I've been getting more into reddit recently and friends of mine recommended I do an AMA. I started playing poker a decade ago just thinking that I could earn a set of poker chips from an online poker site and lose less than they would cost me at a store. I never looked back and earlier this year crossed 10 million in earnings.

Outside of poker I'm fairly into fitness, nutrition, rock climbing, board games, card games, video games and just about any form of mental competition.

I'm unsponsored and as a result will attempt to answer any questions as best I can without worrying too much about professional reputation. I'll answer all questions I can and specifically say if there is anything I'd rather not discuss. I don't really want to answer questions like "rank the following players" as I play with many on a day to day basis and presumably many will read this thread. As it will inevitably get asked I'll say Ivey is the best and I wish I knew how, Negreanu is very good, and if you are a casual poker fan anyone else you're asking about probably sucks.

This is also the best penmanship I've exhibited since I once had 7 figures in debts written on a hotel laundry sheet


Edit: Just realized I accidentally posted it in the wrong forum

Edit 2: I have a dentist appointment from 2:50-3:50, I'll answer everything once I'm back at 4:05ish

Edit 3: I'm back now

Edit 4: Going to take a break to stream video games at http://www.twitch.tv/mike1109/

Edit 5: Thanks reddit so much for all the responses. I'm gonna get some sleep now, but may check back tomorrow in case I've missed anything

Comments: 425 • Responses: 94  • Date: 

ggezggez33 karma

Is poker dying in your opinion?

MikeMcDonald8933 karma

I believe yes but slowly. I think each year there will be slightly less recreational players and slightly more professionals. I think if we used "how much money the 1000th best player in the world makes" I'd guess this has been slowly decreasing since about 2008

stmack7 karma

Curious to hear an answer for this as well. If yes, would the US being allowed to play online again help revitalize it?

Also what do you think of Daily Fantasy sites being legal in the States while poker isn't?

MikeMcDonald8910 karma

It seems like a dumb rule. But then again everything in the US gambling tax laws seems ridiculous

teddyyyr7430 karma

But seriously, do you think Prismata will catch on and become a global phenomenon? Do you think other poker players would enjoy it?

MikeMcDonald8924 karma

Many other poker players are playing Prismata daily. I think its the best game I've ever played and hope it grows to be huge

KlemsGerkelon2 karma

How much Prismata have you actually played?

Has anything changed since Prismata hit the front page of reddit and became the #1 post of all time on /r/bestof?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

Way too much :S. I started playing in January of 2013 while I was visiting Boston to teach a guest lecture at Will Ma's poker class at MIT. Will and Elyot introduced me to the game and I stayed up all night playing it. (Actually, that story ended up becoming the hook they used in their Kickstarter video.)

I played Prismata so much over those two days in Boston and I was completely hooked. When I flew back home, I used to bug Will and Elyot all the time to play games but they were often busy, so I started teaching my friends to play so that I could have more potential opponents.

This year alone, I've probably played close to 1,000 hours. I hate to think about the opportunity cost if I was as motivated for playing poker- it's probably cost me mid 6-figures in time-value.

Now that Prismata's blowing up, I feel like it's about to get a whole lot worse. A month ago, the servers were only online a few nights a week because of a lack of players. Since Prismata blew up on reddit, there are players online 24/7 and I can literally find a match whenever I want. It's really dangerous, I feel like I'm going to be wasting thousands of hours of 2015 on this.

That said, I'm really happy about it and the difference reddit has made to Prismata has been monumental!

mcemmcd18 karma

Do you ever wish you were Bruce Lee's daughter?

MikeMcDonald8913 karma

I'm the worst brother ever for not getting this reference. Sorry Em

mcemmcd5 karma

when I posted this Shannon Lee was one rank above you :P

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Ahh- ya Will pointed that out to me shortly after responding. I was sure it was going to be a song lyric- or setting up a punch line

420maymayman42015 karma

Do you plan on owning a farm when you're old?

MikeMcDonald8921 karma

This joke never gets old

therealterrorist15 karma

What's your favorite video game?

MikeMcDonald8922 karma

I've been playing Prismata like 40 hours a week. I'm biased since my friends made it, but I'm over the top addicted

jedi9ooo15 karma

Is it true you picked up a girl at a bus stop in your lambo on a cold ontario evening? If so, you sir are a gentleman

MikeMcDonald8919 karma

I don't think so. I've picked girls up but never at a bus stop

fmtraichu14 karma

Hello Mike, have you ever been approached to throw a game or participate in any match fixing?

MikeMcDonald8914 karma

Nah I don't think so. I'll think about this one but I'm 95% sure I haven't

jstrydor8 karma

It kinda seems like this should be one of those things you should be able to remember just sayin'

MikeMcDonald8918 karma

It was common practice years ago for online tournament leaderboard grinders to make deals that involved them winning tournaments, I'd consider that throwing a game but if it happened it was so inconsequential that I could have forgotten

abhisheq14 karma


MikeMcDonald8923 karma

1) A little bit- I think I overvalued money a lot as a kid. I used to walk 20 minutes every day to pay $0.25 less for worse pizza at lunch when I was making like $40/hour online, so I think poker made me much much less of a life nit 2) As mentioned in the OP, earlier this year after my big scores in Australia I owed over 2million to my investors and all my debts were written in pencil on a hotel laundry sheet. I have a lot less degen stories than a lot of other poker players, but still some pretty degen ones. I'll post more as I think of them

abhisheq6 karma


MikeMcDonald8914 karma

Ridiclously chilled out. The guy who basically backs half of the nosebleed community for super high rollers is about my age and the friendliest guy imaginable

-Strider7 karma

Obviously you're probably not going to tell us who that is, but could you tell us anything about him (as generally as you want, if need be) i.e. what he does to be that rolled, nationality, etc?

MikeMcDonald8914 karma

German. He's probably only worth a few million but operates a fund for about a dozen similar wealthy germans- all high stakes cash players who usually can't be bothered to play tournamentd

nnth6 karma

What % do you typically sell for 10k, 50k and 100k tournaments?

MikeMcDonald8910 karma

Generally over 30k

RubeTrollberg12 karma

1) On a scale of MadDog to Tony Cunst, how cunty are you?

2) Has Prat gotten cuntier since you took him under your wing?

3) What's the weirdest request you've ever gotten from a fanboy? I'm just going to go ahead and assume you don't have fangirls.

4) You said at some point that Lunarch is the only company you've invested in. What is the weirdest investment opportunity someone has approached you with? The second-best opportunity? How did you turn the first down and why did you turn the second down?

5) Any tips for cleaning a piss stain off of my Lamborghini?

6) How hard did you work at poker away from the tables two years ago? Five years ago? How hard do you work now? Do you feel like you will hit a point in your learning curve, if you haven't already, where the diminishing returns on studying will be so marginal that you will put it in cruise control? Or do you think the game is still evolving too much and super high rollers are tough enough that you need to constantly be pushing ahead to keep an edge?

7) FMK: Xuan, Liv, Sofia Lovgren

8) FMK: Scott Seiver, Mike Watson, Prat

9) FMK: Pokerstars, Full Tilt, 888

10) In five years, what do you think the highest-earning Prismata grinder will be making per year?

11) Rank the following in terms of a) heroism b) skill c) who would win in a fight to the death:






Gettin Daize

Rojo Rulez

MikeMcDonald8918 karma

1) 4

2) Inevitably

3) I recently checked my other inbox and a guy from Ireland invited me to come visit him for some gay sex. After he saw the read receipt he sent a big long apology explaining how he's not a gold digger, he likes my personality and explained how he ran his family business as proof he isn't a gold digger.

4) I'll come back to this one. I get asked for shit so often. At this point when someone I used to be friends with asks me if I want to get coffee I preface it by saying "just as an fyi I don't go into business with friends" since so often they want to invest my money, sell my house or steal my kidneys.

5) A1 car cleaners in waterloo did the job well

6) 2 years ago very hard- I was very fresh after a year off and worked quite hard 2-3 years ago. 5 years ago not so much- hence "retiring". I think stakes are high enough that small edges add up to a lot, but especially against bad opponents I feel the marginal benefits of study are often limited.

7) F: I'd probably F Sofia, but I don't know her so I'll be political and say F Xuan, M Liv, K Sofia

8) F: Scott Seiver- I'd likely need to see him the least, K: mad dog, M: Prat- I think Prat would be one of the most straight-marriable people I know. With a prenub I'd probably marry Prat for <1mill

9) Enough of these

10) 250k

11) Too many questions

shimmmy1911 karma

Hey Mike (Gives Stare ---.---),

If we were ever to visit Restaurant du Timex, what would be the 3 dishes on the menu, and the drink of choice to go with it?


MikeMcDonald899 karma

I've realized between the time, financial and health costs associated with nice restaurants I just don't like them very much.

Probably Nando's chicken, mixed veggies, water to drink, greek yogurt with protein powder for dessert

Alficor111 karma

  1. How would you react if I told you mid-staredown that it gives me an erection?
  2. Do you think any of the oldschool live pros like Esfandiari or dnegs could beat low/mid stakes online?

MikeMcDonald8912 karma

1) It happens somewhat often. I've stared down enough people that I've pretty much seen it all. I think I probably laughed the first time someone said they had an erection but am now usually able to stay stone faced 2) Ya I think so, especially with practice

Lyfaem11 karma

How does your typical day look like? Do you play any poker nowdays?

MikeMcDonald8915 karma

When at live tournaments I basically play poker 40-60hours a week and fill all my remaining time with lifting and rock climbing.

At home I am similarly busy during SCOOP/WCOOP but other than that I just play ~12 hours every Sunday and then throughout the week I do much of the same, spend a lot of the time with my friends/family/girlfriend, I'm over the top addicted to this video game Prismata that my friends built and basically replace poker time with Prismata time when I'm home

iluri11 karma


MikeMcDonald8911 karma

A little bit but not extensively

umbrella0767711 karma

Hey Mike! You are one of my favorite poker players. I have several questions for you.

When you were 18 and the famous clip when you call Jamie Gold with JJ and he sucks out on you, you Say that "live players suck" how much money had you won online then? (English is not my first language)

Do you always try to find a staker when you play? Why not/why?

The most sick thing you have seen live? (In a tourny).

What is your goal in poker? Money I guess but maybe win a special tourny or something?

MikeMcDonald8916 karma

About 1.5million(plenty of that from backing, about 700k from my own play, 800k from backing).

Nah, in general its best not to be staked.

In Germany I was playing a tournament when I heard arguing outside and shouting. Someone at my table said "they have machine guns and have planted bombs in the building". Immediately all ~500 people in the room started running for the 1 exit where the gunmen weren't. Tables got flipped, people got trampled, it was the most scared I've been in my life.

I've never really had poker goals. There is just so much short term luck that I think most poker goal setting is somewhat naive

Hollow_Man_10 karma

Be honest, there was that one degen in the ~500 people that was trying to grab his chips or get a quick count before he ran out lol.

Can you expand on that story a little more though? Where was it? Who were the people? Did you get refunded? How was it handled? That seems entirely nuts.

MikeMcDonald8920 karma

Here is a video


Berlin Germany in 2010. They took ~300k from a safe and money was insured. They caught the bad guys much later, never recovered the money and the guy who planned the whole thing played in the tournament

Hollow_Man_9 karma

Holy shit that is crazy. Thanks for linking that video. I'm surprised I never heard about this. How did they finish the rest of the tournament if tables were flipped and chip counts and stuff couldn't be verified?

MikeMcDonald898 karma

They canceled most tournaments except main event where they made the final 3 tables play it out(completely ridiculous) and the high roller which had just begun. I was in the high roller and so amped up from adrenaline and started crashing an hour or two later and could barely stay awake at the table. I'm not sure what is the best solution- maybe their solution to play them out was best but it certainly didn't seem great

andrewchen0110 karma

What is the scummiest thing you've been a victim of a) at the poker table (e.g. angleshots)? b) off the table (e.g. scams)?

MikeMcDonald8912 karma

a) lots of varying degrees of collusion but nothing sticks out too much. I'll come back to this if I remember anything. I guess one satellite where one table all agreed to pass the blinds around so none could bust was pretty unethical. Generally poker tournaments are reasonably well run so there aren't too many big scams

b) off the table- probably being on the epic poker league ethics committee. I'm not used to having people lie to my face and found each meeting to be emotionally draining as I felt I was just being lied to non-stop

thatfrenchkid9610 karma

Do you think you have the skills to be the best prismata player?

You're currently ranked at 5th, do you see yourself moving up higher on the ladder?

MikeMcDonald8915 karma

3 of the people above me are the same guy. I think I'm quite solidly the 3rd person but the top 2 are much better(and the next few aren't much worse)

alwaysherocall9 karma

Will we ever see you as a guest on a Jason Somerville RUNITUP stream?Having you two discuss NLHE MTT strategy on a stream would be fantastic!

MikeMcDonald8919 karma

Probably not

Jamee9998 karma

Favorite 2p2 posters of all-time?

