A Chat with Greg Raymer, Part 1

Raymer is no longer playing at this year's WSOP, having busted out of the Main Event yesterday. Luckily for the rest of us, the former champ is still hanging out at the PokerStars Champions Lounge in his ambassadorial role with the online room and occasionally stopping to chat with stray members of the media about his 2008 WSOP, the way people view him at the table and the joys of mixed games.

How would you characterize your overall WSOP experience this year?

It really couldn't have gone any worse this year, at least in terms of at the poker table. I mean, I only cashed once and it wasn't for that much money - probably 5% of my buy-ins.

I mean, I'm thankful I wasn't hit by a car or any of the other horrible things that can happen. There's been much worse things that have happened to millions of people all over the world in the last five weeks. So in that sense I don't want to be seen as complaining too much - I'm still making a living as a professional poker player.

But just in terms of the results at the table, it couldn't have been any worse.

 

Greg Raymer
 
2008 was a rough WSOP for the former champ.

You're a pretty analytical guy. Can you take any solace in the statistical insignificance of one run of 25 tournaments?

Not really. I mean, intellectually I can, but I can't emotionally. I'm still unhappy and still displeased with how things went. But I'll be over it.

What I told a friend last night when I was in a really bad mood is that in the next tournament I play I want to be the biggest LAG-tard idiot possible. I'm like, "If people are going to do that and bad beat me, I'm going to try to bad beat them."

He said, "Don't do that!" And I said that probably the next thing I play in will be something I'm freerolled into where it won't directly cost me any money to be stupid for a game and just act like an idiot and see what happens.

I probably won't do it. I'll have cooled off by then. But that was certainly my thought process last night.

I've heard you talk before about the "gunning for the pros" factor and what that's like to play against. Did you run into that yesterday in the Main Event?

A little bit. If I raised pre-flop, I tended to get callers much more often than the other players at my table. So it wasn't that anyone did anything ridiculous, trying to hit against me. But my ability to steal blinds or small pots [was diminished].

We would have situations where five or six people would take a flop. One in particular, the flop was 9-8-3 with the 9-8 of spades - I had limped under the gun with 7-6, so I bet that flop into the field and the small blind called my with Q-3.

It's kind of like, I could be bluffing or could be on a draw - which I was - but I bet into five people. So even if I am on the draw, I'm still a favorite. And if I'm not on the draw then I've got you drawing to five outs or less. So why are you bothering with this? If anyone else had made that bet he wouldn't have called.

I'm getting the money in as a small favorite, but it's funny that even though people aren't gunning for me per se, it engenders a lot of suspicion when I bet. So the good news is if I'm hitting hands, I do tend to get paid off a lot more than other people. But if I'm not hitting hands ...

 

Has it changed your style at all, having to adjust for people's reaction to you in particular?

To be honest, my style of tournament play before I won [the Main Event] was very much the ability to sense weakness and steal small pots. I was always very good at knowing when I could make a bet and get somebody to fold when they had a marginal hand I could pressure them off of.

The problem I run into is that I still have that sense that a guy has a marginal hand, but he won't let it go. It actually hurts my confidence a little bit. I know the guy has a hand he ought to fold, but now I [wonder if I] have to take into account the fact that it's me and [therefore] he won't fold. It's a lot harder to figure the opponent out. Because I feel like I know where they're at, but then I'm like, "But on the other hand ..." So it does make it more difficult.

Even though I've done a lot of adjusting for this particular issue, it still seems overall like it's been more negative than positive. When I go on a rush of cards - for instance, when I went broke [yesterday] I was down to like $8,000 or $9,000 in chips at the start of that hand. I literally could have gotten up to $60,000 in 20 minutes with the right rush of cards. And that wouldn't have required my opponents to get great hands that were second-best to me - it would just require them to have half-decent hands that were second-best to me.

If someone makes a big lay-down to me these days, it's just really unexpected.

 

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Be sure to check in tomorrow for the conclusion of my conversation with Raymer, where we talk about the variety of this year's WSOP schedule and the non-Hold'em games he enjoys the most.

Related Article: A Chat with Greg Raymer, Part 2

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