<TABLE cellpadding=0 cellspacing=5><TR><TD ><IMG src=http://www.liquidpoker.net/staff/Ballad126/tcaby_bio.jpg alt="image of Taylor Caby"></TD><TD>LiquidPoker.net: Hey Taylor! We're all really excited that you agreed to do the interview with us, you've got a lot of members and fans here at LiquidPoker.net. But for those that might be new to the internet poker scene, can you go ahead and give us some basic info about yourself, and what you've done to become so well-known?
Taylor Caby: My name is Taylor Caby ( or "Green Plastic" ), I'm 24 years old, and I live in Chicago. I graduated with a degree in finance from University of Illinois. During college in 2004, I deposited $35 into an online poker room, and worked my way up from the $5 SNGs to the $10,000 NLHE tables, which is my preferred level of play.
LP: And to what do you credit your success at poker? Most winning poker players come from a background of other competitive endeavors; they excelled at academics, or sports, or even videogames. Did you have a similar background, something that you excelled at before finding poker?
Taylor Caby: Especially before poker became really popular, I think I worked at it a lot harder than most other people. And I've always been super-competitive. I played baseball, basketball, and golf competitively as a kid all the way up through high school.
LP: Do you think people who have success in other kinds of competitive endeavors can all expect a similar level of success with poker, or do you think that would just be coincidence? How important is that competitive drive in general, and how important has it been for you in particular?
Taylor Caby: I think having a competitive nature is absolutely crucial. It's the driving force behind working hard and being very motivated to improve your game, and it's necessary to succeed. I don't necessarily think a competitive nature guarantees success in poker, but I think if you aren't competitive, it will be difficult to have success. Especially at the highest levels.
LP: I'd like to ask a little about your life outside of poker if that's alright. What kind of setting did you grow up in, and what kind of interests did you naturally gravitate toward as a child?
Taylor Caby: I grew up in a pretty normal upper-middle-class household. I had my mom and my dad, and one brother. I was involved in general community and academic stuff like any typical kid, and mostly I was interested in playing a ton of sports.
LP: And how did you perform in school? Did you get into a lot of trouble? Did you have any favorite subjects?
Taylor Caby: I was always a pretty good student growing up. I went to magnet school for elementary and middle school, but really hated being away from my friends, who were mostly the kids I played sports with. Went to a normal public school through high school.
I always tested well and did pretty well overall, but not excellent. I've always had a hard time putting work into something that doesn't interest me, and school never did. Especially because I knew I wanted to go to Illinois, which I knew I could get into with a good ACT score, and wouldn't need amazing grades anyway.
Once I got to college, though, I was able to focus and get better grades, because I really enjoyed my major. I focused less the last two years of school, but I still did pretty well considering how busy I was with poker and CardRunners.
LP: You were a finance major, right? Why finance?
Taylor Caby: Basically, I knew I wanted something business-related, and I thought finance would give me the most options after college. I've always wanted to go into business since I was a little kid, not exactly sure why.
LP: Did you get a lot out of college, then?
Taylor Caby: I think so, but probably not the way people would expect. I think meeting and interacting with a diverse group of people (UI is very diverse) was good for understanding how to get along with others, which I think is a very underrated skill in life.
LP: Now about poker. For most people, their first introduction to poker came when they were kids, when their aunts and uncles would play after Thanksgiving dinner or something like that. Did you have a similar introduction? What was the first poker game you learned how to play, and who did you play with?
Taylor Caby: My first poker memory is my family all playing after Christmas. They never let me play because I don't think they wanted a kid to be gambling, and they probably also just wanted to drink beer and hang out with other adults.
When I got to high school, my parents bought me a poker book because I watched Rounders and became really interested in it. I played with friends and also with other caddies at the country club I played at. Eventually, after reading a lot of books, I knew I had a clear edge on people and started trying to play as much as possible.
The first game I learned was probably 5 Card Draw, but I played No Limit Hold'em back then, too, along with Guts, 7 Card Stud, Chicago, Omaha, etc.
LP: Did you perform well in those initial live games? Was your success at poker immediate, or did you really have to work for it? What were those first steps you took toward improving your poker game, even before you started playing online?
Taylor Caby: I immediately had good results, for the most part. Everyone was very bad, and I was just not as bad (but still bad). I have always had good "gambling" instincts, and I think that's what is most important when no one has any idea about optimal strategy.
The first step I took toward improving was checking out every poker book at the local library and reading them all. Looking back, I probably didn't need to read the books to beat the live games I played. The books were very very important when I started playing online and moving up the stakes, though.
LP: What do you think about all those poker books? "Super System," "The Theory of Poker," "Harrington on Hold'em," etc. Most online pros seem to think they're overrated, and give a lot of misguided advice. Do you think there's much to be learned from poker books?
Taylor Caby: Yeah, of course there is. There's tons to learn in these books and they will speed up your learning curve a lot. The problem is, there really is no good poker book for beating the middle to higher stakes poker games online. The games play different than the live games play, and it's a different skill set that a book won't teach you.
The books will help you beat weaker to average players, but you will get crushed against players that are very good if you just go by what you read in books.
I also think the books are valuable just to see what's out there -- even if you don't agree with something, it's good to know what someone is teaching, so you can get a better idea of how opponents might play.
LP: And what do you think of the live-table professionals who wrote those books? Do you look up to them? How do you think they'd stand up in the 25-50 games at Stars, or the games you frequent on UltimateBet, for example?
Taylor Caby: I look up to a lot of them, because they really paved the way for the game to be as popular as it is today. A lot of us internet kids act like we should take credit for everything we have done, but realistically, a lot of things that were completely out of our control fell into place to allow us to have our success. So we should at least acknowledge that people like Doyle, Harrington, Negreanu, etc., have all helped make poker popular for us.
All that said, I'm not sure most of these players would be favorites at the big cash games online. Some might, but it's a different style that wins in live and online games, and the online games are typically filled with much tougher players than a typical live game is.
LP: Eventually, after all that live play, you found internet poker. How did that come about? Which tables did you put your money at first, and how much direction did you have? Did you ever imagine back then, the success you're having now?
Taylor Caby: It started for me after my freshman year. I forget how, but I somehow found out you could play poker online, and went to PokerRoom because you didn't have to download anything. I played freerolls for a while before making a deposit, and I think I lost like 50 bucks there. Then I put 35 on UltimateBet and played $5 SNGs, and slowly built my roll from there.
I was just hoping I could make some spending money along with the money I won playing in the live games at the dorms and with friends, it was more like a hobby. I never imagined I could do so well at it.
LP: I'm sure many people reading this today are in the same situation you were in way back when you first started playing online. Is there anything big you wish somebody with a lot of experience would've told you back then, when you were just starting to play online?
Taylor Caby: Three years ago, we didn't have many of the resources that are available today -- particularly some of the forums and training sites that exist now, that didn't exist 3 years ago. To somebody just starting to play online, I would recommend forums and training sites.
LP: From those $5 SNGs you eventually became a massive presence on UltimateBet. Did you hit any pitfalls on your rise to the top? Who would you say were/are your greatest rivals in these high-stakes internet poker games?
Taylor Caby: I've been on about 3 or 4 big, 6-figure downswings. Those were pretty minor though because I already had 7 figures in profit each time I did that. I've always been good about stepping down during my downswings, which really kept me out of trouble.
As far as rivals, the person I've played the most with heads-up is Prahlad Friedman, but we haven't played in close to a year. He plays on PokerStars now as far as I know, where I don't play. I guess you might consider him a rival.
But I don't really have any rivals. Lots of my friends are some of the toughest players in the game -- CTS, sbrugby, durrr, Phil Galfond, etc. I wouldn't call them rivals, though.
LP: I heard Prahlad Friedman went a little crazy with his play, nearly busted a 7-figure roll and had to rebuild from almost nothing. Do you think you had anything to do with that?
Taylor Caby: I don't know. He definitely had a rough stretch on another site that had stakes as high as $40,000NL. I played him at $10,000NL and I think I was the first person to do well against him. I basically just "got it" on how to beat his hyper-aggressive style (which doesn't work as well these days). And I certainly ran pretty well, too.
I don't know if I had a lot to do with his downswing. I think I definitely got under his skin a little bit, but realistically, swings happen in poker and that's probably just what happened.
LP: Your success in poker has allowed you to turn your sights to the business world. Tell us about that.
Taylor Caby: Yeah. Honestly, it was just sort of lucky what happened. I started CardRunners.com, a poker training site where we record and narrate our play, more as a hobby and as something to do, rather than make money. When we realized that people really liked our videos, we hired more people and tried to improve the site as much as possible.
Now it's basically a full-time job. I spend a lot of my time building the business. Now it's pretty successful, but I never had any idea that it would grow like it has.
LP: Two of your most recent additions to the CardRunners family are Brian Townsend (sbrugby) and Cole South (CTS), two of the most successful ultra-high-stakes players in the history of poker. What's it like working with them, and what do you think of how they play? Do you think they took any of their habits from your videos?