MikeMcDonald897 karma

Not sure- for how much time I've spent on 2+2 I should have more favorites. I guess just all the good HSNL posters before everyone stopped talking good strategy in HSNL

386essex8 karma

What's your best "Oh my freaking God - I can't believe I won that hand" story?

MikeMcDonald8918 karma

Here's a "lost that hand story". Last week I lost out of the Macau High Roller to Anatoly Filatov where I 3bet him BBvSB, he shoved Q54r, I called, the board ran our K4 and he won with 73 over my 63

mchristo3 karma

what is your thought process on the flop call; either that you are pot committed on the flop or have enough equity?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

I just have good equity. I think his game plan for SBvBB with 18BB is suboptimal and he 1) won't walk me enough 2) won't raise induce light enough so I opted to 3bet fold ridiculously small with all hands I felt I couldn't call his minraise with

lucky02258 karma

Interesting story!

What got you into poker? Did you start out using real money? If not, what made you switch and when?

MikeMcDonald8918 karma

I played for play money at the very beginning but I quickly moved to playing for very small stakes online. I think poker is effectively only a good game when you can win or lose "something" whether it be money, prestige, points on a ladder etc. I think just playing play money online where people can reload at will has little value

spujara78 karma

What was your most memorable hand? Also, what's the most you've ever won/lost in a day?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Probably winning an EPT when I was 18( poor video quality, but here is the first link I found) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ab4TuRdI74

Most I've lost ~110k. Most I've won, 1.25million (I have 3 scores for 1.4-1.7m, but 2 of them I had smallish %s of myself due to the buyins being so large, and the other I had 95%)

Ableyoungthug8 karma

Most you've ever spent on an escort?

MikeMcDonald8966 karma

Never slept with an escort. I'm not morally opposed to it, and I think at some point in my life I fairly likely will.

The most I would spend is at least 15k.

When I was 17, I was a millionaire and a virgin and I love the show heroes. Hayden Penteiere was the hottest girl in the world to me. I was bored at my parents cottage reading people magazine and they asked her "what is your dream" and she said "to spend a night in this underwater hotel in fiji which costs 15k a night". And I remember non-nonchalantly thinking "that can be arranged".

MintcherryBerry7 karma

What are your thoughts about Amaya and the direction of Pokerstars?

Which upcoming tournaments are you planning on stopping by?

MikeMcDonald8919 karma

I'm quite disappointed by it. I think thats just how monopolies work though. If I were in their shoes and spent 5billion dollars, I would be trying to maximize profits too

MichaelJosem5 karma

Do you think that future growth of online poker is likely to come from shaving rake levels smaller and smaller, or do you think that the future growth of online poker is likely to come from exposing the game to new audiences (which probably requires more cost)?

MikeMcDonald896 karma

I'm not sure. I think the future of casinos exists without gamblers making a living in their establishments and think with the direction poker stars is headed the same may be true about poker. I don't think I deserve a beatable game

two_off7 karma

Which board games have you been playing recently?

MikeMcDonald8911 karma

I've been playing a decent amount of power grid and dominion. Lately I've been over the top addicted this game Prismata that some of my friends made and generally been playing that more than any board games

two_off3 karma

Being a poker player, have you tried The Resistance or Battlestar Galactica? I'd both love and hate having to play those ones with someone like you.

MikeMcDonald899 karma

Ya the resistance is a perfect board game for poker players. I've also play a lot of coup which I actually prefer(but I've spend 100s of hours on the resistance). I've never played Battlestar Galactica but I've heard good things

Boesjkb7 karma

1) Did you have it and how long did your "bad" and depressed period in poker life lasted?

MikeMcDonald8912 karma

I was actually reasonably bummed out about poker when I was 18-19. I had focused almost exclusively on poker from ages 15-19, stopped playing sports, lost touch with many of my friends, never had a girlfriend, never went out on weekends. I pretty much just let poker consume me and while I was having some of my best learning/playing of my career it wasn't making me happy. After that I tried to make a more conscious effort to do the things I enjoy the most and to allow poker to facilitate me the freedom to do that rather than letting it consume my life

jstrydor6 karma

Without going into too much detail can you please explain to me how I can easily become rich by gambling?

MikeMcDonald896 karma

Daily fantasy sports

edwig3 karma

I know you did quite a bit of backing in poker and that you know some of the bigger DFS guys, do you think backing in DFS is viable?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

I think so especially as its higher variance than poker so no one really has the bankroll for it. I'd like to see a marketplace form for DFS

myimportantthoughts6 karma

1) How have you developed your poker game in the past, and what (if anything) are you doing at the moment to improve?

