this was just a guy who kind of cold called me and just said like, hey, I have a concept, like a proven concept in other games. This kind of like model of, he was basically like a manager, like a stable. Yeah, he was the stable manager. So, like, he had a system, you know. He, he knew how to vet potential horses. He knew how to run the backend, how to manage the bankroll, essentially, like he had a plan. And he was like, I just need a coach. And like, you know, an investment. It was a time investment, really, I mean, it turned into a financial investment. But really, it was just like, if you want to invest yourself as a coach, like, I think we could do this and heads up no limit. And I think he’d be a good fit. And I was like, sure. It was, it was kind of that easy at first. And it, it’s no longer going on, at least not in its full form. I still work with a couple of the guys who were part of that original stable. But the group itself kind of dissolved maybe two years ago, I would say.

Brad: It’s exceptionally hard to run a stable. And I say this as someone who has recently specked out what that, what is running a stable would entail just looking at it from like, organizational structure thing. And I am so impressed. When I came away from that experience was being blown away by what Nick has done at detox.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Because holy shit, the margins are not super high, the time investment is super high. There’s just so many variables, and moving pieces, and mindset work, and coaching people need, and the potential for fraud. And so, like keeping track of your players on a daily basis, like it’s insane, the amount of work that goes into running a successful stable,

Kevin: I mean, I will, I will say as like a, are for clarity. But also, this was by design, like my stable was quite small. I think the largest it ever was, was we had six players concurrently.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: So, it was a structure that allowed me to devote a lot of individualized time with the students. But it also meant that kind of like chasing people for payments or worrying about fraud was a much, much, much smaller factor.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: Because we were able to build up long term trust with a small number of people. And if that trust wasn’t being met early on, we could remove them from the group. And it just like wasn’t, it wasn’t hard to, when you’re when your attention is spread so thin among you know, 100, 200 plus, people potentially, you need so many eyes on everything. It’s, it’s a logistical nightmare, as you kind of described.

Brad: Yeah. And to clarify, I was more speaking about scale

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like scale, scaling a stable in any way is like, it’s so difficult to do that like you know, like I said, like detox pulls that off somehow with whatever 50, 100 horses however many they have. And that to me is like just mind blowing. So, you ran your stable in 2015. What was the next thing like as you were running your stable, when did you hook up with run at once? When did you start like creating regular content?

Kevin: Yeah, I was creating. I want to say I was creating content for Reddit once before I got into the stable. It might have been right around the same time. I actually would suspect based on the timing of it that the guy I was working with found me through run at once. Because at the time that I joined run at once, I believe I was the only heads up no limit coach. There might have been one more who was kind of like, on and off, not producing as much content. And more recently, there’s at least one other, like full time heads up no limit coach, but it was just not really a format that a lot of people were sharing ideas in. So, I imagine,

Brad: Naturally.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: It makes a lot of sense.

Kevin: I understand why, you know, people are very protective of their information. And they’re more protective of that information, kind of the, you know, the smaller the player pool, the more individualized the game. So, it makes sense why that would be the case. But there’s still a lot of demand for it. So, I think part of that, or I guess part of my success with run at once has been related to that, that I was kind of like filling a market that not many people were willing to do. The, yeah, I think the first contract that I signed with them was in late 2014. It honestly might have been 2013. I’m forgetting my timeline a little bit, but it was probably before the stable got going. And I was kind of working on those concurrently. Because when this was all going on, like I was still very much a full time heads up no limit player myself, which I think made the whole thing like very natural. If I wasn’t, like, fully immersed in heads up no limit at that time, I don’t think I could have done those projects successfully. 

Brad: Yeah, I don’t think so either. Especially with heads up, where you really have to stay on top of the trends and have to try to stay ahead of the curve. And you get out of that world for like a year. It’s just going to be totally different. Like you’re trying to train people to beat a game that is not the same game you were playing a year ago.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, in today’s climate, it’s one of the more well understood games, because it’s, it’s easily solvable with the tools that we have today. But at the time, like being involved in the metagame of what other people are doing right now, like what people are aware of right now, what they’re overdoing, what they’re under doing, that was like 90% of the game. Now, it’s probably 10 or 20% of the game. It’s still a thing, obviously, like, you still need to know what people are good at and what they’re not good at. But so many of the variables have been, like, filled, I guess, in that game format, with solvers.

Brad: How do you feel about RTA, AI, assisted play, especially as related to heads up? Because this is the thing that’s most effected straight out of the gate will be heads up, right?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s been affected for a long time. And maybe the, the RTA conversation is kind of like, you know, catching up now to the heads-up community. Because in the heads-up community, we’ve been talking about this for at least three years, probably, and most likely longer than that. But like I’ve, you know, there’s, there’s players who I play it against, and that my stable played against for literally years, who are now banned from PokerStars, who are, you know, who we now know, we’re effectively just cheating us the whole time.

Brad: How does that make you feel realizing that?

Kevin: It’s, you know, like, part of me doesn’t blame them, like, part of me understands that we live in this, like, hyper competitive world, where we’re kind of taught to take every edge that we can find, and like, they’ve just kind of taken it. They’ve taken it further to a point where, you know, like, fundamentally, sure, I believe that what they’re doing is wrong, and I don’t think that it’s acceptable for them to be doing it. But there’s like a hundred other little things along the way that I’ve like, kind of had suggested to me or, or instilled in me, that I also think are maybe, like, morally questionable, and they’re just like, to a smaller degree. So

Brad: Like what? Like what? Let’s

Kevin: Well, okay, so like for heads up, no limit, a really big one is just like the concept of gripping the button, or taking your extra button. So, like, you know, over the course of, of, I guess, like learning the game, part of learning the game is realizing at some point, like, oh, in the last two years, I’ve played 1000 more big blinds than I have small blinds. Why is that? And eventually you realize, oh, well, like the community at large just takes their extra button whenever they can. So now you’re faced with a decision well, do I uphold my morals? And do I continue to get cheated out of the extra big guns? Or do I do the exact same thing myself at every opportunity that I can, to kind of like level the playing field? And in making that concession, I’ve kind of accepted that I’m going to break away from my morals for the sake of competition. And this happens all the time, right? It happens with ghosting. It happens with well with real time assistance. I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of different ways that I can imagine this like moral ambiguity getting like pushed aside for the sake of competitive fairness. And if the sites themselves cannot like effectively police, then the players have to like just kind of take their stand on how they want to police it. Do they want to police it by like taking the high ground and just getting taken advantage of? Do they want to police it by, you know, enforcing it internally in the best way they know how? Or do they want to police it by just taking every edge they can possibly take and assuming that their opponents are doing the same thing?

Brad: That one is the most likely answer for most people.

Kevin: Yes. Which is why I don’t necessarily blame someone who uses RTA, even though I do not and I don’t agree with it. It’s a, it’s a very complicated, well, you asked how do I feel about it? It’s a complicated feeling. For me, I don’t think it’s a complicated situation. I think that it’s wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed. But for the reasons I just explained it, it’s not clear cut to me that like people who use it are evil. Right?

