Chad Brown Interview

2006 Bluff ‘Player of the Year’. One of the happiest players now that Harrah’s added more mixed games to the WSOP. Multiple WSOP cashes, over $2 million in lifetime poker earnings, a new book on mastering the game – we can all learn something from “Downtown” Chad Brown. And believe me, we cornered…err…asked him all about it during the 2007 World Series.

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PokerLizard: You’ve been playing poker a long time. You’ve got to be amazed at the growth and explosion of poker. I mean, ten years ago they were shutting poker rooms down. I think Treasure Island replaced the poker room with a pizza oven, if I remember correctly. I mean, are you just blown away by the growth of poker and where do you think it’s headed?

Chad Brown: Well, you know, after Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, it was crystal clear how big poker was going to get, because mainstream America got to see that an average Joe, who was just playing a $40 online satellite, who didn’t have a lot of money, can actually get lucky and play poker against the world’s best poker players. And on a given day, any decent poker player can beat the best poker players in the world and have the glory.

So I think the growth that we’ve seen has come from that and is going to continue, because it’s not just Chris Moneymaker, it’s people who win any WPT events, people who are unknowns that the general public get to see, and they say, “Hey, wow, this is fun. It’s not impossible for me to achieve this dream, and it’s something that could be a hobby, that’s a fun hobby, with the upside being I could get lucky and win millions of dollars.”

PokerLizard: Not too many hobbies you can do that with. How bout that new legislation – that unlawful Internet gaming? It’s had a pretty chilling effect on the crowds here at the World Series. Do you think they’ll actually repeal the law?

Chad Brown: Well, in light of the fact that we’ve had that law and many poker sites already pulled out of the market and, in fact, the poker sites even that exist in the market are not sending satellite winners to the World Series. The people who win online have to come with their own money that they win now. In spite of that, we’re still gonna get over 6,000 players here at the World Series this year. I think that goes to prove how strong poker is still growing. It’s gonna be a smaller field than last year, but not nearly as small as a lot of people expected, because poker still has a big growing rate.

PokerLizard: There do seem to be a lot of European players here this year.

Chad Brown: Well, I played a couple of events in Europe this year. I went to Monte Carlo, I went to Ireland. Poker in Europe right now is growing just as fast as poker did in the United States 4 or 5 years ago. The events in Monte Carlo and in Ireland were sold out. The European players have all gotten on the bandwagon, and poker is gonna be just as big, if not a bigger explosion in Europe, than it already is in America.

PokerLizard: You’ve had seven cashes so far, at this World Series of Poker? Are you proud of your achievement, or are you just getting frustrated that the elusive bracelet stays just slightly out of your grasp?

Chad Brown: Well, you know, I went into this World Series with – I’m the type of person that sets goals for myself. I set a really, really high bar for myself, not to win one bracelet, but to win two bracelets. I feel I put myself into position to accomplish that. The loss to Erik Seidel, there’s really absolutely nothing I could have done. I had Erik Seidel all-in three times, where two times I was a favorite – a pretty big favorite at one time.

We were even money. And, in fact, on the fourth time when I got knocked out, which would have made me even inchips with him if I would have won, once again, I was more than a 2 to 1 favorite. I drew 1, he drew 2, and I actually made a monster in Deuce-to-seven. I made a 9/7, and he just happened to make an 8. So I’ll be honest, after getting knocked out from that and not winning the bracelet, I didn’t feel badly at all. I felt, hey, I did absolutelyeverything I possibly could have done and it just wasn’t in the cards. Vanessa Rousso

And as far as winning two bracelets, I gave myself a good chance. I made another final table in the pot limit Omaha Hi Low. I was second in chips with five players left and I was in a hand against the chip leader, who only had me covered by about 30,000, and I pushed all in on the turn. He would’ve only had 30,000 left and I would’ve been the monster chip leader with four players left and a big favorite to win that, and I was a 3 to 1 favorite when I pushed in on the turn – then he hit his flush on the river. Limit Hold’em, you know, got knocked out 11th. I just missed making a third final table. I’m really proud of what I did. I came in focused. I made the second most cashes at the World Series than any other poker player, and that was a result of me playing my A game most of the time.

