Our interviews continue, with some great insight from a long-time writer and player, Lou Krieger. You might have read some of his works, (Poker for Dummies, Hold’em Excellence), or caught some of his excellent CardPlayer articles on poker. He’s a true industry icon, and also host of Royal Vegas Poker.
PokerLizard: How did you get started playing poker?
Lou: I began playing poker when I was a kid, seven or eight years old. My dad had a home game around the kitchen table one night a week, and I badgered my mom to let me stay up and watch. I was enthralled by the game, the lingo, and felt like an adult. I was always good at games, so I learned poker at an early age.
PokerLizard:What made you decide to write your first poker book, Hold’em Excellence – From Beginner to Winner? Were you afraid of giving away the secrets that were making you money at the tables?
Lou: I began writing the book in 1995, after I had been a Card Player Columnist for three years. It seemed like a good way to solidify my ideas and organize my thoughts about poker. I was not at all afraid of giving away my ideas, because I felt that I’d be able to stay one or two jumps ahead of the readers under any circumstances, and I realized that not everyone reads books or studies the game seriously. I guess my hope was for people to buy my books in large quantities and never read them.
PokerLizard: Did you ever consider yourself a pro player, or always a writer who does very well in the casino games?
Lou: I never earned more than half of my income from playing poker. Now with the poker boom on, that percentage has shrunk quite a lot. I’m playing only a bit less poker, but my book sales have really taken off, and the money I win at the tables is about the same as always — approximately one big bet per hour.
PokerLizard: Being a well-known poker writer, I’m sure you were approached by several cardrooms for your endorsement, what were the deciding factors in your choice of Royal Vegas?
Lou: I turned down other positions with other leading Internet cardrooms. Royal Vegas structured my role so that it is predicated on what would be a half-time job, and not full-time employment. That allows plenty of time for me to write and to play poker. I was also very impressed with Royal Vegas Poker’s top management and their commitment to poker and to building a leading site.
PokerLizard: What is your role with Royal Vegas?
Lou: I’m a host with Royal Vegas Poker. At least that’s my job title. But it’s more than that. They use my image to brand the site, and they market around my image. I also play in a weekly “experts” tournament, where players can knock me out (or any of our other experts, such as Max Shapiro, Bob Ciaffone, Rose Richie, Barbara Enright, Mike Cappelletti, and Matt Lessinger) and win bounty money, books, and T-shirts. I provide a lot of the “poker players” input to the design and upgrading of the site, the game offerings, and that sort of thing, and Royal Vegas Poker also uses some of my writings to promote the site.
PokerLizard: What is the College Poker Championship? What is its structure?
Lou: The CPC is exactly what it sounds like. There is never a fee to enroll or play and students are eligible to win money to fund their education as well as earn money for traditional charities of their choice or campus based not-for-profit organizations. The tournament runs for just over six months, with 25 qualifying rounds played every Sunday at 4 PM EST through Sunday, February 13, 2005.
The top 10 percent of players qualify for the Satellite Event, which will be played Sunday, February 20, 2005 at 4 PM EST. That event offers $5,000 in scholarship awards and the top 20 percent the Satellite Event players secure a place in the Online Final.
The Online Final is set for Sunday, February 27, 2005 at 4 PM EST. Players who place 10th to 80th will share in $5,500 of scholarship awards, while players who place 1st to 9th each win:
A seat at The 2nd Annual College Poker Championship Land Based Grand Final.
An all expense paid trip for two to Cancun, where The 2nd Annual College Poker Championship Land Based Grand Final will be held.
V.I.P tickets to an exotic spring break party hosted by collegepokerchampionship.com.
The Land Based Grand Final will be held Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 4 PM EST, in Cancun. It will determine $84,500 in scholarship awards, with the winner taking home $40,000. As an added feature in the Land Based Grand Final, charitable donations amounting to $10,000 will be made to any charity or organization designated by the winners.
Additional information can be found at www.collegepokerchampionship.com.
PokerLizard: If I were brand new to poker and wanted to buy just one of your books, which one would you recommend?
Lou: If you knew nothing about poker, I’d suggest Poker For Dummies. If you wanted to learn Texas hold’em exclusively, I would recommend Hold’em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner, and if you wanted to play online, I’d suggest, Internet Poker: How to Play and Beat Online Poker Games.
