Interview With Rekrul
We have all heard of 'Rekrul', but Do YOU really know him? Take a look to your sides and what you are wearing, because Today.. This interview can turn your Poker Career and make you a Succesful player, and if you are.. Even more.
What is your full name?
What is your current Age and Location?
20 / Seoul, Korea
Some readers do, but some others don't know as to why you have chosen 'Rekrul' , Can you elaborate?
I liked zerg when I first played broodwar and I liked the lurker unit specifically, the ID Lurker was taken on battle.net so I put it backwards and have always used it since then.
How did you and Poker get to know each other?
Dudey introduced me to poker. One day on battle.net a group of good players were all in a channel and he told us to download this software and watch him play a tournament. Elky was there, Nazgul was there, NTT was there, maybe Maynard was there I'm not sure. We watched him play some 20$ NL tournament. Everyone at the table was a fish and as obs we were saying really stupid stuff. I remember NTT saying "wow that (iforgethisname) guy is really smart for sitting out, he's probably just taking notes on the players." Which is really sad and hilarious to think about it again.
So it's cool to think that Nazgul Elky and I all started together.
From that moment, How did you start playing, How did you start your Bankroll?
I bummed 5$ or 10$ here and there off of random people. Went broke several times on hte pennies always trying to play like a gangsta bluffing and shit. Finally one day I was in debt a few hundred to Elky and decided to borrow a little more from him and stop fk'ing around.
Do you remember your first successful sessions, how were them?
I don't really remember so clearly. I remember my heart beating like crazy every time I had AA and got raised <A name="cutnews"></A>on the flop, I was so scared back then haha. I never thought about money in terms of 'buy-ins' back then though. I was just a broke college student so losing 100$ in a session of .25/.5 felt like a big deal to me. I remember when I first got up to 600$ I sat down on a 1/2 table and first hand I limped in with 55 and got flop J5J only to lose against J5.
I got incredibly discouraged and complained to everyone.....back then I was emotionally involved in my play and that was not good at all.
You were a broke student, how many years ago are we talking about?
Feels like forever, but that would be 3 years ago at the University of Cincinnati
When and how was your 'lift' that made you a winning player?
I had cashed out a little bit...I'm not sure how much. I had like 1k and was playing .5/1 tables. I went on a terrible run and lost all of that bankroll including 800 more $ that Elky had lent me. I was a little depressed about poker and felt like it was impossible but I was desperate so I deposited 500$ of my own money and from that never looked back. Once I put in that money I really tightened up and stuck to my limits.
That was my first realistic lift...the thought of losing my own cold hard cash not just some virtual money really scared me into playing solid low stakes poker instead of fk'ing around all the time.
Can you give advice on how to follow a proper BR management for new players in low stakes?
Information on this is out there everywhere, but in general I suggest having 25 buyins on your respective limit. So you should have 250$ to play the .05/.1 tables. Grind the pennies until you get to 250$. This is important. It minimizes risk and ensures you get the proper experience. Once you've moved up, if you fall to only 15 buyins of your respective limit, move back down again until you reach that 25 buyin mark by playing a lower stake .05/.1*
You say you wen't broke several times , did you have any familiar, friend that was encouraging you to stop trying Poker?
No, the only people that knew I was broke were the people loaning me money and myself. I was pretty much too embarassed to talk about it with anyone else, nor did I see much point in discussing it. I don't give a crap how many times you go broke, which I'm sure is often
You were a student and you were broke, now all of a sudden you start making a good amount of money, What goes trough your mind?
Well, actually during all of my college career I never got above the .5/1 tables. I grinded them and cashed out often, which sometimes forced me to move down to .25/.5 or even .1/.25 if I hit a bad run of cards. The constant cashing out hindered me a lot but I liked the money and I liked the feeling of having it secure in my account. I also got lucky in a live tourney and won 2k from that...but in total I only made like 10k during my college days as a poker player.
Not much went through my mind in terms of dreams and stuff but when my grades were pathetic and my father threatened to take me out of college poker did give me some sense of security.
