Interview: Warren Wong
While the tournament players generally receive the glory, it is the cash game players that tend to pull down more money consistently playing poker. This week, we caught up with Warren Wong, a part-time professional poker player with a strong track record at both live and online games. Lately, Wong makes about $7-8k a month with his part-time endeavor. warren wong
pt.o: What poker games do you generally play live/online (stakes/places)?
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Wong: I play pretty much all games from $1-$2 NL up to $25-$50 NL (although usually $5-$10 NL and below). Online, I tend to play lower stakes and up to as many as 15 tables at the same time. Live, I tend to stick to larger games since you can only play one game. I play anywhere I can find loose people I can beat easily.
pt.o: What are the most common mistakes players make in the games you play?
Wong: People usually play too many hands and call too much in games I play. Of course, I only play in games where such people exist, so...
pt.o: How much per hour do make at those games?
Wong: On average, about $100/hr.
pt.o: How accurate do you think your hourly rate is?
Wong: It varies from game to game, so obviously the hourly rate is different for different games you're playing in. It also depends on the poker market in general, which has been expanding the last couple of years (so my hourly rate has been going on). To my best knowledge, I'd say my true hourly rate is +/- $20/hr.
pt.o: What is poker to you? A job, a side job, a hobby?
Wong: It's more of a side job.
pt.o: When did you start playing poker? How did you get interested in poker?
Wong: I started during college, when someone in the laundry room asked me to join a home game with a $5 buy-in. I lost $5 that day and it hurt like hell. Eventually, I got better at it and started playing online. Now, losing a couple thousand a day doesn't bother me even a little bit.
pt.o: How often do you see people you think are playing above their bankroll or skill level?
Wong: Quite often, most people in a game don't have a sufficient bankroll to play in that game. Personally, I'd like to have at least a couple thousand BBs (you don't have to tie all of this up in poker of course, make sure to get some interest on that money...). Once you have like 10,000 BBs, losing like 8 times in a row with aces all-in preflop wouldn't bother you at all. In fact, when I play, I don't think I even notice when that happens (multi-tabling, it makes sense to switch to another window when you've gotten all your money in, why waste that 30 seconds watching the outcome of a hand that's already decided?)
Having a big bankroll really helps take the emotional swings out of the game. For me, when I get all my money in and say I have like a 95% chance of winning a hand and the other guy has 5% and there's say $1000 in the pot; regardless of whether I win or lose this hand, I see myself as having gotten $950 of the pot. In the long run, that's exactly what will happen.
pt.o: Are you interested in tournament play? Why or why not?
Wong: Only large tournaments - it's exciting to be competing for a large sum of money! However, variance is really high though. I'd rather get the money now, invest it, and wait for the interest to compound - instead of waiting for a lucky break. Playing tournaments to me is more like normal people playing craps.
pt.o: What tips can you provide to an intermediate player looking to improve his game to the next level?
Wong: Focus on finding people you can beat, then beat them. Avoid anyone you don't know if you can beat. If some guy outplayed you, leave and find a guy that doesn't do that instead of trying to get your money back from one particular guy who's probably better than you. Just figure out who you're good at taking money from - and find those people. If you love stealing [pots], go find a game of rocks. If you love just sitting tight and waiting for hands, go find a nice game with like 50% flop percentage.