Interview With Thorladen
Name, Age, Sex, Location?
I prefer to use thorladen, M Andes NY (140 miles NW of NYC)
Can you explain?
Since I am well known in another field I like to try to keep some anonymity in poker
Can you explain a little about how you got the nickname of 'Thorladen'?
My wife and I had 2 dogs a German Shep and a Doberman(she grew up with dobes and me sheps) The original 2 were named Thor and Wotan(Nordic gods) Wotan's nickname was laden so I just put them together. Those dogs died a long time ago and then we got the next generation of dogs. The funny thing about Thor is he was the only dog I have ever had that wasnt afraid of thunder and lightning (thor is the god of thunder)
Besides the obvious, poker, what else do you like to do? Any hobbies? Jobs?
I enjoy racquet sports and I am a fan of the NY Mets NY Knicks and a little football (American)
I love to hike and kayak and I still follow Wall Street and am a very serious bridge player
For those of us who know very little about bridge Can you explain a little about it?
Bridge is a card game that requires (in my opinion) the most skill of all games
The basics is that it is a trick taking game like spades but the bidding and play and defense is very hi level thinking. One of the beauties and problems with bridge is that its so complicated and skillful that it is not a good gambling game as the bad players realize quickly they cant beat the good players even in the short run.
You play with a partner and in some events with a team. My current partner I have played about 7 years together and we have 140 pages of notes on our system for legal communication about our hands. The only way to communicate legally is to make bids which range from 1club 1 diamond 1 heart 1 spade 1 no trump all the way to 7 no trump (which is a grand slam meaning you have to take all 13 tricks) I play<A name="cutnews"></A> professionally and get paid to play on a team that enters major North American and world championships.
When and how was your first time playing Poker, Texas Hold'Em, how were you introduced?
I started about 3 years ago and when I was trading stock options on the floor of the American Stock Exchange 2 very serious poker players told me that from what they know of me I would become the best at NL holdem if I just started playing it. sooo..... I dabbled in it and then really started to enjoy the game.
How were your beginnings? any Drops? Bad swings, something you can recall?
I started at 1/2 Nl and within the first 5 hands or so I got stacked and I’m like WTF so then I focused a little bit more and thought about it.
I then started winning small but I found myself fucking around a lot and not playing too well but still winning just not at a good rate
I then researched poker coaches on the internet and found out a guy by the name Bob Ciaffone was very well respected so I contacted him. Turned out he was a bridge player and knew me even though i didn’t know him; He wanted to do an exchange some bridge work for poker work so I agreed. The best thing that happened was I started taking the game seriously after I contacted him as I felt I had accountability to someone I would email him my problem hands with my thoughts and he would respond to my thoughts and give his own, I probably only went over about 10 hands with him but from that I was well on my way to becoming a good player. After that I never had to deposit and moved up rapidly in stakes.
Baal asks - What was the hardest moment in poker?
I think that the hardest moment for me was more then a moment but it was deciding whether I wanted to take this game seriously or not. I could have gone either way and then I said fuck it, its fun, its lucrative, its convenient I’m just gonna go for it .
You were, lets say 38 when you started Poker, unlike many other players, you don't see it as something that will make you a living or a hope to make some dream come true.. What inspired you ? Fun? Challenge?
Do you think this gives you an advantage as a mental game, yes , no, Why?
I really like games and I decided that I wanted to become the best NL player in the world after playing it for a few weeks. The money was not that important at the time as I left a job as a partner in a Wall Street firm. Now the money is nice because poker pays very well.
I think I had many advantages going in Trading on Wall Street I was required to make split second decisions for more money than I can ever expect to play a pot for
Also playing bridge at the highest level for so long I was trained as a competitor
I won the North American Bridge championships when i was 17 so I was use to from an early age maintaining my focus and concentration with a lot on the line at the highest levels for 21 years before I ever played a NL poker hand
What do you think is the most common mistake new players tend to make, and what advice can you give?