2) Have you had any 'Aha!' moments where you had a leap forward in understanding or suddenly start seeing at poker in a new light?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

MikeMcDonald8910 karma

1) Right now I'm somewhat going through a period of low motivation so at the moment I'm doing nothing to improve. This isn't usually the case but I would say I'm no better at poker than I was a month ago 2) "Yes" that question is tough to answer while rapid-fire answering these but I'll attempt to later today

JustChippinYa6 karma

Do you ever poker in the asshole?


MikeMcDonald8922 karma

I said I'd answer everything. Nope never had anal sex

Alficor16 karma

If you were a girl for a day, what would you do?

MikeMcDonald896 karma

Play with my tits most of the day, masturbate a lot, have sex. I could probably do all this in an hour or two and then be happy to go back to being a guy

ThyLastPenguin5 karma

Something I've always wanted to know - how deep do you get "mathematically" into a hand? Are you good enough to calculate odds of almost every draw in an accurate fraction and comparing it to payout of the pot? Or do you have slightly less of an accurate idea and play more based off of past experiences with similar situations?

MikeMcDonald899 karma

I rarely get that deep into the math. I can generally approximate odds very closely and then beyond that other information in the hand is usually more relevant than knowing if its 33.5% or 34%

BrushGoodDar5 karma

What percentage would say being able to "read someone" is important for poker skill?

MikeMcDonald898 karma

Reasonably important. I think not being readable is more important, and I think just through experience you will get good at reading people. I've always been an introverted nerd who is oblivious to social queues so when I started playing poker I was clueless at the live aspect but now I can just about always predict how people feel, when people are hiding something, why someone chose particular wording etc. I think I am less of a natural than just about anyone but with thousands or tens of thousands of hours practice anyone can learn to read people

SlimShadyLover5 karma

Hey Mike!

I'm a huge fan and I'm a student at the University of Waterloo studying Actuarial Science! Any chances you'll swing by the campus and I can come say Hi? <3

MikeMcDonald899 karma

Probably not, but I'll say hi here!

Alficor15 karma

Do Canadians apologize when they get it in ahead and lose the hand?

MikeMcDonald8913 karma


donpeters5 karma

Is poker your only source of income, or do you have businesses or investments outside of the game?

MikeMcDonald896 karma

I have a bunch of real estate, I've invested in startups and then in bonds/stocks(in that order). I imagine over time as I put less effort into poker I'll put more effort into investing

okayracer5 karma


MikeMcDonald8912 karma

Plenty of them do yes. I think that there is a strong correlation between liking gambling and chasing big scores in live MTTs and as a result the majority of the high stakes community doesn't exercise advisable bankroll management

okayracer2 karma


MikeMcDonald896 karma

I'm just ridiculously pessimistic which I think helps. If I ran bad at tournaments in the first year or two I probably would have just played online cash

Cadam115 karma

If you were to start over with no knowledge of poker how would you go about studying the game?

MikeMcDonald8912 karma

Probably just consult my friends who are some of the best in the world and relearn quickly. If that isn't an option I'd just get on 2+2 and get a runitonce account and absorb everything I could

jjquadjj6 karma

I hear that a lot, 2+2 forum as a great resource, but it's a mammoth of a resource. By its sheer size alone, it can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Esp to the average joe or avg beginner. Any links for a low stake player who is starting out MTT to check out?

MikeMcDonald894 karma

Not really, I'd read the FAQs and any threads with high post/view counts. Getting a membership at runitonce is a more efficient use of your time but not free

PlejzPLO5 karma

Is Mustafa Kanit the most huggable person that plays high rollers or is there a darkhorse?

also, do you have a personal chef for your poker playing, must seem hard to eat on sundays

what MU do you think you could sell for one drop for within a month, even though i know you wouldnt you cause of taxes

edit3: Do you agree that darren elias is severely underrated

MikeMcDonald898 karma

Haha good question, I'm one of the least touchey-feely people in the world so I typically keep better tabs of "who to stay away from" than who to hug. For whatever reason a lot of the high stakes community is fairly touchy feely but Mustafa has never struck me as someone who doesn't respect my personal space.

Nah no chef, I just eat a big breakfast and then cook up a few meals worth of meat/veggies, and have greek yogurt for a snack most sundays.

