On the 28th of March, we had Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, World Series of Poker Main Event Champion 2004 and Member of the Poker Player’s Alliance Board, participating in the latest in the FTR Series of “Ask me Anything.”
Greg: Thanks for coming to my AMA here on www.FlopTurnRiver.com! I will be answering many of the questions posted in this thread during the next hour. Sorry if I don’t get to your question, not enough time to answer them all. I know that many of you are curious about my arrest a couple of weeks ago, and want to know more. I appreciate your questions and your interest, but I am still at a point in the process where my lawyers have advised me to not answer most questions on that subject. What I would like to say is that I am very sorry for the pain and suffering I’ve caused my wife, daughter, and family, as well as for any disappointment or difficulties I’ve caused to my friends and fans. Also, I appreciate very much the words of support and encouragement received from many of you. Now let’s talk about poker!
Thanks for the work you’ve done with the PPA.
Greg: You’re welcome. It has been my privilege to try and help the cause of maintaining, regaining, and growing the rights of poker players.
Actually, this AMA should be in jeopardy format. We give him statements and he has to come up with questions for them..
Greg: What is Göbekli Tepe?
I’m going to ruin it: With all of the time he’s spent with the PPA, how far out does he realistically think we are to having online poker go from the quasi-legal corner it’s in back to what it was in 2008?
Greg: I’ve always been bad at setting lines. However, we are moving quickly now on legalizing online poker at the state level, and I am sure that this process will continue to build speed for quite some time now. The real question is how long will it take for the states to successfully come together and offer games on sites that operate within multiple jurisdictions. I don’t know how long this will take, but I do know that if you help us by lobbying your politicians, it will be sooner. Please check out www.thePPA.org to see what you can do to help in your state.
Hi Greg, long time listener first time caller here
So I first saw your name on the back of my Theory of Poker book, where you pretty much dedicated your 2004 win to it. Is it still your favourite poker book 8 years on or has anything new really jumped out at you the same way?
Greg: I still consider The Theory of Poker to be the first book I recommend to any poker player. If you’re going to read one book, that should be the one. Until I write one of my own.
I’ll ask something: How did you get involved with the Heartland Poker Tour? How would you rate the talent that comes through that tour?
Greg: I’m just another player on the heartland poker tour. Although there are many great players on the HPT, most of the entrants are local amateurs and semi-pros. And the HPT does a great job of running lots of satellites and other qualifiers for each event. As such, there is a wide array of skill levels, and the edge for a very good player can be quite large.
Greg, How would you rate the Foxwwoods poker rm vs most other poker rooms?
if you had a choice Foxwoods or Mohegan?
Thanks for your PPA work!!!
Greg: I moved from Connecticut to North Carolina in 2005. Since then I have hardly ever played at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun and therefore have no useful opinion. From what I hear, they are both very good rooms.
What’s your game of choice these days? With the increase in popularity of mixed games do you find yourself playing in those more often?
Do you play online at all, or just live?
Greg: I always like to say my favorite game is your worst game. More directly, my main cash game prior to winning the main event was 75-150 mixed games at Foxwoods. And I still tend to prefer mixed games, especially as compared to no limit holdem. I wish I could play online poker, but at this point it’s not worth setting up a residence outside the U.S.
Greg, do you still enjoy the game of poker or do you consider it work?
Greg: I love poker. Always have and probably always will. I love playing poker, I love teaching poker, I love talking poker. Even though everything I do now revolves around poker, it’s only a job in the technical sense. Like they say, if you love your work it’s not a job.
Was it difficult adjusting to life in the spotlight or did this come naturally to you?
Greg: Many years ago I was a radio and wedding DJ, as well as a stand-up comedian. I’ve never had any difficulties with stage fright or being the center of attention. I am very lucky in this regard, as many of the other main event champions have told me they find the attention unpleasant. Some of them do a great job handling the attention, but most of them would prefer to go back to only being known by their friends.
1. State regulation is better than no regulation but it seems complicated. What are the chances that something happens at the Federal level soon?
2. Does your PPA work ever get in the way of playing poker?
3. Your 2012 HPT scores are impressive having won on July 29th, September 30th, October 21st and November 18th.
Do you feel extra confident at HPT events or is your confidence level the same at all tournaments?
Greg: 1. Unlikely, though there is some hope with new bills being introduced.
