IamA professional poker player. After nine years of grinding i finally won a couple of WSOP bracelets. George Danzer here, AMA!
Born in Brasil, grew up in Portugal and Germany. Now living in Salzburg Austria. Learned how to play texas hold'em in 1999. Played my first WSOP in 2005. I am a member of the Team Pokerstars Pro Team. I won two WCOOP bracelets, four SCOOP watches and three WSOP bracelets. I have won and lost six figures in one day on multiple occasions. I like games, alternative music, beer and wine.
I am happy to answer all questions. Especially about gambling, high stakes poker and game theory.
Proof: @trickyscarfy on twitter and @georgedanzerpoker on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/georgedanzerpoker/posts/811802712218507 https://instagram.com/p/0Nm-HDHNop/?taken-by=georgedanzer
Edit: Thank you very much for all the questions. I am off to bed but will check back to this thread from time to time. See you at the tables.
Just be yourself. I see too many players sit down, put a hoody and sunshades on pretending to be pros on a mission at the small stakes cashgame tables. The most important part is to enjoy the game. If you feel comfortable you are far more likely to win.
How do you deal with the days you lose six figures?
Not too good. I usually cry a little and then play league of legends. A glass of good wine helps.
Silver 4 i think.
Do you feel TV coverage that only shows bad beats and bluffs give the average person an unrealistic view of the game?
I think the job of poker on tv should not be to give a realistic view. It should entertain and educate. And i agree, that they are not doing the best job but it is getting better.
Why is Texas Hold-em so popular compared to all the hundreds of other versions of poker?
Personally, I like some variety in my home games, including 5 & 7 card stud.
The game is very simple and has a good combination of skill/luck and action. The all-in situations add to the excitement i think.
I like the mixed games a lot and rather play 2-7 all day.
How do you suggest someone should study to become an average player?
Read some books, watch some online videos. Then ask questions to other players and try to analyze the game.
Never tell a bad beat story.
Which books would you recommend?
Theory of Poker by Sklansky, Syper System by Brunson and Applications of NLHE by Janda.
Why never tell a bad beat story?
Because you should be telling a story of a interesting situation asking what the best line is. And not waste time on the bad beat.
Most remarkable hand in your career?
What kind of advice would you give someone who plays a bit safe when playing Hold'em? For example, I tend to be a bit timid when it comes to bluffs and such.
without giving away too much of your own gameplan of course!
There is a easy way to learn to bluff. Every two times you bet or raise on the river with a hand you think is the best hand you HAVE to bet or raise once where you think you have the worst. So 2/3 value and 1/3 bluffs.
Game theory is your friend. Do not see a bluff as stealing chips. It is a useful tool in a fun game.
I first saw you playing at the 2006 WSOP feature table with your buddy Dimitri Nobles. Have you ever seen him again afterwards?
Yes i met him a couple of years later in the hallway at the Rio. We had small talk and he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.
What I'm referring to: https://youtu.be/8qmjVfS8kME
Yeah that was a tough day. But i hold no grudge. On the poker table everybody plays as he wants to. I respect every strategy.
What was the reason for moving to Salzburg? Why not Vienna like most other German pros?
I really like the mountains. I go skiing as often as i can in the winter. Just started to paraglide and in the summer i often go hiking. Salzburg is the perfect starting point for all of those activities.
What's the total amount of prize money that you have won?
Maybe around 2.5 million.
Do you get to pocket all that or does it go back to the people who back you?
A lot was split up with people that had action. A lot went into expenses such as buy-ins and travel.
What is your tell? What are the top four most common tells?
I would not tell you my tell even if i knew ...
- Drink during hand = nuts.
- Talk during hand = nuts.
- Look down after bet = bluff.
- Stare at you after bet = bluff.
Are online tournaments anything like live ones? What playing style would you recommend for both? How in general do you play against a big stack?
This question is going to take a couple of years to answer ...
But tight aggressive is always a start. Even with a big stack.
As far as I know you are a fan of Schafkopf, too. What do you think about following move: You are in first position and don't have the Rufsau, but another one and one of the Ruffarb. You also have the blaue Ober besides 2 or 3 other Trumpf.
So, do you play a Trumpf? The Ober or an other one?
Do you still play chess?
