It’s not often that you see Phil Galfond emerge from whatever four walls he is housed in whilst winning millions of dollars in the sickest games online. He sticks his head above the parapet at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), but other than that sightings are about as rare as Dodo poop.
So for Phil Galfond fans around the world it was like Christmas, your birthday, a tooth fairy visit, Easter and winning the lottery all rolled into one fantastic 24-hours, when the great man turned up on Reddit to answer questions by the barrel load.
In total, there were 368 comments and Galfond answered pretty much everything (there was a lot of repetition), but I have decided to give you some feedback on the most interest points, with a smattering of Galfond humor thrown in for good measure.
When asked if players who had stopped playing online poker after Black Friday had fallen behind the times he concurred, but was strong in his stance that there was always time to learn and to improve your game.
He is a great advocate of study tools, as you would expect with his work at RunItOnce, and says that the younger players who come up using them will have an advantage over the older ones that don’t. He included himself in the older bracket despite being just 29-years of age.
“People have figured things out that I don’t understand, because I came up when study tools were a lot weaker.” Said Galfond.
One of the recurring themes throughout the session was Galfond’s insistence that people should concentrate on life first and poker second.
“Your life is much more than your poker career and if it’s not then you’re making a mistake.” Said Galfond.
When asked about his latest learning experiences in the game, he said that in the past few years his greatest realization was the importance of thinking about how the turn and river combinations affect an opponent’s range when considering what action to take on the flop.
On prop bets Galfond didn’t have anything too extravagant to tell. His current biggest prop bet being a $7.5k bet on this season of The Voice. When asked about the rogues from Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Galfond only commented on Chris Ferguson.
“I hung out with Chris a couple of times before Black Friday. He was extremely kind and interesting. I still would like to believe he had no ill intent, and maybe even little to any knowledge of what went on. I haven’t seen him since, but if I did, I would greet him with respect and give him the benefit of the doubt until hearing him out.”
When asked about the biggest winners in the live games in Macau Galfond mentioned the names of Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonious, David Oppenheim, John Hennigan and Huck Seed. He also said that the stakes are the equivalent of $2k/4k so “it would be pretty easy to win or lose $5m. I’d expect that there are a handful of $10m+ winners from those games.”
When it came to the most common mistakes that he sees players making at the mid stakes level he cited auto piloting as the ‘most serious and most prevalent form of tilt,’ which he believes is due to players learning ‘rules’ when they first learn to play such as pre flop charts, standard c-bet sizing’s, etc. He called these ‘crutches’ and said that although they may help you to play competently faster, they limit your potential for growth.
When it comes to improving your game Galfond said it was imperative to take the time to get reads on your weaker opponent’s, and that talking about poker to his poker friends has been the single most important key to his growth as a poker player.
When questioned about coaching he said that the, ‘biggest and most expensive mistakes as a poker player are the ones that you don’t know you’re making…so how can you ask your coach about them?”
He instead suggests you record your play on video and send it to your coach to watch instead of trying to tell your coach what you need help with.
When asked about meeting Tom Dwan he said that David Benefield introduced the pair 7-8 years ago when Dwan was playing 50/100nl and Galfond was playing 5/10nl.
“He was extremely generous, letting me watch him play NL (and later PLO) even after not knowing me very long. To say Tom had an impact on my early growth as a player would be an understatement.” Said Galfond.
He confirmed that at no time in the early days did him, or any of the other high stakes pro know the identity of Isildur1.
“As far as Isildur- me and the high stakes guys that I talk to didn’t know who he was for a long time. I initially just assumed he was some hyper aggro small stakes guy who ran it up. Eventually we knew he was a big winner on Euro sites, but even then that wasn’t much information.”
When asked about which player he respects the most Galfond said it was Ben Tollerene.
“His work ethic and his mindset are incredible. Not to mention he’s just a great guy. Ben’s one of the only people harder on himself than I am. It’s not a fun quality to have, but it’s one that can make you great.”
When questioned about FTP Galfond said that he has around $500,000 tied up on the site and that he prefers the FTP software to that of PokerStars, and in a live context he cites the Aria card room as his favorite.
In terms of cheating and online poker room scandals he said people underestimate how crazy randomness can get, and during the UltimateBet scandal he received $100,000 in refunds and had never even suspected that he had been cheated.
He said that Ivey was definitely the most intimidating player he has ever faced both live and online, his longest online session was around 25 hours and live was closer to 36hrs.
“They’ve never been a good idea.” Said Galfond.
As well as being uber smart, Galfond is also very funny. When asked what his prized possession was in his famous slide filled apartment, Galfond said:
“I bought a wall safe and got it installed. Then I commissioned a painting of that wall safe and hung the painting over it. I lost the combination within a week and never used the safe.”
If you are unfamiliar with Galfond then the man sums up exactly what he is about when he created this stock answer to the myriad of questions he was being peppered with about how to improve someone’s game.
“I see a lot of questions asking me for one tip or trick to improve your game or get results. How many simple “tips” and “tricks” for getting in shape do you see out in the world each day? And what % of the population is in great shape?
If it were as simple as a quick tip to change your game, everyone would do it.
To get results (in anything), it takes work and dedication, along with some natural ability. Most importantly, it takes time.
You need to accept that you can’t become drastically better at anything overnight. Start yourself on a path of improvement, and be patient.
Fitness is a great analogy for this because it’s very clear to see what helps and what doesn’t…
At the end of each day, ask yourself if you took a step towards your goal (ate well, exercised) or a step away from it (ate terribly, sat on a couch all day). As long as most days are steps forward, don’t focus so much on seeing results right away. Time will take care of them.
If you want to improve at poker: play, read, watch videos, run numbers, etc.
You won’t be dominant tomorrow, or next week, or next month… but you’re on your way.
Enjoy the other parts of your life while including some steps in the right direction each day (but don’t focus or obsess on the goal beyond that). Before you know it, it’ll be six months later and you’ll have made amazing improvements.”
It was one of the best Q&A sessions in the business and it can be found at Reddit here.