Did you finish your career? What happened eventually to you as a student and your family support?
Well, I dropped out of college to attempt a life as a pro-gamer, which I also quit full-time poker for a year to do as well.
After two semesters of college it was obvious that I wasn't trying hard at all in school as my grades were horrible in easy classes at an easy college and my parents knew all I was doing was playing online poker. My dad said he wasn't going to pay and take me out of college and make me get a job at a factory or something. But I knew in summer time I was going to go to Korea so I begged for one more chance in college even though I did not plan on trying at all. I just didn't want to work in a factory and wanted 100% free time to play poker everyday.
Then during the summer my grades came in and my dad said GG college and I said that's ok GG USA I'm going to Korea to play SC. It was already in the works and they couldn't really stop me from going.
It shocked them but their support has never faltered...though they do have their concerns. Well, they did.
How did your Pro-gaming career as a Starcraft player plan went?
My 'career' lasted for 6 months or so. During the first 4 months I did not play poker at all here. But when I realized I was going out too much and just fk'ing around and that koreans were way too good at SC for me, I started playing poker again full time whenever the manager wasn't at our practice house. I bought the teammates icecreams a lot because I was thankful that they never told him.
Eventually I built up enough of a roll to quit the starcraft team and move out on my own.
Do you consider yourself self-dependent, did it help in all these events?
I am extremely self-dependent...I always have been even though in the past I was a really shy kid. I always trusted myself and my decisions. The idea of moving out on my own in Korea is not something most people would have gotten, they probably would have gone back to their parents. I enjoy this country and the freedom it grants and I enjoy having poker as a source of income.
I was never worried, I always had a plan and I stuck to it and things worked out. You need this kind of personality to succeed at poker as well. I fk'ing hate hearing bad beat stories from the same people every day.
Did all your income came from poker?, Never had to flip any burgers
I only had one real job in my life. My family is by no means rich though. In high school my mother always yelled at me to get a job so I drove around in my car for a couple hours then came back telling her that I applied to a bunch of places when in reality I didn't. That escapade lasted the whole summer of my junior year of high school. In the year before college I actually did need money so I worked at a honda packaging factory with a bunch of hicks. It was 9 hours a day 5 days a week and I got paid around 8 dollars an hour. It was the most tedious summer of my life but thats about it. After that I found poker. Actually during that summer is when I started poker...I remember sitting on my computer playing .01/.02 or play money even before I had to go to work. But at that point I never thought large volumes of cash could be won playing poker.
Did you study korean before going? Any problems to socialize or do things when you just got there?
I didn't know any korean at all before I came here...but luckily I lived with 3 other non-koreans at the gamer sookso so it wasn't too difficult. All I knew was how to say hello in korean before I came here...but I couldn't even pronounce it right. But there wasn't that much trouble socializing. Koreans are good at getting their point across in broken english. Now I am fluent enough to
joke around with the hooligans at the underground casinos
Now that you have been playing winning poker, you are done with pro-gaming scene, and you have decided to take poker seriously. How good was your income, did you have trouble in this part of your life?
I didn't have any trouble in this part of my life. It's been over a year now and is probably the most fun I have ever had. I've made a decent amount of money. The only troubles I've had was when I went broke on pokerstars once (had cashed out plenty though) a year ago, and when I was waking up at 11 PM every day going to the casino like a degenerate and playing like a crazed gambler for a month. Other than that I've been doing well.
Has tilt been a problem for you? Yes, no, how? What advice can you give about tilting, how to spot or avoid it?
Tilt hasn't really been a problem. I really don't tilt at all on the poker table. I guess in some situations if I'm a little irritated I will become slightly more aggressive, but that might be a good thing not a bad thing. The best way to avoid tilt is to always be conscious of the fact that you are able to make money off poker. You are able to take money from retards just by clicking your mouse on the internet a few hours a day. Respect that gift that has been graciously planted in your life and you'll learn to respect your money to the point where you don't throw it away like the people you normally take it from. If you want to tilt go spend your money on some crazy stuff you enjoy. But treat poker like your job. If you don't respect your money somewhat you're going to lose it.
