If you’re serious about playing poker — either as a profession or a lucrative pastime — you cannot afford to pause for even a moment. As Fabian Quoss and Dani Stern discussed on day one of this €25,000 Special High Roller event (a conversation recorded in the standout article from this week), even the established giants of the game are always glancing over their shoulder at the youngsters who could rob them of their fortunes.
This anxiety, coupled with a very human desire to be the best one can possibly be, goes some way to explaining the success in recent years of poker coaches. Almost everybody who succeeds in the modern game has discussed strategy and theory with other players, and there are now numerous websites offering tutelage via videos or one-to-one discussions. You have to run just to stand still.
Daniel Dvoress, one of the final eight in this tournament at EPT Malta, has been offering poker coaching for the past few years. As “oxota” online, Dvoress has had a glittering career in tournaments and cash games, including victory in a $2,100 SCOOP Hold’em event last May, worth more than $300,000. He has also been sharing his wisdom alongside the likes of Phil Galfond and Jason Koon with subscribers of a training site.
But when one puts oneself forward as a tutor — an “expert”, you could say — does that ramp up the pressure on ones own game? Surely if you’re stepping forward and asking people to pay for your wisdom, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.
“Sometimes I do get a little bit of that, yeah,” Dvoress said ahead of play starting at the final table. “In the back of my head, it’s kind of: ‘If you do something really funky, it’s going to be like, “Oh man, how am I going to defend this later?”‘”.
In this way, poker coaching becomes like the world of counselling. Professional therapists (at least in the UK) are required as part of their qualification to undergo therapy themselves. To be effective while sitting in the chair by the couch, one has to have experience of laying on it – and similarly Dvoress puts out videos of his own play and invites critiques of it.
“Yeah, I think I butchered that hand pretty bad,” he wrote in a recent comment after a Zoom session review, not the kind of thing you would likely hear a high school tutor admitting, no matter how horrible a class they had just led.
The final table of the €25,000 event is not being live streamed, so play isn’t being analysed too closely by the keyboard crusaders of the Twittersphere. But all the major hands are being written up on various blogs (head over to the live coverage page), and any mistakes will be pounced upon.
Dvoress was one of the two shortest stacks when the bubble approached yesterday, and it’s a passage of play during which less experienced players can make extremely costly mistakes. It was notable, however, that both Dvoress and Sorel Mizzi, the other imperilled player, remained calm throughout and stuck to game-plans.
“I was pretty short so you just have to wait it out,” Dvoress said. “But I feel like no matter what stack you’re at, there’s no need to get nervous. You just try to do the optimal thing. If you’re the bigger stack, you obviously push people around. And if you’re the middle stack, or the short stack, you’ve got to kind of wait it out.
“I was glancing back at his [Mizzi’s] stack a little bit. He wasn’t the only one. You have to know how short the other player is. It is going to impact your decision, and I don’t think he was looking at my stack because he was nervous or anything, he just wanted to get the information so he can make the right decisions.”
Dvoress has played a few times on the European Poker Tour this season, in Barcelona, Prague and at the PCA, and said he has played both live and online with several of his adversaries today. There are two relatively unknown Polish players at the table too, but Dvoress has been putting together a dossier on them as play has progressed.
He said: “I don’t have much experience with them, but I’ve been watching how they play and collecting a little bit of mental information yesterday, so it should be fun. Both of them have a pretty fun style to play against.”
And if it all goes wrong today, it seems unlikely Dvoress will be going too hard on himself. “I try not to get impacted by all the outside stuff,” he said. “But everyone does. There’s only so much you can do, right.”
Follow all the action from the EPT Malta festival at PokerStars Blog. We have hand-by-hand action from the €25,000 High Roller in the panel at the top of the €25,000 High Roller page. Feature pieces are below. We also have a man on the IPT Malta stop. You must also download the EPT App, available on both Android or IOS, because endangered species die if you don’t.