I think you have to search for the Sau. Your partner has probably 2 or 3 Trumpf. He might be free on the color you have no Sau from, with the player having the Sau. If you play Trumpf it might spell disaster with you pulling out your partners. Playing the Sau yourself tells the partner that you usually have none of the Rufsau color. So he is going to try to call with the 10. But you have one so that would be bad, too. No choice there i think.
Chess only sporadically. When Harry Casagrande challenges me to some blitz games.
Any tips for mastering the bluff?
Just imagine you have a really good hand. Figure out what you would do with that hand. Then do it with the bad hand. But be careful to plan the bluff one or two streets ahead. That makes it easier. So on the turn you prepare to bluff always when the flush hits. Then on the river you just do it with no hesitation.
Which pro player is the most respected as the guy or gal who's the hardest out at the poker table?
There are so many good and respected players out there ...
But if i have to pick by intimidating staredown i take Ivey, Timex and Chidwick.
Hi George, thanks for doing this AMA. I use to watch poker a lot but haven't recently so this question may be a little "outdated", but what is your take on Phil Hellmuth and his ridiculous rants? Have you ever been on the receiving end?
Yes i have. Once in a big tournaments he f-bombed me consecutive times. When he overdid it i called the floor to get him a penalty. When the floor came over Gus Hansen, who was also at the table persuaded me to let it slip and tell the floor that everything was alright because Hellmuth was playing so bad, that he wanted him not to get a penalty. Now Hellmuth was really tilted ...
I bought Phil Hellmuth's book, is that the reason I never went pro?
Haha if that is the only poker book you bought ...
Hi, George, thanks for doing this!
How important are tells to your game? Are you always actively looking for and interpreting them, or is it only incidental to your play?
Very important when not playing against pros. I am always looking and if i find a tell it is worth gold. I think it is the single most important aspect of live poker.
You are probably gone by now, but when you say tells do you think of betting tells as well or just mannerisms. I usually pay very little attention to mannerisms, because I find them deceiving when playing good players, I have however found myself monitoring other players heart rate at times. But, I would say 97% of my decisions are based on standard theory and other players betting patterns. I used to beat medium stakes online poker for years, and I can comfortably be a winner at almost any game up to $3/6 Live. I will never try to make online play my profession again, but I am considering moving up and making my hobby into a profession again. But, my biggest worry has always been handling big swings. I can handle four figure swings now, but I'm not sure I could handle a five figure swings and a six figure swing is way out of reach for a long while.
So, what is my question? Do you think it is possible for a player like me to be a professional, or am I missing too much important information by not paying much attention to tells to be a winner.
You say tells are the single most important aspect of live poker, and you have me worried that I have the single most horrible leak in my game. Do you think this is true?
It might very well be true. Heart rate is one thing to detect but to get to the right conclusion after that is a long way. The most important part is to analyze why the pulse is going up. If the oponent makes a continuation bet on the flop for example but suddenly is pumping blood very fast. Why could that be? If he is an experienced player you know that he hit that flop very hard. He wouldn't have a higher heart rate on the continuation bet with a weak hand. That is just standard.
But hitting a set ist not.
An amateur might react completely different. A continuation bet with a bad hand might feel like a bluff to him. That is why his rate goes up.
Analyze the live tell in combination with psychological logic. Mike caros book of tells is a good starting point to improve on that.
One of my favorite shows was High Stakes Poker on GSN (the seasons Gabe was on anyway). Also the Cash Games on Poker After Dark (didn't care for the knockout format). Why aren't games like this still televised? What would you do to bring their popularity back to the viewing public?
I loved the shows and hope that they will find the way back onto TV. And everybody i know liked them, too. Let us start a petition to bring them back.
I you have to fight Steven Seagal in his prime and you could pick a partner out of Gus Hansen, Viktor Blom, Phil Ivey, and Jason Mercier. Who would you choose and why?
I would pick Phil Ivey.
Jason jumps really high but how is that going to help me? Have you seen the fight between Gus Hansen and Theo Jörgensen? And i have the feeling, that Viktor is over his prime.
Phil Ivey is just going to stare Steven Seagal down until he crawls away shivering. /end dream
Congrats on the bracelets for starters. Question about the WSOP. When you go, do you go out with the intention of playing as many events as possible? How do you stay focused and bounce back with such a grueling schedule?