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Blunt, Rational, Instinctive, Wanderlust, and....Tall.
Readers often quickly relate 'Agressive' when they see Rekrul, does this go as well in a Poker table?
I think the terms aggressive and loose are used far too widely and vaguely in the poker scene. All good players are aggressive. In online poker my game can range from tight-aggressive to loose-aggressive depending on the players on the table and the specific people that are in every pot I play. I mean there are situations where you want to bet the pot on the river with top pair jack kicker and there are others where you want to check call or even check fold it. Thats what it takes to be a good player...diversity in your game and the ability to play every situation for what it is. Live games are the same way. I vary my play alot. All the koreans in the casino think I'm a psychotic loose aggressive maniac but in reality usually I'm playing pretty tight.
Do you use any software to keep any kind of track of your game statistics?
I bought pokertracker but my computer likes to freeze every time I run it so I never really used it. I think some people are just too into poker. I feel like I can analyze the hands I played improperly and the holes in my game just by feel after every session. I don't need some software to tell me I'm playing AQo improperly. Most good players don't need to use PT or anything to play better, most of them probably just use it to keep exact track of their winnings and to brag to people
about their VPIP (I don't even know wtf that is) or their BB/Hour.
Do you consider yourself more of a Cash game player?, Or tourney? Why?
I consider myself a cash game player. I enjoy live tournaments and have done well in both of the 'major' ones I played (3rd/1st) live, but I enjoy the freedom that playing online cash grants. You can quit at any time...you don't have to invest hours into a session. Even though I have nothing really special or important going on in my life I think I'm pretty busy in day to day life and like to be able to quit my session at any time. Plus I think cash play is a much more consistent flow of money and there are tons of fish on every limit.
Playing a hand in a cash game is like putting yourself to the test in every hand and situation. Tournaments on stars seem to me like waiting games and push-fests. Much less skill needed.
What skills, abilities do you think a person MUST have to be successful at Poker?
You have to be intuitive, assertive, know a little math, and have good memory to play your cards well. But to be a successful player you most importantly need dedication and respect for your bankroll.
I want you to think a question of your own that you think it would be helpful for new players, any advice that you think YOU realize but not so many do?
What is a major hinderance for most players?
Most people always are trying to find an edge somewhere. They are trying to become a sit n' go player, they are trying to change sites all the time, they are trying to get bonuses...people are always trying out new shit. This is a terrible idea. You don't need to read the strategy forums, you don't need to mix your game up. Just pick a site, pick whatever form of play you feel most comfortable
with (sitngo/cash/tourney) and stick the fuck to it. You don't need the bonuses, you don't need to go to the fishiest sites. ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS LOG HOURS AND THINK ANALYTICALLY ABOUT EVERY HAND YOU PLAY AND IMPLEMENT YOUR FINDINGS. Doing this will make you become a great player much faster than all the little bs edges people are always trying to find.
What impact do you think Poker will have in the Future? Economic, and Social speaking?
What your vision of poker is in a few years ?
Poker won't have any impact except slight social quirks as it does now. Like people saying stuff like 'all-in' in every day life. Poker is just gambling when you get down to it, most people lose and an elite % and the house win. It's not something thats going to save the starving children in Africa or stop Bush from attacking people. It's going to continue to grow somewhat and will last for a long.. long, long time. One thing people always say is: "I'm worried all the fish are going to dissapear and everyone is going to get good." Trust me, this is not going to happen. There are far, far, far, far more stupid, drunk, or un-caring rich people coming into poker than there are intelligent little grinders. Thats the way it always will be.
What is your favorite hand if you have one? Why?
I don't have a favorite hand. I think shit like that is fucking stupid.
Out of a hundred, how many new players do you think will make it , getting something off poker?
5 will get a lot
14 will get some.
What is your general outlook on life now and do you still have those aspirations as in your last "bittersweet symphony" post?
Bittersweet Symphony Post
I still stick to those words that poker is kind of pathetic...but when I write I try to make it a powerful article. I could easily write a counter-article to that one and make myself look like an idiot for writing it. I think I can view that subject from all angles and just because I chose to write about that angle that particular day does not mean I truly believe in it. I actually don't know what
the hell I believe in. I'm kind of wandering along.