Brad: Right, of course. And this, you know, I had a similar conversation about Jungleman with the whole ghosting thing with DGAF on this podcast, where it just didn’t, you know, do I agree with it? No. But like, it didn’t do anything. You know, I didn’t feel passionately about him playing on somebody else’s account. And on some shady home game app where most of the players are likely not, you know, they’re likely ghosting themselves, right? It’s like, or, you know, their accounts are being ghosted by a high-level player, if that makes sense.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And it’s like, I just, when you’re immersed in the world of poker, I think it you see things a little differently than when you’re kind of outside looking in. But yeah, like it’s kind of like bait, it reminds me of baseball a lot, like in the in the late 90s. You know, the steroid era, where it’s like, can you blame Barry Bonds for riding up after Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, who he knows are inferior players break the homerun record? You can. You can hold them accountable. You can kick him out of the Hall of Fame. But like if you really think about it, and think about a fringe player, right? Or somebody who’s like the bottom level, where people he knows he’s better than, is getting passed up by a guy’s juicing, which is effectively taking money away from his family and taking his dream away from him. Are you really going to blame him for shooting up? Like, I can’t, personally. I can say like, morally, yeah. I get it. I, it was wrong, it was not a right thing to do. But looking at it from a competitive standpoint, I understand like, I’m not going to, I’m not gone hold it against them forever for doing that.

Kevin: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is kind of my stance on a lot of different issues that, that share this sort of underlying effect, which is like if, if the system is built in a way, where the only way to win is to consider cheating, then like you, you have to rethink the system in to discourage that. But I don’t think you can blame the participants for, for trying to win, right?

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: Like for trying to compete. It, it’s, I would love for there to be a heads up no limit where real time assistance was not possible. And maybe there’s a creative way to accomplish that in the back end. Or, or maybe it’s, you know, only a feasible format that can exist in live poker. But with, yeah, like with structural change, I think you, you resolve the problems. I don’t think you put the onus on every single competitor to play fair, and sacrifice whatever they need to sacrifice in order to play fair.

Brad: Yeah. It’s a process problem. It’s, it’s less of a people problem and more of a process problem. And you just hit the nail on the head, like the platform’s ought to be investing time and energy into improving the process, making it harder to use these types of things, investing money into, you know, research and development, which unfortunately, I think has been hamstrung by Black Friday. If there were more money being poured into the marketplace, and especially in the US, then maybe these issues would not still be as prevalent as they are today. But I do, I will say that like, if run at once poker continues on for the long haul, which I don’t know how they’re doing right now. But I think they’re one of the players that will be thinking about this and hopefully coming up with some innovative solutions.

Kevin: Yeah, they’ve, I mean, you know, Phil has talked about kind of the creative ways in which bots or RRTA, however you want to frame it is being discouraged through things like splash the pot, which is like a pretty creative, you know, it’s not like a firm solution to everything related to botting but it sure makes it a heck of a lot tougher. And the same thing comes with just like, you know, in like pushing formats, like, like tournaments that are much, much, much harder to cheat in that way. Whereas like a fixed strategy game like heads up no limit, 100 big blinds deep with no anti is so, so easy to take advantage of in that, in that structural way.

Brad: You’re so vulnerable.

Kevin: Yeah, I think that like stars, to their credit has, has maybe done the best job in the industry of maintaining heads up no limit in a fair environment. The zoom heads up is much less predatory than the previous iterations of heads up. It’s, it auto balances buttons, which makes the, the gripping side of, you know, fair blind usage, kind of like a built in and through whatever methods I don’t understand, they have the least issues of botting of any network. I don’t know exactly how they accomplish that, but they

Brad: Good.

Kevin: Like anecdotally, they do the best job of catching the cheaters. You know, granted, it takes a while to do it. But they, they do have I think the best history of removing those players from the high stake’s games.

Brad: Yeah, I think it’s probably good that we don’t know how, because if we know how, it becomes easier to beat the system.

Kevin: I do think that’s part of the reason why it’s a bit secretive. Yeah.

Brad: They’re just very, there are so many, like obvious solutions to some things that kind of dumbfound me why they haven’t been addressed. Like one thing that drives me crazy. Like this happens, especially in live poker, and tournaments. And it’s probably, it’s one of the major reasons why I don’t play a lot of tournaments is the stalling issue. The stalling just drives me batshit insane. It seems

Kevin: This is another great example of something I’ve, I’ve competitively come to terms with, but I feel morally against.

Brad: Yeah, like when you, stalling is incentivized.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And that’s the problem, like when you when you create a system where stalling is incentivized, it’s time to think about how do we change the incentives to make faster play, more incentivized than installing, right?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like, how do we create, create a better system? And in cash games, I know, like, I can’t prove it, because I can’t see through the computer. But like, there are spots that seem somewhat trivial, like a six max cash game where players will start tanking, and like use their full-time bank. And it’s like, I know, they’re getting assistance in some way. They’re looking, they’re looking a spot up, they’re running something, and it drives me crazy knowing that they’re doing that in a spot that like, it’s, you should be acting quickly. There’s no reason why you should not be taking your time, you, why you should be taking your time.

Kevin: Right.

Brad: And why hasn’t a site just added in like diminishing returns for how long a player is taking while they play. So, like you’d start taking longer, you get less time to act initially, just across the board. I mean that this seems like a given thing for tournaments too, like you start taking forever to act, well, now you get less time to act for future decisions.

Kevin: Yeah, I’ve seen like the, the kind of like chess clock variation that I think GG poker uses in tournaments or final tables or something where like, instead of a fixed amount of time per hand, you get a fixed amount of time total

Brad: Total.

Kevin: Yeah. Which, which is creative and pretty interesting. It’s complicated, for sure. I mean, in cash games, I have no idea kind of what the, what the solution is because like they go on indefinitely, right? Like, you would have to perhaps like address, the systematic usage of time bank, like kind of, not proactively, but retro actively, like analyze someone using time bank in the same situations for the same, you know, long durations of time. And then that’s like a method of just catching someone essentially.

Brad: It’s just like, poker sites are incentivized to reduce the amount of time players take per action anyway. Like, you don’t want to, you don’t want like five plates

Kevin: That’s interesting

Brad: Taking 30 seconds, because

Kevin: That’s true.

Brad: They’re not getting as much hands per hour, right? So, like, basically, you take 30 seconds, for a decision a couple of times, then you just start getting 25 seconds, and then you just start getting 20 seconds. And then like when you start acting quicker, maybe you get your 30 seconds back, like over time you can earn it back or whatever, but like, it’s just silly to me how it’s like 30 seconds across the board no matter what, well, that’s not necessary. And it’s just it’s harmful to the game in my opinion. It’s like tournaments, live tournaments are just they drive me literally insane.

Kevin: Yeah, that was my main tournament or what have invested a lot of time into the last two years. So, I have come to terms with certain parts of it, but I’ve, like I’ve heard Sam Greenwood talking another, another run at once coach, about kind of the structural problem of time banks and you know, but at the same time, he’s someone who takes advantage of it, right. Like I think there was some highly publicized hand where he took like seven or nine minutes or something preflop like with just for no particular reason other than the fact that there was no shot clock and he was highly incentivized to stall in that situation.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: And you know, it’s, it’s uncomfortable, but

Brad: Uncomfortable is putting it lightly.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: I can’t imagine taking seven minutes and having everybody, the only time I’ve ever taken like four minutes for a decision is if like, I don’t know, I have cards. And I’m just like, like looking around, you know, like, I don’t know,

Kevin: I did that one before.

