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Hey Everyone,

FTR weekly interviews is back! This week we have a podcast as our interview. We’re trying out this new audio format with Max “Massimo” Steinberg, I think it came out really well, but I’m really sorry about the echo, we tried to make it stop but we couldn’t figure it out. After the first few minutes it is much more bearable if you can’t take it. This thursday were going to post another podcast of my interview with Shaun Deeb. No echo in that one (I’ve improved) and he’s a fun guy so you should enjoy it.

Massimo Interview

For those who don’t want the audio, here was the text.

DS: We are here with Max “Massimo” Steinberg. Max is a regular contributor to FTR, and currently plays mostly 2/4 No Limit 6 max cash games. Although Max may not be the regular high stakes type player we have on, don’t underestimate his skill. He has made over $50,000 in his career, nearly all of which has come in the past 6 months. With already $10,000 in earnings this month, a six figure year doesn’t seem to far away! And with that lets welcome Max Steinberg, thanks for doing the interview this week and trying out this new format with us.

Max Steinberg: Thanks by the way I play mostly 3/6 now!

DS: Ohhhh high roller!

DS: Tell me your poker story….

Max Steinberg: Basically it started out with Danny (ISF) and I would play a bunch of games at our friend’s house. Not just Texas but games like In between, hi-lo stud, Chicago, you know anything. We would basically take money are dad gave us and play with it. It wasn’t much. I don’t remember if we had any success or not.

DS: I think we did.

Max Steinberg: Well anyways, on our 17th birthday we asked our dad to deposit $50 into a poker site. And Danny and I shared an account. An important thing is we committed to our dad that if we lost this money we would never deposit ever again. We’ll just deposit $50 and have fun with it. So we could not lose this money or else we would never play poker ever again… err… well probably not. So we started out playing $5 SNG’s and $10 SNG’s. We didn’t have great bankroll management nor were we probably winning players, so many times our bankroll was under $10. One time, it got down to $2 and Danny placed high in a $1 tournament and we won $27 or something. The second time we got down to $6… $8 maybe, and Danny decided to grind $2 NL all the way back up to $100. He was playing like 3 hours a day. So then we started playing $10 full ring.

Max Steinberg: So we go off to college together and we get more into tournaments. So Danny ends up satelliting into a high buy in tournament. So it ends up that we win it for $3,000 and it was exhilarating because Danny was watching me the whole time and on the last hand I ended up calling a bluff with King high for the win. So then we started playing 6 max cash games, and at the end of the second semester of freshman year we split up our bankroll, which was about 11k, and was playing 1/2 6 max. I kept moving up slowly and I’ve been doing well ever since.

DS: Last semester you took time off of school and became a professional poker player. What were your expectations for those few months and how well did you meet those expectations?

Max Steinberg: So I officially took my semester off in July, and my goal was to have a 50k bankroll before school started again. So I moved up to 2/4 and that month made about $10,000. Then I got off track a little bit, I partied a lot, and august and septemeber were actually losing months for me because I played a lot of HU and I wasn’t very good at it. October however I made 10k, and November I actually lost a lot of money mostly because I was just spending it on trips. I also lost another 3k at Turning Stone Casino. But December I made about 9k, and so far in January I have made 10k. So it didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked. I mean… what can you do, I mean I should’ve probably played more, you know, but what can you do.

DS: Given your experience, what advice would you give to low stakes players who want to go pro?

Max Steinberg: Well first off, have a partner to do it with, like I wasn’t living with anyone who was playing. Also, it’s hard especially when your parents don’t exactly support it and your friends don’t understand and support you. They just tell me “What are you doing? You have all this money and free time, Come on, what are you doing? Come out with us!” Also, make sure your in an environment where you can live really cheap so you don’t have to take out much of your roll for living. Also, don’t party too much because first off all your mind isn’t going to be good and second of all it’s a waste of time.

DS: How do you think your poker game differs from others you play with?

Max Steinberg: Honestly I don’t think I’m very good…. Haha just to state that off the bat. I’m not very good at taking money from regulars right now. But what I do do well is standard situations against donkey’s or even regs, I have a very good sense of what is the best EV move. I think that has really helped me get a decent winrate at higher levels. Though, I’m not a reg killer yet.

DS: I do think that is an aspect of good players games, a skill that people really underestimate.

Max Steinberg: I do too. I mean I’m still a solid winner at 2/4 and 3/6 where there are 3 or 4 regulars at every table. And there are people I play with who are better at getting me uncomfortable, my game out of whack, and are much better than I am. But they aren’t making as much money as me, because I’m way better at making decisions in standard situations.

DS: What concept or element of poker do you think is key to becoming a good player but is not something normally mentioned?

