'Player of the Year'. One of the happiest
players now that Harrah's added more mixed games
to the WSOP. Multiple WSOP cashes, over $2 million
in lifetime poker earnings, a new book on mastering
the game - we can all learn something from "Downtown"
Chad Brown. And believe me, we cornered...err...asked
him all about it during the 2007 World Series.
Out All The Lizard Interviews
You've been playing poker a long time. You've
got to be amazed at the growth and explosion of
poker. I mean, ten years ago they were shutting
poker rooms down. I think Treasure Island
replaced the poker room with a pizza oven, if
I remember correctly. I mean, are you just
blown away by the growth of poker and where do
you think it's headed?
Well, you know, after Chris Moneymaker won the
World Series of Poker, it was crystal clear how
big poker was going to get, because mainstream
America got to see that an average Joe, who was
just playing a $40 online satellite, who didn't
have a lot of money, can actually get lucky and
poker against the world's best poker players.
And on a given day, any decent poker player can
beat the best poker players in the world and have
So I think the growth that we've seen has come
from that and is going to continue, because it's
not just Chris Moneymaker, it's people who win
any WPT events, people who are unknowns that the
general public get to see, and they say, "Hey,
wow, this is fun. It's not impossible for
me to achieve this dream, and it's something that
could be a hobby, that's a fun hobby, with the
upside being I could get lucky and win millions
Not too many hobbies you can do that with.
How bout that new legislation – that unlawful
Internet gaming? It's had a pretty chilling
effect on the crowds here at the World
Series. Do you think they’ll actually
repeal the law?
Well, in light of the fact that we've had that
law and many poker sites already pulled out of
the market and, in fact, the poker sites even
that exist in the market are not sending satellite
winners to the World Series. The people
who win online have to come with their own money
that they win now. In spite of that, we're still
gonna get over 6,000 players here at the World
Series this year. I think that goes to prove
how strong poker is still growing. It's
gonna be a smaller field than last year, but not
nearly as small as a lot of people expected, because
poker still has a big growing rate.
There do seem to be a lot of European players
here this year.
Well, I played a couple of events in Europe this
year. I went to Monte Carlo, I went to Ireland.
Poker in Europe right now is growing just as fast
as poker did in the United States 4 or 5 years
ago. The events in Monte Carlo and in Ireland
were sold out. The European players have
all gotten on the bandwagon, and poker is gonna
be just as big, if not a bigger explosion in Europe,
than it already is in America.
You've had seven cashes so far, at this World
Series of Poker? Are you proud of your achievement,
or are you just getting frustrated that the elusive
bracelet stays just slightly out of your grasp?
Well, you know, I went into this World
Series with – I’m the type of
person that sets goals for myself. I set
a really, really high bar for myself, not to win
one bracelet, but to win two bracelets.
I feel I put myself into position to accomplish
that. The loss to Erik Seidel, there's really
absolutely nothing I could have done. I
had Erik Seidel all-in three times, where two
times I was a favorite – a pretty big favorite
at one time.
We were even money. And, in
fact, on the fourth time when I got knocked out,
which would have made me even inchips with him
if I would have won, once again, I was more than
a 2 to 1 favorite. I drew 1, he drew 2,
and I actually made a monster in Deuce-to-seven.
I made a 9/7, and he just happened to make an
8. So I'll be honest, after getting knocked
out from that and not winning the bracelet, I
didn't feel badly at all. I felt, hey, I
did absolutelyeverything I possibly could have
done and it just wasn't in the cards.
And as far as winning two bracelets, I gave myself
a good chance. I made another final table
in the pot limit Omaha Hi Low. I was second
in chips with five players left and I was in a
hand against the chip leader, who only had me
covered by about 30,000, and I pushed all in on
the turn. He would've only had 30,000 left and
I would've been the monster chip leader with four
players left and a big favorite to win that, and
I was a 3 to 1 favorite when I pushed in on the
turn – then he hit his flush on the river.
Limit Hold'em, you know, got knocked out 11th.
I just missed making a third final table.
I'm really proud of what I did. I came in
focused. I made the second most cashes at
Series than any other poker player, and that
was a result of me playing my A game most of the
Yeah, and I noticed that you cashed in, technically,
five different types of poker. I mean, you
cashed in on Heads Up, Limit Hold'em, you cashed
in Triple Draw. Would you say you're the
most rounded tournament player?
poker pro Vanessa Rousso
Oh, well, I mean, in the cash games I play mixed
games. But I don't play in the biggest game,
which Doyle, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein plays
in - the 4 and 8,000 mix. But it's not a
coincidence that you see these guys have a lot
of success because they're playing mixed games
and, you know, not only do you get familiar with
a lot of the mixed games, but it also, I think,
enhances your creativity as a poker player.
Being a good poker player is not just about the
math. There's a lot of creativity and psychology,
and you really, I think, boost your creativity
by playing so many different types of games than
just one game.
So do you think that's what separates you from
guys at your table now that are just – they
don't have the creativity, or they don't have
the expertise, or they haven't been playing long
Obviously the players that have a lot of experience
have played, you know, thousands of more hands
and seen thousands of more situations that they
can exploit. So when you see a situation
that you could take advantage of, the top pros
are gonna take advantage of that. It doesn't
matter what our hands are; we see weakness, we
see an opportunity to take a pot down, we do it.
We see an opportunity, when we have a monster,
to let someone trap themselves and suck them in;
we take advantage of that.
Players who have been playing for a year or so,
you know, they don't have that experience to be
able to take advantage of that. And to play
in the Main Event – to go all the way, you
have to give yourself every possible advantage
and you still need to get extremely lucky.