I think new players play far too many hands(when u are very good playing a lot of hands can be very profitable but you must develop excellent post flop play) A common mistake I have seen new players make is going for a draw on a paired board or drawing to a hand that is not the nutz. I actually am training a protégé right now so I have been watching him play 1/2 NL and see some pretty brutal play at those levels. My biggest advice to new players is do not lose a lot of money in pots that start small, since if the pot gets huge after a small pot something very bad is happening to someone
What advice can you give about Bankroll management?
I believe that unless you have other money you can tap into without jeopordizing your finances you must be very conservative. I will not let my current student move up to 2/4 NL till he has 15K
I think you should have 50k for 5/10 NL and 100k for 10/20 NL
Obviously a lot more for higher stakes. If you do not practice correct BR Management you are in my opinion 99% to go broke at some point in your poker life
Poker is a complex game in high stakes, what skills, abilities, do you think it requires for you to be successful at it?
And do you think this skills are something you achieve playing poker or rather something you have and possess already as a person ?
At the hi stakes you really have to identify your opponents tendencies and be sure to mix up your own play. I also thing that it is not a science but an art and often it is correct to technically misplay hands (for ex give someone odds to draw to a flush draw) as then they might not believe you on turn and river as you didn’t protect your hand and try to pick off what looks like a bluff but really isn’t , these situations make the game even more complicated as you can really mix it up as long as you don’t give a shit if you look stupid.
I have found that a big weakness to becoming great in anything is EGO most people care how they look to others and that is a major error in my opinion
I think that many skills to make you a top poker player come from life and not just poker
Basically you don’t learn to be mentally tough just from poker and like you said patience and intelligence are from life experiences,
I believe that a strong ethical background is crucial in anything you try to do in life
It gives you the internal strength to get through any situation
I can’t put it in words but I just know that it is important
Poker can be such a streaky game that u can acquire the skills from playing it but you will not be prepared for the variance if you haven’t dealt with many things in life
Durandal asks- What were the things you realized about poker, which instantly improved your game by lightyears ahead?
In every game I have ever gotten good at I have never known when it has turned. At some point whether stock options, bridge or poker I went from bad to good without knowing how or when .
You already had enough Bankroll for playing high stakes in Texas Hold'em, did you went all the way moving up stakes along with your bankroll like everyone else or was there a point where you just decided to switch stakes?
I did it in a much disciplined approach as I wanted to learn the game correctly. The main difference was that I played higher stakes when it wasn’t the most plus ev thing to do as I didn’t care about maximizing my immediate profit since my goal was to play against the best to become better. I never jeopardized my poker bankroll though it would have not been a problem to as refunding would not be an issue
What stakes do you currently play? Do you see big differences from the last stakes you were playing? What were them? Why do you think this? elaborate.
I currently play many different stakes depending on my mood and also if I am experimenting with my game. I will play live poker up to 50/100 nl deep stacked but really one of the most profitable live games is 10.20 deep stacked i recently played in Vegas and there were many 20k plus stacks on the table at 10/20 . Online i play up to 50/100 occasionally, 25/50 a bunch, and 8 table 10/20 nl
i have even recently played 1/2 and 2/4 nl as I have a student that is just learning and i wanted to show him how to do it, The hi stakes online game have gotten much stronger which is expected. People play so many hands and it becomes a survival of the fittest
Even 10/20 is better then it use to be, The key for top pros is to stay ahead of the curve and keep getting better as otherwise the game will catch up to them
The 1/2 game is pathetically bad.
Personally I like live better as I have been at a card table my whole life
That gives me a major advantage in live games as I can sense tension in my opponents.
Wiseadvice asks. Best short term winning period, how much you made over a certain time or number of hands.
No idea i never kept track till recently. Now I have poker tracker. I did turn 3k into 100k on PP pretty quickly just to see if it could be done
Do you have any trouble playing online? Do you avoid some players? Yes, No, why?
Can you mention some of the players you consider of the bests out there online?
I don’t have any trouble and don’t avoid anyone. There are obviously tougher opponents that you have to bring your a-game for.
