Interview with Ben Straate
That's right, Straate has made LP headlines again, but this time not for his numerous HOTW's. We have an exclusive interview here today with Straate, with some stories that may shock and inspire you.
LiquidPoker.net: As always, let’s start with some of the basics – Can we have your name, age, and where you are currently living?
Straate: Ben Straate, I’m 21, location is Milwaukee, WI area right now, but I’m moving back to Argentina March 1st.
LiquidPoker.net: Back to Argentina? So where you born there, or are you just returning to visit again?
Straate: No, I was born in the US, I am just returning to live there again. I lived with RiKD last time for 3 months and Zanjong too for a bit.
LiquidPoker.net: So your roommates are both well know LPr’s – Did you meet them through poker?
Straate: Yeah, both of them. I actually met Zanjong when I first moved to Sweden, so I knew him before BA's (Buenos Aires).
LiquidPoker.net: It seems you really enjoy traveling!
Straate: : Yes a lot - I studied and lived in Sweden for the first 6 months of last year and ever since then I have just wanted to travel and meet new people and experience new cultures.
LiquidPoker.net: Back to your roommates - it seems to be something we are seeing more and more common; poker players moving in with one another. Can you share some of pros, and if any cons that come with living with fellow poker players?
Straate: Well it's nice to have roommates who understand poker. For pros, I learned a ton from them and definitely helped my poker game a lot. I guess a con would be if you are living in another country to experience the culture, living with someone so similar to you isn't exactly the best way to do it. Example: we all took Spanish lessons, but didn't really speak that much Spanish because we always spoke English to each other. I don't really know any more cons; the pros by far outweigh the cons.
LiquidPoker.net: Do you have any hobbies apart from poker and traveling?
Straate: Mainly investing and cars. Otherwise just hanging out with friends and having a good time.
LiquidPoker.net: What would you say your favorite car is?
Straate: I think I’d like to get an Audi RS4 someday as a more practical every day type car, but favorite car ever...man that’s’ so hard...probably like an old Camaro SS.
LiquidPoker.net: Ok, now let’s get to the exciting part! Tell us how you stumbled upon this game of poker.
Straate: Well, I was in college and decided to deposit some money and lost it. It was then that I realized there was a method to this madness. So I decided to put $300 more online in like April of 06, and I ran it up playing 50nl FR. Those were the good old days. I remember playing with Yugless, it was fun. I also played a lot with Talented Tom and he had the worst tilt, it was hilarious! I think that’s when I started looking into poker forums and when I joined LP.
LiquidPoker.net: Do you think that’s why he now uses a 100bi rule?
Straate: No, he used it back then as well. I remember saying to him, “Dude when you are moving up to 100nl?” He was like “Dude I don’t know I have 5k.”
LiquidPoker.net: So we can only assume you are naturally a competitive person right?
Straate: Yeah, I played a lot of sports when I was younger. I’m trying to get back into working out too.
LiquidPoker.net: So would it be safe to say that after you lost your first deposit, that competitive is what kicked in?
Straate: I don’t know, I just actually really liked the game and thought it was interesting. I guess you could say I wanted to win, so yeah you could def say that there was some sort of competitive drive there.
LiquidPoker.net: So what exactly did you do with your second deposit of 300$? How did you manage to work that up?
Straate: Well, I just grinded 50nl FR until I had like 5k bankroll, then I moved up to play played 100nl FR. I was super strict about BR management when moving up too. I think I worked my bankroll up to about 130k within 8 months. Then I almost went busto.
LiquidPoker.net: So you jumped right into 50nl FR with just $300? That seems to be like quite the 6 buyin shot!
Straate: HA yes it was I didn’t know any better! I started off running good and I thought 50nl FR was pretty easy. Everyone was so nitty and I just played very laggy and was just able to run everyone over.
LiquidPoker.net: Now were you playing strictly FR, or where you mixing in this strategy with 6max tables as well?
Straate: I didn’t start playing 6max until 2/4 I think, but yeah I used it for both FR and 6max.
