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Genius28 - The Chris Lee Interview
Although only a few people know Chris Lee, the person, you'd be hard-pressed to find a high-stakes online fan that doesn't know Genius28. He's no stranger to the biggest games on the Internet and can be found pitting himself against the likes of Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius on a regular basis.
Lee's played a few big-buy-in events so far but we'll be seeing a whole lot more of him state-side as he just turned 21, right in time for both the WPT championship and the World Series of Poker. He's here at the first EPT event in Italy and we caught up with him on one of the breaks to share a few words.
Hello Chris. For the benefit of our readers who may not know you, tell us a bit about your background in poker.
Sure. I started getting into the game seriously about four years ago when I was a senior in high school. I've pretty much been a cash game player but I do play tournaments as well. I play anything from $25/$50 to $200/$400, pretty much anything that's running. I play online on a day-to-day basis.
You're really well-known for playing some of the toughest players anywhere, and while some people really try to just play people they have a big edge over, it seems like you'll play pretty much anyone. Why do you choose to do this when there are probably more profitable games available against weaker players?
For me one of the aspects of poker I enjoy the most is heads-up because it really lets you play the player. I've always struggled playing full ring games because it's a very mechanical game. If you're following guidelines on how to play before the flop and how to play on the flop it'll carry you pretty far but that's not quite as true in heads-up.
You really have to understand the player and understand how they think. It's really like a chess game because it's so back and forth. You try to figure them out and they adjust to you and it goes back and forth. So for me I really enjoy the challenge. Playing the best players heads-up might not be the most profitable thing but it really helps you hone your game and those skills will help you in tournaments or full ring or whatever you're playing.
How much has playing the best in the world helped in the development of your game?
The thing I rely on the most in poker [is] my instincts. A lot of players rely on a more mathematical approach and I don't know a lot of the odds and the math as well as a lot of these top players but where I think I have an edge is that I've seen and I've played with all these great players so I know how they generally think and what their weaknesses are.
So when I'm playing full ring and tournaments when I'm in a pot I'm generally entering it heads-up which I think gives me a big edge post-flop. A lot of these guys are playing that pretty mechanical style so when you put them to a test they probably haven't been in that situation as much as I have. I'm used to being in those situations having spent so much time playing really good players.
I've heard it said that if you dedicate yourself more to live tournaments you're guaranteed to be a force. Is it something that you're planning on spending more time doing in the future?
I really like tournaments because it really is a whole different game. There's also the human element which is something that playing online lacks. I'm relatively inexperienced playing tournaments; this is only my sixth or seventh big-buy-in event. So I'm starting to pick up on some things now that I was missing in my first events.
Playing live tournaments is a much more passive game. There's more limping involved, you have a chance to see a lot more flops. Also there are a lot of recreational players in these events whereas when you're playing high-stakes online for the most part people know what they're doing. So live is probably an easier game but the transition can be difficult.
I'm going to try to play more tournaments for sure. I just turned 21 so I'll be playing as many WSOP events as possible this year. After this I have the EPT Grand Final and the $25,000 WPT championship so hopefully I can do some damage.
You went to Duke and ended up taking some time off to focus on poker. How does the online pro lifestyle compare to life at school and do you think you'll be going back to finish up your schooling?
I did two years at Duke and now I'm taking a year off. I definitely want to go back and finish because I've primarily been a poker player. I love playing but it really can be a one-dimensional kind of job. You're on the computer all day and you're doing the same thing. It's fun but it's also not as rewarding when that's all you're doing.
Thanks Chris and good luck.
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Our prediction is that this year's WSOP will be all about Chris Lee. You heard it here first.