But from that article I do still believe that poker has many extreme dark sides. It has turned plenty of cocky losers into cocky losers with money. This is dangerous and incredibly annoying.
I did go through a short phase where I thought I was the shit too. It just pains me to watch some of up and coming players and how full of themselves they are. Being humble is very important. And if you think about it...for every rich cocky worm that is created from poker there are 2-3 guys who's lives are ruined from it. Poker is definitely harming society but there are so many things that are harming society that I participate in so I can't really judge anyone as I too am a poker player. I just want people to keep it real.
But uh, as for my own personal aspirations they may not be the same now as I had written in that article. I will probably end up playing poker longer than I wanted. I probably won't go back to college.
But one thing is sure...poker to me has just become something that I do. I get income from it and I enjoy it....but I certainly don't love it.
It would be good if you explain Why don't you love poker?
How many people love their jobs? In this world, not many. I like my job and I respect it. I mean I have a job that I can randomly and safely produce huge amounts of green at any place or time in the world. But when it comes down to it it's just a silly game with it's demons as I mentioned earlier and it's not something that has truly captured me. I love starcraft. I like poker.
What are your current plans for the future?
I get asked that a lot by friends from home and my parents. I decided to stop thinking about it and just tell people that I realistically have none at all other than to travel a lot. As for simple plans...well pretty soon I'm going to be moving houses into a nice place with three other poker professionals: Elky, Giyom, and another person. This move will be good for all of our games. We can motivate and help eacho ther out daily with our play.
Kind of what Nazgul, RaSZi and Gijoy are living?
Yeah, except we are all much better than them at poker.
Elky, Giyom, Nazgul, RaSZi, we all know these ex-starcraft players, and now winning poker players, What are your personal thoughts on each one of them?
ElkY is the craziest player...he will probably make it farther than any of us as he has the ability to log insane hours, is incredibly good, and has burning desire to make it big in poker. Giyom needs to play more poker and less DOTA but he is doing well for himself. Nazgul is a very good player...one of the most analytical players I've ever met but he needs to remove something from a region of
his body. Raszi is a cry baby and needs to stop bragging to everyone about his flop seen % but he is a pretty good player too....if Raszi ever gets outa line I can post endless logs of him being a cry-baby on msn...I probably have those somewhere on my computer.
RaSZi once said that in the past you were tough to him but that same thing made himself better..
What do you have to say about this?
My MSN box is a bad-beat-free-zone. I don't care. But yeah Raszi has come a long way, he is an emotional guy and an emotional player but I think that is one of the reasons why he plays well. You just gotta take what you get. You run bad sometimes, you run good other times. Every day is just part of the grind. As long as you're playing within your bankroll's limits you should never take enough
bad beats to make you get that upset about it. It's like taxi drivers here in Korea.
Some of them ask you where you're going and if it's too close and the traffic/and/or weather is bad they tell u to fuck off. These are the stressed guys that you can't respect. But then there are others that are always calm and will accept any customer. Sometimes they have to drive 5 minutes and only make 2 bucks,
sometimes they hit jackpot and get an 80$ customer (cabs are cheap here) either way it's all part of the grind and they aren't going to tilt all day on people just to make a few bucks extra overall.
Thats the kinda player you gotta be.
Either way it's all part of the grind and they aren't going to tilt all day on people just to make a few bucks extra overall.
In the end the stressed guys that deny customers are probably making less because they always go for the big score and log less raw hours of customer time.
Thats the kinda player you gotta be. Calm and collected.
After you played Online Poker, how did you start your live poker game?
What is the story behind your beginnings of gambling in South Korea?
I had seen a place called Chips N' Joy in the nicer area of Korea with all sorts of pretty girls everywhere called apgujeong and it said Texas Hold'em on the sign but gambling is illegal in Korea and I thought that was just way too obvious so I figured it was fake money and I also figured that koreans didn't know about holdem so I never checked it out.