2. Not really, more like my poker work gets in the way of the PPA work at times.
3. Thanks. I’m always confident that I can play well, and have no real confidence, or lack thereof, as to the results I will achieve. Results just happen, decisions are all you can control. The skill level of the field at an HPT event is lower than at a WSOP bracelet event, so it is more likely that I will get a good result. But I can attribute my great run on the HPT in 2012 to a combination of playing well + variance. When you enter a 200 player field, even if you’re the best one there, you probably have no more than 1 chance in 50 of winning. So it’s obvious I can’t realistically take all the credit for those 4 wins. I believe I played well, but I also ran good when it counted.
What do you think of the wording for the PPA slogan, Poker is not a crime: join the fight? A negative, pejorative, and a violent overtone – does not sound very inviting.
Greg: I understand your point. I’m sure they would love it if you (or anybody) come up with something better.
1) I was talking to someone about poker tells the other day, so was wondering if there are any specific poker tells that you look for and think are especially important?
2) Are you superstitious, do you have a lucky t-shirt etc?
3) Random question time! Through a miracle you have been granted access to all wikipedia pages from the year 2025, but you have a time limit of 10 minutes until it all disappears. What wikipedia pages do you read in those ten minutes??!
Greg: 1. There are tons of significant poker tells. I highly recommend the books by Joe Navarro if you want to get better at this.
2. Not at all. I wore the same shirt for my 4 HPT wins mostly because my wife told me to keep packing that shirt. The only reason I even brought it the second time was because the HPT people told me it looked good, so I figured I might as well use it again. After that, it was just my wife.
3. My page first, then I read sports facts from the near future so I can place all the winning bets as seen in Back to the Future.
I’m going to play in my first ever WSOP circuit event in a few weeks. The biggest field I’ve ever played against consisted of about 100 players and I’m guessing there will be more players at the circuit events. Do you have any advice for me?
Are you friends with Phil Hellmuth? Does his charity work make it easier to tolerate his aberrant, abusive behavior at the table?
What is your stance on gun control in America?
Greg: Just play your normal game. There are no adjustments you need to make for a large field. You can only win chips from, or lose chips to, the players at your table. So focus on them, and how to do your best against them. Whether the tournament is 100 players or 10,000, you will need to outlast about 90% to make the money. And that requires the same amount of skill and run-good for either event. As for gun control, I’m a Libertarian.
Thanks for answering my question re playing in my first-ever WSOP circuit event. I’m a really conservative player for the most part. Can you suggest any reading material about how and when I should change-up my game in a large field of players? So far, I just know that I shouldn’t fold aces pre-flop…
Greg: My top suggestion has to be to attend one of my seminars.
Ignore the fact that it is a large field. Almost completely meaningless. There is nothing different that you need to do. Play each hand for maximum value (which usually means folding preflop), given who’s at your table, their stack sizes, and yours. What’s happening at other tables, or how many there are, doesn’t really matter except when you’re on the bubble. Then stacks shorter than yours at other tables might lead you to play more conservative than otherwise. But if it isn’t the bubble, ignore the other tables. Those guys can’t take your chips, nor give you theirs.
Hi Greg! It’s amazing to be able to post questions to you – you’re one of the most recognizable and respected live players out there.
Surprised this hasn’t been asked before, but when and why did you start wearing your trademark glasses?
And a question it might be impossible to answer – what did it feel like to win the Main Event?
Greg: Go to http://www.fossilmanpoker.com/faqs.htm and read question #2.
It obviously felt amazing to win the Main Event. It’s the same type of feeling you would get winning a small buy-in local tournament, or winning a sporting contest, but it is just MORE. Not only did you win, but it was the world championship, oh, and $5M in cash. Probably comparable to winning an Olympic gold medal in how it feels.
Thanks for the answer Winning the ME Event is obviously every poker players dream, and I’m sure everyone in this thread is jealous that you managed it! How long did the feeling take to wear off? Have you had any other result which felt like it? Does the expectation ever weigh on you during bad runs?
Are you noticed and talked to a lot in the street by other poker players?
Greg: It never completely wears off, it just comes and goes as you think about it or not. All my wins have felt similar, just not as strong of a feeling. Bad runs are their own weight, I don’t feel any drag from expectations, as I have none other than to play my best. You can’t (realistically) expect results in the short run.
I get recognized all the time, especially in or near casinos. But if I spend the day at Disney with my family, I’m probably going to have about 50 interactions, where that is defined as being asked for a photo, autograph, handshake, or a question.
How much did Matusow get on your nerves during the 2004 Main Event? How do you feel about Matusow since?
Your ’05 ME run was pretty epic as well. How do you feel about that performance? Do you think your nerves affected you, or would you not change how you played?