Taylor Caby: It's great. They are great poker players, and great guys. It's nice to work with other poker players, though it can be hard because we all keep weird schedules sometimes. We're on the road for tourneys when work needs to be done, things like that.
They are two of the best players I have ever played. And yeah, they've both said that my videos really helped them earlier in their careers, which is really flattering to me, considering how good they are today and how much they've accomplished in poker.
LP: Is Brian Townsend the best No Limit Hold'em player in the world?
Taylor Caby: He's definitely one of the best. I can't name someone that's better than him, but I also haven't played everyone. If we could somehow actually figure out who the best players were, I'd be very surprised if he wasn't one of the top 5 players in the world.
LP: A lot of already-successful poker players feel you're giving their secrets away, and making online poker a lot tougher by dramatically improving the play of so many different players. Do you think your site has that strong of an impact on the profitability of the high-stakes tables? A decade from now, do you think there will be any weak players left?
Taylor Caby: Yeah, we are definitely giving secrets away. It's the same thing that Doyle did 30 years ago. Look at what people said about that book, and do you think there are still weak players today? Of course there are, we sit next to them every day.
The more important thing is the legislation in the US and other places clearing the way for more mainstream poker rooms, so players can easily get money online and so more people will realize it's not rigged.
LP: What do you think is going to happen to online poker in the near future, in light of the UIGEA and last year's decline in WSOP entries? Will online poker ever collapse, or "fall out of fashion"?
Taylor Caby: Poker is a fun game, and people are doing more and more things on the internet. Especially young people today who will eventually have the bulk of the money in the world tens of years down the road. I don't see poker ever falling out of fashion.
LP: And what are your thoughts on the recent AbsolutePoker scandal? For readers who might not know, AP recently admitted that at least one of their employees was using inside-information to peak at other players' hole cards, and cheated them out of a lot of money. Do you think this kind of cheating is a common occurrence, or just one isolated incident?
Taylor Caby: I don't think it's common at all, and I'm sure all of the sites are now looking into security even more because of the AbsolutePoker incident. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, and I'm very comfortable with playing internet poker.
LP: Have you ever been cheated online, or even suspect that you might have been cheated online?
Taylor Caby: I've never noticed any foul play at the tables, but I'd be naive to think I was never colluded against at some point. If I was, it was probably at the lower-stakes tables, and they probably weren't very successful. People cheating at online poker is a very rare thing, and the people who do it generally do it very badly and lose anyway.
Having said that, when you gamble for a lot of money you should always be aware of what's happening around you, online or not. There's always some chance that something could be "not on the level."
LP: Balancing poker, a business, friends and family is surely a busy life. What's on your list of things to do this week, and what can we expect to see in the future from you and from CardRunners?
Taylor Caby: This week, I work on finalizing some new acquisitions with CardRunners. We're looking to hire some people for internal positions, as well as some coaches. I'm going to play softball in my Monday night league, go out with friends on the weekend, and try to get to the gym every day.
The future of CR -- I can't go into specifics, but we are working on some creative new ideas that I think will really make our members happy. I think there should be some very exciting things coming in the next year.
LP: To conclude this interview, a series of 13 quick questions (with special thanks to James Lipton)
LP: What is your favorite word?
Taylor Caby: Freedom
LP: What is your least favorite word?
Taylor Caby: Luck
LP: What turns you on?
Taylor Caby: I like being anonymous, I like not being the center of attention, just one of the guys. So, someone who treats me like that.
LP: What turns you off?
Taylor Caby: When I think someone likes me for my success or my money.
LP: What is your favorite poker variation?
Taylor Caby: I enjoy playing Double-Flop Crazy Pineapple actually
LP: What is your favorite hand?
Taylor Caby: AA
LP: What is your least favorite hand?
Taylor Caby: 72
LP: What is your favorite color?
Taylor Caby: Yellow
LP: What is your favorite food?
Taylor Caby: I like pretty much everything.
LP: What is your favorite hard beverage?
Taylor Caby: Sam Adams.
LP: What is your favorite song?
Taylor Caby: Tie! "Let Down" or "Fake Plastic Trees," both by Radiohead.
LP: What do you love?
Taylor Caby: I love a challenge... and I love critics... I love being told that something I believe in won't work, because it just makes me work that much harder.
LP: Who do you love?
Taylor Caby: My family, my friends, and anyone who is doing good in the world.
LP: Thanks for doing the interview with us Taylor, and I wish you continued success in the future! It was a pleasure.
Taylor Caby: No problem, thank you!
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Left to right: Taylor Caby, Brian Townsend and Andrew Wiggins