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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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This Casper isn't so friendly at the poker tables

11 April 2007

One of the up-and-coming poker professionals who calls Chicago home is Joel Casper, whose biggest victory to date came with his championship in the Heartland Poker Tour stop at the Majestic Star Casinos in Gary, Indiana, last October.

Casper, 27, originally from the Cincinnati area, attended Washington University of St. Louis and worked for more than two years as a financial planner in Downtown Chicago before he turned pro in April of 2005.

The Thrifty Gambler recently had an opportunity to chat with him about his career and what life as a professional poker player is like.

Thrifty Gambler: Did you play poker while you were attending college?

Joel Casper: I never played too much in college. The only time I really played was on summer and spring breaks with my buddies from Cincinnati. We'd go in the basement, turn on a ball game and sit around and play poker for a few hours.

TG: Then how did you get started?

JC: Playing with the guys after work. I began to think: "Hey, I'm not too bad at this thing". After I played a couple games on line I realized I could do this for a living and I really haven't looked back since.

TG: How often do you travel?

JC: I try to travel around once a month or once every couple of months to play in some bigger games. It's a good refresher to go to Las Vegas for a few days or a week to play.

TG: How did the Internet gambling legislation affect you?

JC: A lot of people decided at that point they were going to just stop doing it. The worst part about it for people that play a lot is that it got rid of a lot of the amateurs and leisure players, the weaker players we call donators. It was easier money to win.

TG: How much time do you spend playing?

JC: On a light week I'll play 30 hours, during a busy week I might play 60 or 70 hours. It depends on a lot of things, like if I have friends in town. In the summertime, when the weather's nice, I try to get out a lot more.

TG: Are you starting to be recognized?

JC: I think there are a lot of people around that recognize me. They may not know my name and where I'm from, but I've been to enough tournaments in Las Vegas and other cities that they recognize me and know me as a decent player. Not one of the biggest names, but a guy who knows what he's doing and who's not going to give his money away. It gives me an advantage to have that respect, but at the same time it can hurt because they may not want to play with you. That's an issue the top pros play with. When they're in a tournament, a lot of people are afraid to get in pots with them because they fear a top player may be able to pick up a "tell" on them.

TG: What is the key to playing winning poker?

JC: Obviously there's a lot of luck. Anyone can win over the course of a day or a week. There's no way to be a long-term winner if you're not doing something right. A lot of it is math, and I have a very good math background. I'm able to calculate pot odds and drawing odds and I can identify players' stacks pretty well and make moves accordingly. People not able to do the math make mathematical errors. You have to figure out who those players are and how you can take advantage of them.

The interview continues next week.

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