PokerLizard: Yeah, and I noticed that you cashed in, technically, five different types of poker. I mean, you cashed in on Heads Up, Limit Hold’em, you cashed in Triple Draw. Would you say you’re the most rounded tournament player?

Chad’s girlfriend, poker pro Vanessa Rousso

Chad Brown: Oh, well, I mean, in the cash games I play mixed games. But I don’t play in the biggest game, which Doyle, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein plays in – the 4 and 8,000 mix. But it’s not a coincidence that you see these guys have a lot of success because they’re playing mixed games and, you know, not only do you get familiar with a lot of the mixed games, but it also, I think, enhances your creativity as a poker player. Being a good poker player is not just about the math. There’s a lot of creativity and psychology, and you really, I think, boost your creativity by playing so many different types of games than just one game.

PokerLizard: So do you think that’s what separates you from guys at your table now that are just – they don’t have the creativity, or they don’t have the expertise, or they haven’t been playing long enough?

Chad Brown: Obviously the players that have a lot of experience have played, you know, thousands of more hands and seen thousands of more situations that they can exploit. So when you see a situation that you could take advantage of, the top pros are gonna take advantage of that. It doesn’t matter what our hands are; we see weakness, we see an opportunity to take a pot down, we do it. We see an opportunity, when we have a monster, to let someone trap themselves and suck them in; we take advantage of that.

Players who have been playing for a year or so, you know, they don’t have that experience to be able to take advantage of that. And to play in the Main Event – to go all the way, you have to give yourself every possible advantage and you still need to get extremely lucky.

PokerLizard: Plus, they’re used to playing online so I’m sure they’re not quite as adept at reading people as you are.

Chad Brown: No question about it.

PokerLizard: You actually date Vanessa Russo, who’s a pro poker player. Is it strange having a relationship with another poker pro? I mean, you can’t exactly commiserate bad beats. She’ll be, like, “Oh, I got a bad beat.” “Oh, you should have seen my bad beat. Eric Seidel just one-outer’d me.”

Chad Brown: Well, I’ve been playing poker a lot longer than Vanessa and, you know, one of the things I’m well known for is not letting bad beats bother me. You know, Vanessa has just been playing professionally for a year and a half, and she’s playing extremely well, but, you know, she’s not used to taking the bad beats. What I speak to her about is when she takes the bad beats, not to take them so badly.

I used to be an actor, and there’s a good analogy between poker and acting. You’re gonna fail many more times than you’re gonna succeed. In poker tournaments I have a really high percentage of cashing – 20%, which is above the majority of top pros. Might be short term, you know, like, maybe you might balance out down to 15%. I don’t think so. I think that I have a niche that I’ve figured out, and I cash the most – 20% is the highest, I think, that is possible. But what that is, is that you’re gonna fail 80% of the time. That so many – way – many more times you’re gonna fail. And if you accept that ahead of time, going into it, when you take – obviously if you’re a good poker player and you fail 80% of the time, it’s not that you’re playing bad 80% of the time, you’re playing well, but you’re getting bad beats, so it’s part of the protocol. So if you accept that and just go with the flow, and just say, “Hey, you know what? I’m supposed to fail 80% of the time. All right, so I lost my last – I didn’t cash in my last 8 tournaments, but maybe the next two in a row, “and then it’ll balance out.

So I try to explain that to Vanessa and she’s gotten much better. She understands it, but it’s still tough when, you know, you hit a set and someone hits a runner and a straight, and they’re drawing dead to the runner, and then you get knocked out. It’s hard for a lot of players to take that, but with time you realize that the cream rises to the top, and it’s just part of the game, and you just go with the flow. As long as you have confidence in your ability and you know you’ve been playing your best poker, there’s nothing for you to be upset about.

