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Greg Raymer talks poker as 2007 World Series approaches

30 May 2007

The 38th annual World Series of Poker is fast approaching. Competition begins June 1st at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and will culminate with the final table of the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship starting on July 17.

The Thrifty Gambler caught up recently with Greg "Fossilman" Raymer, the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event champion. Greg earned his nickname for the collection of fossils he brings to the table to use as card protectors and is famous for wearing his trademark lizard-eye shades.

The Thrifty Gambler: Are there any similarities between poker and investing?

Greg Raymer: You absolutely can look at it that way. It's actually a good way to look at things when you're making some of your decisions, such as walking into a poker room and deciding what game you want to play, if any. Say a player has a bankroll to play as high as $40/$80 Limit Hold'em. He or she will walk in the room and immediately go to the $40/$80 game because they can afford it and that's what they're going to play. But sometimes what you'll easily discern if you stop and pay attention is that the $20/$40 game has a couple of players who are really weak and the $40/$80 game is all players who are at least decent. So you'd be much better off financially playing the $20/$40 game.

TG: Has the stereotype of the typical poker player changed through the years?

GR: It's hard to say. The poker world has changed so much overall. We've got a lot of young players. It seems like a very different world, but I'm not sure when these young guys grow up they're not going to be all that different from the older guys. One thing that's changed a lot is we have the no smoking policy in almost all poker rooms in the U.S. It used to be you'd see a lot of people smoking and quite a few people drinking alcohol when you were in a casino. Now you very seldom see anyone drinking alcohol, and most of those who are drinking are the kind of casual players who don't play that often or that seriously.

TG: Even as a pro, are you always working to take your game to the next level?

GR: The biggest weakness of poker players as a group is ego. Many of them think they know it all. I think that the smartest players know that there's always more to learn. There's an old saying: 'You're not getting better, you're getting worse'. You should be constantly trying to get better. When Tiger Woods changed his swing everybody thought he was crazy. Now he's even better than he was then."

TG: Is poker strategy a work in progress?

GR: Because poker involves playing against people, it's always a work in progress you might say. With a game like chess that has no luck, you're going to play differently against different opponents to take advantage of their weaknesses and counter their strengths. With poker it's a lot more. I actually call poker one of the few games that's one hundred percent re-active. Even if you're not reacting to what your opponent just did, you're reacting to how you expect them to respond. If I don't have much of a hand, but I think that you're going to fold if I raise, then that's the reason I'm raising. It's a positive expectation bet. There is no super strategy at which point you're playing perfect because the next day you'll be with different people and you have to play differently if you want to win money against a new set of opponents.

CASINO NEWS: Get in on the "Cadillac Stampede" every Friday now through June 29 at Argosy's Empress Casino & Hotel in Joliet. Swipe your NOW player's club card to activate your entries and a chance to be an instant winner of a gas card. At 10 pm each Friday one lucky winner will drive home in a 2007 Cadillac CTS.

Hollywood Casino Aurora's newest promotion is the $180,000 "Cash of the Caribbean" giveaway. Cash drawings for $27,000 will be held May 19, June 30 and July 28. On August 25 a $100,000 guaranteed grand prize will be awarded.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp