Interview: Mike Goodman
Home Town: New York
Biggest Win: $115,607
Best Known For: Online multi-table tournaments
Some might recognize Mike Goodman from an ESPN World Series of Poker episode where he finished fourth against the likes of Dutch Boyd and Joe Hachem. Others may know him better by his online screenname "anakinso", through which he has terrorized major online tournaments, including two victories in the largest weekly online tournament. For those of you who don't know him, this twenty-three year-old New Yorker was able to free up some time to have a chat with us.
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PokerTips.org: How did you get into poker and how long have you been playing?
Goodman: I've been playing poker in some way shape or form since I was in junior high school. All throughout high school, I would play occasionally and casually with friends. Sometime around my junior year, I read my first poker book Winning Low Limit Hold'em by Lee Jones. I was probably a marginal winner at that point. In my sophomore year of college, I became friends with several other players and we all began to think and learn together. Two of them became very successful cash game players in their own right.
PokerTips.org: What is your most proud poker accomplishment?
Goodman: It's tempting to say my WSOP final table, but realistically speaking, that is only one tournament and doesn't say all that much about me as a player. I think that I'm most proud of my consistent results in the big Sunday tournaments over the last three years. I've won the Stars Million twice, come in 3rd and 5th in the Party Poker 750k (when it was a $350 buy-in I think), and finished 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the UB 200k guaranteed. I've also finished 5th in an FTOPs PLO event.
PokerTips.org: What would you say are some of your weaknesses as a poker player?
Goodman: One of my weaknesses is not playing as many hours as I should. I am also possibly too conservative with my bankroll, which I would imagine is the opposite of most poker players. I'm inherently a fairly risk averse person in this regard. At this point in my poker career, it's difficult for me to remain patient in the early stages of the larger online tournaments if I become short stacked.
PokerTips.org: What proportion of your poker playing is dedicated to cash games?
Goodman: I play mostly mid-stakes no-limit during the week ($2-$4/$5-$10) and only play tournaments on Sundays. So, at this point I play mostly cash games, which while not as exciting to me, do offer a different kind of intellectual challenge, while also giving me more time flexibility.
PokerTips.org: What are some reoccurring weaknesses displayed by your opponents at the cash game tables?
Goodman: It's hard to get into specifics here. It often depends on the opponent. I would say that I think often players tend to look at decisions in a vacuum and don't fully adjust to what opponents perceive their hand ranges to be.
PokerTips.org: What do you enjoy doing away from the poker tables?
Goodman: I'm a fairly big movie and TV buff. I also have quite an eclectic reading list, everything from Game Theory text books to Tom Clancy to Lolita. Also, I tend to do all the normal social things a young guy with disposable income would do in New York City. Good restaurants, lots of bars, and generally being social.
PokerTips.org: Last year, you finished fourth in a $2,500 buy-in shorthanded no-limit WSOP event for a $115k win. Ultimately Dutch Boyd beat Joe Hachem heads-up to win that event. How did it felt to go deep in a WSOP event and later watch yourself on a TV episode?
Goodman: That whole experience was pretty insane. As in any poker tournament, I had to get extremely lucky just to get to the final table. There are three particular hands of interest: The first hand, I had a stack of 10k during the 100/200 level, which was a pretty big stack at the time. I called a raise with Qs Js, and saw a flop of 8h 9s Ts against somebody with roughly the same stack. All the money went in on the flop, and he had 88. A nine on the turn filled him up and left me absolutely crushed, but then the 8s fell on the river giving him quads and me a straight flush for one of the most insane pots I have ever won.
Later in the tournament, I attempted to re-steal from the BB with 89o over a button raise, but he had KK. The flop was J7x and an 8 on the turn gave me a ton of outs. I caught a 10 on the river to win the pot. Roughly three hands later, and against the same player, I got all-in with him on a T63 flop with KK when he had 33. I spiked a King on the river.
The TV experience is still surreal for me. I wish things had gone a little differently for me that day, so I could have seen the interview piece we taped, but I can't complain. I felt I played reasonably well at the final table, although certainly not spectacularly. There were one or two hands that, if I was playing amazingly well at the time, I could have picked up some chips or saved a few. I almost folded KK to Dutch Boyd's K9 on the 9924Q board, but ultimately I just couldn't do it. Also I had several opportunities to re-raise Joe Hachem when I had complete trash, where in my opinion it would have been very hard for him to call. Ultimately though, those were pretty marginal spots, and I don't think being on TV impacted my decisions.
PokerTips.org: How much do you plan on participating in this year's WSOP?
Goodman: As of now, I have no idea.
PokerTips.org: Who are some fellow poker players that you really admire and why?
Goodman: On a personal level, I think both Peter Feldman and Carl Olson are tremendous players and great people. They represent everything that is right about big time tournament poker, while also being extremely successful. Talking about poker with them has helped all of our games. From afar, I think Patrik Antonius is scary good, and Erik Lindgren is very complete as a tournament player...and extremely good at exploiting both good and bad players.
PokerTips.org: Do you have a day job? If so, what? And if not, what did you do before turning to poker?
Goodman: I started playing poker directly after college, so I was a student before.
PokerTips.org: You've made multiple final tables at big buy-in, large field online Sunday tournaments. What has been the key to that success?
Goodman: I don't really know what it is specifically that makes my game particularly suited for large field tournaments. I know that I am comfortable playing a larger percentage of my hands than many players, which helps me exploit weaker players, but I'm certainly not the only player who does that. I think that my experience has given a fairly good understanding of how much my stack is worth at any given point in a tournament, which means I have an understanding of how much I should be willing to gamble at any given point, and am more willing to gamble approaching the money and just inside the money than many people. One of the keys to large tournaments, in my mind, is amassing a big stack at that point.
PokerTips.org: For our readers out there aspiring to reach your level of success in poker, what tips would you give them to expedite that process?
Goodman: Play, play, play. And all the while read, think, and analyze. Poker is about actively assessing situations and responding to them.
Many developing players want short cuts and rules to follow. The fact is that following "rules" without understanding the reasons behind them will not make you a long term successful player, especially in today's poker playing climate.
PokerTips.org: In your opinion, is poker here to stay? Or is it just one big bubble waiting to burst? In what way do you view poker's place in your personal future?
Goodman: I think the next two years are critical for poker's development, and I think it is likely that ultimately online poker will be legalized and regulated [in the US]. If that happens, poker will continue to thrive. If it doesn't, poker's popularity will certainly slip backwards, although ultimately it will still be more popular than before the boom started.
PokerTips.org: And lastly, the magic question: How many players does Mike Goodman think will register for the 2007 WSOP Main Event?
Goodman: I really have no idea. At last year's WSOP, I put the over/under at 10k. The poker world has been in such flux this year it's very, very hard to say.