Greg: Mike and I are good friends, and have been since soon after the 2004 ME. We don’t see each other very often, but that’s because we are seldom in the same place at the same time, but I still consider him very much a good friend. He’s got a big heart, and means well towards everybody.
I wouldn’t take anything back about that tournament, except deal a new card on the river against Aaron Kanter. It wasn’t an issue of nerves or anything like that. When he bluff-raised me on the turn, I was 100% sure he was bluffing, and so I put him all-in. It was simply unfortunate that he had caught a flush draw by that point, felt pot-stuck, called, and then hit the river.
Can you give us a breakdown of what http://www.fossilmanpokertraining.com/ is, why you started it, when people can participate, what they can expect, etc.?
Greg: www.FossilManPokerTraining.com is my training website to promote the in-person lessons and seminars that I offer. There is no online training component, and I have no plans to add anything like that at this time. I teach a lot of live seminars every year, as well as offer 1-on-1 personal coaching. You can go to this site to arrange a private lesson, or to see when and where there are upcoming live seminars that you might attend. And you can feel free to recommend to your local live poker room manager that they consider booking one of my live seminars at their room, so it is convenient for you to attend.
Hi Greg Really love your style…
You were one of the original members from Team PokerStars Pro. Do you miss the old days when you were picked out together with other great names in the poker scene?
Does the glasses help you put on your poker face or could you enter any event or play against any opponent without them?
I certainly do miss hanging out with Chris Moneymaker and Joe Hachem more often. It was great fun when we were the three main guys repping PS, and would see each other at EPT events and the like all the time.
No need for the glasses. In fact, I seldom wear them anymore unless it’s a televised table. If the room isn’t really well lit, they will possibly cause me to misread the board, so it’s too risky to wear them all the time.
Cheers Greg!!! Great win on the 2004 WSOP Championship…AMAZING!!!
After your big win in the 2004 WSOP Championship did you buy anything special with all that money? I mean, was there anything in your mind that you instantly just knew …”I gotta get this”!!
If you had to choose…what would you say to be your favorite: Collecting fossils or teaching/training others about poker?
Greg: I’m not a splurgy kind of guy, so there never really was anything special and expensive that I bought myself. When we moved to Raleigh, we bought a much more expensive house than we would’ve otherwise. I put in a pool for my wife and daughter to enjoy. My wife got a new car, a new wedding ring. The only expensive thing I’ve ever done for myself was buy a launch monitor recently so I can hit golf balls into a net indoors and get feedback on my swing. And that only cost about two buyins on the HPT.
I don’t really collect fossils, so teaching is clearly the answer. I love teaching poker, and I believe I’m excellent at it. In fact, despite my tournament results, I believe I’m a better teacher than player.
Forgot this one question…
When you sit at a poker table do you like to be challenged or do you have a certain thrill when you are able to overcome all opponents quite easily?
Greg: It’s always a challenge. Whether the opponent(s) is a novice or a highly skilled player, you need to do your best at figuring them out, and maximizing your advantage. And it’s never a cake-walk.
I’m sure you get asked questions all of the time about US poker regulation, but it’s an important topic. I have a few questions that hopefully aren’t as common and were wondering what you thought:
– Instead of focusing on when it will happen, what will it take to happen?
– Do you think state-to-state online poker would be a step in the right direction, or actually be worse in the long run?
– Do you feel part of the reason big B&M casinos haven’t pushed this as hard is because they fear they won’t be able to compete with online giants such as PokerStars?
Greg: Excellent way to put the question. It will take effort and input from all of us. One of the best things you can do is follow the Rich Muny Daily Action Plan (http://theppa.org/takeaction/) which you will find on this link. There are millions of poker players who want to play online, and want to protect their rights. Regular participation in this plan is the most effective easy thing you can do.
I’m not sure if state level legalization is going to work out easily, or be really tough, but it’s certainly better than waiting on a Federal bill that might not ever happen.
I think that corporations in general are afraid of change. They tend to focus on the negative of any situation, and downplay the positive. So they saw how the introduction of online poker could cost them in their current business, but have failed to see how it could help their current business, as well as provide them with a new business that might be even more lucrative than the old. Some of them are finally coming around, and we’re making more political progress as a result. I don’t really think it was fear of PS or anybody else, just fear of change in general.
What is your stance on gay marriage? How do you think the supreme court will rule on the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases that went before the court yesterday and today?
