PROfile – David Peters; Asked & Answered – Keeping Focus; The Coin flip



david peters


Poker Player PROfile: David Peters Wins Millions Under The Radar

26-Year-Old Pro Has Quietly Won $4 million In Live Events

by Erik Fast
David Peters is like a ninja: quietly killing. The 26-year-old Toledo, Ohio native has amassed nearly $4 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, with various tracking sites listing his online winnings in the millions as well. But Peters has yet to win a World Series of Poker gold bracelet or an EPT or WPT main event, and as a result he has managed to fly under the radar of the casual fan. But amongst his peers he is highly respected and widely feared.

CardPlayer caught up with Peters as he prepared to take his seat in the first open event of the 2014 WSOP, the $25,000 no-limit hold’em mix-max, to learn more about his background in the game, his plans for the summer and more.

Erik Fast: Among the upper echelon of tournament poker players there are some superstar “name” players and there are also plenty of what I’d call “pro’s pros.” I’d place you into that category, because despite plenty of big live results over several years on the circuit, you still are somehow flying a bit under the radar given your track record. What do you attribute that to?

David Peters: I’m not the most outspoken guy ever. I keep to myself a bit and have never tried to get airtime when the cameras are around. That’s just how I’ve been.

EF: Is that something you actively tried to cultivate or is that just your natural way of being?

DP: Yeah, that’s just kind of how I am. I have a quite demeanor. When I am playing I am really focused, and as a result I don’t talk all that much.

EF: You’ve had a couple big years on the live circuit over the past half-decade, finishing inside the top 20 in the Card Player Player of the Year race twice with a high finish of 4th place in 2013. Do you think those stand out years represented a bit of variance swinging, just in terms of the good scores coming in bunches randomly, or do you also think that you played better?

DP: It’s a combination. I’m definitely always progressing and getting better and always working on my game, and I’m positive that I’m better now than I was a few years ago. But, it’s also a result of variance, which is just so crazy in tournament poker, especially in live events.

EF: 2013 in particular was a good year for you on the live circuit. How did that play out for you?

DP: Yeah that was a great year. It didn’t start out particularly well, but I had eight cashes at the World Series of Poker, a bunch of deep runs and some heartbreakers as far as just coming close and falling short. The last tournament of the summer for me in Vegas was the $10,000 main event at the Bellagio Cup, which I won. It was a very nice way to make up for the close calls throughout the Series.

EF: So, as an American with a strong online tournament background, what is your approach as a professional now? Are you mostly traveling the international live circuit? Have you gotten set up in another country to be able to play on the international online sites?

DP: I travel quite a bit, but I am set up to play online. For the most part I’ve been focusing on live.

EF: What have you done in the lead-up to the WSOP?

DP: I just got back from the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and just finished playing the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) a few days ago. I’ve been playing a lot, and am definitely focused and ready to have a good summer.

EF: The WSOP is still the centerpiece of the live tournament circuit. After having a lot of close calls last year at the Rio, are you excited to be back?

DP: I’ve got a lot of desire coming into the Series. I can’t wait to get started. I still haven’t won my first bracelet yet, so hopefully this is the year. But there is something so great about being deep in these big field tournaments with a bracelet on the line and a big first prize. It’s a nice adrenaline rush, so hopefully I can make a lot of deep runs.

EF: What is your schedule like for the summer? You’re pretty much exclusively a big-bet game guy, correct?

DP: I just play all of the no-limit hold’em events, pretty much every day. I never really got into the mixed games so I’m just going to focus on NLH.

EF: What is your background in poker? How’d you get started in the game?

DP: I started when I was 18 or so, just playing online freerolls and one day I won one for $600 and around that time I was playing home games with friends, from there it was a pretty standard story of running it up. I started out focusing on sit’n’gos, and then began to mix in tournaments and cash games, but pretty quickly I had some good results in tournaments and eventually I decided to mostly focus on them.

EF: As a tournament professional, being able to play online allowed you to play many more tournaments a week than you ever could live, which helps to lower variance. Then Black Friday dramatically changed the online landscape. What was your thought process after that went down?

DP: I was already leaning towards playing live more, and so at first I tried to just do that exclusively. Eventually I set up in Canada to be able to play more online, and get back on the grind. I still try to play quite a bit online, but definitely not as much as I used to.

EF: Now that the Series is here, is there in any event in particular, outside of the main event, that you’d like to win?

