Interview: Ray Coburn
Ray "ExitOnly" Coburn is a 21-year-old online poker professional who lives in New Jersey. He has been a force in the online tournament world for several months. In just the past three weekends, he has cashed for over $50,000 in online poker tournaments. In addition to that, he also recently won a satellite for a seat in a $8,000 WPT event. Ray was kind enough to close up a few online poker tables to share a word with us about his online poker career.
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PokerTips.org: How long have you been playing poker and what got you interested in the game?
Coburn: I've been playing poker for about three years. In 2003, my friend Brian ("Neutrality" online) took me to my first home game tournament, a $20 twenty person tournament. Somehow, I ended up beating Brian heads-up to win the whole thing. After that I was pretty hooked. I started playing weekly home game tournaments and eventually began playing micro-limits online. I played a lot throughout freshman year, and after spring semester I decided to give poker my full attention.
PokerTips.org: Any plans to return to school?
Coburn: Well, I left school because I didn't think it was right for me at the time. I've been thinking about taking some online classes lately, but there are no plans to go back full time. Eventually I'll get a degree or two, but I'm in no hurry.
PokerTips.org: How did you get your online screenname "ExitOnly"?
Coburn: I was looking for inspiration for a screen name and stumbled upon a picture of a young lady with "ExitOnly" tattooed across her backside. At the time I thought it was hilarious, and so the name was born. I guess it's too late to turn back now.
PokerTips.org: Before you were of legal gambling age for casinos in America, you participated in some European Poker Tour events. How did they turn out for you?
Coburn: I participated in two events, EPT Dublin in 2005 and 2006. I was lucky enough to cash in the main event both times (14/250 for $12k in 2005 and 23/450 for $14k in 2006). For 2005, I died my hair green which got the attention of the PokerStars blogger. I think she was disappointed when I returned in 2006 with my natural hair color.
PokerTips.org: Are you still interested in the EPT now that you're 21?
Coburn: Definitely. I think one of the best perks about playing poker is that I get to travel around the world with my friends. I'm specifically looking forward to Monte Carlo in the spring and then London and Barcelona next fall.
PokerTips.org: What's the largest number of tables we might find you playing online at any given time?
Coburn: It varies a ton depending on how I'm feeling and what games I'm playing. You might find me playing anywhere from one to as many as sixteen.
PokerTips.org: With all the space those windows take up, what is your monitor set-up like?
Coburn: I have four 20" LCD monitors. Needless to say, I'm able to find room for all the tables.
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PokerTips.org: What stakes do you play?
Coburn: Recently, I've just been playing a ton of tournaments. Pretty much any online tournament with a buy-in greater than $100, or any of the juicier smaller buyins. When I play cash games, it's usually $2/$4 NL 6-max games.
PokerTips.org: What is the biggest shift you have to make in your strategy when switching from a tournament to a cash game?
Coburn: Well there's no one answer for how to change your play, but generally the shallow stack sizes in tournaments limit the action to preflop and the flop. In cash games, the stacks are usually 100+ big blinds deep, so you'll need to be ready to react to a lot more turn and river decisions.
PokerTips.org: You've taken a lot of money off of people playing poker. What would you say are some of the consistently big mistakes your opponents make that result in you draining their wallet?
Coburn: Tilt. This is true for winning and losing players. One tilting cash session can cost you weeks of grinding. One tilty hand deep in a big tournament could cost you tens of thousands. Eric "Rizen" Lynch doesn't tilt, and he wins more money online than anyone I know. That's not a coincidence.
PokerTips.org: What has been your most proud poker accomplishment?
Coburn: I'd say I'm most proud of the fact that I've been able to support myself for so long playing a card game that makes me happy. It always feels good telling your family about how much money you've been making playing poker. The looks on their faces when they know you made [x] amount of money from a card game on the internet are priceless.
PokerTips.org: From your vantage point, how much longer will there be enough dead money out there for you to mop up in the poker world?
Coburn: I think that I've gotten far enough along in the poker pyramid scheme that I should be able to make a living at it until I want to stop. There's always going to be new people coming into the game, and vacationers are always going to be getting drunk and gambling.
PokerTips.org: As a young online pro, how much money do you anticipate earning each year through poker?
Coburn: More than I would have made as an electrical engineer.
PokerTips.org: What advice would you give to a new poker player hoping to play online for a living someday?
Coburn: Stay persistent and keep trying to improve. One thing that has helped my progression is becoming friends with players as interested in the game as I am. Close friends that you can encourage you and hold you accountable are priceless.