Then one night a friend of mine came online drunk and told me that he went there and won 500$ playing 1/2 NL. When I heard that I was craving the live action so I started going there a lot. They had 1/2 NL and 5/10 NL games.
How did you went moving places, stakes?
How did you grow up confidence playing vs Koreans?
Throughout the months all sorts of places started springing up. Chips and joy was the only place for a while but eventually more and more sprung up and theres about 20 of them now. They are illegal and cops have raided some places but they always seem to get back in business somehow and it appears that cops have stopped caring somewhat. There has never been a live stake out of my limit. I have played 1/2 5/5 5/10 10/20 and 20/50 here. Most of my hours were spent at a casino called Ace High which was ran by korean-canadians. I prefered that place cause I could trust the owners and they spoke english.
My first few months I was a maniac. I played like crazy and I got a reputation. I also played extremely drunk often and people called me a 'denjang' which means bullshit player. Eventually I got known at all the casinos as a psycho player and a lot of people were calling me a rich white fish behind my back a lot. I didn't make a lot during those months because of my crazyness. Also I was playing at those casinos ALLL night. I'd go home in the afternoon and wake up at 11 PM. That was a very unhealthy lifestyle.
Tell us more about gambling in Korea, how illegal is it? What would happen if you get caught gambling? Are you afraid of so?
Well gambling is completely illegal aside for foreigners and there is one legal casino that Koreans can go to (no holdem there though...probably not even 7stud) 7 Stud and Badugi are the most popular forms of poker in Korea but holdem has been booming in one particular rich area of Korea called apgujeong. There are over 15 holdem bars there. They are usually in the basement of whatever building, have locks on the door, but a friendly atmosphere.
It is illegal but it's spreading like wildfire. Cops in Korea are kinda corrupt...if they get paid off they will let it continue for such things. Cops won't randomly go into any of these places unless someone notifies them anyways.
Only threat to these places is if someone loses a lot of money and then reports the place to the cops. Cops have raided several places but I was never there when it happened. No money was found and usually the place re-opened within a few days. The owners of the places got in some shit but the players there usually just got told to go home and in a rare occasion got taken to the police station and their names were taken down but nothing happened. There are slot machine gambling places owned by the Korean mafias all over the place in korea, police never ever touch those places, and I have a feeling the same will start happening for holdem bars. I am a little scared of gettin caught because I am a foreigner and they might decide to deport me for that. But odds are that won't happen even if I was to get caught.
We know about some of your stories gambling in Korea, do you get these adventures all alone, Do you have some friend in Korea is there with you in any stories? Of the ones you have shared, which is the one more important for you?
Well usually I go alone but I'd say 15-20% of the time I spent in the casinos I was with Giyom(xdsgrrr). We had lots of fun playing drunken 1/2 playing like retards yet still winning. But now I have made friends with almost everyone who plays regularly so it's not like I'm all alone. Giyom did have a recent fucked up experience at one of the casinos. He kept calling me at like 6 PM to come to the
casino and I didn't really want to go but he kept calling so I was like oh he must be outa cash so I loaded my pockets and went. When I got there he was heads up with a 9k stack against a renowned gangster who had 23k infront of him. The gangster was fat and tatood. This guy has smashed a vase over one kid's head before and beat up another casino owner for talking shit about his holdem bar. The
gangster was pissed and Giyom was up 7k from him. When giyom was in the bathroom the owner of the casino said to him 'hey lose all ur money to him and we'll give you 2k cash.' What the fuck YEAH GREAT DEAL THERE!!!! Then the gangster said to giyom lets go allin in the dark and if you win I'll give you a bonus 5k. This is when it became apparent that the gangster did not buy in with money and was on credit. I knew something was up anyways. This guy usually had a 100-200$ stack at 1/2 NL caring about the money he lost. Something was wrong. Giyom was wise and said fuck this I quit.
The gangster yelled at the casino owners talking random stupid shit and then stormed out saying he wasn't going to pay. Now the casino owners are telling Giyom that he doesn't get anymore than 2k unless the gangster ever pays up(which he won't) because that's between the gangster and him. They are mother fucking retards. If they let some brute buy in 30k in their casino on credit thats on them.