DP: I’m playing this first open event, the $25,000 mix-max, which would be a good one to win. That would be a great way to start the summer. It’s going to be a very tough field, and I really like the format. Day 1 is nine handed, then it goes down to six-max, four-max and finally heads-up. You get a nice mix of all of the strategies. I’m definitely excited for it.




Gavin Griffin: Poker Questions Asked And Answered

Griffin Explains How To Stay Focused After A Long Day Of Tournament Poker


by Gavin Griffin
People in the poker community often come up to me and ask about whatever is on their mind. Some of these questions are good questions, and some are bad beat stories in disguise. I’ve been through quite a few things in my poker career and I like to help whenever possible, and in this new Card Player series, I’d like to share my experiences and knowledge. Feel free to ask any poker-related question, and I’ll do my best to answer it in the space below.

Question: Often, at the end of a long tournament day, I find my mind slipping along with my focus and subsequently, my chips. What do you do to keep focused on the long tournament grind? — Pat

Gavin: This is a question that I get asked quite often and it comes up in several different ways. Some people tell me that they hit a wall in tournaments right after dinner break and they always seem to be low on chips at that point or they tell me that they were playing really well and made one big mistake that cost them the tournament. Others still tell me that they can feel themselves losing focus and can’t seem to snap out of it. These things can all happen because of a myriad of different problems but there can also be one common cause for many of them.

If you look at the tournament winners of today’s game you’ll notice a couple trends. First of all, many of them are very young. Poker used to be a game of experience that could only be gained through years of toil and travel. When online poker came along, the fresh minds and spritely bodies of the young took over. They could gain all the technical experience of a hardened road gambler’s life in a year or two and still retain it when their minds and bodies are at the peak of their performance. In addition, instead of having one or two other people to talk to about poker, they had hundreds or thousands from all over the world. The information became widely available so many poker players looked for other avenues to improve on their play and from this sprung the second trend in successful tournament players today, which is fitness.

Many of our winners, younger or older are in very good physical shape. Not only are there guys like Jason Koon and Scott Clements who have 8 percent body fat and tons of muscle from a brutal gym schedule, there are guys like Andrew Lichtenberger who challenges himself mentally and physically by turning to rock and mountain climbing. I, myself, have found new mental and physical challenges in mountain biking, preferring to push myself physically and mentally in ways that I haven’t in a long time.

As a result of all of this fitness in poker, people are more focused for longer periods of time and for more days in a row. When you’re talking about a tournament series or several of them in a row, the stamina gained from being in better shape and the sharpness of mind gained from pushing yourself to levels of discomfort you haven’t experienced before can do wonders for your poker game. Not only does the working out make a difference, but so too does the food you put into your body. If you spend your dinner break at a big meal at an Italian restaurant with starchy, heavy food in your belly when you get back, you’ll find that you bonk not long past the time you get back. I like to spend my dinner break eating something filling but not too heavy and then, if I have enough time, I’ll walk around the casino to get my blood flowing and stretch out after a long day of sitting.

Finally, it’s a tough one to give up, and I’m terribly guilty of it myself, but it might help to put your phone or tablet down. I know tournament poker, and really poker in general, can be incredibly boring. Day after day of a long tournament grind, often without much to show for it, can really get on your nerves and it is sometimes nice to have a show or game to get your mind off of it. However, not only will you focus better on the things going on at the table if you put the phone away, it can help to lower your fatigue factor by the end of the day. Eye fatigue caused by looking at a computer screen is a real thing and can make you more tired, throw off your focus, throw off your vision, or cause you to misread cards in your hand or on the board. Taking a break from or altogether leaving behind your devices can really do wonders for the focus you have at the table.

In conclusion, the best ways to improve focus at the poker table are the best ways to improve your focus in general. Get yourself into better shape, eat right, work out, don’t eat a heavy meal right before or during your play, and keep your devices in your pocket. You’d be surprised what you can gain by doing these things.

If you have a question for Gavin, send it to


coin flip
Poker Strategy With John Vorhaus: The So-Called Coin Flip

Vorhaus Explains That Coin Flips Aren’t Always 50-50


by John Vorhaus


Let us consider the so-called “coin flip” confrontation of overcards versus a pocket pair in no-limit hold’em. Most players and even TV commentators call, say, 8-8 versus A-K “a coin flip.” While I’m not fussy about precise numbers — a thumbnail grab is usually as useful as exact odds to many significant figures — I think it’s misleading to imply that this is a true 50/50 proposition, and that those inclined to gamble would happily take either side of the action. In fact, the pocket pair, no matter which pocket pair, is always at least a 52-to-48 percent favorite over any two overcards. While that may be in the neighborhood of a coin flip (if you define neighborhood loosely enough), it’s not a neighborhood you’ll find profitable if you’re consistently on the wrong end of the odds.