Brad: What is my act for right?

Kevin: Yeah, I had someone, I had someone tell me about like 90 seconds into a tank that I was making that like that it was my action and I just like didn’t think that I had cards.

Brad: Yeah. And you’re like, oh shit.

Kevin: He kind of commented that I just like always look the same. They were like, oh, well, you just you never change your face. So, I thought you were thinking like, yeah, okay.

Brad: Yeah, I can’t imagine taking seven minutes for, especially like it gets televised. It’s good that they’re using the shot clock now to speed things up. There are a few years like WSOP main, where it’s like, oh my god, it’s an hour in. We’ve seen three hands, like what is going on, you know?

Kevin: Pretty brutal, although it has its downsides too, like, when you introduce the shot clock preflop on the bubble of like, I’ve played a lot of WPT tournaments recently, and this has been like a point of discussion at those events is that like, once you put a 30 second timer in front of someone, it encourages them to take the full 30. And now they’ve had to kind of actively police, you know, they have it written into the rules at some locations. Like, essentially, you’re expected to act in a reasonable amount of time, given the circumstances. Which means like a floor person has to come over and watch you and, and make sure that you’re using a reasonable, you know, amount of time per decision. So, it’s, it’s all like, I don’t know, it’s reactive. It’s, it’s difficult to build a structure there that works for everything.

Brad: Yeah, it is. And like, I brought the problem to the smartest human that I know. And I’m like, look like, how like, how is this fixable? Is it even a solvable thing?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like in a tournament space, and like, one of the things that he brought to me was basically, you know, having a hand limit per level or per two levels that the dealer keeps track of. And basically, if they play that many of hands, say 30 or 40, then they get like five big blinds, as a table, at any table that doesn’t, doesn’t get the extra chips. So basically, incentivizing people to at least play a minimal number of hands, but like, it’s really hard to figure out a solution and then it’s really hard to execute it in practice too.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, the hand for hand concept is generally a good one. But you know, there’s logistical issues with like, if you have a massive tournament, you can’t really like go hand for hand and have people not even like, you can’t say like we’re gone play 20 hands this level and then by chance, you know, their, their level takes three hours, while the other table takes an hour and a half. It’s kind of a mess.

Brad: Yeah, but I feel like you, yeah, it is a mess. It’s, it’s brutal, but it is what it is.

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Brad: Let’s jump back into you know, your stable, stable days, you’re still playing heads up poker. I’ve read the, you know, you said there’s a difference between coaching and playing. I wanted to ask you about that. What do you think the differences between coaching players and just being a full-time player yourself?

Kevin: Well, I mean, they’re different skill sets basically. I think a lot about the skills involved in coaching. Because they’re not, they’re not inherent to good players, like, some of the best players that I know are very poor at verbalizing, their, their reasons, their, their strategy, even like the very basics of their strategy. It takes kind of like a deliberate amount of training, I guess, so to speak, or, or a background in like, you know, being, being concise, being not, not like eloquent, but like, able to translate something to anybody. Because not everyone, like just like not everyone can explain something the same way, like not everyone takes in information the same way. So, I think that like being a coach is this sort of person to person communication problem, whereas being a player is, is just, I shouldn’t say just because there’s a lot that goes into being a player, but being a player is, is just being skilled at like poker itself, right?

Brad: Yeah, it’s performing at a high level.

Kevin: And coaches, you know, and this carries over to sport in general, but like coaches don’t necessarily have to be particularly good players. And they need to understand the mechanics that exist around playing, they need to understand the dynamic of the game, they need to maybe understand the psychology of the players or the, or the attributes of the like the skill-based attributes the players have in today’s game, but they don’t even really ever have to have been a good player. So, I think it’s like pretty rare to get the intersect of like, very good player and very good coach. And obviously, those people are like, some of the more successful people in the industry who can maybe run a stable and also coached them or who, who can, you know, run a training site, rather than just participate in a training site like it, it takes a lot of overlapping skills to be great at both. But I think there’s a ton of great coaches out there who aren’t particularly, you know, celebrated for their playing success and vice versa. It’s way more common, I think, to be a great player who can’t coach, or at least would be ineffective at coaching. Because it’s more than just, you know, being a great player and showing people like, well, here’s me playing, like, here’s me being great. Like, can’t you just get it? Don’t you understand, that you need to, you need to be able to break down every little bit of how you got there, what makes your strategy effective, how someone else can, can import that information to their own game. And like putting that into a consumable content is a big challenge, I think especially well, I shouldn’t say especially in poker, but it’s been a challenge for me. And I think for a lot of the industry to like make, to actually generate results for your students or for your, for your viewers or listeners or whoever.

Brad: It’s hard. And I’ve thought about this problem a ton, like, the communication problem with coaches and players, like, how do you communicate to somebody who’s a beginner? The things that, you know, we have to as players have, like the curse of knowledge, right? We know it, we understand it. We don’t ever question it, it just is what it is.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And it’s hard to kind of find the why and verbalize all this in a way that’s like you said consumable to the students so that they understand it so that they can put it in practice. And I think it is a big problem in poker, just because of its level of difficulty. It is very, very, very, very, very hard. I recently ran a just a preflop range bootcamp, right.

Kevin: Okay.

Brad: This is just going flop six max cash game ranges, there’s like 60 of them. And the struggle was real for them over like a five-day period, like quizzing themselves, and learning and studying. And what was kind of cool, is I have a student who made a video on the first. So, it was a day before boot camp started. And we didn’t review it until four days after boot camp had been running. And when we reviewed it, he was watching his preflop decisions. And he’s like, holy shit. Like, I’ve studied poker for like 800 hours this year. And I am making so many horrible preflop mistakes.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: And like you, he was almost kind of like embarrassed about it. And also, you know, self-aware enough to say like, I think I’ve been studying the wrong things. Like I’ve been investing my time into something that hasn’t been making very much of an impact, right. And I hate that. I hate that people spend hundreds of hours trying to learn this game. And it isn’t making much of an impact as a coach and as a human being. I wish it were easier and more efficient. But I think that it just really isn’t. And the major problem that I’ve seen is that, you know, it’s like, trying to learn how to swim and just getting pushed out in the deep end of the pool and saying, yeah, put it together.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Become Michael Phelps, like your Michael, be Michael Phelps now, you know, you sit down at poker, you don’t just study preflop, you play preflop. And then you play the flop, and then the turn, and then the river. And there’s, you know, the decision tree goes through, it just expands this, this massive way. And you’re trying to learn, like, all the things at the same time, and, you know, there’s no linear progression. And so yeah, it’s like, it’s really hard. I put more energy than I think most people do. And to figure out like, what’s a linear way to do this? Like, how, what’s an easier way? You know.