LiquidPoker.net: What made you want to switch to 6max when you hit 2/4?
Straate: Well it seemed to be getting more popular and the other regulars I was playing with at the time were switching over, so I decided to give it a shot. It fit my style a lot better and I enjoyed it a lot more, and it was a lot less boring than FR.
LiquidPoker.net: When you were playing 100nl, how many tables were you playing?
Straate: Way too many. I was playing 8 until they raised the maximum limit of table. After that I would play 10 tables.
LiquidPoker.net: Have you continued to play just as many tables, or have you scaled down a bit?
Straate: Well it depends too much on the games...on 5/10 I'm pretty comfortable playing 8-10 tables if there aren't any really tough regulars playing. If it’s 10/20 or higher I never really play more than 6 tables at a time.
LiquidPoker.net: Now earlier you mentioned how you were able to grind your way up to a 130k bankroll within 8 months. This seems like quite a feat, care to explain how you went about building up so fast?
Straate: Well after I started making money at 50nl and killing it, I was like holy shit I can make some real money doing this. At the time I was in college and working part time as a mover and full time in summer as a mover. I worked ever since I was 14 so I really appreciated the value of money. Then I said ok if I can get to a 10k bankroll before the summer then I won't have to work as a mover in the summer.
Being a mover is fking hard work, son. I worked like 60-70 hours a week in summer and wanted to avoid doing it for another summer. So in other words I was just sick motivated when I first started playing poker.
LiquidPoker.net: It’s good to see things worked out for you then. So what’s all this about you almost going busto!?
Straate: Well I moved to Sweden in January to study and then went on a sick bad run (like the worst run I have ever had and I have played over 1mil+ hands). It went on for like a week, and I was always kind of a tilt monkey and basically went on life tilt for a bout a week and lost 100k. Then I didn't play poker much at all for like 3-4 months and when I did I didn’t play well b/c I was life tilted.
I was just so upset about losing I didn't even want to play. It was like I was cursed. So I just concentrated on meeting new people and having fun and pretty much anything but playing poker. The only time I’ve really truly hated playing poker was during those few months.
LiquidPoker.net: So how were you able to turn that all around? Losing 100k can be quite a devastating experience.
Straate: Well, I kind of had another situation like when I first started playing and wanted to quit moving furniture to play poker. I said if I can make 200k within a few months then I would take some time off school. At this point I really didn't know what I wanted to major in, and I was far enough in school where I had all of my basic classes done and could pretty much choose any business major and it wouldn't require any 'makeup' work for the core classes. So that was like May or something, but I still didn’t play much poker b/c I was traveling. I really started playing a ton of poker and getting really motivated again when I got back to the US in early July.
LiquidPoker.net: Was this when you moved in with RiKD and Zanjong?
Straate: Yeah that was like September, after I grinded my ass off for a few months playing almost all HU. I also decided to take a lot of money off line so if I ever got life tilted again or anything I would have something to show for it. So I took off a bunch of money and started investing. In September I moved to Buenos Aires and stayed there for 3 months.
LiquidPoker.net: What prompted you to play HU only?
Straate: I’m not really sure really. I just tried it and I found out that I really really liked it. That easily has to be where I learned the most about poker.
LiquidPoker.net: Now, you’ve been seen playing games as high (and a few higher) as 25/50. To come off of a 100k downswing, and bounce back to up to 5knl is quite the accomplishment! What are your future plans in regards to playing the high stakes in the future?
Straate: Ah yeah but took a lot of hard work. I really don’t play much 25/50 right now tho, only when the games are good. When I move back to Argentina I will be playing all the 25/50 games, and across as many sites as I can – which is hopefully about 6-7 sites.
LiquidPoker.net: Looks like you’ll have a lot more HOTW entries to be submitting with all that grinding! Outside of expanding your game to other sites, what are some of your future goals or aspirations in regards to poker?
Straate: It’s really just to keep grinding, and hopefully just beat the 25/50 games across a lot of sites and learn a lot more. Now is kind of the point where I just want to grind and make the most of poker as I can while it lasts. Also to play more live poker, I plan to play at least 2-4 EPTs this year, and the WSOP.