Does this mean you should always make a big move with pocket pairs, knowing that you have a measurable edge against overcards? Obviously not, since overcards aren’t the only sort of hand out there against you. There might also be overpairs, and if you run into a bigger pocket pair, you’re on the order of a 4-to-1 underdog, and facing an uphill climb.

But you do want to have in your arsenal the ability to make big bets with pocket pairs, so do these two things to minimize your exposure to overpairs. First, naturally, avoid making big moves with smaller pairs. Even pocket eights face six dominating pocket pairs; pocket deuces face twelve. The less headroom you leave in the deck, the better your chances are of getting called by the overcards you seek (or better still an underpair) and not the overpairs you fear. Second, save your big pocket pair moves for late position when there are fewer hands left to act, and therefore fewer chances of running into a dominating pair. Acting late also increases your chances of winning without a fight — never not a good thing.

If I play small pairs at all, I play them as a drawing hand, hoping to flop a set and trap other players for all their chips. Just because 4-4 is a theoretical favorite against some hypothetical A-K or A-Q, the hand doesn’t give me (or you) license to go nuts. Yet we see all kinds of players, especially those new to the game, getting terribly frisky with these hands — moving all-in under the gun with small pairs and hoping for the magical power of the “coin flip” to see them through to victory. This is hazardous in a cash game, where you can at least reload if it goes wrong. In tournaments, it’s suicide, unless you’re confident that everyone will fold — but then you’re on a pure steal, in which case it really doesn’t matter whether your cards are high or low, paired or unpaired, red, black, blue, silver, or green.

Pocket pairs, then, play best for big bets when they’re not early and not small. Otherwise, play them to hit a set, or even don’t play them at all.

Now let’s flip over to the other side of the confrontation and see how overcards perform.

One thing overcards have going for them is that they’re rarely badly dominated like pairs can be. The only time a hand like A-K is in serious trouble, for instance, is when it finds itself up against A-A or K-K, in which case the A-K figures to lose seven-to-nine times out of ten. But it’s unlikely that your opponent has one of these hands, especially since you hold an ace and a king yourself. Therefore, when you bet big with A-K, you can usually anticipate being no worse than a slight underdog against a call from a pocket pair. Against an A-x or two unpaired undercards, of course, you’re a big favorite.

This fact gives you a little room to get creative with your A-K holdings. Let’s say you’re playing in a no-limit game with $2 and $5 blinds, and three players have limped in before the action gets to you. You have $100 in your stack. (Why you’re so short-stacked — why you didn’t reload when you had the chance — is a subject for another time.) If you push all-in and get one caller, you’ll be betting $100 to win around $120. The dead-money overlay gives you proper odds in case you get called by a pocket pair from queens on down, plus extra equity from the times that no one cares to contest.

Of course, you have to know your foes. In today’s wild and wooly low buy-in no-limit games, people will make all sorts of — I don’t want to call them stupid, so let’s call them imaginative — plays, including calling big bets with improbable holdings (meaning, crap). Get two callers in this situation and you’re usually slightly worse than a 3-to-2 favorite to win. With the pot offering you a 2-to-1 return on your investment, you’re still on the right side of the odds — but you’ll nevertheless go broke two times out of five! It’s no fun to go broke, especially if the agony of defeat can put you on tilt and cause you to start hemorrhaging at the wallet.

So you have to know your foes. You have to know that your big raise is going to get either one caller or no callers (remembering that if they all fold, you don’t have to get lucky at all). Critically, you also have to know yourself: Can you make high-risk, high-reward moves, encounter adverse outcomes, and still stay on your game? If so, go ahead and play Big Slick strongly, confident that the hand is rarely in terrible shape to start. If not, goodness, go work on your tilt control! For there, coin flips notwithstanding, is where your success in poker really lies. ?

John Vorhaus is author of the Killer Poker series and co-author of Decide to Play Great Poker, plus many mystery novels including World Series of Murder, available exclusively on Kindle. He tweets for no apparent reason @TrueFactBarFact and secretly controls the world from

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