When i played mostly on stars Hall ozzy bet2win,holdem_nl stand out. When naz and raszi became regs there i wasn’t playing so much. I have a tremendous respect for naz's game and I have discussed a lot of poker with him. I would call him my closest friend that I have never met live
I think Bushman is the most underrated player out there people just don’t realize how great he is
There use to be a player on stars named halfrek then, I think he just plays tourneys now but I would say he was actually one of the toughest to play against ever. I also think Smokey is real good. Ackbleh would be real tough if he ever focused on cash games again.
As far as histakes games go I would rather not go into who I think is particularly tough there are many great tourney players online also as I occasionally play those too I have alot of respect for some of them
What do you think YOU have different from other players? Is there something you think they don't realize about and you do?
I think that one of my greatest assets is the intense ability to focus at the problem at hand. It has come in better use at the bridge table but it certainly helps a lot in poker too. My best skill in poker is being able to work out the other hands at the table with a reliable frequency which allows me to run big bluffs and also at the same time get paid on my big hands often
That’s all i can give up comfortably
Is there anything you think you should work on your game? Of course there isn't an obvious leak, but, i believe everyone can always improve on something.
What do you think.
Absolutely, one can not be stagnant the competition is accelerating too fast. I have actually found a lot of things that I am not doing well enough and I have been thinking of ways to improve them. I wont identify those on a public forum.
The one thing that I am working very hard on that should be in everyone’s arsenal is paying attention to your competition more. That might mean playing fewer games to get a good handle on them and then you can exploit their weaknesses at a greater rate
Talk to me more about mistakes new players make, Everyone here has been in a moment of fishness, but it is the good players that get out of that horrible state, What do you think it helps to overcome this?
What help can you give to new players trying to get something off poker?
I think there should be a natural progression. I think they must learn how to play good quality hands (tight). Than they need to add the aggression factor (when andre agassi learned tennis he hit the ball as hard as he could and didn’t care if it went in), From there they can try out a more LAG style, And between all those things they must learn to lay down a hand
I think one of the great weaknesses I have seen are people that complain about their luck
There is no such thing as long term luck so just fucking get over it
When they have attempted many styles (and there are many) at that point they can mold their game into something that is comfortable FOR THEM and tweak it as time goes by.
We are all different people the Hallingol style works for him but first of all you have to have deep pockets and be a tremendous post flop player or you will go broke
Another mistake that people make is poor b/r management but we went into that earlier I think
So in summary, develop a style, play within your bankroll, work out how to put people on hands.
Remember that luck is when opportunity meets preparation and overall luck is myth.
Going back into bridge, what have been some of the skills/abilities that have been helpful to you in Poker too?, Why?
Goes back to concentration, I make very few mistakes relatively. Bridge like poker is a game of mistakes so if you can minimize them you are really starting one step ahead. I also do not ever give a shit about what people think of my game and am never afraid to look stupid to maximize my chance to win the game(even if it is in the face of conventional wisdom)
I think it is very important to have self ego satisfaction as that will allow you to always believe in yourself no matter what you are faced with. In that way when you do not rely on consensus opinion of you it is very liberating.
Floofy asks. What do you think is the main difference between random good players who can beat 400-600 NL and the real good players of 2000 NL?
I have found that most people that beat lower games have the set mining mentality, which is reasonable for those games. The problem is that if they are just satisfied with winning at those levels they will never get it. The will make money but not enjoy the art that this game truly is. At the hi levels after you get into what do I have, what does he have, what does he think I have and what can I do about it. There is alot of joy in getting paid fully on the nuts and I think even more joy in getting people to lay down the best hand but that doesn’t often happen at lower levels I dont think.
Why do you think some players never do it at poker? Is it the absense of determination? Skill? Not smart enough?
Well one thing that I have seen, is that of a gambling problem. People try to make too much money to fast. Another is that some people just don’t have the right makeup. Whether that be intelligence, focus, self discipline. I have found in my life that many people have a bad attitude and do not have the internal fortitude to win in game like poker. I dont think that is a bad thing at all , either, many close friends of mine have normal jobs and are perfectly happy in their life. On many levels poker can get quite boring and even the most successful players must enhance their life or they will not find any happiness at all
What are your plans for the future, Poker speaking?