Greg: I’m a Libertarian. If two adults want to get married, why should I care? Anything any adult does that doesn’t directly hurt another, is their own business. And for all of those people out there who are treating this as if it were a religious issue, they can **** off. There is (or at least there should be) no room for religion or morality in politics. Morality should have nothing to do with what becomes law. If a law is passed for a moral reason, then what’s to stop politicians from passing other moral laws in the future? What if a strong majority of the country becomes one religion, and for moral reasons, to protect everybody from themselves, to save all of our souls, they pass a law that only their religion is to be accepted, and all other religions are outlawed? I prefer to say now that morality should never be the basis for any law, rather than have to possibly deal with scenarios like this down the road. Right now most people would say that scenario is crazy, and it would never happen. But if you pass one law for moral reasons now, then you will pass another law next time that maybe reaches a bit further, and then another. Where do we stop? I propose we stop now, and remove all laws based on morality, and never again pass another.
As for how the Supreme Court will rule, I have no prediction, as I’m not up to date with this issue in the courts, or have any knowledge of how the various Justices are expected to vote. I just hope they do the right thing this time, as they sure have messed up a lot of their decisions in the last couple of decades.
I’m about to go all regulatory on you, so feel free to ignore me.
With NV, NJ and Delaware (I mean, come on, Delaware?) all having online gaming legislation on the books, how far away is the US from having a majority of it’s citizen’s able to consensually gamble in their own homes?
Do you think the US casino market is still significantly behind the rest of the world when it comes to online gaming, both in technology, and ethos, or have they caught up?
What do you think about the AGA’s actions regarding PokerStars NJ licence application? Is it any more than Caesar’s throwing the rattle out of the pram over the PokerStars rebuff of their advances to sell them the Rio and the WSOP brand?
Looking back before Black Friday, how do you rate the effectiveness of the PPA? I know they were mainly bankrolled by PokerStars and Full Tilt v1, did this have any impact on the decisions made at that time?
What do you consider the impact is of the PPA campaigns currently? What can they improve on, and what can individual US (and ROW) Poker players do hasten regulation in the US?
As a serving Board member on the PPA, have you received any legal opinions regarding the current status of Poker Sites still operating inside the US?
Greg: The U.S. is definitely behind much of the world in this area, but hopefully that is now changing. I think we can thank the PPA for a large portion of the improvement we’ve seen in the last half dozen years. Before the PPA, bills were being introduced into Congress to specifically outlaw online poker, and we were fighting against these bills (and losing in the case of the UIGEA). Nowadays the fight is to pass legislation that would specifically legalize online poker. And thought we haven’t yet won that fight in Congress, at least we’re fighting FOR a good bill, rather than fighting against a bad one.
I’ve already said what I believe is the best thing you can do if you want to bring back online poker, and do so faster and with better legislation. Take part in the Rich Muny Daily Action Plan (http://theppa.org/takeaction/).
I have no opinion on the poker sites currently doing business with U.S. customers. I do honestly believe that offering online poker inside the U.S. is NOT illegal under any current U.S. Federal law (but does violate some state laws, the clearest example being Washington state).
How do you see online poker in the USA in the future? Do you believe that the legalization of poker in the United States will contribute to a second poker boom? How long do you think it will be until a major poker site like Pokerstars, Full Tilt, or PartyPoker enters the US market. Also what tournaments do you plan to play this year? I heard from somewhere that you have a lot of HPT events on your schedule again this year.
Greg: Absolutely, if we get specific legalization of online poker in the U.S., it will start a second poker boom. Maybe not as big a boom as the first time, but huge nonetheless. And even if the current big sites aren’t able to enter the U.S., new big sites will emerge quickly.
A lot of my schedule is driven by the seminars I teach. I happened to play a lot of HPT events last year because several of those venues booked seminars to coincide with their HPT main events. I will still be playing many HPT events this year partially for the same reason, and also because as the HPT POY, I get free hotel and free buyins to 6 events.
If you could put together a poker game by handpicking the people at the table regardless of whether or not they are currently living or have experience playing, who would you choose and why would you choose them?
Greg: If I were trying to make money, it would be a high stakes game against the worst players I could come up with. If not about money, it would be a small stakes game with interesting people like Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicola Tesla, and Wil Wheaton.
From /u/CardCounter0 over on /r/poker:
I would personally like to add that while I don’t view what you did as a crime (consenting adults ffs and all that), it did still draw unwanted legal attention to you, the PPA and poker in general. Because of that I still feel that this is a valid question.
Greg: I can’t speak to my situation right now, but as for the PPA, membership is only $15/year. What we would like even more than your money (to help pay for lobbying efforts) is your time. And we don’t need much of that either. If you just contact your politicians and let them know where you stand, and how you vote, and do so regularly (see replies above about the daily action plan), you can have a huge impact in getting good legislation passed. It literally only requires a few minutes a week. Thanks for your help!
