If you had asked Taylor Caby in 2005 what he thought would become of his new brainchild - Cardrunners.com, an online poker video coaching site - he probably would have said nothing; that it was just a time-killer.
Fast-forward four years, and CardRunners is the No. 1 video coaching site online, sitting with over 10,000 monthly subscribers - with no decline in sight.
Its crack team of coaches has helped literally thousands of average low-stakes grinders go from playing break-even poker to crushing mid-stakes and beyond.
Detractors would say that's a decided negative for the poker community - that games have gotten measurably tougher since CardRunners and its many imitators hit the market.
But those players lamenting that fact are also, unsurprisingly, the very same ones who have benefited so much from such an incredible resource of poker coaching.
In the end, poker is a game that you get out of what you put in. The players who study and put in time to improve are always going to be the most profitable.
One-on-One with CardRunner's Taylor Caby
Ultimately, CardRunners is just a tool to make that task easier if you so choose.
I had a chance to catch up with Taylor recently - coincidentally the same day all of that work over the last few years paid off in a coveted seat on NBC's Poker After Dark (Feb. 16) - and found out a bit more about how it came to be.
Daniel Skolovy: Hey Taylor, how's it going?
Taylor Caby: Not too bad. You?
DS: Good good. OK, for those that don't know, can you tell your poker story?
TC: My story is pretty much like most of the Internet players'. I watched Rounders and Moneymaker's 2003 Main Event win and became fascinated with poker.
In 2000-2002 I started playing in high school with friends all the time and then in mid 2003 I put about $30 into Mike Schneider, David "raptor" Benefield, etc. Basically just guys I had a lot of respect for. I always wanted to surround myself with people that were as good or better than me at poker and now the business isn't really about me at all, which is what I wanted.
DS: Now and again you'll see in the forums players complain that the games have gotten tougher since CardRunners' inception. What do you say to them?
TC: I say that's a very nice compliment! But you know, people complain a lot, to me, and on forums, that we make the games too hard.
The funny thing is, I would estimate almost all of the people that complain are either members or former members themselves. So it's like, they want to whine that the games aren't like they were in 2005 but they themselves have received a ton of value from CR.
I have personally heard from hundreds, if not thousands of people, that have thanked me and I really feel like that we've made a positive impact on so many people's lives. That's what I am most proud of.
DS: You are going to be on Poker After Dark this season. What was that like?
TC: I'm going to be on PAD starting this Monday the 16th and yeah, PAD was really cool. I have to give thanks to Ezra Galston, our marketing director - he has some really good contacts and he helped get some CardRunners exposure on PAD.
David B., Cole S., and I played against Doyle, Eli and Gabe in a cash game $200/$400 No-Limit Hold'em with a min buy-in of $100,000. I can't really talk about the results but it was fun and something I definitely won't forget.
When I started playing poker I never thought I'd play poker with Doyle and although I played with him back on UB in 2004-2005 it was a whole different experience face to face.
Really, I just played my game, trying to find good spots, which was tough against a table of good players.
DS: Where do you see poker heading in the next few years and with all the coaching sites now on the market how do you plan to stay on the edge of whatever wave that is?
TC: Well, I believe the poker market isn't necessarily shrinking as much as it is changing. At least the market I operate in, being CardRunners. That's sort of been affecting some of our goals.
For example in 2003-2004 everyone wanted to play MTTs online and probably still a lot of new players to online poker want to play MTTs, but after a while these players become tired of the tournament format and start to look to cash games.
I think the same thing is happening with TV poker: I mean, you can only watch so many A-K vs. 66 all-ins.
I think it's important to sort of think about what's happening in the industry and how to position my company to best thrive in the environment in 12-24 months, not just in the present.
DS: OK Taylor. Thank you very much; I appreciate it.
TC: No problem.
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