Interview: Brian Dawydiuk
Brian Dawydiuk, better known by his online handle "pearljam1012", is a 27 year-old Canadian poker pro who currently lives in Lethbridge, Alberta. He can be found tearing up the online tournament scene on a daily basis. Best known for his domination of big field $10 rebuy events, Brian has cashed for nearly $200,000 in online tournaments since the beginning of last year.
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PokerTips.org: What got you interested in poker and when did you start taking it as seriously as you do now?
Dawydiuk: I started when I was in my last semester of university during a teaching internship. I played in a game with teachers from my school and did well (ran very good). At the game, the math teacher would talk about the percentages of certain draws hitting and taught me briefly about pot odds and other basic concepts. From there, I played for play money online and slowly got confident enough to deposit. I lost my initial investments but because I'm competitive I kept plugging and eventually hit a few MTT cashes and haven't looked back.
PokerTips.org: A recognizable screen name to a lot of people even just vaguely familiar with the online tournament scene, how did you decide upon the "pearljam1012" name?
Dawydiuk: I'm a HUGE Pearl Jam fan, so that is the first part. The numbers are simply my old sports numbers from when I played basketball and baseball. My old avatar on stars was a Pearl Jam tattoo I have on my back, and my current one is a picture of me with Mike McCready (lead guitarist from the band) that I got in Hawaii in December. I actually missed most of last years' WSOP because I was traveling around seeing a bunch of shows. It is hard for people to understand how their music has affected my life in such a big way. I guess you could say it is almost a spiritual thing when I listen to them or go to their shows, where I can feel lifted to a higher place...and unlike Gank's feeling of being lifted this has nothing to do with the chronic ?
PokerTips.org: How many tournaments do you play per year and where do you play them?
Dawydiuk: I play mainly on Pokerstars and will play upwards of twenty tourneys in a given day there. If I play a tourney on another site, it is usually a major tourney. I just find Stars to be the best site for MTTs. I rarely get to play live tourneys, which is something I hope to change in the next little while.
PokerTips.org: With so many tournaments, is it fair to say that you probably play as many tournaments per year as just about anyone else in the world? How many different tables can you handle before your brain gets frazzled?
Dawydiuk: In terms of volume, I play many tourneys but many are very low buy-in tourneys that I play very fast in and will bust out quickly or stack up early. Because I'm doing this, I can play up to ten or twelve tables at a time. Lately, I've been trying to limit myself to six to eight tables and avoiding playing tourneys that I won't take seriously. Players like Bel0wAb0ve and Annette_15 are high volume and high buy-in players that are certainly able to handle the volume effectively.
PokerTips.org: What is your favorite daily tournament on the Internet? Favorite weekly tournament?
Dawydiuk: Without question, the $10 rebuys on Stars are my favorite tourneys online. They are also my biggest cash cow, as I've won them four or five times and have many final tables.
PokerTips.org: You have won an online $10+rebuys tournament against a massive field way too many times for it to just be luck. What is your secret in those big field, small buy-in rebuy events?
Dawydiuk: There are two trains of thought in small buy-in rebuys. One is the maniac all-in approach where you try to build a stack at any cost assuming that the chips you put in other players stacks will come back to you with good play later in the tourney. The other approach is to play more conservatively and pick on the players who are being maniacs. I think both styles have their strong points. Depending on my table, I'll adapt and can play both roles but I prefer the latter. With the new payout structure in the rebuys, it is probably a -EV situation to be in for 20-30 rebuys.
After the break, it is about patience and realizing that with so many chips in play there is a lot of time to make moves. Too many players look at the top stack at 70k after break and think that they have to get there ASAP when in reality you just need to wait and pick your spots.
PokerTips.org: There is no doubt that many online poker players are in the game as much for the glory as they are for the money. How important is personal recognition in the online tournament world? Is it all about the money? Or is there something to be said for leaderboards and other various accolades?
Dawydiuk: I've changed in regards to this. I used to think it was cool to be recognized for my skill and ability, but in reality I would rather be a lesser known player and make the same money. I know a lot of players who obsess with the rankings and want to be ranked or ranked higher. I think the spirit of competition is fine, but when it becomes the be-all and end-all in a person's existence then it is a little much.
PokerTips.org: Are you a tournaments-only kind of guy, or do you dabble in cash games? If so, what might we typically find you playing?
Dawydiuk: I really am trying to become more of a cash game player because the lifestyle is better (no six hour sessions if you don't want them), and the potential for making money is greater. I've started playing $1-$2 NL on Stars to learn them before I move up. I've made the mistakes of playing cash games that were too high for my experience but within my roll and had bad swings, so I'm going to start from the bottom and work up. I also love PLO and PLO8 and play a lot of $2-$4 and the odd $3-$6 table of those games.
PokerTips.org: What type of multi-tasking are you able to do while playing online poker?
Dawydiuk: Well, with all the sitting and playing I've started to get a bit of a gut. I have been trying to counter this by riding a stationary bike while I play. So if someone is chatting to me and I don't respond there is a good chance I'm trying to get my fat a$$ in shape and can't type ;)
PokerTips.org: If you were to write a small crash course on tournament poker for our readers, what would you say?
Dawydiuk: I start off playing fairly tight and don't start to open up until the blinds and other stacks at the table dictate that I need to. In any tourney, you are three or four double ups away from the money. If you think about that, you can only play four pots in three hours and cash in a tourney if things go perfectly. The skill that many top players have is maintaining or even increasing their stacks when the cards aren't coming.
I always tell people who are learning that if you feel like you are getting short, look at the leaderboard and see where you will be if you double up two times. In most cases you will be near the top after two double-ups so thoughts of panicking can be eased. I think the biggest thing people need to learn is to look at the big picture in a tourney and to remain patient.
PokerTips.org: What personal accomplishment in the poker world are you most proud of?
Dawydiuk: As odd as it seems, the thing I'm most proud of is that I haven't let my poker accomplishments completely change me. I am still teaching and will continue to regardless of how much money I make playing cards. I really hope that I will never lose the perspective on things where I will take cards more seriously than I take the rest of my life.
PokerTips.org: When you get some time away from your busy tournament schedule, how do you like to pass the time?
Dawydiuk: I like to play sports, listen to music, watch movies, and do most anything that a typical 27 year-old single male would do. Now that I realize how lame that sounds I really should find a cool hobby like rock climbing or bear wrestling or something.
PokerTips.org: What was on your list of poker goals for 2007? Entering into this year, how much money do you generally hope to net from playing poker?
Dawydiuk: I haven't set a specific goal for money made, but I do hope to surpass last year's total. As for live events, I plan on playing at the LA Poker Classic and the WSOP and maybe a few others in between. I really hope this is the year I finally final table a Sunday tourney on Stars. I've only been deep a few times and that tourney seems to have my number. If I do make one, I have already stated that I will ask Lee Jones to match a percentage of whatever I cash as a donation to charity. So hopefully, I make it and maybe even set a standard for future players to do something greater than poker while they are in a very fortunate situation.