Plus, they're used to playing online so I'm sure
they're not quite as adept at reading people as
No question about it.
You actually date Vanessa Russo, who's a pro poker
player. Is it strange having a relationship
with another poker pro? I mean, you can't
exactly commiserate bad beats. She'll be,
like, "Oh, I got a bad beat."
"Oh, you should have seen my bad beat.
Eric Seidel just one-outer’d me."
Well, I've been playing poker a lot longer than
Vanessa and, you know, one of the things I'm well
known for is not letting bad beats bother me.
You know, Vanessa has just been playing professionally
for a year and a half, and she's playing extremely
well, but, you know, she's not used to taking
the bad beats. What I speak to her about
is when she takes the bad beats, not to take them
I used to be an actor, and there's a good analogy
between poker and acting. You're gonna fail
many more times than you're gonna succeed.
In poker tournaments I have a really high percentage
of cashing - 20%, which is above the majority
of top pros. Might be short term, you know,
like, maybe you might balance out down to 15%.
I don't think so. I think that I have a
niche that I've figured out, and I cash the most
– 20% is the highest, I think, that is possible.
But what that is, is that you're gonna fail 80%
of the time. That so many – way –
many more times you're gonna fail. And if
you accept that ahead of time, going into it,
when you take – obviously if you're a good
poker player and you fail 80% of the time, it's
not that you're playing bad 80% of the time, you're
playing well, but you're getting bad beats, so
it's part of the protocol. So if you accept
that and just go with the flow, and just say,
"Hey, you know what? I'm supposed to
fail 80% of the time. All right, so I lost
my last – I didn't cash in my last 8 tournaments,
but maybe the next two in a row, "and then
it'll balance out.
So I try to explain that to Vanessa and she's
gotten much better. She understands it,
but it's still tough when, you know, you hit a
set and someone hits a runner and a straight,
and they're drawing dead to the runner, and then
you get knocked out. It's hard for a lot
of players to take that, but with time you realize
that the cream rises to the top, and it's just
part of the game, and you just go with the flow.
As long as you have confidence in your ability
and you know you've been playing your best poker,
there's nothing for you to be upset about.
So you have quite a Zen-like attitude about poker,
it seems like.
You have to.
And do you ever wish the World Series of Poker
was back the way it was when it was more like
a family reunion and you'd see all your friends,
you'd get to spend time with them? Now it's
just business, business, business.
Well, when the
World Series of Poker was like that I wasn't
a tournament player.
I really just got into playing tournaments when
I realized how big it was gonna be commercially,
as far as endorsements and marketing. I
was a cash game player. I didn't start playing
tournaments until after Chris Moneymaker won the
Main Event. So that's when I thought, "Hey,
I can see the writing on the wall, and I'd better
get into playing tournament poker."
So, you know, I had to make adjustments. I
first started playing tournament poker in 2003.
Year after year I've gotten better, and better,
and even better. And in 2006, being the
Player of the Year really capped it off.
In 2007 I'm actually off to an even better start.
Maybe not in the points race for Bluff Magazine
Player of the Year, once again, but just in cashes,
I'm already well ahead of 2006's cashes.
Bluff Player of the Year is nice, but I'm
sure it doesn't pay too well, does it?
All right, I've got just a couple of more questions
then we'll be done. Hopefully, you don't
have to go to the bathroom right now.
I do, but -
That's all right.
All right, what is it about your style that makes
you such a tournament monster? I mean, is
it just that Zen-like attitude and your
ability to read?
A key is, as any top poker player will tell you,
in tournament poker – especially No Limit
– more No Limit than in Limit, you're playing
your opponent, you're not playing your hand, and
you have to get that out of your way. It's
– you know, it's – like, let's just
say hypothetically you had two queens, and two
queens would make you look down and think, "Wow,
that's a really big hand,” so 90% of the
time you're gonna call or re-raise pre-flop if
Now there's a certain amount of players that
would make a raise under the gun and you actually
may lay that down to a certain number of players
because you're not playing you're hand.
You're saying, "What range of hands will
this player re-raise with?" So if someone
like Dan Harrington raises under the gun, and
Allen Kessler comes over the top of him, I'm almost
certainly throwing away my two queens from late
position. So, you know, you're playing your
opponents and I do that very well. And so
do all the top players. J.C. Tran, Phil
Ivey, Phil Hellmuth - they get good reads on the
weaker players and know exactly what is the best
strategy to play against each individual player.
Has nothing to do with your hand.
And what advice would you give a young player
that's thinking about turning pro?
Well, the first advice I'd give a young player
or even senior citizen who's just decided to take
up a hobby is first thing you need to do is buy
my book, Act
To Win in Texas Hold'em Poker, which is being
sold on the Bluff Magazine website right now.
Second thing to do is get a friend, who you know
is a good poker player, and every time you play
– after you read that book and you start
playing sessions, keep notes and talk to your
friend who’s willing to talk to you, about
how you played your last session, and go over,
you know, like, 10 to 20 hands that you played
that, you know, may not be so black and white.
Like, obviously, the aces are black and white.
Just keep a little diary of your last session,
and talk to your friend, who you know is a good
poker player; who knows what they're doing, and
that's the best way to really raise the level
of your game to the next level.
And how's your
book differentiated from other books that
have come out recently?
Well, my co-author is a top German mathematician,
and basically, between the both of us, he's done
some nice diagrams with math specific equations
showing all the proper math in certain situations.
And I'm bringing the creativity, and some of my
style that's made me successful. It's a
good combination for a winning hand.
Thank you very much, Chad, and best of luck with
finishing up a strong 2007!
this and other interviews in the Lizard Lounge
Check Out All The