Interview: Dave Irish
Hometown: Fishers, IN
Currently Resides: Las Vegas, NV
Best Known As: "Yappy Dave", well-known to Vegas locals as the author of a popular poker blog
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If you live in Las Vegas, chances are you've heard Dave Irish... literally. After moving to Vegas nearly two years ago to play poker for a living, Dave's reputation for chatting at the table led to him receiving the nickname Yappy. Through this persona, he maintains a very popular blog about his life as a semi-professional poker player and graduate student. This week, he freed up a few minutes in his busy schedule to tell us about his life in Sin City.
PokerTips.org: First off, how did you first become involved in poker?
Irish: I became involved in poker in the Spring of 2003 after seeing one of the original episodes of the WPT on TV. I had a college friend invite me to come play in his dorm about a month later. I found the entire thing interesting on quite a few different levels. My first interaction with poker was playing with some college friends that had a little bit of experience under their belts. In my first tournament of seven friends, I placed second while not really knowing what I was doing. I was more amused by the trash talking than anything else at the time.
PokerTips.org: What would you attribute as some of the things that helped you grow from a beginner to someone capable of moving to Vegas to make a living off of the game?
Irish: My friends would host tournaments 3-5 nights a week in the dorms and would include up to twenty people. This constant live experience was great to get feedback on what I was doing right and wrong. Being competitive, I wanted to be the best that I could and would constantly strive to make the best plays each night. It all snowballed from there.
PokerTips.org: Would you say your game is strongest live or online?
Irish: Without a doubt, my live game. I focus on physical reads, as well as using extremely confusing chatter while at the table. This often gets into the head of an opponent and will get them to lean in the direction I want them to go. Online, I can't really do this. While I built my entire bankroll from online sit-'n'-gos and cash games, I've had by far the most success in cash and tournaments via the live scene.
PokerTips.org: What are some of your favorite casinos in Las Vegas?
Irish: I've long enjoyed Treasure Island. The management is great, the dealers are patient and explain everything well to a new player, and competition is quite touristy. The addition of $2/hr in comps allows me to enjoying dining out at a variety of cuisines for little to no cost.
PokerTips.org: What games and stakes do you typically enjoy playing?
Irish: When I first moved to Vegas, I played $5/$10 NL and once while waiting for a game I played in the $2/$5 game which was much easier to win. I decided to stick with that. A friend then alerted me of the action at Treasure Island (TI) and that their $1/$3 game was extremely soft. I visited and never left. While to some, going down in limits is a shot to their ego, I realized it was much more financially consistent and I really only had losing sessions when I'd take bad beats or get a cooler.
I also greatly enjoy the mix game at TI, which has been spread from $2-$4 limit to $4-$8 limit. The games are more than just the standard H.O.R.S.E. variants and players will come and sit just out of interest and usually leave with just a smile and a story. I never dreamed a limit game of those stakes could be so profitable.
PokerTips.org: In general, what are some tips you could share with our readers that have enabled you to become a winner in live cash games?
Irish: Learn to play post flop and study hand analysis when it involves multi-street action. This is by far the best part of my game, but it took me years to develop. I haven't found a book that discusses this, so I had to learn on my own. I'd suggest reading hands that players have struggled with and try to put the villain on a hand. Go through each hand they could have and you should be able to put a specific hand on each of the actions that have played out. If one street doesn't fit, then you probably are not correct. Keep trying and stick to your guns when you think you are right. Just because you have third pair on the river does not mean you don't have the best hand!
PokerTips.org: Last year, you challenged yourself to win the entire $10,000 buy-in just one month before the WSOP Main Event. Do you have any similar plans for 2008?
Irish: Yes. I've declined summer school to focus on Version 2.0 of my $10k challenge. I learned so much last year and played the best week of poker in my entire life during the challenge. I'm currently putting together a pitch for sponsorship for that Main Event entry, but even if I receive it I will still try to win the seat with the same methods.
PokerTips.org: What are some things you enjoy doing away from poker?
Irish: My passion in life is music. I am doing graduate studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) with a focus in wind band conducting. While that has certainly taken its toll on the number of hours I can play poker, I would not exchange it for anything. I also enjoy playing Halo 3 and frequenting social and political message boards.
PokerTips.org: You're something of a poker celebrity to Las Vegas locals. How did that happen?
Irish: Haha... during one tournament, my talking at the table annoyed a girl to the point of saying. "You're so... yappy." That label stuck and I began posting on allvegaspoker.com with the name "Yappy Dave." The major jump came when I proposed the idea of my "10K WSOP challenge ". This was of great interest to the readers of the site and during the challenge, it was the most viewed thread on a daily basis. From that point, I was asked to do a daily poker blog. After some reservation, I decided to go with it. The blog doesn't just discuss poker, but the happenings in the life of somebody who plays for a living (and now plays part-time while attending grad school). As allvegaspoker grows, so does my persona "Yappy Dave". Just as several of the past WSOP champions have described, the game keeps getting easier for me as readers will come in and either try to outplay me or they think I'm bluffing all the time and call me down with inferior hands.
PokerTips.org: What would you pinpoint as some of the weaknesses in your poker game?
Irish: Position. It's so vital, yet I put myself in tough spots quite often because I failed to consider my position when I came into the pot with Five-Eight and flopped a pair but got raised. I could make my life so much easier if I just folded more.
PokerTips.org: What do you believe is your best accomplishment in the poker world?
Irish: Financially, I think it was winning one of the Bellagio daily tournaments. Statistically, I'd say it was cashing in four straight events during the challenge last year including three straight top-ten finishes in several-hundred player fields.
PokerTips.org: Do you predict that poker will be a part of your life for decades to come, or do you view it as a short-term income while earning your graduate degree?
Irish: That's a really tough question and one I've been asking myself for a while. I simply do not know. I'll graduate in 2009. By then I could have other passions in life that consume poker, who knows? It is hard for me to imagine that, but I try to stay open-minded at all times and do what is best. I know if I ever do leave this life, I am going to miss it.