Bryan Paris is one of a handful of young men who have managed to accumulate over $8m in online earnings playing multi table tournaments (MTTs) online. Recently, something has clicked in Bryan’s live game. He started racking up results in 2008, but it wasn’t until last year that he made his first final table. He has sat down at four since then.
I also learned that Bryan is one of the only men that is capable of multi-tasking. During our interview, he took apart a Hyper-Turbo Six-Max for a $3k score without ever losing focus as we talked.
Ladies, and gentlemen, here is Bryan Paris.
You have won over $8m playing online tournaments. How have you been so consistent?
“I would say that persistence is the number one thing. The fact that I started playing full time in 2007 is also a big thing. A lot of players were on the same track as me, but they fell by the wayside for many different reasons. In my case, I enjoy the game and the way it makes me think. I have never really considered doing anything else since I started.”
What is your view on the push by online poker rooms to move to a more recreational model?
“I think it’s necessary. It’s not even that bad for regs. The money has to come from somewhere. If there are no recreational players, then it’s just a bunch of regs playing against each other, and they have to beat the 9% rake on MTTs while everyone is improving all of the time.
“Sometimes I think sites use that as an excuse to raise the rake like Amaya was trying to do last year. People will justifiably act angrily against those types of moves, but anything that’s legitimately trying to attract recreational players is good for the game in the long run. If we don’t have changes like this, then poker will just die.”
What is your view on an official players union to try to prevent sites from taking advantage of players?
“I think it’s a tremendous idea if it were feasible. The problem you have is that poker players are a fiercely independently minded bunch. It’s hard to get us to work in concert with anything because our mindset is to fight over all of this money. It would be great, though. We could organize things like mass sit out protests if they decided to raise rake unnecessarily for example.”
What is your view on the drive to remove third-party software, such as HUDs, from the games?
“It would be fantastic if enforceable, but I’m not sure how practical it is to enforce? It’s a real turn off for recreational players to know that people are using software that arrows in on their weaknesses. I think HUDs have actively contributed towards making the games tougher.
“The way we portray poker in the media is this glamorous contest where people are staring people down and reading their minds, but the reality is very different. It’s just a bunch of math. Sites like Bovada who have made their player accounts anonymous is a positive thing that more sites might like to replicate.”
If we had an Online Poker Hall of Fame, who would be in it?
“When I think of tournaments, Shaun Deeb comes to mind. He was on the cutting edge of theory advances and is still a great player today. I would also put Johnny Bax and Sheets in there. They were the people responsible for the growth of professional stables. In terms of cash games, Tom Dwan, Isildur, Jungleman, and the newer players like Doug Polk. All of the nosebleed cash game players deserve a spot. They made a huge impression in traffic getting people to watch them when they were slugging it out on Full Tilt.”
I know you had strong opinions when the Ben Warrington scamming scandal broke out earlier in the summer. Why did it rankle you so much, and what do you think we can do to mitigate such incidents from happening?
“In any poker related business there is a huge element of trust involved. You are trusting people to play honestly and pay you when they win. It’s also a very exploitable platform. The system contains so many loopholes. So it’s important to create an incentive system to the point where there is not a freeroll opportunity. If you get caught scamming, and people say that it’s cool and to not do it again, it’s like saying that everyone has a freeroll to scam, and if they get caught there are no serious consequences.
“The only real deterrent for people who engage in this behavior is to disincentivize them by blacklisting them for selling action in the marketplace or putting out the word as much as possible so that people know that they are not trustworthy. He is playing in the WSOPE Main Event right now, so I guess it didn’t work this time.
“I have sold a ton of action in my life, and I have always been above board. That’s why it annoys me personally. The way I view it is you are essentially getting paid to play in big buy-in tournaments. If you sell 80% at 1.2 or whatever, you are basically getting a 20% freeroll in that tournament, and that’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone. So to turn around and work a scam on top of that is unforgivable. I know that people deserve second chances, but integrity is paramount. If the staking marketplace went away, the tournament sizes would be dramatically smaller and so much harder to beat.
“One of my friends suggested a website that could help reduce these instances. A scamming site is all negative. So we wanted a positive community, like a poker social media network. Then we could have player profiles where players could get good marks when they paid out on time. Sort of like Yelp. Neither of us had time to make it come to fruition. It would be great if someone else could pick up on the idea and run with it.
“The key would be to get some of the major backing stables to use the site, and then refuse to back people until they were on the site and had got some good ratings for being honest and paying out timely, for example.”
Tell me an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know.
“I have a fascination with history and world events. I watch the news, and I read a lot of history books and listen to a lot of history podcasts. I also played piano for 15-years before I started playing poker, and I was really into that.”
How do you ensure that the bad news in the world doesn’t bring you down?
“There has been a lot of adverse developments in the past few years. Keeping up on world affairs makes you realize how grateful you are for what you are doing. Take the Syrian refugee crisis for example. I could complain that I had a bad Sunday and yet these people are leaving all of their belongings behind and are walking to a new continent to try and find a new life. It makes me thankful for my life. Being aware of history is important. As bad as things have become in the past few years we are still better off that many times before in history.”
What inspires you?
“I want to be the best I can be at poker. I love the game on its own merits and making money is fantastic, and that’s why I do it at the end of the day. But I want to be known as one of the best, I have always been competitive. I continue to play when I am losing, I love it that much, so the game is inspiring for me. I have also just got married, so I am inspired to create a beautiful life for us, and that’s where the monetary side of the game comes into it.”
Talk about gratitude.
“My life is so great on so many levels, and I am so grateful for that. One thing I am grateful for is my childhood. My parents raised me in a stable, healthy and loving family, in the Bay area. I never had to want for anything. I am grateful that I get to play a game that I love for a living. I always try to be grateful, and not complain about bad luck in life or poker. You need to slow down and be grateful for the luck you have in your life. Just being born in the First World is luck right off the bat, but if you are also healthy and have people who love you, and you get to do what you enjoy, then you are one of the luckiest people in human history if you get to do all of those things.”
What is the biggest coincidence that has happened in your life?
“It’s the way I met my wife. We went to the same school in California, and then we were on a study abroad trip in Cambridge in the UK, and I met her there and we became best friends. It was interesting that we had to travel to England to meet, and yet we lived right next door to each other. I have been with her for nine and a half years now. We got married last month in Amsterdam. It was a lovely day.”
If you had 10,000 hours of free time to work on anything what would you work on and why?
“I think I would go back to music. It was a big part of my life, and I left it behind. I am not sure what I would do. Maybe I could do some techno and remixes. I think there is a lot of classical music theory that can be applied to popular music. I think people underestimate the amount of theoretical knowledge that goes into the creation of music, so I think that would be a good opportunity for me.”