Maybe 0.75? As a Canadian 30% taxes make it unplayable

Maybe to the public. The high stakes community all views him as good

stu199215 karma

Hey Mike, What single moment in your life had you the most tilted, and also which moment was the happiest you have felt? (Doesn't have to be poker related)

MikeMcDonald8920 karma

A year ago I went to make a smoothie. After 45 minutes of trying to figure it out I realized my smoothie maker was broken. My room mate had recently purchase a food processor and hadn't told me it is broken but he had told me it was difficult to use. I tried running it- it didn't work. I read over the instructions, it didn't work. I read start to finish, line to line the instructions and it didn't work. I was so mad after maybe 2-2.5 hours of trying to make a smoothie that I could barely even speak.

Happiest was probably going skydiving. The adrenaline rush from that was absolutely unbelievable

Cwlrs5 karma

  1. Do you think paying for coaching is a worthwhile investment or is learning from experience a good method if you're intuitive enough? Then discussing hands with friends etc.

  2. How many hours online do you play for each hour playing live? Which gives the greatest hourly, and how by how much? (don't have to say actual $/hour but if live is 2x the online hourly or something then that would be good to know).

  3. Which games are the least solved right now which have action at all stake levels? (Just watched the Nosebleed documentary which was very interesting, so I heard about 2-7 and other mixed games which Alexonmoon seems to be crushing at)

  4. What was the best moment of your poker career? Winning your first live title / biggest online cash / waking up one day knowing you can do almost anything you want?

Thanks for doing the AMA

MikeMcDonald897 karma

1) Ya coaching is great. Its important to find the rich level of coach and to make the most of your sessions though(ie don't get someone over-qualified) 2) I think its maybe 1.5-1 for me. I think much higher hourly live for me since the stakes are so much higher, maybe average hourly of 4x as high with an average buyin of 50x as high 3) I'm not very informed on this unfortunately 4) Weirdly the best moment of my career was when my best friend Will Ma won the Grand Prix de Paris and I had 67% of him. There was no stress, I had taught him most of what he knows and was really proud of him, it was a massive fluke for him to even end up in the tournament and he had never played live poker before so expectations were so low. This is kinda disheartening but each big win I've had of my own feels more like a relief than an exciting event

RyanFee5 karma


MikeMcDonald896 karma

  1. I remember when I was a kid wrestling 3-4 of my younger cousins and while I obviously wasn't going all out it was fucking difficult

alwaysherocall5 karma

Are most of the big backers out there poker players who have hit big scores that take on horses? Or are there a lot of backers who are simply wealthy people investing in Poker players.

Are great backing deals still common, or do most High Stakes MTT regs just sell and swap a ton of action to limit variance?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

A little bit of both. I think most have some poker involvement. Nah I think most backers have done quite poorly and as a result there are less major backers than there were a few years ago(also there is something to be said that if you've been playing the game 5-10 years and need a backer- you likely are doing things wrong so the best players get unbacked and the worst players stay backed)

stefandigs4 karma

How much of poker do you think is really skill, versus pure luck; assuming your opponents arn't complete idiots what do you think sets a great player apart from an average poker player?

MikeMcDonald897 karma

Poker is both very high skill and very high luck

shimmmy194 karma

One more if I can, do you know any poker player that could match the drinking rate, of your new Shark Cage friend .. Mike Tindall ?

MikeMcDonald894 karma

I don't think so. He was absurd

kezhfalcon4 karma

Greatest poker mind you've talked hands with? And which guy's thought process sorta blew you away when u discussed hands a little?

Always interested in all the different styles of play, and for live tourneys there seems like a big mix :)

MikeMcDonald897 karma

I might say Andrew Lichtenberger for this one. There are a few players who I think play better- but Andrew would be my best answer to this question. Most US regs who didn't really relocate after Black Friday have fallen way behind the curve but Andrew just manages to always stay ahead of the game even if logging way less hours than anyone else

Mr_Katanga4 karma

Hi Mike, Thanks for doing this IAmA. I wanted to ask about numbers - how are you outside of poker with odds and math etc? Do you have one of those crazy robot minds that could work out odds in seconds if I threw a bunch of numbers at you or is your math based on the game? Did you learn from the game or did you always have an aptitude? thanks!

MikeMcDonald896 karma

I'm very good at mental math. Before poker math contests were probably the thing I was best at. I'm less sharp now than before poker(likely just since I do less math) but I'm still quite quick

SisterRayVU3 karma

Is durrr busto? :(

Do you think poker alters your view on how you live, existentially? For example, do you ever consider how you contribute to society, minimize/increase suffering in the world, etc.? Or is it pure hedonism? I know Robl used to post about this stuff and Coleman seems to talk about it too, so I wonder how recurring of a feeling it is and how you contend with it.