LiquidPoker.net: Hope to see you at the WSOP along with many other LPr’s! So what would you say are some of your non poker related goals?
Straate: As for non poker goals, I want to keep traveling as long as poker lets me and eventually go back to school someday. I also want to continue investing and hopefully buy a condo when I go back to school. Another thing I’d like to do is get to be better in Spanish when I go back to Buenos Aires, and to keep working out and not fall back into a lazy lifestyle.
LiquidPoker.net: Is there a specific quality about you, or a "natural skill" that allowed you to pick up on poker quicker than others?
Straate: I think you just have to be interested in poker and want to learn and not just want to gamble. For me I really like to mess with people and try to tilt them. I’m really good at tilting people and capitalizing on it (game flow basically). I think that is probably something I picked up much faster than others.
LiquidPoker.net: Now how do you go about changing the game flow to tilt your opponent?
Straate: You just have to put yourself in their shoes basically. Realize how many times you can get away with something before you start getting zero credit. Once that happens you can value own them and induce shoves, and that’s when poker really starts to get fun!
LiquidPoker.net: You mentioned earlier that the 100k downswing you had was the worst you have ever dealt with in your poker career. After pulling through this downswing and coming back even stronger, is there any advice you can give someone who is going through a downswing of their own?
Straate: Yes, just stop playing for a few days. And tilting is like the stupidest thing ever and you really should never be tilting at all. I finally learned this and now I don't really tilt. I think the thing that helped me most was rikD when he told me something like 'yeah when I was in Vegas and I was playing 2/4 there was this pathetic live grinder who went nuts and started berating fish until they left'. He said how stupid the guy was and just how ridiculous the whole situation was. That is you when you are tilting. You are that pathetic guy, and you are the fish. I'm not sure if I said that entirely accurately but it was very similar to this.
I think also in downswings you should be looking over your hands a lot more and also maybe having some of your poker friends sweat you while you play. People develop terrible habits when in downswings, and they are kind of hard to realize sometimes and it helps to have a pair of fresh eyes watch you play or look over your hands.
LiquidPoker.net: Now, we’ve got a few short questions to ask you, and a few guest questions, courtesy of those on Ventrilo.
Milkman Asks: Milkman vs. all of LP in a fight, who wins?
Straate: LP ez, sry milkman strength in numbers :
MezmerizePlz Asks: Do you love Clay, aka MezmerizePlz?
Straate: Ahahahaaha Yes I do! Thank god I don't live by him or I would have to seriously doubt my sexuality.
MezmerizePlz Asks: Who are the top five you have the most trouble playing against against?
Straate: jaymac, tjbentham, festivuss, are all really tough tricky players who change up their game really well, which makes them the people I have the toughest time against -Pooruser too. Thorladen is also very tough; he can be a super nit or a super lag.
LiquidPoker.net: Who you do you think the hottest female celeb is?
Straate: Jessica Alba, and Keira Knightly is super hot too
LiquidPoker.net: Favorite sport to play?
LiquidPoker.net: Favorite sport to watch?
Straate: Basketball and Soccer (futbal)
LiquidPoker.net: Somewhere you haven’t been, but would like to travel to?
Straate: Asia and Australia
LiquidPoker.net: How many hands would you estimate you’ve played lifetime?
LiquidPoker.net: Given the chance, what live poker pro would you most want to have lunch with and why?
Straate: Ivey because he’s such a sick player live and online and he seems pretty hilarious. He’s also so young and has learned so much and really likes the game.
LP: What is you're next major purchase going to be?
Straate: Probably a condo and a nice car whenever I get settled down and stop traveling.
LiquidPoker.net: Now’s your chance to say what you want to the LP community!
Straate: Thank you LP for everything, always there for support and for entertainment. -shout outs to eric, clay, rich, steve, and I’m sure I’m missing others.
LiquidPoker.net: Thank you for taking the time to do an interview! Good luck at the tables!
Straate: Np, Thanks!
(As Lil Jon)