The 2006 third place finisher in the
USPC has a message to those looking to turn pro:
manage your bankroll and don't get stuck on one
game. Michael DeMichele, the quickly-rising poker
star, also cashed in two events at this year's
WSOP - neither were in NL Holdem. But what may
really surprise you is his take on the online
game...is there life outside of multi-tabling?
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PokerLizard: You started playing
poker at age 18, and your first $10K event at
21. How did you build a bankroll to get you there?
Mostly online, or was it live play?
DeMichele: I built my bankroll
through live play. When I first started out, I
built up a small roll from 1/2nl and moved to
20/40 limit holdem at Turningstone Casino. They
really didn't have any games higher than this
and so for me to continue to move up I had to
move to the internet realm. I started off 8tabling
3/6 limit holdem and eventually progressed to
15/30 and 30/60 where I continued to build up
a decent sized bankroll. I then moved to Foxwoods
and thought I would play live play casually as
I didn't think I'd be able to make a competitive
hourly rate to what I was making online. Instead,
I found that my hourly rate in their nl games
after a year was quite huge, and I eventually
started to learn omaha8b and stud8b as I wanted
to progress to their 75/150OE games as 10/25nl
was now much smaller than what I wanted to play.
I've also found that it's very important to diversify
yourself in different games, because you don't
want to become a dinosaur. Stud used to be the
only game people played, but now the stud players
are dying out. The same thing is starting to happen
to limit holdem players and it may even end up
with nl players. There are alot more great nl
players than there used to be and even the fish
From here, I started to run hot in 200/400 HOE
rotations in AC and my roll exploded to a large
amount. I bought in cold to the USPC and got lucky
to place 3rd.
PokerLizard: How many hours do
you play per week? How many online tables/tourneys
do you play at a time? Does playing multi tables
help or hurt your game?
DeMichele: I generally only
play about 100 hours a month. I get burnt out
fast. I also exclusively play live and there's
alot of prep time of having to wait on waiting
lists and drive to casinos, etc, that if I counted
would really boost my number of hours invested.
I don't play online anymore. When I found that
I could make nearly as much money playing live,
if not more, I converted. I cannot stand sitting
in front of a computer 8tabling, and never have.
It's not a healthy lifestyle for me. I feel like
a robot. Besides, I have lost so much touch with
the online environment. Things are very different
than live play. I'm not accustomed to multitabling
anymore. I can't do 8. It's not quite like riding
a bike. Also, the players are much tougher than
they used to be and the games are much tighter.
Also, the best nlh players are much better than
me. I cannot compete at their level. They are
also much more experienced with the software required
to beat online games, which really gives them
a huge edge. I am a much more rounded player,
as I'm good at many forms of games. That gives
me a good edge in mixed rotations, but online
you have to be a specialist to remain competitive.
I've never gotten into multitabling online tournaments.
I get so bored playing them that I want to quit.
PokerLizard: You're from NY –
do you frequent the "underground" rooms
DeMichele: I've been to a couple
of the old rooms that have since gone down. I'm
not exactly from NY though. I grew up in upstate
NY and moved to CT. I have not been fortunate
enough to be invited to the great underground
card games where the action is nosebleed and insane.
PokerLizard: You classify yourself
as a crazy, aggressive player, which puts you
smack in the middle of what everyone now knows
as the "young guns" group of up-and-coming
poker players. What sets you apart from every
other 20-something year old phenom?
DeMichele: I'm a very good live
player. I have alot of experience at a poker table
for someone my age, starting from the age of 18.
I can sometimes look at a guy and know what he
has. That gives me a large edge over internet
players. Internet players are going to be more
fundamentally advanced then me, which gives them
a large edge, but the environment between online
play and live play is very, very different. It
can be very difficult to perform well under a
very different context of play. Aside from that,
I am very good at stereotyping players. For instance,
old players are liable to be tight and young players
are liable to be aggressive. Reading someone based
on betting patterns can only take you so far.
You sometimes have to know what they're thinking
based on many other factors that internet players
are not experienced with. Many internet players
think that tells are overrated, but truthfully,
it's one of my strong points.
PokerLizard: Did you read any
poker books to get you started on the game? What
about continuous learning…are you picking it all
up from other players and experience?