I differs from year to year. Sometimes i fly over there for three weeks and play a balanced schedule with some breaks on red rock.
Others years i go for the full seven weeks and try to play every possible event. Then i have to find a regulard schedule. Wake up. Sport. Breakfast. Tournament. Sleep. And repeat. No Partying. No distraction.
If starting from the ground floor. How much money does one need to start playing, to become self sufficient if they are good enough?
I would save at least one year of fixed expenses before trying to go pro. And then you need a bankroll big enough for a game that you can surely beat. Which is not too much if you put the training hours in and start with micro stakes online. 10k$+1year in numbers.
What is your chess background?
I'm a chess player who played at the PokerStars chess/poker tournament last year in the Isle of Man. There's definitely a crossover of chess/poker players; many professional chess people actually fund their tournaments by playing poker, though funnily enough no poker players fund their career through chess! Would you like to see PokerStars hold more chess/poker tournaments, and would you participate in one?
I was the portuguese champion in the under 10 year category and played the 1993 World Championship in Bratislava. After that i took a two year break because i was not allowed to play the official championships anymore (german nationality). Restarted in Germany and had 2310 as my first half-ELO with 15 years. All downhill from there ...
I would play mixed tournaments with chess if they offered them during the EPT Festivals. Would be a nice change of pace.
Thanks for doing the AMA! What books or resources (if any) do you use (or used before) to help your game?
Also, what is your favorite starting hand. Thanks!!
Sklansky: Theory of Poker Brunson: Super System Janda: Applications of NLHE
Boring, but Aces.
If I invited you over to one of the monthly poker nights with the guys (all newbish players), would you be guaranteed to walk out of there by winning all of the games?
(Trying to judge luck vs skill)
Depends on the blinds, stack sizes and for how long we play. Give me enough time and a nice stack to pot ratio and i will take your homies to school.
If we play 10 hands with 10 big blinds they will take me to school.
Who are some poker players that you look up to, and study? Who would you consider the best poker player in the circuit right now?
A lot of the german players work very hard. Ole Schemion is one of them and has had the best results. He is just a beast in live tournaments. No matter the buy in.
I need a question to comment so it would be "How do you stay composed and resist the chat abuse when someone plays a hand terribly to suck out"?
Also wanted to say I believe you are one of the classiest pros on Stars and maybe, just maybe, with folk like you, online poker could be back stateside.
Thanks for the compliment.
As for the terrible play and suckout: For me there is no "bad" plays. There is theoretical unsound ways to play a hand if you want to earn money or chips in the long run. But maybe that player wants to gamble a little bit. Or maybe he just called your all in because he wanted to see your hand. And he would not sleep well if he folded. So there is a lot of reasons why players play a certain way and all of them are legitimate. I just do the same. I play my hand the way i want to play it and then the result is not so important anymore.
Sometimes i win sometimes i lose.
Would you say Hearthstone is more luck-based than Poker?
It is similar. Depends on the modus. Same as in Poker the Stacksizes compared to the blinds define the luckfactor. A Bo11 Hearthstone game is very skillbased. As is a Bo11 deepstacked Heads Up macth.
Can we see your best poker face?
What is your opinion on the Full Tilt scandal and those involved? Has it had any effect on you as a poker professional?
I was lucky to have no funds on there when it happened. But it took a dent out of the industry at that time. I think Pokerstars handled it very well and prevented it from having a bigger impact.
Do you find it harder to get games as you become more well known? If a schlub like me knows your name, I can't imagine what it's like to be you trying to find a live game. Once the fish recognize you, makes it kind of hard to hook them.
I am fine. Usually players like the competition to play against a "known" player. Who wants to be the one to dodge because he is afraid of the opponent? Only the online bumhunters.
I want to know more about the social skills you got out of poker. Do you usually use the "poker face" in your daily life? Ever tried social engineering or did something that could fit into that?
Yes i sometimes use the skills. Especially if somebody tries to sell me something. I just use my knowledge about tells to figure out if i am getting bullshitted and then call the bluff.
What books do you recommend? Super System 2 is always recommended
Yeah super system is fine. For beginners i would start with sklanskys theory of poker. For advance players matthew jandas applications of nlhe is very good, too.
Is there any good online tells you notice?
Playing fast often tells a strong hand.
Who is the best online MTT player in your opinion? And who the best cash game player?