Great question and I wish I knew the answer. At this time besides family bridge is still by far my #1 priority so poker takes a back seat and I would not be surprised if that continues to remain that way.
I would like to get better at tournament poker, I have had reasonable success but no where near reaching my potential (i hope)
What is you consider the biggest accomplishment in Poker you've made? Any tournaments won?
Well as far as tourneys I think I have won the sun rebuy twice on stars in like my first 5 times playing it and also have won many others but nothing big live yet
There have been no outstanding successes just happily a constant stream of regular ones
What has poker left you besides anything related to poker? (ie. patience?, respect?)
I would say that my favorite thing that I have gotten from poker is that I have met and become close with some really good people. That is worth alot to me!
How does it feel to be the only online player that is known about his bridge succesful career too.
I dont think about it at all and I also am working to personally change that.
When I was a young bridge player the successful young ones all went to wall street and had the opportunity at a fantastic and lucrative game trading stock options
That is not really there anymore. My first student is going to be fantastic he is a young North American bridge champion that plays under Boykee on stars. I expect there will be many more to follow it gives me great joy to take on these very bright students that I know from bridge and give them the opportunity to excel in another game. It is not purely altruistic (as nothing is) there is a lot of upside in it for me too.
Ket asks – Can you share any interesting prop betsy ou’ve made other than that huge one against ozzy for the Gigabet TLB August 05 race, and other general amusing anecdotes from you live poker experiences.
As far as prop bets go I had one interesting one on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. The NY Mets had made the playoffs and some guy wanted to bet that the manager (Bobby Valentine) would get fired at the end of the season. I bet against that. After the Mets won their first playoff series the guy came up to me and said that he had made the bet for his friend and he just found out that his friend had inside info and knows the owner of the Mets and in fact he is getting fired. He didn’t want to hold me to the bet since it was unfair. I had a dilemma I couldn’t imagine the firing but what if he was right? So I picked up a phone and dialed a fake number and starting talking, I then said to the guy I have a friend that doesn’t believe it and if you want to make another large bet he might be interested. If the guy said yes I would get out of it and if the guy said no I would keep it. He said no, so GG liar. (I guess that was the beginning of me playing poker.)
What forums do you visit ? Any differences? Why?
LP obv. I enjoy P'5s(particularly off topic, they are really a fun group) I also every once in a while read 2+2 but I am pretty busy in general so not too much.
I think that LP really has a great core group of guys and I have been very impressed by some members that I didn’t know, with their level of thinking
Do you have any hands, big calls, folds you would like to share? JohnnyCosmo is working on a hand of the week future, anything you have for that?
Online there is a really good one against curzdog that i posted on LP a long time ago
thats the curz hand and i could play it that way since I was sure he flpped a set.
One night at the Bellagio playing 10/20 deep stacked, there was a woman that I really didn’t like from the way she was at the table. Long story short on one hand I laid down KK to her QQ and got her to show and from the way she played it I knew I would bust her if she and I kept playing. About 15 hours later she had 24k and I had her covered. She raised 8 BB like she always did with a big pair and I called her with 6 4 off in position. There were 3 players and the flop was 1075 with 2 spades. She led out for 500 and I was the only caller. The turn was a beautiful offsuit 3. She bet 1k and now I had a problem I had stayed up all night to bust her and the only way to do it was to get her deeply involved in the turn. I finally said fuck it after thinking for about a minute and raised to $6500, after long though she called. The river was an off suit ace. She insta checked and I started thinking again. I had created a huge swirl(was a pretty design) of hundred dollar bills in front of me (not counting my chips) and I decided rather then saying all in I would just place them in the middle of the table, I was sure they had her covered. A full 5 minutes later she said I know you have queens and if not I am going to bed, I CALL. I flip the nuts over and since I didn’t go all in the dealer had to count out the hundreds with my 6 4 off sitting in front of me. I paid everyone’s time, tipped the dealer 200 bux and called it a night. The next night her boyfriend on his last hand said I guess your putting me to bed I CALL he was right but that story wasn’t as much fun.
Thanks for your time and I hope you keep doing very well at Poker and complete all your goals in the future
Here a Link for pictures of Thorladen and his blog Click