DeMichele: I've read alot of
books. I'm probably approaching 20. I've read
all the staples that don't need mentioning, aside
from the ones released in the passed couple years,
but I've also read alot of books that teach you
how to play horse variations, as becoming a well-rounded
player is my goal. When you're a live player,
being able to switch from game to game is very
important. When a whale comes in to some random
game, you want to be good at it. Truthfully though,
I have 11,000 posts at 2+2,
the majority of which are from posting in the
lhe forums. 2+
2 trained me to be able to problem solve and
use the logic necessary to solve complex poker
problems. Reading books can only get you so far,
because they are all on a very simplistic level.
PokerLizard: You often listen
to music while playing, does the style of music
ever affect your play?
DeMichele: I like to listen
to music when I play tournaments. I'll crank up
some good rock that I like to get my adrenaline
pumping. Trying to get myself into a zone really
helps my game. It makes me stay focused at the
table. I do listen to music alot when I play,
but its mostly to get through the boredom of sitting
at a card table.
PokerLizard: What are your poker
goals? What do you hope to achieve through poker
DeMichele: I would like to continue
making as much money in cash games as I am now,
if not more. I really need to learn how to play
badugi and triple draw well, as the mixed games
on the west coast always have those 2 games in
rotations. I want to be a consistent player at
400/800BOT. I would also really like to get a
sponsorship deal with a poker site. The money
would be great of course, but getting signed actually
means you became a somebody, which would accomplish
one of my goals. Being a somebody in this poker
world was always something somewhat important
to me. Fame in the poker world would be great
as well. I've had a share of fame from the USPC,
as I'm sometimes even recognized on the street,
but it's really just superficial. Aside from getting
a contract, if the fame doesn't add to the quality
of my life than it doesn't do me much good. I
will say though, when you tell people that you're
a professional poker player they often think you're
a broke college dropout. When you say you've been
on tv and they show reruns every week, it adds
all the credibility in the world to what you do.
PokerLizard: Any complaints
about this year's WSOP? What changes would you
DeMichele: Oh it's awful. Harrahs
blows. I really hope someone comes along and steals
their monopoly. You'll have to read my blog
to hear my thoughts on what they've done wrong,
I'm drained. Basically though, it's everything.
PokerLizard: You've had two
cashes in this years WSOP already; do you have
any plans for when you get that first bracelet?
Demichele: Busting out of tournaments
is just so heart-breaking. Everyone leaves a scar.
I've been chipleader going down towards the end
several times the past year, and have finished
poorly every time. I don't feel that I've choked
at all. The cards just haven't been in my favor.
I feel that I play much better when the pressure
is on. I get into a zone and my mindset is that
I refuse to lose, and I refuse to make a mistake.
When the pressure isn't on I'll often zone off
and not pay attention. I don't know if I'll ever
win a bracelet. I'm gonna keep trying though.
This year I had 1/8th of the chips with 24 players
left in a stud8 tournament, and finished 12th.
That was quite depressing.
PokerLizard: You made a big
splash with your 3rd place finish at this year's
USPC, what was it like seeing yourself on TV?
Was it tough playing with the cameras in your
face? How did you deal with the stress of making
a major final table (I get wired playing $100
tourney's I can't imagine sleeping the night before
a major final)?
DeMichele: When I used to play
10k events, I couldn't sleep the night before.
My mind would race too much. Fortunately, I somehow
slept well during the USPC. Now though, I'm so
used to playing 10k events that I don't even get
anxious at all. When I first made a tv table at
the USPC I was very nervous for the first 5 minutes.
I soon got over it though and played my game.
Eating during the USPC was very difficult. I lost
my appetite for 5 days and had to force myself
to eat food. Even now when I play tournaments
I generally can't eat. The adrenaline kills your
appetite. I found that during those 5 days of
the USPC, the burden of feeling that I CANNOT
lose, that I CANNOT make a mistake was very overwhelming
and draining. Watching myself on TV was very,
very weird at first, but I got over that as well.
Having people come up to me every single day at
Foxwoods for months wanting to shake my hand was
just so freaking weird. I do wish I showed more
personality on TV however. Next time I make a
TV table I'm going to try and show more charisma.
