Just under two months away from turning 29 years-old, Galfond’s responses read as if someone more than twice his age had prepared them – they included pointed, personal advice about not dropping out of college or quitting a job to play poker full-time, an account of his day-to-day life which he described as not “all that exciting” and his prediction that he probably would have dropped out of law school if he’d chosen to attend because of all the reading that course of study entails.
Having studied philosophy in college, Galfond’s answers are as sagacious as they are practical. Whether you love poker or have never even considered playing a hand, Galfond’s AMA on Reddit is worth much more than the time it takes to read it in its entirety. Click here to check it out!
To get a hint of what you have to look forward to when reviewing Galfond’s AMA, take a look at a few of our favorite questions asked and answered by Galfon:
Hey Phil, I was hoping to get some advice. I am one of the generation that bf hurt the most (was 19 when it happened playing around 1/2 huplo online). Now i play 5/10-10/20 frplo live since i am still in college and dis not want to relocate after bf. I sattied into the 5k PLO 6max this year and had a longer conversation with dani stern (who ended up crushing me). We talked about the generation gap that exists now in high stakes games. Me and one of my friends were pretty much the only 21 year olds in any of the 5/10+ games in Vegas because our generation didn’t have the resources to build up a roll and relocate after bf. playing the 5k 6max made me realize that I still am not at the level of the 24-28 year old generation that crushed during the boom. That was a bit of a long background but I have two questions.
1) what are you opinions about what me and dani were discussing? Do you think that my generation of players was so crippled by bf that we will always be at a disadvantage as long as players like you and dani keep crushing?
I’m glad you posted in here.
Anyone who started later and was cut off from playing online (and learning at the speed which online poker allows) had their poker growth stunted. However, anyone from your generation who did make the move out of the country to continue playing isn’t at a disadvantage due to age.
In fact, each generation seems to breed stronger players than the last, mostly due to how much tougher it is to survive in poker with each passing year. I came up at a time when games were pretty easy. A lot of players from my generation used to easily make $500+/hr and can no longer win in today’s games. Now they’re near 30 with no (or little) money and no education or job experience. This puts into perspective what we may consider an ‘advantage’.
These guys were doing so well (and had plenty of reason to think they’d continue to, especially for 20yr olds who aren’t going to think as conservatively and cautiously as older guys), that they abandoned school and careers. They were in for a rude awakening when the games got tough, and they realized they simply weren’t capable of keeping up.
New study tools emerge, and players who come up using them will have an advantage over the older players who never have, or who try to go back and figure it out. Even I am noticing that younger players have done range math (and can do more easily) that I’m not aware of. People have figured things out that I don’t understand, because I came up when study tools were a lot weaker.
Anyways, that’s off topic a bit…
Keep in mind that I’m 28, almost 29. I would bet good money that I was a MUCH worse player than you when I was your age (probably almost everyone was). The game has continued to progress, and it won’t stop anytime soon.
Are you at a disadvantage right now sitting against the best of my generation? Sure. But we have been learning for years and years, and the weaker of us have been weeded out. It’s not unusual to be at a disadvantage due to experience.
2) how would you recommend I close the gap? I have been playing since I was 13 and was one of the first bfp members, but I feel that anything short of me relocating and playing professionally will leave too large f a disparity for me to break into high stakes.
-I am fortunate that I have a lot of other resources at my disposal (play in a consistent 5/10/20 half PLO/plo8 game and have a lot of friends who play professionally) I can most likely implement any advice you give me.
-also, on a completely unrelated side note. I just wanted to say that you. Watching your videos from the time I was 16-18 not only changed the way that I view poker but the way that I approach situations in my everyday life. Your way of conceptualizing abstract concepts and communicating them really hit home to me and I have assimilated the same techniques into my own teaching (i tutor both math and poker).
I didn’t get a chance to come by the rio booth this wsop as the cash games at the rio were redic (thanks for not sitting in those 25/50/100 games ;)) but I am going to try to next wsop so that I can thank you personally for everything. Also I hopefully won’t be the fish in the 5k 6ma this time. Sorry for the long post but you are probably one of the bigger influences in my life and this was a good opportunity to communicate that. Take care and good luck with everything.
Relocating and playing online would probably help close the gap. That said, it very well may not be the best life decision. After all, your life is much more than your poker career (if it’s not, you’re making a mistake).
Also, we just talked about how many people were killing it, failed to think about the future of poker and themselves, and ended up abandoning things they should’ve never abandoned.
It’s very hard for me to give you advice without knowing your mindset, skill level, and potential. I will say that poker is only getting harder from here on out, and there’s no 100% guarantee that we’ll be able to make a good living in 5-10 years at it. Black Friday showed us that the outside world can throw wrenches in our plans, not to mention the poker world itself.
If you’re enjoying your life now, you likely should stick with it. If you could add some online play from a site that allows poker where you are, that could help supplement your income and education. If not, keep in mind that live poker has it’s own skill sets. There’s no good reason I should be better than you at reading people in live games after a couple more years of practice. You can get a leg up on online guys when they sit down at the tables in Vegas with you… that is, if you work hard enough.
Even if you made the move, you potentially could be one of the ones who ends up not being able to make it in the new tougher online climate (not saying that you are… of course I can’t know). There might be a lot more money to be made for you live, both now and over the next handful of years, as the online games will get tougher at a quicker pace than the live games.