WushuTM and Ike Haxton.
What would you say are the most important attributes or qualities that seperate pros from average players?
Patience. Motivation. Being able to realistically evaluate Hands. Not biased.
People tell me that there is a difference between playing the cards and playing the people. How do you "play" the people? Especially, how do you read people?
If somebody has a tendency to fold often i bet often. If somebody has the tendency to call often i bet less, but bigger.
You read them by paying attention to all of the actions and combine it to a bigger picture of tendencies.
Do you offer coachings?
Not right now as i am busy with preparing for tournaments and playing them. In my free time i just want to not have to worry about poker related stuff.
what do you do to prepare?
I take coaching myself, play a lot of hands and do some math.
Ive played when the Poker Hype started in Germany about what 8-10 years ago, with pokerschule.de or what It was called back then. ABC poker made me a good amount of money back then, small amounts for you probably, but it bought me a ps3 and a sound system. I got tired of the endless grinding and stopped playing years ago. Do you think the easy times of ABC poker are over today and its more about getting this 1 big cash out once, to get yourself in the club with the big boys?
I think it was easier back then to beat the opponents with patience and logic. Now there are a lot of good players and you have to work hard to stay ahead of the game. You need more than ABC to win. It is really transforming into a sport.
In a couple of years if you ask that question it will sound like the question if you could play in the Bundesliga if you can run and shoot a little.
thanks for your answer. the reason I asked is, I got a really good friend who is playing poker as his "job" for maybe 5 years now. Hes reading everything and tries to stay ahead of the game, but he cant actually make a living out of it, sometimes he wins like 1000 or something but it isnt enough for his expenses and I just want him to have a good life not relying on hartz 4 and sitting in front of his pc the whole day(waiting for the big cashout), but I dont know how I can help him in any way. Any tips how I can improve his "poker-lifestyle"?
It may sound harsh, but if your friend is not able to turn a nice profit month for month on low stakes online i think poker is not the right career choice for him. If he is still comitted i think that you should motivate him to work out at least 3 times a week. Get his mind of the grind and reboot. Then attack the game from a new angle.
I suggest to find alternatives though. Math or coding has a lot of similarities and better career options.
Is Phil Hellmuth That bad?
No, his skills are quite good. But his attitude is really that bad.
When did you realize you had made the transition from a losing player to a winning player? I know the games online used to be super soft but how did you stay ahead of the game?
In 2006 i tried to win a monthly online tournament leaderboard and finished second. But it was very close. After that i knew that if i put in the work the results will follow. After that i had some good and bad years, but it was always fun and exciting. I nearly always had enough to pay my rent and live a comfortable live. The most important thing is to do a rational analyses of your game. When i broke even for over 100k hands online i knew i had to to strategy again. I did and two months later the results followed. Rinse and repeat.
Which is more important, being able to read your opponent or the ability to determine pot odds?
At live tournaments i think the reads are more important. Online it is all math.
Have you played any Bitcoin Poker? What are your thoughts?
Have not played any Bitcoin Poker. I have to read a lot and understands Bitcoins before i try it. Somehow the Bitcoin hype flew by me.
Is there any special tactic you spend your chips, while playing?
No, i try to focus on picking up tells from the opponents. Sometimes i riffle a little bit.
That check back vs vanessa in monaco was sick. Couldn't find the youtube. Don't remember ever seeing somebody so owned by another player simply checking. You soulcrushed her.
I was a pocket 5's ranked player/had success (not your kind lol) at wsop/wpt etc from like 2005-2008. then i basically stopped playing MTT's:
What are the biggest differences now? Clearly they are much tougher but specifically how? What changed about the game, in what ways did people get better etc? Is it mostly just less fish and more good players or have there been major fundamental changes like with cash games (GTO etc)? Would 2008 zeejustin (random example) be a fish in most $10k's today?
I think zeejustin would still do fine. There is just a lot more good pros these days in poker tournaments. There is always the same a amount of amateurs i think but the pros just are more and better. Specifically game theory. A lot of pros are moving in the GTO direction. And everybody knows how to conceal live reads now. That was no big thing back then. It is only hoodies and glasses now.
Did you ever watch the movie "Rounders" with Matt Damon and Edward Norton? If so, what your opinion on that movie and how well does it represent actual poker and grinding it out? I've heard a lot of pros love the movie and that it even started a few careers. If you haven't seen it you should go watch it.