Kevin: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting. So actually, a few of your recent guests or people who have spoken to about this exact topic before, Maria Konnikova is a friend of mine, and Jen Shahadi, as well. Both pretty enthusiastic either about how to learn the game, or how to coach the game. And, and something that I’ve, something that I’ve, I guess, like, come to believe, is that, like, one coach, like one singular person is not going to make a good poker player. Like, like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t make sense, like, individual coaches are not equipped to teach every facet of the game to an individual, right? Like, there are in, in baseball, we’ve been talking about a lot as an example, like, there are so many different types of coaches in baseball, right? Like the game is extremely complicated. You need someone to be able to teach you how to either like, hit or pitch or a field, and within those things, like any number of specific skills, and then you also need, you know, a fitness trainer, you also need a nutritionist, you also need, like, you need so many mental games, so many different things. So, I think that it’s like, clear to me that poker should be treated the same way. And it kind of is like, there’s different, there’s different resources that exist right now that target different problems. There are, you know, there’s training sites that kind of allow viewers to sort of like watch expert play, or, or you know, just observe expert play, same with like, like Final Table replays, or whatever, live streams, like you just get to observe expert play, that’s like one method of learning. But we also have mental game coaches, or order, even less specifically, just like poker life coaches, or whatever, who, who kind of, you know, grapple with all of the lifestyle problems or solutions that are necessary to be successful at poker.

Brad: Like, what? What’s an example of that?

Kevin: Well, there are, I mean, like, mental health is a big one. Like there are, there are poker players who are very, very intelligent, when review, like when discussing poker away from the table. And like, every part of theory seems to click for them away from the table. But for whatever reason, that you know, a non, like, if you’re literally not a mental health professional, you just wouldn’t really recognize, like, what’s sort of blocking that player from executing in practice, or what or what situations they kind of find themselves in that like hit a roadblock, and kind of like fog their, their thought process away from executing the way that they understand the spot in theory, and like being able to break down that barrier and learn about yourself in terms of executing as a player instead of just knowing the game theoretically. Like, that could be the difference between, you know, being breakeven and being one of the best players in the world? Because like, if you’re not, if you’re not doing what you think, then you’re just, you’re just not good, right? Like, you’re just not, you’re not playing well.

Brad: It’s, so you’ve done a good job in actually pitching a webinar, webinar that I’m releasing in the next month, Nick

Kevin: Amazing.

Brad: Yeah, Nick Howard’s coming on. And it’s going to be about integration and bridging the theoretical gap, to actually performing with the theory when it matters, right? Because like you said, there’s a difference. Some people understand the theory. And like, if you know, him or her and I have a conversation, I’ll come away from that conversation thinking, yeah, they’re smart, they get it. And then I watched a video of them playing and I think, is this the same human being that I was just speaking to? It looks like a completely different person when I’m watching the play. And, yeah, like, I’m not a, you know, I’m not a mental health expert. So that’s kind of, that gap to me is kind of mysterious in the things that are happening, but there’s, it’s clear there’s something happening, right.

Kevin: Yeah. And, you know, I use mental health just as like an example, like there are even like strategic details that I think would just be unreasonable for someone to expect like a single coach to be able to teach as well as a different person could, right? Like, so many of the game formats that are popular now are multifaceted. It’s not just like a straightforward like, oh, I just play, you know, I mean, some of us play 100 big blind cash still forever, but like those, those grinders are, are a smaller and smaller percentage of poker in general than, than ever probably,

Brad: Thanks.

Kevin: Like, being dynamic, like, be, being flexible. I mean, like to take live cash, for example. Like, you know, something that, while you’re probably more familiar with than I am, but like, when you know, 100, big blind cash theory, and you show up to a live, you know, 5-10 game in whatever city, you know, take whatever city like. It’s just going to be like, you have like maybe 10 or 20% of the information at hand that you want to be successful in that environment from like, the 100 big blind theory. And there’s, like, you know, it’s so much further that you can be taken by learning from someone who is an expert in playing against, like recreational, learning from someone who’s an expert in playing 500 big blinds deep, learning from someone who’s an expert in like, just like, for example, playing like all the all the weird situations that come up live that don’t get talked about very much like bomb pots, or button straddles, or you know, I’ve encountered this player who’s like, taking this unusual strategy where they, you know, they raise either to 12x, or to, or to 2x, like all this weird stuff that would just like never be on your radar.

Brad: Yeah, this dude is the fourth color. And he back raises, back raise shoves for 200 bigs like,

Kevin: And those are spots that like, like, they seem ridiculous, because they come up, you know, like, once a year, whatever. But like, individually, they might be worth like, I don’t know, 5% of your annual income. For like, if you make that spot, if you play that spot well, instead of, if you play it correctly instead of incorrectly, it might be the difference between, you know, like having a good year and a bad year. And it just happens once, like the whole year. So, it’s, you know, you need different resources to prepare you for that kind of stuff. And

Brad: Long story short, it’s hard.

Kevin: It is, it is hard. But I mean, I guess the reason I say this is because like, I’ve heard a lot of complaints, so to speak, or just discussion on Twitter, that kind of indicates that, like the coaching market is becoming saturated, or that the coaching market is like, you know, just like everyone’s a coach now, like everyone’s trying to sell their product now. And like, I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Because I think that like in general poker is just like an under, under explored sport to be taught or to be coached, like properly. I think that like, if you looked at coaching and other sports, and like really dove into how much,e like how big of a market, you know, like how big of a market is like coaching football in America? Like, it’s massive, right? Like, there’s

Brad: Zaven makes 11 million a year.

Kevin: And that’s just people at the top right? Like there’s 10s of 1000s of people coaching football. Like, and we might have, you know, that number of people who are potentially interested in like, playing poker? Like I don’t,

Brad: Right. Yeah.

Kevin: I don’t know. Yeah, it just doesn’t, you know, like it, I guess it’s, it’s hard to envision, like the scale of where poker goes when it’s like a full-fledged sport. But I just feel that like the coaching market is potentially really valuable in other ways.

Brad: What do you think?  What do you think that comes from by the way? I see the same stuff on Twitter from like, reasonably intelligent people who are maybe professional poker players and I never, I never understood like, why they’re pissed about it. Like, why is it a thing that you have to verbalize on Twitter to shit on like, potential poker coaches.

Kevin: Well, I mean, the angle, the angle from which I understand, you know, not wanting to share information, not wanting to support training sites, the angle is essentially like this takes money out of the proverbial economy, right? Like

Brad: That Pandora’s box has been opened or what it appears.

Kevin: There’s, the concept is like somehow you know, protecting what makes a good player is going to protect the ability to make a living at this thing for a long period of time. And I understand that like mentality because if I was someone who wasn’t able to benefit from the, from the coaching business or from the you know, if I wasn’t in a position to, to teach and make money from teaching, then maybe, you know, I would resent those who can. But that’s just like so normal in competition, right? Like to resent the ability to do something that one can rep doesn’t do or can’t do. I just don’t view it as something that’s like competitive with playing for a living. And maybe that’s just like, maybe that’s because I’ve been fortunate enough to make money from both sides of the game. But I don’t, I don’t specifically think that, you know, working to make players better at what they’re doing is going to make the game disappear any quicker. And, you know, I certainly think that it helps like, bring the bottom players up to a competitive level more efficiently. But maybe those players don’t stick around if they’re not being brought up, right? Like maybe they don’t care about poker, if they can’t improve.

Brad: That’s a great point.

Kevin: Like a lot of competitive, competitive, people don’t necessarily stick around and something that they just suck at forever. It’s not fun. It’s not fun to be bad, right? It’s fun to get better. Like, that’s what we were talking about earlier. So, like, how do you expect to grow a sport, if you can’t engage those who are intellectually interested in it, right? Like, you can’t just expect this sport to like grow and grow and grow as like, we’re feeding off of the gambler’s kind of environment. Like that’s not, that’s not the poker that I, that’s not the way I understand poker, I guess is what I’ll say. But I but I certainly think that there are people who understand poker as that type of economy. So, I, I believe that’s where it comes from. I just disagree with it.

Brad: Yeah, I mean, I disagree with that, too. And I find it odd that like, as a poker player, as a, you know, six max cash game player, for the majority of my career, excluding, you know, playing full ring live at like a thousand big blinds deep. But it’s like, at some point, you had, every everybody that I’ve talked to who has had that career trajectory, has come to an existential crisis of what am I doing? Am I giving back to the world? Like, where’s my place? How do I find fulfillment? And to me, it’s like, the natural progression as a poker player is like, at some point, somebody comes to you who’s hungry, and you see yourself in them and you’re happy. You’re like, yeah, like, let’s talk poker. I can teach this person, you know. They’re hungry. They, they’re ambitious, and you feel just inherent need to give back. And I mean, that was how it was, for me, it was like, okay, like, am I happy doing this? I don’t know. I do it to survive and to make money and I’m doing it every day. And I’m grinding and I’m playing my 1000s of hands, and yada, yada, yada. And then it was like, oh, I can coach people and like, this feels good.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like, I enjoy giving back. I enjoy seeing people solve their problems, watching the light bulb go off them gain awareness of a leak, and then plugging it and like, just seeing them from like today, six months down the road, that, the progression of the progress that they’ve made, I mean, that lights me up on the inside.

Kevin: Yeah. Yeah, I feel the exact same way. It’s like, you know, it could easily be perceived as like a selfish endeavor like same as you know, giving to charity or whatever, but like, I just, it’s, it’s win-win, right? Like, it’s, if the people you’re helping benefit and you feel good doing it, then it’s, it’s good for both parties. I really enjoy coaching for the, for the same reason. It’s just like more fulfilling than you know, than hitting a hitting an MTT score or having a good month like those are those are fun, but you know,

Brad: Racing a whale, like busting a whales account.

Kevin: Oh, yeah. Like those are those are fun experiences. But like, they’re, they’re no more fun than like, the, having the opposite thing happened to you are discouraging or depressing in some way. Like, coaching, if, for the most part is just like a positive feedback loop. Like, you get better and they get better. And like, you know, it’s, there’s not the same kind of like ups and downs that you experience from playing.

Brad: Yeah. And you develop relationships, you know. Like we said, the reason you started playing ultimate, when you coach, you develop relationships and friendships with your students, and that’s a net positive for your overall wellbeing. So, we’re like, we’re an hour and a half in here or so. I’m going to hit the lightning round, I’ve actually asked, you know, questions that I have in my template,

Kevin: Okay.

Brad: So, I’ve done a good job keeping us on track.

Kevin: Yep.

Brad: What’s the most unexpected thing that’s come from your poker journey?

Kevin: Unexpected, I suppose that my connection to like food and the food industry is something that kind of came out of nowhere.

Brad: Tell me about that. What is that about?

Kevin: So, like, when I first I guess, experienced like live poker. I found myself kind of like encouraged or however you want to say it, like, pushed in the direction of you know, spending all of the money that we were making on, on experience, right? So, like going out to eat or going to shows or that kind of thing. And through, through poker, providing the money at a young age, I ended up like, eating at a lot of really nice restaurants that I otherwise would have never been interested in or found. And I think that, like without poker, I don’t really go down that path of being like really excited about food. So, like later and later on in life, I ended up like taking some time off to go to culinary school, and I spent a lot of time and, like, 2017, 2018 just learning how to be a better cook. And that’s been like really fulfilling in my, like, away from the table life. Like my, the time that I spent at home. I never actually like really got into the industry. I didn’t really enjoy my limited exposure to like working in restaurants or working in catering. But that’s, I don’t know, that’s just like a whole segment of my life. Now that is like, still kind of, like if I think about, you know, like, what do I, what do I expect to do over the course of a poker career like that kind of, it feels like a pretty big segue.

Brad: Yeah. It is.

Kevin: And it’s, I mean, it’s like, it’s something that I am still really passionate about. And I guess like some, some poker players have found my Instagram account now, which is pretty much exclusively food. I sort of keep that, I keep that separate as, like, its own little thing that I’m proud of.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: But yeah, pretty unexpected.

Brad: That’s awesome man. I think we should regularly be trying new experiences and finding what we love, and so that we can invest our time and energy into doing those things. I was going to ask you earlier, in your bio, you talked about being known for just taking time off kind of arbitrarily like a few months. What do you think is the value of doing that throughout your poker career? When do you, do you ever hit a moment where it’s like, okay, it’s time. I need some time, time away. Does it just naturally happen? What does that look like?

Kevin: It’s kind of, this one’s kind of tricky for me, because it’s, it works. It works well for me, mentally. Because after many years of playing poker, I find myself not like complacent, but you know, less motivated to continue to work hard. And what I don’t want poker to be for me is just like a thing I do because I have to, or because I need the money or because it’s just what I’m good at. I want it to be something that I’m like enthusiastic about being better at. Because like, if I’m not actively trying to get better side by side with playing, then I just don’t think that I’m playing very well. So, time off has been like my personal method of accomplishing that, like stepping away completely, or at least like 90% of the way away. It’s, it’s hard when you like coach and stake people to like literally step away. But spending time away from the tables has pretty much always done the trick of like making me feel like I really want to start again. And maybe like the time maybe the extended time off, so to speak is like a way to encourage me to like know that I need to get better or like that I need to work hard to come back and compete. I can’t just like, you know, sit down and do the same thing I did yesterday.

Brad: Yeah, it’s hard, man. When you start hitting, you start getting diminishing returns on your study, like in the beginning, everything’s great. You know, you’re improving by leaps and bounds. And then at some point, it’s like, Okay, I’m like, top 99.1% I’m going to be top 99.2%. And it’s hard to get up for that, right? Like, even you know, I just was obsessed with the last dance with Michael Jordan. And after he won his third championship, he’s like, what, what else do I have to do? You know, I feel like that was when he took the time to go play baseball. And it’s like, he’s like, what challenge is left, right. And like, it’s really hard for me to imagine, you know, an athlete who’s at the top, the peak number one in the world, maintaining that spot over an extended period of time, finding the motivation to get up every day. And, you know, keep them, you know, keep improving at such small levels. Like, it’s really more impressive than I can express with words how I feel about the people that can do that over an extended period of time.