PokerLizard: How about if I was already a successful low-limit player and wanted to move up to the higher limits?
Lou: Hold’em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner, and MORE Hold’em Excellence: A Winner For Life. I’d also recommend any of Bob Ciaffone’s books too.
PokerLizard: I have a folder of poker articles that I’ve printed out over the years and about half of them are from your Card Player Magazine column “On Strategy”. How do you keep coming up with fresh columns each month?
Lou: There’s no mystery to this. Writing is a job, and at least twice a month I sit down at my computer and start typing. Sometimes I’m inspired, and the column seems to write itself, but most of the time I just begin typing and somehow the words just flow out my fingertips.
PokerLizard: Are there any plans to resurrect your six-part “A Beginner’s Course in Texas Hold’em” on Card Player?
Lou: Good question and I’ve no idea about whether they have any plans to rerun that or not. I suppose you’d be better off asking them than me.
PokerLizard: You seem to prefer the Limit game to No-Limit. Is this the case? And if so, what do you attribute this preference?
Lou: I prefer limit poker for day-to-day play. But for tournaments, I much prefer no-limit. I also enjoy playing Omaha/8 and 7-stud/8 too, but there’s not much of that around outside of the Los Angeles area, and now that I live in Palm Springs, some 110 miles away, it’s tough to find those games.
PokerLizard: Other than your books, of course, which books did you read that sent you on the path to becoming a winning player?
Lou: I read Sklansky’s hold’em book way back when it first came out. That was so long ago that I think it sold for $2.95 or $3.95, or some miniscule amount. I read Super System too.
PokerLizard: Do you recommend any software programs to help new players?
Lou: Wilson Software’s Turbo series get my endorsement. They are incredibly useful tools for any player looking to sharpen up his or her game, and they are incredibly good and precise research tools to test any number of poker scenarios. Because you can insert player profiles into your research that play like the guys in your usual game, you can get results that are more realistic (because players fold and raise). This is much different from a cold simulation, where all players stay until hand’s end and all you are really testing is the inherent strength or power rating of a given hand, and not how well it plays in situations that replicate your game and your opponents.
PokerLizard: Are you stunned by the growth in Poker over the last few years?
Lou: Stunned, and pleasantly surprised.
PokerLizard: Do you think “TV Poker” is creating a group of very loose aggressive players? If so, should I start thinking about a bigger bankroll due to larger variance swings?
Lou: I think many new players are learning the wrong way to play poker by watching it on TV. After all, TV shows only a selected number of hands, usually in a short-handed, no-limit final table situation, where the blinds are high in relation to most players’ chip counts, and that makes for very different play than a fixed limit game you usually find in most casinos. The strategies that work for one milieu are not right for all settings, and players who don’t know that are in for rude awakenings.
PokerLizard: You seem to play in the more “fun” events, cruises/BARGE etc versus the bigger money tournaments, why is that? Are you just partial to the cash games?
Lou: I don’t like the tournament circuit because I don’t enjoy constant travel, living in hotels, and it’s just not the lifestyle I want for myself. I like cash games, poker online, and some tournaments. Tournament play as a lifestyle has a very high variance associated with it, and as a result, many top players seem to take turns being broke, being staked, and staking others when they are flush. That’s not a comfortable way for me to live. Cash games have very little variance compared to tournaments. In fact, since I’ve begun keeping records, I’ve never had a losing year, and have not had more than three losing months in any one year. Additionally, sticking around home and not traveling all the time leaves me the time I need to write.
PokerLizard: What future books are you writing and what will they cover?
Lou: A new book, entitled, “The Poker Player’s Bible” will be on the market in November, just in time for the Christmas season. It will be published by Barron’s in the United States. The “Bible” series — there’s already a Chess Player’s Bible too, and plans afoot for others in that series — are all richly illustrated books designed to take a novice from the beginning concepts of poker to a point where they can play reasonably well.
I also plan to continue my relationship with Royal Vegas Poker, and would like to start another book (I haven’t decided what it will cover) sometime this year.
PokerLizard: Thanks for your time Lou!
If you liked this interview please consider making a small donation, all proceeds will go toward my children’s college fund, Thanks.