Do live players still suck?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

No idea- this answer may vary month to month.

I don't really worry too much about not contributing but as I age this could very well change.

Most of the shitty live players have gone broke and now most of the "good live players" graduated from online poker. But the live live players mostly still do suck yes

Wishmaster903 karma

What's your all-time low? The moment you really thought, this game is not for me and I need to stop playing. If you actually had this moment.

MikeMcDonald893 karma

I once "retired" from poker a few years ago


prof_leopold_stotch3 karma

What's your favorite card game that's not traditionally gambling related, and why is it Uno?

MikeMcDonald8910 karma


PERCEPT1v34 karma

You play online or live? I was pretty big into online dominion a couple years ago but kind of lost interest unfortunately.

MikeMcDonald899 karma

I played online on Isotropic. I decided I wanted to be the world's best dominion player but thankfully Isotropic got taken down a few weeks later and I was able to not spend every waking hour on dominion(I didn't get that good- maybe 100th on the site or something)

workaccountoftoday3 karma

Upvote for the best card game out there. Everything else is far too luck based. Especially your job.

MikeMcDonald897 karma

Google Prismata. Thank me later

cartere3 karma

Do you everything feel sick of the grind and the sleaziness that goes with poker? Do you ever feel like cashing out and starting a legit business and perhaps settling down with a girl/family?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Not really

Hollow_Man_3 karma

What amount of money would you be willing to pay to avoid being forced to listen to Phil Hellmuth berate you for 24 straight hours after your underpair rivered a set to beat his aces?

MikeMcDonald8915 karma

Maybe $4,000. My number for hypotheticals like this are always very low just since I don't think this would be that bad, and perhaps at some point in my life I'll regret not having $4,000 more yet I waste days of my life quite regularly

-Strider3 karma

  • What percentage do you think Martin Jacobson had?

  • What percentage are most of the pro's playing the HR and SHR have of themselves?

  • Worst 24hr downswing?

  • Biggest 24hr upswing?

  • What sports betting do you do?

Thanks for doing this AMA

MikeMcDonald895 karma

I know what %- not gonna say this since its about him not me. It depends, somewhere between 5-100? 110k 1.25m One of my best friends does DFS for a living and you need like a 5 million bankroll to play their $27 tournament so I often buy pieces of him in that. I don't enjoy watching sports so I don't bet on games otherwise

thenbetletsgoicall3 karma

what's the hardest you've ever been owned in a live tournament?

MikeMcDonald897 karma

PCA ~3 years ago. I've never played with Curt Kohlberg, but seeing as he is old I assume he just overvalues hands and doesn't trust young people like most old people in PCA.

I raise HJ-1, he calls BB, fairly shallow to begin with, maybe ~60BB deep late day 1.

Flop: AQJr, check, I bet, he checkraises I call.

Turn: 6 putting out a flush draw, he checks I bet he calls

River: 4, he checks, I shove for maybe 3/4 of pot he just instantly says "I don't see myself being good here" and instantly folds JJ face up.

Even if I never bluff, never shove AJ, I have 10 combos QQ,AA,KTs and 9 combos AQ ( I had KTs)

notluvtheWNBA3 karma

Hey Mike, really enjoying the AMA. Id love to know more about the Bank of Timex. A lot of poker professionals liked the idea, but it was closed within days of opening. Could you give a little insight into what made you start it? And what were the main factors behind closing it?


MikeMcDonald895 karma

I think the market was inefficient and people were overconfident since forces could drive the market up but not down.

I closed it because its technically bookmaking

donpeters3 karma

What's your opinion on the current stake of the poker industry? Do you believe it's good in its current state, or does it need work?

And if you believe it needs work, what would be the biggest one or two changes you'd like to see implemented?

MikeMcDonald898 karma

I think it needs work but all I do is play cards. If I knew how to make the poker world better, I'd probably be making billions rather than posting on reddit

jefferey13133 karma

You're just joking in your title right? You don't really think you've been successful for 10 years and it's due to luck?

MikeMcDonald894 karma

I wasn't sure how to title this thread. If I had a cool accomplishment I'd have made it that but most other things I've done are like "4th place in xyz"

BePB3 karma

What you think about Dominik Pańka? Is he good player? Or just run good at the begining of the Year? You know more polish poker players?

