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Harrington on Hold'em in 2015: "It’s at a Stalling Point Again"
He’s the author of one of the most famous books ever written on Texas Hold’em.
Six of them, in fact.
A son of Ireland who's come back to trace his family roots over the past few years, Dan Harrington is as pure of a poker educator as there's ever been.
WSOP Main Event Champion in 1995 and author of the iconic Harrington on Hold'em book series, few have given out more sage pokerly advice, directly or indirectly, than Harrington.
Known for his particularly unflappable demeanor at the table, PokerListings caught up with the Holdem genius to see just how true that is and just, exactly, how far he is from home.
PokerListings: Apparently, this is not your first visit to Ireland and the Irish Open. Tell us what brings you here.
Dan Harrington: Both my parents were born in Ireland. My mother is from Waterford and my father is from the Cork area.
Several years ago I was invited to come here and since then I’ve kept coming back.
I enjoy being here a lot. PaddyPower runs a very nice tournament here, it’s a lot of fun to play in it.
After busting I took time off to take the chance and walk around Dublin, because I like the city very much.
PL: You have seen the old times and the modern times of poker. How do you experience the changes and development?
DH: Let me put it this way. I dropped out of poker in 1996 to do formal business. I stayed away until 2003, when it exploded on TV.
I watched them playing No Limit Hold’em and I thought, 'hey, I remember how to play this game, and these guys know it, too,' so I came back from retirement and managed to have a couple more successful years.
I managed to get a book out on the game that managed to do well in sales and that, to me, epitomizes the change the game went through.
The game went dead in the 90s, it was revived by internet and television in 2003, and now it’s at a stalling point again.
Maybe if we find a form of regulation in the States that could kick the game back up.
PL: Why would you retire from poker after your biggest success? You won the main event in 1995.
DH: I wanted to do something with the money I had won and I wanted to invest it outside of poker. I started a company with some partners.
It’s been doing quite well; in fact, it’s merging with some other Wall Street companies. We do bridge financing and real estate deals.
The money opportunities in the mid-90s were diminishing in poker. In 2003, 2004, they were getting better again, so I came back.
PL: Even before you started playing poker, you were involved with chess and backgammon.
DH: Yes, chess was my first love. I played a lot when I was in college.
Then I went away from that and started playing backgammon. I stayed with it for a couple of years and managed to win a major tournament.
I dropped out of that and took up poker in a serious way, was successful again and then dropped out of that, too.
I never went back into chess because you have to improve all the time to keep up with the best.
PL: They say you are insensitive to tilt.
DH: I’d say I have less of a tilt factor compared to other people but I’m not insensitive.
Actually, the older I get, the more difficult it becomes to control yourself. The reason is that I don’t have the same desire anymore.
I’ve won so much that I find it harder and harder to control myself. It just doesn’t mean enough to me to do it anymore.
These sports players that are successful year after year after year, I don’t know how they do it.
Once you’re successful at something, it makes you lazy and content and it’s difficult to overcome that. Personally, I couldn’t overcome it.
PL: Can you remember a situation where somebody put you on tilt?
DH: I remember situations deep in tournaments where I would bust because of a bad beat in a situation where I was a 4-1 favorite.
That could have put me on tilt, but then it couldn’t, fortunately, because I was knocked out.
Now the situation here today, where Donnacha was involved and his opponent had no more decision to make, that could have made me very mad.
I mean, the guy flops the absolute nuts and then waits for three minutes before he turns his hand over.
Maybe he thought he was off-suit, and I’m sure if he’s asked about it, that’s what he’s going to say.
PL: Is there ever going to be a Harrington on Hold’em 4?
DH: No. It’s done. I was involved in six poker books that sold very well.
The seventh didn’t because poker’s been declining, and I don’t see the market anymore.
The sales show very well how poker’s declined over so many countries.
To change this, we need the regulatory bodies to allow online poker again.