Max Steinberg: I think one of the things is confidence. One thing that goes along with it is thinking everyone sucks and you rock. Its not a personality trait I have, but it really helps because when you think that way your really thinking what is he doing wrong and how can I exploit that rather than oh my god he is beating me so hard what can I do, this guys going to own me… oh god. Sometimes I’ll get in those attitudes and it hurts my game. And another point is the standard spots, people really underestimate the importance of that. Poker is all about hand reading and decision making anyways, so that should be the focus of improving players. But there’s no hidden secret.

DS: Yeah… I agree with your point about confidence. I know when I move up I’ll get all freaked out and tell myself “Oh my God they know my hand, what am I going to do?” or “Oh my god my hand looks so weak they are making a move on me.”

Max Steinberg: Yeah and when your focusing on making the best decision all the time, you’ll play better because your mind is clearer and it will keep you off tilt.

DS: Many people I interview note that close poker friends were instrumental in improving their games. How has having a twin who plays poker helped you improve?

Max Steinberg: Well, I mean, Danny introduced me to FTR. I originally posted as ISF but then made my account Massimo. One benefit is that we can talk about poker with someone all the time, like at lunch or whatever. Also, we’re both very argumentative so we really fight things out until we come to the correct conclusion… Or we’ll just ask Sauce123.

DS: You play on both FT and Stars. What do you feel are the positives and negatives of each site for a 6 max cash game player and which would you recommend?

Max Steinberg: Well both have their pluses. Full Tilt has fishier games at night and Stars has fishier games in the morning. But Stars software is way ahead of Full Tilt’s. I have been 16 tabling recently and on Stars I have no problem but on Full Tilt I can barely reach 12. But uhhh, Full Tilt you can datamine though so it’s a lot easier to find fishier tables. Also, Full Tilt has rakeback, even though Poker Stars does have FPP’s. But seriously I think you should play on both, I don’t see why you wouldn’t. I have been 6 tabling 5/10 recently and I just open up the fishiest ones on each site. And I end up finding actual fish at each table, which is something many can’t find if they are just playing on one site.

DS: What efforts do you make to balance life and poker?

Max Steinberg: Well I really don’t (laughs). I wish I played poker more actually even though I do play a decent amount. I don’t understand why you need to balance life and poker. If you want to play poker 12 hours a day than do what you want, that’s balance. And if you don’t, that’s balance as well. As long as your doing what you want.

DS: Interesting…. Okay now we’re going to move on to the lightning round! I’m going to ask you a lot of quick questions for fun and just answer them as quickly as possible.

DS: What’s your favorite Vegas Casino?

Max Steinberg: I really like the Wynn and the Mandalay Bay.

DS: Favorite beer?

Max Steinberg: Dos Equios Amber

DS: Favorite Book?

Max Steinberg: I don’t read many, but “The Things They Carried,” which is about Vietnam, and “This Boy’s Life” I really like which is actually a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio.

DS: Favorite FTR poster?

Max Steinberg: Uhhh, well I mean Sauce123 I really like, he’s taught me a lot. Actually, when Lukie posts I like it a lot too but he doesn’t post much anymore.

DS: Favorite Movie?

Max Steinberg: American Psycho, and actually recently I saw a movie called Atonement which is in theatres…

DS: *cough* Chick flick *cough*

Max Steinberg: Yeah, yeah alright, it is a chick flick but seriously it has the best cinematography I have seen in any movie. Not even close.

DS: Well alright, we’ll grant you a pass there. Favorite classic video game?

Max Steinberg: Super Mario 3, I also like Secret of Mana and FF7 and 3.

DS: Favorite Hand?

Max Steinberg: Ace-ten of clubs, also anything with an 8 I kind of like.

DS: Why Ace-ten of clubs?

Max Steinberg: Well because in tarot cards the ten of clubs is fortune.

DS: Favorite possession?

Max Steinberg: I don’t really have many but I’d say my laptop, as I don’t go anywhere without it.

DS: Favorite song to grind to?

Max Steinberg: I’d say any song from the album Southernplayalistikcaddilacmusik by Outkast, especially the song Southernplayalistikcaddilacmusik, it’s so awesome to grind to.

DS: Okay final question, What do you think your future is with poker?

Max Steinberg: I think it’s pretty unavoidable I’ll play poker professionally for awhile, maybe even for my life. It’s not like I’m going to take some entry level job somewhere. I think when I turn 21 I’ll probably switch to live tournaments. Maybe some coaching later when I get sick of playing a lot of poker, because that’s something I think I’d be really good at.

DS: Alright well thanks for doing the interview.

Max Steinberg: Alright your welcome!

DS: Okay… So next week we’re going to have Shaun Deeb on, so stay tuned for that.