Kevin: I think like the best, I guess, the best way that I’ve decided to tackle this, like problem, so to speak, is to, like navigate within the poker industry or within like, different variants of poker, like a way to, a way to engage intellectually with like, something slightly different than what I was doing, you know, six months ago or a year ago, right? Like it. It’s definitely, yeah, like getting that extra point 1% like, this is not it’s not appealing. I don’t know. It’s maybe appealing for some people, it’s maybe appealing for like the very, very best perfectionist in a certain format. But I think that it’s, it’s far more interesting for me to like, feel like I’m learning something new. But it doesn’t have to be something that’s not poker, right? Like it doesn’t have to be

Brad: Yeah, it can be short deck or PLO or tournaments or whatever.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Yeah. And you’re going to, you know, you’re, you’re still, let’s be honest, you jump into an MTT tournament, knowing nothing about MTTs, just heads up poker, you’re probably still going to be top 95%. Like, let’s just be real. You know how it goes. Depends on how high you play that.

Kevin: I would have said that in 2013, but I definitely do not think that’s the case anymore.

Brad: Really?

Kevin: I think I came in like pretty well, I shouldn’t say came in, like, I was a very casual tournament player for whatever, like the first eight years of my poker career, because I just felt that there was something that I could like, sort of gamble on and be slightly plus EV and, you know, give myself an opportunity to, to boost my bankroll, essentially. I mean, it made sense. If I think about poker, like investing, like putting a limited amount of money into extremely high-risk investments, it makes sense, right? Like if, if it doesn’t hurt your potential to earn money in cash games, but you have the opportunity to like four extra bankroll and substantially improve your future earnings, then there’s the double vision.

Brad: Yeah, there’s a major difference in playing 5, 10 for years hitting or hitting a tournament score and you know, moving up to 10 and a quarter like, just from your yearly rate.

Kevin: Yeah, so like, that was always the kind of the reason I used to like dabble in tournaments, but I think I was also just under the impression that I’d be fine at them. And I was actually like, probably a pretty substantial loser in the games. Just because there’s like so, there were just like so many details of tournament structure that I didn’t understand anything about, like not that I had like a half decent idea that I would like, come close on. I was just like, I was totally guessing and my guess is we’re not right.

Brad: I guess, I do have a follow up question. Had you invested a lot of energy into like six max or full ring cash game or was like the majority of your volume and heads up?

Kevin: It was majority heads up. I was playing, like I played a little bit of six max and full ring like before I got into heads up,

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: But I just wasn’t a very good poker player in general at that point. Pretty much all of my like, high level professional career was in heads up no limit.

Brad: So, do you think it would have been different had you come from like a six max, nine max background to playing in the tournaments? Or do you think it’s just that different of an animal?

Kevin: I think it’s that different. I mean, I think it was, a lot of it was the short stack play. I think the short stack is just like, it’s so substantially different from deep stack that I wouldn’t come close, like most players who have only played 100 big blinds just don’t really come close at estimating like how do you play 30 big blinds or 15 or 10?

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: And at the time, like also, the available learning materials were nothing like they are today. Like, you know, two years ago, I decided I want to take tournament seriously. I, you know, buy a masterclass from like one of the best tournament players in the world and I learned like everything about tournaments, right? Like it’s, that wasn’t available in 2012 or whatever. So, like, that’s it’s a different climate to learn in for sure.

Brad: Nice. I like, I like being wrong about things. So basically, my assumption that if I go take a shot at like a 500, online MTT, I’m likely a dog. I will say if I play a 2k live MTT, I still, I still think I’m a fairly significant favorite in those fields.

Kevin: Yeah, I mean, I’ll clarify like, it’s, it’s all structural like it, it just depends, like, how much time do you spend playing deep stack, wersus how much time do you spend playing short stack. Because like, they’re very different games that if you haven’t studied short stalking at all, then you won’t be good at it.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: Like that’s just that’s normal, right?

Brad: For sure. But I thrive in the beginning.

Kevin: Yeah, so like when you know, when the stakes are super tiny, like, you know, players who come from a cache background, they play great and they play like much better than MTT professionals even because like, those players don’t really spend time studying like 200 big blind poker, as well then, like, within three hours, you’re in their wheelhouse. And that’s like, and you’re just going to stay there for the remainder of the tournament, like as the stakes gradually move up and up. So, the mistakes that I was making as like an entry level tournament player were massive compared to like, the spots where I was playing well.

Brad: And that transition now if you were to do it nowadays, do you think how would your guestimation is, how long would it take for like a high level six max or nine max player to transition to MTTs?

Kevin: Well, I guess I’m trying to figure that out in real time with my actual life. I would say that, I would say if you’re extremely successful at the other format, then it probably wouldn’t take, I don’t know like to become acceptable probably only takes a few months. Like there’s, I guess I’m assuming that this person would have guidance as to like how to approach learning tournaments but

Brad: Sure. Yeah.

Kevin: Probably within a few months, you’d become like acceptable at the things that you were deficient at previously. And then over the course of the next who knows how long like a year, two years, three years, you know, you could make pretty substantial improvements in those areas. But I think you’d plug a lot of the major leagues in the first few months.

Brad: Yeah.

Kevin: Of like dedicated focus.

Brad: Especially somebody that just, they have a background in game theory, and they’re familiar with all this stuff. It’s just really learning

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Different ranges, and why you’re doing the things that you’re doing or why you’re supposed to do the things you’re doing with specific parts of your ranges at different depths.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: What is your daily process look like for improving your game?

Kevin: Well, I guess it depends, when you asked me, I would say that lately, I’ve been spending more deliberate time studying, like using solver tools, and, and going through like database analysis on my own play, more than I have, you know, even three months ago or so. Usually, I would spend the majority of my like active learning time engaged in a coaching call with somebody else who was also actively learning. So, it was just kind of like the nature of being a full time or part time coach, that I was, like, kind of improving at the games that I was teaching as well. But I think that, you know, as far as like, self-guided study, the thing that I found most successful is to, like, look at, look at myself, like with the actual play that I’ve executed as like, a theoretical opponent, and just like, analyze, you know, myself this like, this fake person who isn’t, you know, the person who’s studying right now. And just say, like, what are they good at and what are they bad at? And like, you know, what do I notice in their stats? Or what do I notice in their tendencies that seem, seem like they could be improved? Yeah. And if I don’t know how to improve it, then that’s when I go to the solver. Like, it’s, it’s one of two things, right? I’m either like, just failing something in execution, because of, you know, whatever, lack of focus, lack of killer instinct, lack of patience, whatever, like something mental. And I could probably identify that just like being honest with myself and looking at stats. Or I’ll just look at it, I’ll be like, oh, I don’t really know how to play the spot. And then the solvers are kind of the way to do that.

Brad: Yeah, that’s a greatness balm. You know, use the solvers to, even fact check something that you think is true.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: I found, you know, that’s valuable to just even node locking and making some assumptions about your pool. Just saying, like, is this strategy that intuitively feels the most profitable, is it actually? And like, you want to be wrong. Like, you want to find out that you’re wrong, because when you find out you’re wrong, you know, you learn you grow, you add to your win rate. That’s the that’s the beauty. So, a few more questions, and we’ll get you out of here. When you think about joy in your career playing cards, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?

Kevin: Well, I’d say the, I don’t know if there’s a specific memory. But I think that, like the way that I, the way that I benefit or the or the way that I’ve like enjoyed poker the most has been in just like personal connections and, and through like, not, not stuff that’s related to playing poker, but just kind of the inherent outcomes that being involved in poker has led to. So, like, you know, I think about just like, positive experiences and positive relationships that have been formed as a result of poker. I don’t really, I’m not, I’m not really someone who like gets a lot of emotional high from just like outright success. It’s more like the, you know, maybe it’s, maybe it’s a student, like messaging me two years after we stopped working together, just like checking in and saying how great they’re doing. Like, that’s a really positive thing for me. Maybe it’s just an old friend who like I met in Vegas, you know, 10 years ago, like, sharing wedding photos on Instagram or something, right? Like those are like really meaningful to me. And the, you know, like wins and losses, like not, I don’t know, they come and go,

Brad: Yeah, they don’t do it for you. And

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: I’ll say like, I had a guy messaged me maybe a year or two years ago, who I’d never interacted with, but had just, like, watched my videos on YouTube. And he’s like, I was obsessed with your videos when I was a micro stakes player. I watched them and watched them and watched them. And I’m so thankful and grateful for you because now I’m playing 1-2, and like, I you know, attribute a lot of my success to watching those videos and like, that’s something that means the world, right? It’s like, holy shit.

Kevin: It’s the best. Yeah.

Brad: Even if my videos only have like 1000 views or whatever it is. It’s like man, it resonated with somebody and it helped improve their life. That’s like all you can ask for as a coach.

Kevin: Yeah. No, it’s, it’s, it’s really the best feeling. It’s, I don’t want to say that it’s like literally the reason that I coach. Like there’s, there’s a lot more to it, but I think it’s, it’s by far the most like fulfilling feeling for me like through poker.

Brad: It’s the fruit. It’s the fruit of the labor. Like that, that’s why we invest the energy and the time to do, do what we do. So that’s, that’s the reward. Opposite question. When you think about pain in your poker career, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?

Kevin: I guess just like, like, when I don’t, when I don’t love about I’ll say about myself when I’m involved in poker is just like that, that like sinking feeling that you get when things are not going well, or when something like when, when a negative result comes. And not just the sinking feeling, but also kind of like the ripple effect that it has on like your emotional state and on your, just the way that you like, exist in your regular life as a result. That used to be like much, much worse for me. But that was, I think, also, just because I played a lot more. And like, I just don’t really like what, like emotionally what poker can make people into, myself included. Because it’s just not like, I don’t know it, it’s not, it’s a, it’s not like specific to poker. It’s not like poker is the only thing that brings this out in people, right? Like, but the, the emotional negativity that is attached to this, like, you know, what is really just like, supposed to be a positive thing. Like it’s a game, right? Like, it’s, competition is supposed to be positive, it’s supposed to be beneficial.

Brad: But it’s pain. It’s painful too, their suffering.

Kevin: Yeah, so that’s like, I mean, that’s quite literally, I guess, pain when I think about, when I think about pain in poker. But that’s like, if there was one thing that I could like, take out of the game, right? It’s just that like, that negative attachment, that money or like risking money brings into the equation. I know, it’s not only with money, it’s, it happens in sports when there’s no money on the line. But

Brad: I’ve seen guys get into physical melees playing recreational kickball against each other. So,

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Yeah, I mean, it’s, we’re human beings, emotions are part of the package. And emotions are powerful things. And you know, nobody’s a robot. No matter any poker player that, you know, we look up to that exists in the world, they are all emotionally affected by downswings. And yeah, it sucks, you know. It sucks when you start looking at everything with a negative lens, and it starts affecting life outside of poker, because, you know, we only have a limited amount of time on this planet. We only have little, a limited amount of minutes to have our awareness and have our experiences. And when it, when they become negative, because our identity is wrapped up and whether or not we’re winning poker player, that, that can take a toll. It can it can take a real negative toll on anybody.

Kevin: Yeah, I think that’s why it’s like so important to, to sort of like attach positive emotion to different things. Like, when you ask about joy, that’s like, you know, that probably wasn’t always my answer, I suppose. But that’s like a deliberate choice that I’ve made over the course of my career to like, focus that outside of financial success or financial outcomes. Because I know that it’s like, the negatives are so closely related.

Brad: You know, here’s the deal too. Like, it’s a maturity. It’s a process of maturing as a human being as well, right? Like, I had Jungle on the show. And I’m like reading, doing my research. And it’s like, he’s 29 years old. And it’s like, what the fuck? Jungle is 29 years old? Like, how is this even possible, right? Like, Galfond is like a dinosaur. And he’s like, mid 30s, right? It’s like, how can Galfond even compete with the Young Guns of today? Like, he’s like, 35 years old, like, what are we talking about here?

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: So yeah, like, as you get older, you mature emotionally. And I think that like, as you have these experiences, you also kind of gain an awareness that like, all these times that have felt horrible, and that it felt like I’m never going to overcome this, like, I’m never going to get out of this, like, the emotions change.

Kevin: Yep.

Brad: You know, the emotions are transient, and they change and eventually, you feel better. And like, the more often that that happens, and the more often, you know, the more frequently you can gain awareness that that is happening, then you can experience it, and not really hold on to it for as long as you used to. So that it’s not controlling your life, you know?

Kevin: Yeah, totally agree.

Brad: All right. So, if you could erect a billboard that every poker player has got to drive past on the way to the casino, what would it say?

Kevin: Because on the way to the casino, and I guess not to the poker room, because on the way to the casino, I’d maybe just put up a sign that says like, turn around, go home.

Brad: Right. Unfortunately, most poker rooms are in casinos. I guess that’s a problem.

Kevin: Yeah, it is. I mean, you know, if the idea I guess is just like a short piece of advice that I wish people had like or like a mental, something for them to like, keep in mind, like before they went into the poker room is basically just

Brad: Yeah, a reminder.

Kevin: Yeah, sort of just like, I don’t know how I would put it in a few words. But the idea I would want to get across is just like, like, there’s, there’s something else kind of waiting for you when you leave this place. Right? Like, like,

Brad: This isn’t everything.

Kevin: This isn’t your life, right. Like, this isn’t like this is, yeah, I don’t know. It’s just like one segment of what you’re trying to do. And like, you know, just like, go have fun, come home. I don’t know, like, what

Brad: I love that.

Kevin: I don’t know how I would put that but that’s, that’s the sentiment I would want to get across.

Brad:  Yeah, just it isn’t your life. I think is very powerful in its own right. Like, you don’t have to, you know, your identity

Kevin: Like, losing is okay, like, just come home. I don’t know, like,

Brad: I don’t know about that one.

Kevin: But that is like, you know, like, if they, if they, not that I don’t want someone to be happy about winning. But just like when you go to a casino, you have to be prepared to lose. Like, that’s, that’s a very big part of being in a casino is just like coming home with less money than you want it with. So, like that you have to like, make yourself comfortable with that experience before it happens.

Brad: Yeah. Buts, I mean, most of the time, like, not most of the time, but you know, even the best poker players are going to lose with a high frequency when they go and play a session. You know, it’s like, they’re going to lose 35%, 40% of the time,

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Like, you just can’t win every single session that you play.