Chad Brown

PokerLizard: So you have quite a Zen-like attitude about poker, it seems like.

Chad Brown: You have to.

PokerLizard: And do you ever wish the World Series of Poker was back the way it was when it was more like a family reunion and you’d see all your friends, you’d get to spend time with them? Now it’s just business, business, business.

Chad Brown: Well, when the World Series of Poker was like that I wasn’t a tournament player.
I really just got into playing tournaments when I realized how big it was gonna be commercially, as far as endorsements and marketing. I was a cash game player. I didn’t start playing tournaments until after Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event. So that’s when I thought, “Hey, I can see the writing on the wall, and I’d better get into playing tournament poker.” So, you know, I had to make adjustments. I first started playing tournament poker in 2003. Year after year I’ve gotten better, and better, and even better. And in 2006, being the Player of the Year really capped it off. In 2007 I’m actually off to an even better start. Maybe not in the points race for Bluff Magazine Player of the Year, once again, but just in cashes, I’m already well ahead of 2006’s cashes.

PokerLizard: Being Bluff Player of the Year is nice, but I’m sure it doesn’t pay too well, does it?

Chad Brown: No.

PokerLizard: All right, I’ve got just a couple of more questions then we’ll be done. Hopefully, you don’t have to go to the bathroom right now.

Chad Brown: I do, but –

PokerLizard: Oh –

Chad Brown: That’s all right.

PokerLizard: All right, what is it about your style that makes you such a tournament monster? I mean, is it just that Zen-like attitude and your ability to read?

Chad Brown: A key is, as any top poker player will tell you, in tournament poker – especially No Limit – more No Limit than in Limit, you’re playing your opponent, you’re not playing your hand, and you have to get that out of your way. It’s – you know, it’s – like, let’s just say hypothetically you had two queens, and two queens would make you look down and think, “Wow, that’s a really big hand,” so 90% of the time you’re gonna call or re-raise pre-flop if someone raised.

Now there’s a certain amount of players that would make a raise under the gun and you actually may lay that down to a certain number of players because you’re not playing you’re hand. You’re saying, “What range of hands will this player re-raise with?” So if someone like Dan Harrington raises under the gun, and Allen Kessler comes over the top of him, I’m almost certainly throwing away my two queens from late position. So, you know, you’re playing your opponents and I do that very well. And so do all the top players. J.C. Tran, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth – they get good reads on the weaker players and know exactly what is the best strategy to play against each individual player. Has nothing to do with your hand.

PokerLizard: And what advice would you give a young player that’s thinking about turning pro?

Chad Brown: Well, the first advice I’d give a young player or even senior citizen who’s just decided to take up a hobby is first thing you need to do is buy my book, Act To Win in Texas Hold’em Poker, which is being sold on the Bluff Magazine website right now.

PokerLizard: All right.

Chad Brown: Second thing to do is get a friend, who you know is a good poker player, and every time you play – after you read that book and you start playing sessions, keep notes and talk to your friend who’s willing to talk to you, about how you played your last session, and go over, you know, like, 10 to 20 hands that you played that, you know, may not be so black and white. Like, obviously, the aces are black and white.

Just keep a little diary of your last session, and talk to your friend, who you know is a good poker player; who knows what they’re doing, and that’s the best way to really raise the level of your game to the next level.

PokerLizard: And how’s your book differentiated from other books that have come out recently?

Chad Brown: Well, my co-author is a top German mathematician, and basically, between the both of us, he’s done some nice diagrams with math specific equations showing all the proper math in certain situations. And I’m bringing the creativity, and some of my style that’s made me successful. It’s a good combination for a winning hand.

PokerLizard: Thank you very much, Chad, and best of luck with finishing up a strong 2007!

Unfortunately Chad Passed away a few years after this interview, great guy, he will be missed.

If you liked this interview please consider making a small donation, all proceeds will go toward my children’s college fund, Thanks.

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