What advice do you have for players who would like to play semi-professionally? when it comes to balancing a “normal” job and poker.
Greg: Being a part-time pro can be a very beneficial thing. If you play within your bankroll, you won’t ever hurt yourself financially, and can hopefully make a lot of extra money instead. But I never recommend to anybody that they quit their job (or school) to be a full-time pro. Most of the people thinking of doing this do not have enough talent, or enough bankroll, to be a success. And even if they do, and if they do well, what happens if they make a good living for 5-10 years, and then get tired of it? It’s going to be almost impossible to get back into the job market and get a good job with a 5-10 year gap on your resume. To do the part-time thing successfully, you need to locate your job in a place that has a poker room or rooms near enough for you to play in regularly, and make sure you have positioned yourself in your career where you have enough flexibility. Hard for me to be more specific because jobs are so different from one another, and what would work great in one would probably be a horrible idea in another. Just make sure you don’t let poker interfere with your job and get you fired.
Not being near a casino, underground tournament poker is a cottage industry in my current hometown. There’s a girl who is at most of the tournaments I play in and she consistently ends up in the money. I asked her about her success and she says she looks at each tournament as a marathon and doesn’t try to take down big pots early. She even claimed that she folds pocket aces during early rounds if too many people are in the pot to avoid getting knocked out early. I had a hard time believing her when she explained her strategy to me last year…but I’m beginning to think she may be onto something as she does better than most of her competitors, including me, regularly. What do you think? Is it appropriate to lay down kick-ass hole cards if too many people call or go all-in in given hand early on in a tournament just ensure your survival?
Greg: If she’s laying down aces preflop early in a tournament, she’s making a huge mistake. It may be that she can go deep over and over against a very weak field just by playing extra tight, but that doesn’t make it the most profitable strategy. Early in a tournament, I play with the same mindset as a cash game. I’m trying to win the most chips while losing the least. Only late in a tournament, when chip values become very non-linear, does it start to ever become correct to make a play that is significantly different from what would be correct strategy in a cash game. I’m not trying to take down big pots in a cash game, or a tournament, I’m trying to maximize my EV. That means I’m not folding in a big pot when I have the best of it either, just because I will be busted when it doesn’t work out.
What is the best piece of poker advice anyone has ever given you?
Greg: Play within your bankroll.
does he have any infomation on EWALLETXPRESS returns of $$$$, cause supposely D.O.J. seized their,s months before black-friday….
Greg: Sorry, don’t know anything about them or their status.
I intend on winning the big 2.20 on stars that I’m playing atm. What would you suggest I do with my winnings (~$800)?
Greg: I’m not falling for this one.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see poker in 10 years?
Greg: I see myself playing poker, teaching poker, and loving life! Poker will never shrink much, it’s just too much fun. It might stop growing so much, but it will never retreat. When’s the last time you saw somebody really get into poker, and then get tired of it? Almost never happens.
What were you playing online before your WSOP win? Were you playing 6max NL on Stars?
Greg: I was playing online since about 2001, though it was always secondary to my live play. I didn’t play much NLH cash of any sort. I have long preferred hi-lo split and mixed games over NLH and limit holdem. Tournaments and mixed games are my thing.
Do you think No Limit Hold’em will always retain the crown, or do you think in 10 or 20 years the Main Event and game of choice will be Omaha?
Greg: The major championship tournaments have been NLH for over 40 years, even though stud and limit holdem were the most popular cash games for most of that time. I don’t see anything ever really taking over from NLH for these big events, though something else might become more popular for cash games.
Might I suggest no-limit 2-7 single draw? Or pot-limit triple draw?
What’s your favourite alcoholic drink? Just cracked open an ale so seemed a suitable question
Greg: I’m allergic to alcohol, so I’ve never had more than a sip, and hated everything I ever tried. Also not a fan of any recreational drugs. If you’re an adult, do whatever you want, but I prefer to not indulge. Enjoy the ale!
Thanks for coming to my AMA, and thanks to Eric Sprague and www.FlopTurnRiver.com for inviting me. I hope you enjoyed it, and sorry if I didn’t answer your question. Some answers might be found in my faq at www.FossilManPoker.com, and if you’re interested in poker lessons or seminars, visit my site at www.FossilManPokerTraining.com. Thanks!!
This ended what has to be the AMA with the most quick fire answers we’ve seen yet on FTR. We want to thank Greg for spending his valuable time with us, and wish him all the best in the future.