Kevin: And I once showed, I think my, I once looked at my poker tracker database for like session, session results, because my, my dad was interested, like I was trying to explain to you know, he’s like an amateur player. He’s familiar with the game. And I was trying to explain to him like, just how often I win. And apparently, over like, the lifetime, this is maybe a few years old, but like my lifetime sessions long was like, 51%. I was just like, oh, yeah, I just go to work. And I flip every day to see if I was going to lose. That was his takeaway, right. But like 51%, that’s yikes.

Brad: Yeah. It’s, that’s, that’s insane. 51%. But like, you know, looking, looking at like a database back in the day, it’s like, if you have a day, where you went at showdowns like 54, 54%, you have fucking crushed that day, like you’re smashing. If you have a month, where you’re running like 52, 53%, one is showdown, you are kicking ass.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: like, if you’re a 47%, you’re getting destroyed. Like, it’s a very slight difference. And a lot of it is you know, minimizing your losing days, right? It’s just having a losing day that is not congruent with your winning days. But yes, very small edges that we eke out hand after hand over the course of a year.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Now, what’s a project you’re working on right now that’s near and dear to your heart?

Kevin: Well, I don’t know if working on is totally accurate. But I have, I have like an, a notepad where I write a lot of the stuff that I want to work on. And I guess aside from, aside from coaching work, like that’s, that’s like ongoing and very important to me. But something that, I guess would like to, to work on, or something I would like to build, I’ll say, is kind of like a, I’m going to call it like a coaching conference, because I’m borrowing that idea from another concept that I already know exists in Ultimate Frisbee. But the idea basically being that like, coaching itself, in poker needs like, or could or could use like infrastructure and, and education, revolving around like how to be better coaches, and like how to, and I think that’s sort of like missing from the economy right now. And I saw that in, in Ultimate Frisbee, there was like a coaching conference every year that I subscribe to that was like, super interesting and informative for like how to be better at training, or how to be better at informing people. So, this, by far is not in the works yet, but it’s like something that I’ve been kind of like, adding notes to every now and then when it, when a good idea comes across.

Brad: Please get in touch with me. I want in.

Kevin: Yeah, I mean, I’m yeah, I would love that. It’s, yeah, it’s one of a few things. But I think that like if I was going to pick the one that I’m most likely to follow through on, I would say that’s the one.

Brad: Yeah. I mean, I had a I had a, me and one of my students had a discussion and he’s very successful in his professional life. And, you know, I just brought up a point that was like, why don’t poker players have like some sort of conference? Like what, why is there no like, conference for the industry and for like, recreationals, and like speakers? Like they have it for like everything else. Everything else has it, has this kind of conference and get together. But like poker, for whatever reason just doesn’t have this thing. It was kind of weird to me that we don’t have something like that.

Kevin: I mean, there’s like, you know, there’s less of a unified body, I suppose, that like, like the poker community is held together by like competing organizations. So, it’s kind of like a, it’s a strange environment in that way. But

Brad: Well, I mean, even tech, like tech, you know, Apple and Microsoft,

Kevin: It’s true.

Brad: There’s technical choices, and they show up and they’re competitors.

Kevin: Yeah, that’s true. I suppose just, I mean, any, doesn’t have to be a governing body to put on an organized event that brings together like different parts of the industry. I mean, and coaching wouldn’t be the only thing that I would want to address in a conference like that, right.

Brad: Sure.

Kevin: I mean, there’s, there’s so many big topics in poker that just kind of get like, you know, opinions blasted out, but like, not a lot of organized effort goes into correcting those things. So, yeah, that’d be great.

Brad: Yeah, they’re like, I just realized, too, there’s like a podcast, there’s podcast movement, that’s like a giant get together for podcasters. That happens every I mean, it’s not going to happen now, because of COVID and all that, but like, for the onus is probably on some of the community organizers and some of the faces to start sending out the invites, start connecting, start building it, start building a list, start selling seats. I mean, when you really think about it, there’s a lot that needs to be done. You know, there’s a lot of work, but it seems like something that should be doable. And if anybody’s listening right now, that’s like, hey, I do this shit for a living, like, contact me. And let’s figure out how to get this done sometime in the future, because it’s necessary. And I think people would love it. Like, why wouldn’t you love it? If there is a giant card playing conference in Vegas, once a year, like, that would be great for meeting people, making connections, hearing people speak, all the stuff.

Kevin: I mean, right now, it’s just the World Series of Poker, right? But people aren’t there for the conference. They’re there to

Brad: It’s a fairly adversarial, adversarial conference. Everybody’s trying to crush each other.

Kevin: Yeah.

Brad: Cool, man. So final thing. I know you run at once is launching a tournament series pretty soon. Do you want to say anything about that?

Kevin: Yeah, I suppose by the, by the time that the episode comes out, it’s probably underway, but it should be going on for at least like until mid-September. And the concept is more of like, more of like a league, I suppose. This was you know, another idea of Phil’s that sort of transformed into an eight player, heads up no limit tournament. And the idea is, you know, we’re going to be playing like cash games in league format, where, you know put four competitors on each side, we play a round robin of like, cash game matches, and sort of like many Galfond challenges, right? And the, and the top four, just kind of move into bracket play, and they, they play their way up the ladder until there’s a champion. So, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s great for a few reasons, like the, the concept of a poker League has obviously been tried before, but it’s, it’s complicated. And I think that this is like a really, it’s going to be like cards up live streamed, extremely high-level play. This is you know, $10,000 buy in no limit cash. Like these are, these are all excellent players,

Brad: Commentators, and Twitch streaming, and all that too.

Kevin: Yeah. It’s going to be commentated, I believe, by Henri Cobain, and whoever else guest commentators, I would presume. I think he’s the main guy. And there’s cards of coverage pretty much every day of the week from what I understand. So, the, the round robin should take, you know, three weeks of play probably till the end of August, and then September, we would move into the playoffs. And I think like I mean, the players are up on Twitter, you can go you know, at run at once poker, and have a look at who’s participating, but like, there’s some top-quality players and I think it’s going to be, it’s going to be extremely entertaining. I’m hoping that it’s a good financial decision on my part. By the time these airs, I think I’ll be like two matches in and hopefully on my way to moving into the playoffs.

Brad: Well, I’m rooting for you.

Kevin: Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate that. It’s also going to be on Poker, on Poker shares for live betting. So, I think that that, I don’t know exactly how the betting market is structured. But that should be an exciting way to get you know, like people fans involved in the action.

Brad: Will it be

Kevin: Yeah, that’s right. It’s all played on the Ryan’s poker platform and it’ll be streamed on their twitch channel.

Brad: Awesome. I’ll check it out. That’s all I mean, sounds entertaining and sounds like a fun format to me. Cool, man. So final question, where can the chasing poker greatness audience find you on the worldwide web?

Kevin: The best places would be on well, at run at once training. You can search for my name, Kevin Rabichow, and I have content in the elite section of run at once. I’m also on Twitter, @krabichow. And occasionally on the run at once poker twitch channel, which you just mentioned.

Brad: Nice man. And also, he’s got some training videos up on YouTube that are kind of free. If you’re not an elite member run at once. You can check those out, see if it’s your thing and make your decision from there. But man, it’s been great having you on. I’ve really, really, really enjoyed this conversation. And I would love to do it again sometime in the near future.

Kevin: You too. Thanks, Brad. This was fun. 

Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 074: Kevin Rabichow

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