Giyom is owed money and if they don't pay up they are going to have some smashed tables and I'm going to have a few brand new portable air-conditioners for my house.
Koreans sometimes have some fucked up idea of ethics. Usually it's not so bad but this is one rare occurance of a terrible way of thinking.
Why stay in Korea? You have money, you've been succesful in some areas of your life and you can move to anywhere else in the world, like hometown, and still do alot of the things you do in Korea, and legally.. What are you waiting for? Any reason not to go back? If you would have to leave Korea right now, what remembers would come to your mind?
It's a big question but I can answer it in a few words. 1. All my best friends live here 2. Korean food is the best in the world 3. Real life poker here is fun 4. Korean girls are good looking? 5. Starcraft on my big screen TV.
How are Korean players different from foreigners? Do you have trouble with some Koreans when playing? Why?
Well I don't have much live experience with foreigners other than some hicks at a charity casino a long time ago, but Korean players are more honest I bet. They call too much and bet too little most of the time. It's incredibly easy to deduce what kind of hand they have. There aren't that many nut-peddlers. They also have some cultural things that other cultures would never ever have in a casino.
If they win a big pot they often feel the need to give some of the money they won back (not much). And if you beat them in a decent sized pot they might keep saying 'nice hand' patting the table expecting you to give them a little tip back. Even people not in pots do this sometimes. I never give in this situation though unless its a fish and prankster that I like. If people don't like you in the casino they are actually less likely to play like a fish against you because they want to be safe and sure they are going to beat you, so its good to keep everyone happy.
I don't have any trouble with any of them...theres only 3 players that I consider good...but they are no where as good as I am or any other good online players that I am friends with. The 3 good players that I respect still do retarded out of line stuff sometimes. Theres a ton of Koreans that think they are hot shit in poker though. They all have no clue and exaggerate about their winnings whenever they had a good session the previous day.
Even though string betting is against the rules and that rule is enforced, verbal action is certainly not binding. Tons of people think it's funny to say allin and then laugh like a faggot as if that's funny and then fold their hand. Also sometimes they will not say anything, take a huge stack of chips and slam it in the middle and then take most of it off the top to only make a small bet. A lot
of them do it and no one cares so I have gotten used to it....it's not like the lone white kid can say hey you can't do that to some koreans in an underground korean casino.
Is there any Poker Known-Pro you identify yourself with? Yes, No , Why?
I don't identify with any poker pro aside from myself. Pointless sucking other peoples dick. And honestly I and no one knows anything about the styles of most pro's in reality just based off of the shows we watch on TV, so it's not like I could identify my style of play with another pro. I respect all humble poker pros. I hate all cocky ones with a passion. Thats all.
If you would have to name 2 Lp.net users that will do something off poker in the future who would them be?
Hmmm 2 LP users aside from naz or thor or other obvious guys....I haven't seen him play that much but from the stuff he has posted and the replies he has made to many threads I think Rhaegar(Beast) is going to be quite successful(maybe he already is). I don't know many other people on LP or their status but Spunky is going to make it big because he is my student ^_^.
If you would have 24 hours left of living, and you are warned, what would you do?
When do you think people should stop trying playing poker, if it is correct to stop trying?
When you've reached a point where you played for a long time and felt like you reached a certain level where you cannot improve. If you're not improving and you're still on .1/.25 or something you should probably do something more productive with your life rather than trying to grind 50$ a day. To each man his own. If you're okay with that then go for it.
$50 a day is $1500 a month Some people live with that
Is that your goal?
What? Mine is world domination..
First pokerstars though
I've already done both
Do you have a girlfriend? Any plans on that?
We won't see a Rekrul is married thread any soon ?
I prefer to not pot commit myself. I like to hit and run.
So you play with dirty stacks? That can get you problems
I protect my hand.
Hope you don't get outplayed
I take bad beats in stride.
Herpes aint no thang.
Here a picture of Rekrul in one of his future plans.