The fact that you have a lot of friends who play professionally is awesome. Use those resources (not use… you know what I mean) as much as you can. Learn from each other- about poker, about being a professional, about maintaining a good lifestyle while playing poker full time (if and when you get into it full time).
The fact that you’re staying in college is great. Don’t change your mind! I think I’ve already said enough about the uncertainty of the future, so I’ll leave it at that.
Lastly, thank you very much for letting me know that I’ve helped out in your career and you life. I know this sounds like the “thing to say” but it truly does mean a lot to me to know that I’ve made an impact. I hope I can continue to.
Btw, I also was a tutor, back before poker… First tutored young kids in all subjects, then did SATs. I got hired by KAPLAN during college, then quit after a month because I started beating the $10 SNGs on PartyPoker.
Please stop by this next summer, or stop me in the Rio halls if you see me. I look forward to it.
Good luck, man. Please feel free to post a follow up if you have any more questions. I set aside a few hours tonight for this, but I’ll be back in from time to time when I’m free.
What are some of your insights into PLO/Holdem that you only recently understood?
This isn’t extremely recent, but in the last few years I’ve come to think about individual poker decisions as part of a larger and more complex problem.
A flop decision isn’t just about your hand, the board, what you think your opponent can have, your equity against that range, and what you think he will do against a bet/raise/whatever. For each flop (in NLHE) there are 47 possible turns (as far as you know), and for each of those turns, 46 possible rivers.
Thinking about how your hand will play out against different parts of their range on each of those board run-outs is more important than what your equity looks like now.
If it sounds like a lot to think about… it is. However, you can usually group turns and rivers into categories and end up just thinking about a few of the most likely and most important (as far as EV swings) scenarios.
Did you end up selling both stories of your slide home together or did you have to remove it and sell them separately?
And why don’t more poker players write life blogs, they’re so entertaining.
I was able to sell them together. After the construction I did, it would’ve taken a lot of work to turn it back into two apartments. The buyer took the slide out though 🙁
I can’t speak for other players, but my life isn’t all that exciting. I spend a lot of time at home, and the majority of it consists of playing poker, working on poker, working on RIO, and watching TV.
I posted a blog for a while at PhilGalfond.com (and I may start it up again), but almost everything there is just my insight and experience rather than my personal day to day life.
Got any interesting prop bets going on atm? What kinda games do you play aside from poker?
I have $7.5k riding on this season of The Voice! Probably not as exciting a prop bet as you were hoping for 🙂
I used to play a lot of video games, but since I started playing poker, I lost interest. It takes up enough of my time and mental energy, and it’s more fun and exciting than other games are to me anyways.
How does the poker community handle players like Chris Ferguson and such? Are they still blackballed by the community? Know anyone who keeps in touch with them still?
I hung out with Chris a couple of times before Black Friday. He was extremely kind and interesting. I still would like to believe he had no ill-intent, and maybe even little to no knowledge of what went on.
I haven’t seen him since, but if I did, I would greet him with respect and give him the benefit of the doubt until hearing him out.
I don’t hear many people talking about Chris specifically, but I know that Howard is viewed very negatively by the poker community and is often confronted when he shows up places.
I don’t know anyone who’s in touch with them. Well, I’m sure I do, but I’ve never asked about it.
Best live cash game players? How much money are the western guys winning in Macau?
Tough question to answer. The obvious one is Ivey… Then it depends what games you’re talking about. Most of the successful live players specialize in mixed games rather than NL and PLO.
Off the top of my head: Antonius, Oppenheim, Hennigan, Schulman, Seed… to be completely honest though, I’m not a specialist in mixed games, so I’m not very confident in my list. I’m sure I forgot some too, but I’m trying to speed through here.
As far as I know, the stakes over there are equivalent to 2k/4k US sometimes, so it’d be pretty easy to win or lose 5m. I’d expect that there are a handful of $10m+ winners from those games.
What did you do in college, did you enjoy it?
What do you think you’d be doing if not for poker?
I studied Philosophy, and I enjoyed it a lot. I loved college and my “college years” (in quotes because I stayed and hung out after I quit school).
I didn’t really have a plan. I used to think I’d either be a teacher or a lawyer, but I have a feeling all the reading/work in law school would’ve been too much for me and I’d have quit.
I would’ve ended up a teacher or an entrepreneur, probably. Two very different paths, I know, but it’s where my skills and interests lie. (heh… wrote that out before realizing that those are exactly what I do now, other than poker)
Hey, thanks for your time.
In your experience, what would you say is the largest mistake low and mid stake players are typically making?
Also, is this real? Whattt?
This is real… at least as far as I know. Philosophy taught me not to be sure of anything!
It’s hard to categorize a general ‘largest mistake’ but I’ll try. Are you talking about low-mid stake pros or the recreational players in those games?
mid stake pros please
Pros it is!
I think that a lot of low-midstakes pros play a little bit too systematically, and fail to think outside the box. There are times and situations that call for massive adjustments, and if you miss these, you’re losing a lot of EV.
Auto-piloting is one of the most serious and most prevalent forms of tilt, and most people don’t realize there’s anything wrong.
Think through every decision, and be careful about declaring any play “standard.”
I think a lot of the auto-piloting and systematic play comes from people learning ‘rules’ when they learn to play.
Strategic rules, preflop charts, ‘standard’ cbet sizings- these are all crutches that help you play competently faster, but limit your growth potential. You’re allowed to make any play you want on any street. Don’t be so sure that one is the right one.