PokerLizard: Which are tougher,
live or online players? Why?
DeMichele: Online players for
sure. They are more fundamentally advanced and
they are much more dedicated to the game than
PokerLizard: Unlike a lot of
online pro's you seem to be playing more than
just Hold'em; do you consider yourself a more
well rounded player? Which games do you like the
DeMichele: I wouldn't consider
myself to be an online pro. I'm really just a
live player. It may seem that I'm an online player,
but that's because I'm young and so well rooted
in the 2p2 community. My favorite game is probably
stud8, then probably limit omaha8. I just find
them much more entertaining than holdem. I think
its because the scenarios of the game are so dynamic.
There are many more combinations of things that
can happen in omaha because you have more cards
and the split pot factor causes more complex scenarios.
I get so bored playing any variantion of poker
these days other than O or E. They are just so
PokerLizard: What does your
family think about your career choice?
DeMichele: At first they thought
I was out of my mind. As time grew on and the
money rolled in they think it's great. My father
plays poker and I think he lives vicariously through
me. It's also a great thing we have in common.
We talk a good amount of poker and he's always
eager to hear how I'm doing and listen to whatever
crazy hand or game I played. My extended family
on my father's side thinks what I do is awesome.
They love poker as well and loved watching me
PokerLizard: What do you think
makes you a successful poker player?
DeMichele: I'm passionate about
what I do. I accumulated all those posts on 2p2
because I truly loved analyzing hands until my
brain ran dry. I've also always been very good
at games in general. I was the kid growing up
that beat everybody in everything. I'm not that
smart, but my competitive spirit and motivation
to improve forces me to do so. My only downfall
is that I've never been great at anything. There
is always someone who is better than me. I think
this mostly has to do with the fact that I'm not
brilliant and I just don't have it in me to be
as dedicated at something as some people do. Aside
from that, I also have a very good head on my
shoulder. Alot of players are degenerates and
end up blowing up their bankrolls. I'm not that
type of person. I'm very calculated. I will admit
that I can often be egotistical, which is not
something I'm proud of, but I don't let my ego
put me in losing situations. My ego however is
alot less big than it used to be, which in some
ways is a very bad thing. When someone is egotistical
it's because they want to be so good at whatever
spawns their ego that they cannot stand being
wrong, and cannot stand anyone knowing something
they don't. It's the people who can still be openminded
and learn despite their egos that go on to be
great at things, and it's the people who are closeminded
that never amount to anything. I may have had
a rather big ego in the past, but I would sit
down and absorb everything you had to say about
poker for hours.
PokerLizard: Any advice for someone
thinking of turning pro?
DeMichele: For me, turning pro
was a rather easy decision. I didn't have to make
many sacrifices to do it. I moved into an apartment
without a lease and gave it a shot. I didn't really
have anything good in my life that I was giving
up at the time. You have to be careful if you
have to make sacrifices. The most important thing
I can tell you however, is that if you decide
to turn pro, you need to truly be passionate about
the game. It's no longer a hobby. It's your life.
You have to love poker so much that you want to
sit up all night and talk about it. Also please,
practice good bankroll management. Use common
sense and don't be a degenerate just because your
friends are and you cave to peer pressure.
PokerLizard: What do you enjoy
about the tournament circuit?
DeMichele: I love the variation
in scenery. Staying in one place too long is hard
for me. I get bored. If I liked my life outside
of poker enough then maybe I would hate travelling,
but for the longest time poker was my life. I
have a girlfriend now though so I might not want
to do that much travelling. Having something meaningful
in my life outside of poker will probably keep
me grounded. I don't like flying however. Sitting
in planes and terminals is just brutal.
PokerLizard: If you were Matt
Damon's character in the movie Rounders…How long
would it take for you to get with Famke Jansen
after your prudish girlfriend had dumped you?
What was Mike McDermott thinking?
DeMichele: See, Mike's a fucking
idiot. You can't hold that against him though.
He doesn't know any better. His girlfriend had
him severely whipped. Sex with a prude can't be
that good anyway. Drop that hoe and chomp into
that kobe beef.
You can find Michael Posting at TwoPlusTwo.com
or blogging on Cardrunners.com
under the name TStoneMDB.
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