MikeMcDonald897 karma

I think he played very well. I don't generally chop many tournaments but was willing to chop with him despite having a lot more experience. I have played with a few but not many

aprilof233 karma

Hey Mike, do you feel that poker skills can degrade over time or is there always something new to learn with the game?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Ya, I think that while its still fundamentally the same game, the meta changes over time and staying on top of that is very important

tkousc23 karma

Where did the idea to icy stare down opponents come from? Do you think it has contributed to your success? Enjoyed watching you over the years as I am a poker on tv junkie.

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Mostly I just try to focus as much as possible at the table. I didn't really realize how mean it looks until I saw it on TV

JonnyTic3 karma

How on earth did you get so good at poker at such a young age to be able to win an EPT?

MikeMcDonald897 karma

I had a lot of smart friends. Steve Paul-Ambrose and Mike Watson helped a lot

thealphamale1232 karma

What is the largest amount of money you won?

MikeMcDonald893 karma


willz12082 karma

Hey Mike, I took this picture of you at EPT Barcelona and naturally want you to have it. http://imgur.com/mgoSSKU

Just look at that stare!

My question, are you going to EPT Malta next year?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

Thanks, its rare my eyes are open in a picture- good job! Probably not but possibly

bahamutmaster2 karma

What is one piece of advice (gameplay related) would you give to someone who wants to start playing poker?

MikeMcDonald894 karma

Play tight and aggressive

krajacic2 karma

Are you missing something in your life? Are you enjoying it? Thanks! Wish luck!

MikeMcDonald895 karma

Hmm I guess I'm somewhat missing "what do to next". I find its much easier to be passionate about things when working towards things and the moment my motivation can be low when I don't really know what to do next

Plobbles2 karma

Can you think of any particular "a-ha" moments or big leaps you made from a poker theory point of view?

Any times where something clicked and made you feel a lot better about your game ?

MikeMcDonald895 karma

I thought about this answer a lot at my dentist appointment and there have been many "aha" moments but its so tough to pick one. I guess most epiphanies relate to the fundamental theorem of poker that basically you profit off of others mistakes, you profit off of their mistakes and the standard play isn't always right

OnyxKnight2 karma

One of my favorite players! I love your death stare man, its brutal!

What type of board games do you play? Ever watch Tabletop with Wil Wheaton?

MikeMcDonald892 karma

Ya I like that show- regularly watch it when learning new games

CliffSpab2 karma

As a result of black Friday, are Americans falling behind the rest of the world in terms of skill level?

MikeMcDonald894 karma

Absolutely. 3.5 years ago most of the top 100 players in the world were American, now I'd say very few are(and those who are have almost all relocated)

wiiv2 karma

Have you set aside enough money to assure your future? Investments, small businesses, etc...

MikeMcDonald893 karma


bunchstein2 karma

Where is your favourite place to play poker in Canada?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

Playground by a landslide

oneanddone_bitches2 karma

What do you think of this Dan Bilzeran guy?

MikeMcDonald892 karma

I don't know him personally, I know his AMA on this poker forum I post on was pretty cool years ago

guaraniman2 karma

Are you going to play Alpha8 St. Kitts?

MikeMcDonald892 karma


MrDoradus2 karma

How often do you work out? You seem quite fit on the shows. :)

MikeMcDonald892 karma

Thanks. I generally rock climb 3 days a week and lift 3 days a week. If I'm somewhere without a climbing gym I lift 4 days a week

jjquadjj2 karma

Coming out of the lurkers exclusive closet! Big fan, envious of the financial freedom that you have but also to say,"the time I spent on something, well, I'm one of the best at it" That to ask, so, why so many pros from uWaterloo?? It's because of the good cad food right. Really enjoyed your MIT presentation posted and way you explained your thoughts, will you be doing anything similar..and viewable in the near future?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

I don't think so- the guy who ran the poker class dropped out to start a company so I'm not involved with it anymore. Glad you enjoyed it!

derfsnave1 karma

do you share colmans feeling of deep sadness when you win a tournament? seems a strange reaction?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

Nah I don't, but I would guess I feel less happy when winning a tournament than 99% of people would expect. I really enjoy it, but I'd say the top 5-10 moments of my life weren't winning poker tournaments

KoningKorky1 karma

What percentage do you have in your highrollers?

The 100's you cashed big, and the 250k?

Would you percentage change after those tournaments or do you own consistent %'s?

MikeMcDonald893 karma

I keep a pretty low %, usually around 20