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Andrew “BalugaWhale” Seidman: I don’t have regrets in poker except playing Daniel “jungleman12” Cates Heads-Up

After Phil Galfond, it was Andrew “BalugaWhale” Seidman’s turn to do an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on reddit and update the poker community on his latest doings. Seidman is widely known for his poker theory articles and one of the best No-Limit Hold’em books ever written – “Easy Game.”

After Black Friday, Seidman decided to remain in the US and focus on the live games and entrepreneurship. He is a part-owner of two different startup companies, including an online advertising agency that handles PPC (Pay Per Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services. As for poker, he is in the process of publishing another two books – a tournament book and a collection of great poker stories.

During his AMA, Seidman shared with poker players his newest insights into Hold’em and also did some “coaching.” He has won over $160k online with high-stakes win rates of at least 2BB per 100 hands, according to DeucedCracked.com.

Here are some of the most interesting questions and answers from the AMA. You can read it entirely by clicking this link: http://redd.it/1r5nh2.

Q: @tazzy100: Play while studying or study for a while and then play?

A: Find people to talk poker with, then talk talk talk talk talk. And, if possible, even more than talking, WRITE STUFF DOWN. Writing is the BEST way to learn.

Q: @mrpeterandthepuffers: What is the best poker book for improving as an intermediate player?

A: I think “Easy Game” is a great tool to think about the game on a macro level – how the general function of the game works, the dichotomy of value versus bluffing. However, as far as micro-level thinking goes (by micro I don’t mean micro stakes, but thinking about individual decisions outside of general game context), “Let there be range” is probably among the best.

Q: @pokerton: Why do I still suck at poker after playing semi-seriously for the past four years?

A: Probably because you go through the motions instead of actually trying to change what you’re doing? Dwight Howard shoots a billion free throws per day but won’t get any better unless he changes his mechanics.

Q: @ChipChase: Do you ever regret releasing information which makes the poker landscape tougher?

A: I don’t mind giving up my adjustments to a particular game dynamic because other adjustments will be made later anyway.

Q: @ tazzy100: Was there a pivotal moment when things clicked, or was winning a long slow grind?

A: Many times things clicked. The biggest were: bet bigger for value, fold when being raised, three-betting is really good, three-betting isn’t as good as I thought, equity matters.

Q: @explicit nickname: What game would you say is best for a beginner to learn nowadays in terms of where the biggest edges are, and where they can make the most money? Also, what do you consider to be the bigger games in the future? Would you say Heads-Up Sit’N’Go’s or Heads-Up Cash have any value to learn at the moment, in any format?

A: 1) I’d say to learn whichever game is most appealing to you; they’re all built on the same fundamental theory and the edges in any game will depend on the people at your table.

2) Still No Limit Hold’Em for a while.

3) Definitely have a ton of value to learning those.

Q: @The_Okay_Danton: How long did it take to write “Easy Game”? What books did you read that taught you the most?

A: 1) “Easy Game” took about 25 hours to write, but mostly because I was recapping the same things I’d taught to students over the course of several years.

2) I think that the fundamental theorem of poker is pretty damn good (it’s part of the “Theory of Poker”), but now it’s not sophisticated enough. Still pretty useful though. Also, Doyle’s advice of “bet big and raise all the time” is pretty useful for most players still.

Q: @explicit nickname: Best opponent you’ve faced in each format? What would you do if you were starting again from scratch now, to make money in poker and build a bankroll?

A: 1) Heads-Up – Daniel “jungleman” Cates, 6max – Cole South.

2) I’d play only a few tables and put in a TON of hours table selecting and focusing on my game. I’ll worry about rakeback once I’m already wildly profitable.

Q: @nnth: Do you think that your big downswing online was partly to do with you basically letting people know your game plan by making videos and writing books? Do you regret it at all?

A: It’s definitely possible. Or maybe I just ran badly, or maybe I played bad. It’s probably some combo of all three. No regrets, though, except maybe playing “jungleman” Heads-Up (or playing so many regulars Heads-Up at $25/$50).

Q: @TheMightyDingo: What are some of your insights into Holdem that you only recently understood?

A: That limping isn’t inherently bad, that you can run bluffs out over multiple streets even if they start preflop, that there are a TON of different ways that someone can make a theoretic “mistake”.

Q: @joshuarion: “That limping isn’t inherently bad” – Can you extrapolate a little?

A: Three limpers in front of you and you have 55 or 76s, limping behind is fine. Limping the button with playable cards against loose aggro blinds is also fine. Limping out of position is pretty hard to justify, though.

Q: @ThatGuy1313: If you were someone starting out now, what do you think they should focus their efforts on?

A: Focus on playing few tables and gathering as much information on tables.

Q: @Starney-Binson: How can a player self-control his emotions? If you were a losing player, how would you unlearn/learn poker to become a winning one and never deposit again? Last question: HUD or not?

A: 1) Stop-losses work if you can follow them, in general though it takes a frame shift – you can exercise occasionally or eat right occasionally but until you make the full choice to just BE BETTER, it’s just not going to happen.

2) I’d go onto poker forums like reddit/poker, Two Plus Two forums, DeucedCracked and find the most active users, contact them and get poker discussion groups going. Talking and writing poker are the best things to do.

3) HUD: Not at first (learn to think with your brain) then use it later once you’re solid.

Q: @dogzpp: I am curious to hear your thought on the “BalugaWhale Theorem”, and how you think that turn check raises are viewed in today’s game.

A: The check-raises are still almost always the nuts.

Q: @KeepItCorporate: Top Ten 6-max NLHE players? High/Middle stakes?

A: It’s a little tough because a lot of the true pioneers and legends of the game don’t play as often now as they used to but pound-for-pound I’d still think they’re unbelievably good. It’s probably the usual suspects: (Phil) Galfond, Cole South, Brian Hastings, Dan “jungleman12” Cates, Ben “sauce123” Sulsky and probably five Scandinavian guys whose names I can’t pronounce.

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Florian Gheorghe

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