Interview: Pete "The Beat" Giordano
This week, PokerTips.org's very own Ozone interviewed Pete "The Beat" Giordano. Pete is a multi-table tournament professional who has had enormous success at both online and brick-and-mortar tournaments. He has appeared on numerous poker TV shows, including a WPT episode. Pete is regarded by many as the best online tournament player in the world. pete the beat
Pete "The Beat" Giordano
pt.o: How did you get into poker and how long have you been playing?
Pete The Beat: Well I started poker probably in the same way everybody has: by watching my family playing when I was a young boy. By the time I was 14 or so, they finally let me in a game. Back then it wasn't hold'em. We played 7 card stud variants.
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pt.o: How long have you been playing professionally?
PTB: I started playing hold'em in the late 80s. I went down to Atlantic City to play my first tournament in 1992, a $50 buy-in. I did very well. I started going down there a couple times per year; because that was the only place I could play tournaments back then. I started getting very good. I had some wins and second places, but I had a full time job back then, so at the time, I was okay with just playing a couple of tournaments a year.
pt.o: What did you do for a living before turning to poker?
PTB: I was a sales rep with Hewlett-Packard. Due to a downsizing, I was laid off in 2003. At that time, I was already making enough money playing poker that I just decided to play full-time.
pt.o: What do you prefer between online poker or live poker?
PTB: I really like live poker. It allows me to concentrate more on the game and the players. However, 90% of the poker I play is online.
pt.o: What would you say your greatest poker accomplishment has been?
PTB: Probably making the final table of the WPT Event [the 2002 World Poker finals where Pete finished 5th and appeared on TV against the likes of Layne Flack, Phil Ivey, and Howard Lederer].
pt.o: What was it like playing in front of the TV cameras against world class pros like that?
PTB: Uh, you know, it was actually pretty relaxing. Back then, I didn't really know who those guys were. That was the start of everything. This was before poker ever hit TV, so guys like Phil, and Howard, and Layne, I might have known who they were, but not how big they were. I had actually ended up heads-up against Phil in a tournament in Atlantic City like the year before that.
pt.o: How'd you do?
PTB: Well, he got first, and I got second.
pt.o: Is there one guy out there that you just dread having to play against?
PTB: I've played against everybody, and if there is one guy that has my number that just always gets me, it would be Phil [Ivey]. He has knocked me out of at least three major events. Its not that I'm afraid to play him, it's just that he just has my number
pt.o: So what would you credit as helping you become a world class tournament player?
PTB: Just playing. This online phenomenon has helped so much. I won a trip to the World Series in 2002. I wanted to practice a lot of tournament poker leading up to that tournament, so I turned to online poker as a way to practice. I told myself, "I am going to play one tournament a night". It wasn't a ton, but it was enough experience to make sure I didn't make stupid mistakes in the Main Event that year. I was fortunate enough to get down to about 40th and make some money that year in the World Series. Ever since then I started playing more and more online.
pt.o: So is it fair to say that online poker has been the most instrumental factor in helping you become such a great player?
PTB: What I tell people is that I have become "unconsciously competent". Some people are competent, but they have to think about what they're doing. When you become unconsciously competent, you don't have to think about it anymore. You see every situation. You know what is going on. I play between 1,800-2,000 online tournaments per year. When you play that much, you don't even have to think about the situation anymore, because you've been there so many times. That's what I call "unconsciously competent". Online poker has allowed an average player to gain years of experience in a couple of months.
pt.o: Do you play SNG tournaments or cash games?
PTB: I used to play SNGs. I was good at them, but I do not play them any longer. I've never really played cash games be it live or online. Nowadays I absolutely play nothing but multi-table tournaments. People used to ask me "why"? And I tell them that I'm making enough money playing tournaments that I don't see the need to play cash games. Tournaments are nice because you don't have to go through the huge, unexpected swings. I know the maximum amount that I am going to lose when I enter a tournament, and it's kind of nice to have that mental safety net.
pt.o: If you're not the best online multi-table tournament player, who is?
PTB: You can't take anything away from JohnnyBax [Cliff Josephy]. When I first heard of him I was like "who is this guy?" I knew that he was new, and I had been playing for years. I was one of the Top 5 yearly finishers on PokerStars' Tournament LeaderBoard for 3 or 4 years in a row. I had a track record. Then, all of the sudden, out of nowhere, came JohnnyBax. And after watching him, I realized that he deserves to be considered the best online tournament player in the world.
pt.o: What do you think he does that sets him apart so much from everyone else?
PTB: I don't know. I don't know if he's just getting more than his fair share of the odds right now. I don't know. You have to be a little lucky to win these tournaments, and maybe he's just having his luck all bunched up in two years, but whatever it is, he's doing it right.
pt.o: Do you ever get recognized in public, away from the poker world, due to your various TV appearances?
PTB: Yea I get recognized a lot actually. Sometimes people want your autograph. Sometimes people just want to talk to you.
pt.o: Does that recognition bother you? Or is it a little flattering?
PTB: It doesn't bother me at all. It is a little bit flattering. You know when it's flattering? When you have someone with you. Like your son, or your wife; cause then you really feel like a big gun, it's like "people know me", ya know!
pt.o: What is your favorite casino?
PTB: I like to play at the Taj [in Atlantic City]. It's close to where I live, and I can take my family with me because they like going there. There's the whole ocean thing and the boardwalk. They can have fun too when I go there. If I tell them I'm going to Foxwoods [in the middle of Connecticut] they don't wanna go. My favorite Las Vegas casino is probably the Bellagio just because of how awesome their tournaments are. But because I'm frugal, I usually stay somewhere else because the Bellagio is expensive. The Mirage is usually where I stay when I go to Las Vegas.
pt.o: Do you have any general tournament tips you can share with our readers?
PTB: A common beginner mistake is the inability to be bluffed out of a hand. Nowadays everyone calls everything. I think that if you can't be bluffed out 25% of the time while holding the winning hand, you'll never be a great player. People saw Phil Ivey bluff me out of a pot on TV where I had him dominated but folded anyway, and they always ask me, "man how could you lay that down?" I tell them, if I make that call every time, I would have never got to the final table. Yes, that time I threw away the winner, but if I can't throw away a winner in that situation, I'm never going to get to the final table.
pt.o: Do you like smaller fields or larger fields?
PTB: Oh I used to love it a few years back when there would just be like 100 people in tournament. That seemed like a good number to me. With a field that small, you didn't need to avoid so many bad beats to win the tournament. I definitely prefer smaller fields.
pt.o: How did you acquire the nickname "The Beat"?
PTB: That nickname came out years ago. I was playing in a casino and I just put this horrendous bad beat on this guy. One of my friends said "yup, that's Pete the Beat", and ever since then it just sort of stuck. By the time the online sites started popping up; I just decided to make my username "TheBeat". It's been nice because it's helped me gain popularity by having a catchy nickname. I like it. It has a poker feel to it.
pt.o: Any parting words of wisdom from Pete the Beat?
PTB: Just keep on playing. Practice a lot. And again, the biggest thing I can tell you is, if you can't throw away the best hand at least 25% of the time, you're not going to be a long term winner at tournament poker.