Interview: Robert Kuhn
Hometown: Barnesville, Ohio
Place of Residence: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Best Known For: Being an MTT regular 'Pokerguru740' on PokerStars and coaching over 20 MTT players on a weekly basis.
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This week, American poker refugee and MTT coach Robert Kuhn chatted with us about his poker career and life in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
PokerTips.org: First off, tell us how you got started in poker.
Well, I've really been playing poker since about 7th grade or so. As most poker players we started off playing $5 dollar home games about once or twice a week. I won almost every time we played and we did this for several years. However, the first time I played online was when I was 18. I deposited $50, sat down at a $0.25 table and ended up walking away with $125. To me, this was amazing. I remember telling my friends about how I was going to become a professional and how I was going to maintain a $100/hourly haha. Long story short this didn't happen and I went bust several several times. I didn't give up though, that's just not in my nature.
So what helped you turn it around and becoming a winning player?
I think my drive and really understanding pattern recognitions was the most important part of becoming better. I just didn't get why some people were better than others at first, so I kept trying to perfect my game little by little. I would try out being a tight player, loose, maniac etc until I found what I thought is right for me and what works the best. Practicing is def one if not the most important part of poker in regards to becoming a better player
What games and stakes do you primarily play now?
Mainly mid-stakes at the moment. Before Black Friday I played a little higher with an average buyin of about $70, but due to life, Vegas, losing at backing players, etc, I play slightly lower now.
How did Black Friday affect your life? Tell us a little about that day from your perspective.
Oh boy what a day, I actually took the day off because I was on a $35k upswing that week. I remember getting a ton of phone calls about it. At first I was in shock, but then I realized the only thing I could do is to make up some kind of backup plan. I drove to Athens to meet my friend Sam, who is also a tournament player. He was basically panicking as were most others. I told him we needed to think of other ways of income instead of worrying about everything. So we brainstormed multiple business ideas and of course also considered the thought of moving out of the country to continue playing.
So did moving to Playa del Carmen become a no-brainer decision for you?
I wouldn't say a no-brainer. My initial plan was to win a WSOP event last year and be set for awhile. However, for some reason that plan didn't work so it became a little more obvious that I needed to move out of the country.
What has the experience of living in Playa been like for you?
Amazing, There's a million great people down here. I've met so many good friends and I'm really trying to make the best out of everything I am given. One of the best decisions of my life for sure.
You currently do MTT coaching for a number of players. Can you share with us a little of what that work involves and an example of some wisdom you try to impart on your students?
Mainly when I'm coaching I am spending a majority of my time to understand their leaks. After I am able to find their leaks I'll tell them why they shouldn't be doing things, such as calling a raise with 89o from the big blind in a heads up pot out of position, etc. I also like to give them different line options. I was recently having a student watch one of my hand histories and he asked me why I decided to 3-bet pocket 4's instead of just calling and hoping to flop a set. I basically explained to him there are a ton of different line you can take when playing a hand. For this specific hand I decided to take the initiative and put the villain and everyone else who was behind me in awkward positions with any marginal hand they may have. A few of my students have had their biggest scores online recently and are very grateful for me coaching them. I've received multiple correspondence from them about happy they are, how sharp they are playing and how they would like to set up more coaching sessions. I'm really loving being a poker coach as of late.
What do you make of the rumors that PokerStars will be purchasing Full Tilt?
To be honest I try not to follow all of that stuff anymore. What happens will happen. I'm not getting overly excited about anything. With that said, I love stars and I have the upmost respect for how they run their business. I'd like to see the deal get done and will be all smiles if they do proceed.
Is poker the destination for you or just part of the journey? What else might you see yourself doing someday?
I used to buy and sell cars on my own when I was 16. I then started to buy and sell furniture, boats, campers and basically anything else (legal) I could make a buck on. Poker has always been a means to an end and I most certainly will try to be an entrepreneur when the timing or opportunity presents itself. I love the competition aspect of poker and always will, but this is just another business in my eyes.
Finally, what tips do you have for our readers hoping to get a leg up on the current MTT scene?
Just practice. Learn to take criticism well. If you make a mistake in a tournament that's somewhat marginal don't try and defend it for hours on end. Learn to understand why good players are telling you things. With that, you'll only get better. Learn to adjust to your opponents while also understanding your table image. That's slightly more advanced stuff, but that'll all come the better you get. The main thing is reviewing and practicing. After that, everything will start to fall in place.
Also, understand variance. It is possible for the best person in the world to have a losing year. It can happen, so don't get discouraged about not having the results right away. The truth is when you play a tournament, you are not going to win most of the time. Hell, you're not even going to cash most of the time. Poker is a numbers and lifetime game. Don't get too attached to one tournament. Play the best you can and try not to get caught up about bad beats.