Bloch may be best known for trying to break the
Vegas bank with the infamous MIT Blackjack team,
but he is quickly making big waves as a pro poker
player. Andy has 3 major tournament victories
and 30 major tournament cashes amassing over $700,000
in winnings in his relatively short poker career.
PokerLizard sat down with Andy to discuss
how an MIT graduate and law school graduate decided
to take on the poker world and become a member
of Team Full-Tilt.
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PL: Before Tournament Poker became so huge, you
were primarily known for your Blackjack skills,
even producing a video on how to beat the casinos,
the MIT Blackjack Team Card Counting Secrets w/Andy
Bloch DVD. What was the catalyst behind your decision
to take on the world of high stakes poker?
Andy: I started playing poker before I was part
of the MIT team and over time I gradually increased
the stakes I played. I was thinking about moving
on from poker, then the World Poker Tour came
along and I decided to give it a shot. Since then,
I've made two televised finals and five other
PL: How did your parents react when you decided
to become a professional gambler after getting
Engineering and Law degrees?
Andy: I became a professional gambler in between
MIT and Harvard Law School. I was playing with
the MIT blackjack team on weekends and working
designing computer chips during the week and getting
bored. When the project I was working on got canceled,
I decided to quit and play some poker and blackjack
while I looked for something else. I didn't plan
for gambling to be a long term career, so my parents
weren't too worried although they didn't know
what to tell their friends! Then I decided to
go to law school (paying my way through by playing
blackjack), and my parents were proud and happy.
But after law school and passing the bar I didn't
take a law job and went back to gambling. Fortunately,
the WPT and ESPN elevated the public perception
of poker players and I'm now a minor celebrity.
I think they enjoy when their friends tell them
they keep seeing me on TV.
PL: Do you enjoy cash games or tournaments? Why?
Andy: I enjoy tournaments more than cash games,
because there's a bigger sense of accomplishment
winning a tournament.
PL: You seem to be a math oriented player that
likes to push statistical edges over the competition
versus a feel player, is that an accurate assessment?
If so, Which Poker game do you feel best suits
Andy: My play is a mix of instinct and mathematics.
My instincts will tell me when my opponent may
be weak or strong, whether a bluff or value bet
might work, and I will incorporate those possibilities
into calculating the best play. This approach
works for any poker game, whereas a player who
plays on feel alone will generally need to gain
a lot of experience before mastering a new game.
PL: You started WPTFan.com, how did this site
evolve into one of the largest Poker Sites/Forums
on the net?
Andy: Back when the WPT started airing, I thought
there should be a forum for people to chat about
poker on TV, something the WPT was not offering
on their website. Basically, I built it and people
came. I haven't done much to promote the site,
preferring instead to watch the community grow
organically, just pruning a few bad posts here
and there. The simple design and limited ads make
it easy to use even on a slow connection.
PL: In your opinion, what 3 characteristics does
it take to become a “World Class”
Player? Do these characteristics differ if one
wants to be a world class tournament player vs.
world class cash game player?
Andy: To be a “world class” poker
player, you need intelligence and self-control
combined with a willingness to gamble. Self-control
is a little less important for tournament players
than cash game players, because in tournaments,
if you start to lose your self control, the most
you can lose is your buy-in – and, aggressive,
even reckless play is often a good strategy in
tournaments, whereas it will make you go broke
playing cash games.
PL: You recently won the $1,000 buy-in Limit
Hold’em tournament at the WSOP Circuit event
in Las Vegas. How does your strategy differ in
a limit tournament from a No-Limit tournament?
Andy: In limit tournaments, you don't have the
big implied odds you need to make calling raises
with hands like 67 suited profitable. But once
I get involved in a pot in limit, I'm going to
be very tenacious and I'll probably see the hand
to the showdown. Some people say that bluffing
is more important in no-limit, but that's not
necessarily true. Even though bluffs are less
likely to work in limit, you are risking less
to make those bluffs.
PL: What advice would you give someone hoping
to become a great player (not necessarily a pro
player)? Any advice for someone who wants to become
Andy: My best advice is to be self-critical,
whether you win or lose. After every play, ask
yourself whether you could have played the hand
better. Try to learn something from every hand.
Don't go pro until you are consistently making
enough from poker that going to your regular job
PL: How did you get involved with the Full Tilt
Poker team? (For my own curiosity…did they
name it Full Tilt due to the Tiltboys, PokerLizard
note: the Tiltboys are a group of friends that
play poker together in California and travel to
vegas frequently, you can read about their adventures
Andy: I was extremely lucky to be friends with
Chris Ferguson years before he won the World Series
in 2000, and he asked me to join up with him before
the site even had a name. A Tiltboy was indeed
responsible for coming up with the name.
PL: What makes Full Tilt Poker different from
the myriad of other sites?
Andy: Full Tilt Poker has the best software and
great programmers who are constantly improving
it. But what really makes Full Tilt different
from the other sites is the involvement of the
pros. A couple of the other sites have two or
three pros, but Full Tilt has 10 to 20, who are
all committed to playing on the site and giving
the other players the best playing, learning,
and entertainment experience possible.
PL: We consider you one of the best poker players
that the casual fan hasn’t heard of. How
much do you think your life will change once you
breakthrough and win one of the televised events?
Andy: Fame has it's cost, and I often think I'm
fortunate that I'm not yet so famous that I have
people chase me into bathrooms for autographs.
Overall, I haven't had much luck in the final
3 tables of a tournament in over 2 years. One
day, I will break my current 6-time losing streak
when all-in in the final 27 players in WPT tournaments
and then I may finally win one. Maybe I'll quit
PL: Are you blown away by the sudden popularity
Andy: I used to say that if TV could make golf
and bowling watchable, then poker was a no-brainer
if someone really tried. I thought that the WPT
might have grown faster than it did, but poker
on TV is still growing and may end up being as
big as football, baseball, or basketball.
PL: How does your online strategy vary from live
Andy: Obviously, you don't have the same tells
on-line as you do live, so you have to rely mostly
on betting patterns and history. I play on-line
mostly for fun. Although I try to win, I don't
try to crush my opponents. I spend a lot of times
answering questions and chatting rather than observing
players and taking notes.
PL: What do you like to do for fun when you’re
away from the tables?
Andy: When I'm not playing poker I like to spend
time with friends and family. I also spend a lot
of time on my computer, writing emails, web surfing,
PL: What do you enjoy most and least about the
professional poker lifestyle?
Andy: Travel and the flexible lifestyle, both
most and least. Travel can be fun, but there's
often too much of it, and the lifestyle is too
Obligatory PokerLizard Question: If you were
Matt Damon in “Rounders” how long
would it have taken you to kick your girlfriend
to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
Andy: I would have finished law school, kept
my girlfriend, and still played the World Series
of Poker. Basically, I did just that.
Congratulations on your success and Thanks for
If you would like to play poker with Andy or
any of the Full Tilt Pro's just look for the Red
Highlited Tables in the game listings. Also, if
you would like to see what Andy has been up to
or ask him a question, please check out his website
To get a 100% signup bonus with Full Tilt Poker,
Enter the Bonus Code: "PokerLizard"
in the Bonus Code Field (not the Player Referral
You can play and learn from Andy at Full
Tilt Poker. You can get Andy's new Blackjack
DVD at Expert
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