Townsend's online handles are more than household
names throughout the poker community - they represent
one of the game's toughest competitors at any
table. His meteoric rise to the highest levels
in under 2 years is the stuff of legend. We sat
down with Brian at this year's WSOP with one burning
question: If a $250K loss doesn't affect his sleep,
how much would it take?
Out All The Lizard Interviews
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PokerLizard: All right.
Maybe this will be better. Too bad we don't have
chairs. Of course you probably sit all day long
playing poker. You probably want to stand up.
on the back and your knees. Shoot, I play for
five, six hours I feel like I've been hit with
a bat. Of course I'm also an old man. All right,
man. Let's see here. Family. What are your family's
thoughts on you being a pro poker player?
Townsend: Well, my
grandpa actually played a lot of poker. He probably
played the second tier game. So if the big game
at the time was say, 100/200 or 200/400 limit,
(it was all limit back then), he would play maybe
50/100 kind of the level below the big game. And
he knew Amarillo , Puggy Pearson…all those guys.
They were all good friends.
PokerLizard: So poker's
definitely in the genes.
Townsend: Yeah. I guess
so. And back then it was much smaller and there
wasn't all the hoopla there is now. That was even
when it was in Vegas in the 70s, 60s and when
he played a lot. Then he played all the way until
he passed away. So it was in my genes and that
was on my dad's side. And my dad is all about
it. He loves it. He thinks it's great. My mom's
a little bit more conservative. She just thinks
I'm going to lose everything one day and be broke.
But even that wouldn't be the end of the world.
That's where I was before I started. So, I guess
they have very differing opinions on it. But now
that I've put enough away for retirement my mom's
PokerLizard: So you
think bankroll management is one of your big strengths?
Townsend: Yeah. I mean,
I'm very aggressive in moving up and I'm willing
to take risks and I have no problem losing and
moving back down. That's what I've always done.
I've had to move back down multiple times. There's
always been times where I move up, I take a shot
with say 20 buy-ins, I lose five and I gotta jump
back down and rebuild and rinse and repeat until
I move up. I think there's almost no chance that
I would ever go bust because I'm willing to move
down when times are tough. Even if I do have money
to play big I would still be willing to move down
and get my head on right. I did that a couple
months ago with my PLO game. It was a little off
so I moved down to 25/50 and just killed it and
now I'm back up and playing great again in my
PLO. So I can see that happening, jumping down
to 25/50 or 50/100 if my game's off and playing
20,000 hands to get back on track.
PokerLizard: How long
would it take you to play 20,000 hands?
Townsend: It depends
how much I played, but I could do it in two weeks.
Townsend: That'd be
a lot. But it's pretty easy to do.
PokerLizard: When you
multi-table, how many tables do you generally
Townsend: I can do
four. That's about my max.
PokerLizard: You ever
see those crazy guys who do 18, 20?
Townsend: Yeah some
of these kids can do 12 and even more. Up to 20.
I don't know how they do it. They're just playing
like robots. They're not really thinking about
the decisions and what's going on.
you totally gotten away from your limit game?
You used to play limit a lot back in the old days.
Townsend: When I
was younger I played a lot of limit. I don't play
it as much now. I still try just to keep somewhat
fresh. I'm not a top limit player at all. But
I can hang in the second tier games. I would never
sit in a tough limit lineup, but a soft one with
some soft spots. I would say my game's proficient.
It gets the job done. I think my big bet poker
games are very, very, very strong and I wouldn't
say the same about my limit game.
And it gives me the option when there is a good
game or if there's a mixed game going I can hop
in, which is nice. That's why I want to learn
all the HORSE games so I have those options.
'Cause when playing the big game they always want
to play all KINDS of games. You were recently
quoted that you don't even lose sleep over a 250k
Townsend: I mean, I've
been having a couple 200K to 300K losses the last
four days just chunking off 200, 200, 200, and,
I mean, I don't like it. I don't like to lose
but it doesn't bother me.
PokerLizard: How much
would you have to lose for it to keep you up at
Townsend: If I lost
2 million in a night. I don't know if I would
even stay up the night anymore over it. But if
I lost 2 million in a night I'd probably — I wouldn't
sleep as well.
and turn a little bit.
Townsend: I could drop
a million and it wouldn't bother me too much.
I mean, it would bother me but not that badly.
(Oddly enough Brian lost a $1.8 million hand to
Bobby Baldwin a few days after this interview…I
think he was bothered; read about he hand on his
blog from July 14, 2007).
PokerLizard: What do
you see yourself doing in the future? Do you think
you're going to play poker the rest of your life
as a pro or are you going to do something else?
Townsend: I don't know
what's going to happen. I'm already doing other
business opportunities like CardRunners
and stuff. So I'm just going to see where it goes.
Right now I wake up every morning and I'm excited
about playing poker. I don't see that being the
case when I'm 40, even 30, or maybe even tomorrow.
I might wake up tomorrow and say I don't want
to play poker as a career. I'll just play whenever
I want to.
PokerLizard: So if
they totally outlawed online poker in the United
States would you move or would you just play it
Townsend: (makes an
audible oof sound and looks like I told him his
dog just died) I would stay in Santa Barbara .
Or I might move to France . I'd probably end up
just getting a place out in Nice (pronounced Niece)
my dad lives out in the East Monaco area. I'd
get something out there. I'd get something in
Vegas and I would have something in Santa Barbara
and I would just rotate between those three. Spend
about a third of my time in each one.
PokerLizard: Nice (pronounced
Niece again). Nice. You and Taylor Caby (high
profile online pro aka “Green Plastic”) did the
commentary work for the final table of the $5K
six-handed event for the WSOP Live coverage in
the “ Poker Cave ”. How'd you like doing that?
Townsend: It was long
and I'm glad we didn't have one of the long final
tables like the HORSE one. I guess Andy Bloch
did that the night before and they were up until,
Jesus, I guess they did 14 hours, 15 hours. We
only did four or five and that was plenty long
enough. The last hand, when it was heads up, I
was rooting for the guy to suck out and end the
PokerLizard: Just finally
get it over with?
Townsend: Yeah. But
it was fun to do and it was interesting seeing
their hole cards. Taylor and I were very critical
though. Maybe too much so.
PokerLizard: You thought
they didn't play all that well?
Townsend: Bill Edler,
the guy who won it, started off short stacked.
Played phenomenally. He played the best, by far,
out of everybody. The other players were very,
very weak (this table featured Erik Friberg, Dutch
Boyd and Alex Bolotin).
PokerLizard: So everybody
knows where the name SBRugby comes from ( Santa
Barbara rugy) but where does the name ABA20 come
Townsend: It came from
me just needing something with letters and numbers
that was long enough and easy for me to remember.
Nothing too exciting.
have a girlfriend, correct? Is it tough to maintain
a relationship being a pro poker player? 'Cause
I've talked to a lot of guys like Scott Fishman,
a lot of young guys who are like, "Man, it's
just brutal, keeping a relationship going with
Townsend: I wouldn't
say I have a girlfriend. I don't have anything
right now. Well, I guess, maybe I shouldn't call
her — but, yeah. Having relationships are difficult
with these schedules. I try to go to bed at midnight,
wake up at 8:00 a.m. It's a little different in
Vegas. You've just got crazy schedules. But when
I'm back home I try to keep a really structured
life because it helps me stay balanced and do
the right things.
Continued on Page 2
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