For a hollywood movie it represents poker really well. And the actors are great. The story is fine and the actual poker action is not a 100% accurate but it portrays all the characters really well. Great movie all around.
I honestly cannot take professional poker seriously since players are allowed to wear caps and sunglasses. It makes no sense. If you can't hide your bluff then you aren't a professional, imo. I guess I owe a question. Why do they allow sunglasses and hats?
I honestly do not know. Get rid of them. But as long as they allow them and i am at a tough table i am going to wear glasses, too.
What music are you listening to lately?
LaBrassBanda, Muse, Serj Tankian, Madsen. Just a mixture of alternative rock, some ska and indie.
What's your schedule for the WSOP this summer? At this point are you staked at all?
I am going to play all the non NLHE tournaments if not in day 2 or 3 of another event. And a couple of NLHE Events, too.
Yes i always sell/swap a certain amount of my action to make it affordable to my bankroll. I usually want to invest something between 1k and 5k per tournament and sell or swap the rest of my action.
What do you do when you go on a bad losing streak and lose all your bank roll?
It seems like the long hours of sitting would lead to physical problems. How do you counteract this? I would think this is especially true for the older players.
Yeah after a couple of years the back hurts. But i started lifting weights and for most of the poker pros sports are a very important part of the schedule nowadays.
My favorite game is HORSE, what do you feel about it?
I like i just a little bit less than 8game. But all mixed games are nice.
Do you think it's possible to make a living with above-average online poker skills? Meaning making about 1200€ a month. That'd mean winning about 40€ a day, which doesn't sound like much for an amateur. The reality is probably very different. Not attempting this btw, just daydreams.
I think with hard work and basic abilities in Math and game theory it should be achievable. The most important part is bankroll management.
Is RNG rigged? :-р at PokerStars ))
and tell me please about your most awful loose bad beat.
I once lost 4 one-outers in one day. And i once won 4 one-outers in oine day. All in PLO. Shitty game. But RNG is perfectly balanced ;-).
What is some aspect of the game which you give vital importance whereas others might not?
I walk off bad beats very quickly. Mostly even without a walk. I do not tilt often and when i do i have the ability to just stand up and call it a day.
Fellow Austrian here. Are you named after Georg Danzer?
No i don't think so. I think my father's last name is Danzer and my mother had a crush on King George VI (Albert Frederick Arthur George; 14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952). Just a wild guess though.
What do you do to comeback from after a bad tilt?
Sports and computer games when i am at home. At live tournaments i try not to tilt or walk it off.
Do you think mixed games (like 2-7 esp) are going to be the future of poker? Say in 5-8 years do you see NLHE starting to lose popularity and mixed games becoming more popular or do you think NLHE will always be the most popular as long as poker is around? Also, are you still sporting that super sick Mohawk?
Yes the Mohawk is still on.
I think NLHE will always be the number one poker game. It is easy to learn and the all-ins and bluffs make for exciting TV. I wish that the mixed game become more popular, as i am better at them.
Do you think we will ever get US players back in to the pokerstars player pool?
Yes. Pls let god make it happen.
do you troll people online ?:)
I have to confess that sometimes i do.
Are you ever lucky enough to get a royal flush many times?
I had a couple of royal flushes in my live but only in small pots. Lucky and not lucky at the same time.
What hold'em hand is not that great, but yields good results for you?
Thanks for doing this ama. I wanted to ask, "How do you organize the rest of your life to set yourself up for success at the poker table?"
You have to find the right balance. Balance with sports, friends, hobbies and love. As a poker player it is hard to do it because you have a swingy bankroll and no steady income. You travel a lot and work a silly timeschedule. Sometimes it workes well and sometimes not. You have to keep calm and enjoy the ride.
If you had to sum up the current state of online poker, what would you say?
Lots of bumhunters but still lots of action. Fine for me.
Do you count cards? What strategies do you employ?
No i don't count cards. Tried it for fun in Vegas a couple of year back with a brute force strategy but found no enjoyment in it.
Do you know Charley Swayne?
Not yet, but after a quick goole search i am intrigued ...
I'm about to sit down at a table in Vegas and play 1/2 nl. Any tips for me?
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