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The moment I met Mike Wasserman I knew that he would be a great person to interview. You could sense the warmth in him. Those cuddly type of people always open up and let you take a peek under the hood, and that’s what makes a great interview.

Wasserman and I talked about our time together in the Extended Levels event, how one player in particular seemed to have a chip on his shoulder and how that effects the dynamics of the table.


Mike, do you remember the angry kid who was berating our dealer in the third person? It bothered me. In your experience how are the dealers treated at the WSOP in general?

“The WSOP is huge and so they have to pull dealers in from so many casinos. This means there are a lot of inexperienced ones. This used to bother me a lot, but in recent years I have developed a lot more empathy for them. They work a lot of hours and at the end of the day they are human. They get objectified, and people see them as robots, but they are working long hours, their training isn’t great, and I do my best to let it go.

“I used to play cash games in LA, and often player’s would get mad and throw things at the dealer. I never understood that. When people act that way they have a problem with accountability. It’s a game, and the game has no opinion about you one way or another.”

How did it affect you playing with the angry kid?

“He’s a reg, plays a lot, and knows a lot of good players. He clearly has a lot of accolades but I don’t know what they are. The way he conducted himself shows he is not a very happy person. That’s sad. I have had a lot of trouble in the past playing live tournaments because it gets very boring for me. I have brought my iPad and iPhone every day but have never used them. I have been talking and enjoying myself. When a table is not jovial the tournament can become brutal.”

I didn’t say anything to him, but you did pluck up the courage to do so. Where does that need to get involved come from?

“He is out of line. There is no reason for him to act that way. Everyone has their own story, and I am sure he has been through a lot in life. It’s so much more enjoyable to be around people who are happy. The world is a better place with these people in it. If I see people who are negative I don’t engage with them, but if I think they are out of line I have to say something.

“I used to be a button pusher myself, and a lot of friends have called me out on it. I’ve made a lot of changes in the past couple of years. I believe that bettering yourself is the only way to live. Very negative people like that give you a glimpse of how they view life in general.”

He said he didn’t like people?

“What does that even mean? He is projecting his negative feelings, it’s not productive in any way, and it doesn’t help anyone. I have spent a lot of time playing and being around my backer Calvin Anderson. One of the things he pushes hard, when we are playing around him, is if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything – particularly if you are playing. We don’t need to be distracted about a lost flip. We don’t need to hear about that. This is what that guy was doing. There was just crap coming out of his mouth, and I have a problem with that.”

But where does the strength come from to get involved?

“That’s a good question. I believe I am a good person, I try to do good things, make good decisions and treat people well. I like people to treat me well. It’s like the golden rule for me. I am not necessarily a spiritual or religious person, but I have a strong set of morals, which are my guidelines, and I believe in those things.”

Are you the type of guy to get involved if you see a man giving his woman a hard time?

“{Laughs} I haven’t yet been in that situation, although you do see a lot of couples fighting in Vegas. I’m not sure? If he is way out of line and I am with my friends I may do something. If I don’t think I am going to get hurt, I will get involved. If I see her getting hurt I will definitely get involved, but it’s a tough spot.”

You were asking the table if they were optimistic or pessimistic, which are you and why?

“I feel like my soul is optimistic, but through my life experiences I have chosen to react negatively in a lot of different situations, and it’s something that I am actively working on. Playing tournament poker makes it so easy to be pessimistic. I could go 6 to 8 months on a downswing playing online. That’s a lot of tournaments. I am burning through a ton. It’s so much more stressful and it leaks out into other areas in my life. I am not a happy person when I am focusing on what I don’t have, and focusing on the downswing. I have done a lot of work with Jared Tendler on this. I think he is amazing.

“Downswings are inevitable and a lot of time in tournaments it can last a long time. It leaked into my personal life for sure, particularly my relationship with my girlfriend. After a long day playing I often need a few hours to decompress, but I have worked hard on just letting it go at the end of each day, especially on a Sunday.

“I keep putting in the work with Jared, my backer and MTT coaches. I am so actively involved. An important part of maintaining a positive aspects on things is knowing that you are putting the work in away from the tables. If you are doing everything you can to find that path for success the results are just tertiary. You don’t attach your emotions to the results, you attach them to how prepared you were, how hard you are working and the decisions you make at the table. Everyone makes mistakes – make mental notes, deal with it and move on.”

It’s funny how I had compassion for the abused dealer, but can’t find compassion for myself.

“I struggle with that so much man. I want to punish myself sometimes and it’s not healthy. I didn’t even realize it until recently. I went to therapy and worked on it. Jared {Tendler} digs so deep he pulls things out you didn’t even know were there.”

You were talking a lot at the table. I have been trying to limit my talking because I lose concentration. What’s your view on this?

“I have played a ton online, and I know most of the spots within the game. When people talk to me during a hand, I have gotten better at talking and playing, but I have the same issue. There are the likes of Daniel Negreanu who can pull it of, but I would venture to say that most people shouldn’t be talking during a hand. When people talk to you, just ask them nicely to stop.

“I will talk between hands, and when I am not in the hand I will talk to someone else who is not in the hand. I don’t engage with someone who is playing a hand. I know I will get distracted and so will they. It’s all about common courtesy and respect.”

Why have you been successful in this game?

“In 2010, I made a decision that I was going to go for it. It wasn’t going to be a hobby anymore. I wasn’t going to have other jobs and supplemental income. I moved into a training house. I paid for information. I have studied, learned how to study from people, and then we moved to Vegas, and I started getting backed. I got all my money off online, put all his money on and Black Friday happened.

“I stayed for the series, I bricked 30 of 33 events I played and then I cashed in the Main Event and it saved my whole summer. It was the first $10k event I had played and to prepare I was talking to myself in the mirror telling myself that I belonged and I could do it. In my experience of life a lot of time success comes down to a decision. Am I going to do this, or not do this?

“It’s similar to the Law of Attraction. You already know it’s going to happen, you see it, you believe it, and you are just waiting for it to happen. I’ve talked with Jared about this and there are certain forms of tilt. When you dig into a lot of the things he writes about you discover what motivates you to play the game. I hate losing, so I want to learn to win. I need to know more about my opponents, be calmer than them, read live tells, and everything that leads to all these little edges.

“I have been going to the gym almost everyday, meditating frequently. My goals in previous years have all been poker and money related. It’s not like that this summer. I want to enjoy life more. I want to sit down at the table and enjoy it. Poker is not a fulfilling game. You need balance outside of the game and to ensure you have a good team of people behind you. I feel I have that now.”

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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.