While I was sweating out my tournament blogging gig back in November, I received an email from Tadas Peckaitis, online low stakes poker coach. He had apparently stumbled onto my blog and was wondering if there was anything we could do to promote each other’s work. (It’s worth noting that he seems to be an avid consumer of poker content, as he retweets various poker sources and recently composed a list of blogs he enjoys.)
While I don’t do advertising at persuadeo.nl, in order to keep this poker Netherlands the strange and pure boutique that it is, I decided what I could do for both of us and my readers is go forward and find out more about this ambitious young man, and hopefully end up with a portrait of a poker career in action.
As part of my investigation, I read Tadas’ e-book Play “A” Game, signed up for his introductory preflop-range giveaway, and checked out some of his videos. He has put quite a lot of work into coming up with an online presence, and seems to be succeeding in his mission of a sustainable poker coaching career. A 2+2 thread gave him favorable reviews, although it is no longer up at the moment. Coaching threads are not free, being paid advertising. Tadas suggested he may renew his subscription with them at the beginning of the year.
In addition to asking Tadas for a statement on himself, which starts here and continues at bottom, I completed an interview with him.
Firstly, I want to thank Persuadeo for possibility being here in front of you and I want briefly introduce myself. My name is Tadas and I have been a professional poker player, blogger and successful poker coach atfor many years. Right now, I can say “successful” since I see great results of my students and that is very important to me. Moreover, I am enjoying my work and life in general. However, it was not always like that. Like many players, I started my career with many mistakes and struggled at the beginning for quite a bit.
I was lucky enough to get great coaches right from the start and it boosted my game tremendously. When I started playing in 2008, poker community was not as big as it is right now and I was lucky enough personally know many great players. I was able to learn a lot from them. So my poker strategy part was great and I became a winning player very soon, but then something hit me.
I am talking about tilting and mental game issues. I was able to play at my best for a week and then to spew almost all my winnings after random party. In other cases, I was starting tilting when running bad and throwing away a ton of money because of that. I hated it! Even I was winning money and quite a decent amount for a student I knew how much I was missing. In addition to this, I really felt miserable after spewing a big chunk of my bankroll and just didn’t want to continue doing that.
I knew that there has to be a better way and I started searching for it. Almost 10 years ago we didn’t have topics like “mental game” or “self-management”, or at least I was not aware of it. I had to go the hardest way and find out everything by myself. I really tried and failed many times until I found what works me. To be honest, half of these things end up being just a boost in performance for short time and had to be eliminated from my strategy.
After years of trials and errors and quite successful work with my students, I really distinguished the most important habits that you should have in order to reach best results. I put all of this to my new book – Play “A” Game.
Let’s get into some Q & A.
Tadas, I’ve read your Play “A” Game ebook. It seems like a well-rounded summation of much poker wisdom. Where did you get the experience to learn all this? Tell us about your life and poker past. Talk about your results, if you will.
I started playing poker in my first year in university with enrolling in some freerolls online. I felt in love with this game at once and soon realized that there is potential to make reasonable money. Soon after that, I started playing SNG and saw that I was making more money, than my friends who had full-time jobs and then I started taking it all seriously.
I started playing live cash and traveling around Europe playing some EPT’s and visiting Vegas for WSOP. All of that was exciting, fun and gave me a ton of experience. I was very lucky to travel with the best poker players and learn from them. I would say that was one of the most important factors, which let me succeed in my poker career.
However, those constant 14 hours long sessions, partying and always traveling was exhausting and I decided to settle with online poker. I instantly got a coach and moved to studying and playing HUSNG for a while. After few years, I moved to 6max cash games and never looked back. In my entire poker career, I had one or another coach along with my side and that let me excel at the game that I chose.
When I started coaching myself, I realized that many people are making same mistakes that I did in the beginning and decided to write this peace and let them know, that not only strategy part of the game is important. Without mental preparation, you are almost doomed, so I suggest taking it seriously.
I notice you have some Hendon Mob results. Tell me about your tournament experience and thoughts on the scene. Some say the money is more in tourneys as the cash games dry up – care to comment?
I barely play live anymore these days, but when I started playing poker I was playing quite a bit of live cash games and some of the tournaments as well. In 2010 I went to play in WSOP and some EPT events and those results are from that time. I was doing pretty good in tournaments as well, but for the purpose of general life balance and ability to plan my day I ended up playing online games.
To answer your question, I think right now, if you play low stakes tournaments, it is a bit easier to beat than cash games, I agree. However, the problem here is that there are limited number of higher tournaments going on and you are not able to sustain the same ROI in those. So your winning potential is quite capped unless you play high stakes tournaments and those are not easy to beat at all.
On the other hand, you can play as many cash games as you want, so I would not agree that there is more money in tournaments, it is just easier to beat those in the begging. After that, it is personal preference which game you want to play. If you like me and want to be able to play when you want and how long you want, then cash games are the best option for that.
What about live poker? Do you play much? What is the scene in Lithuania, which I believe is your home country?
Yes, Lithuania is my home country, but not much in regards of poker is going on here. I barely play live, but if I do, then not in Lithuania.
We have very few reasonable tournaments through the year and basically no cash games possibilities as well. What we really have – is many good players and if we are hosting something like 500eur tournament then the field probably going to be the same level or even stronger as in some major tournaments around the Europe. So either you go there to play and have some fun with your friends or you choose different stops like EPT and few more.
Moving on to your strategy, Game Theory Optimal is more than just all the rage, it has become accepted as the measure of excellence in poker and is part of our future as poker players. How do you go about working on it and teaching it?
I think that it is close to impossible to play without the knowledge of GTO poker these days, but it is just one part.
I teach my student to use GTO strategies as their starting point and use it against regulars or unknowns, but when you have a reasonable idea how your opponent plays and few stats on him you can and should start exploiting his tendencies.
I teach how to play unexploitable poker versus regulars and how to exploit weaker players in the same time. This is the strategy, that I am using with a huge success and many of my students were able to implement it in their game with some great results on the way.
However, GTO is very hard to solve beyond two players. What is your philosophy to dealing with multiway pots, deepstack games, and other spots that are not quantifiable by even the solvers?
Your question is spot on. These are the most troubling spots for many beginning players and there is no easy answer here. You have to make some assumptions on your opponent’s frequencies, how likely is he to bluff in this spot, how much is he going to c-bet versus 3 opponents instead of 1 and so on.
If you have some stats on him it makes your life much easier and that is why I hardly advocate having powerful HUDs. Even then, plays on these spots come from experience, information on your opponent and mostly population tendencies so you must be aware of it.
Which GTO solver do you use or recommend?
I think Piosolver is the best one I have seen. But for simplicity and a great interface, even having some limitations, Pokersnowie is very appealing one for beginners.
A similarity between you, Upswing Poker, and a few other poker educational sources is the advocacy of “unexploitable” preflop ranges. How do you derive your recommendations? What makes them unexploitable?
It all add ups to frequencies here. Let us say if you want to have an unexploitable opening range, you need to be able to defend enough of it versus 3-bets by calling or 4-betting. You just have to balance it out in the way that no one would be able to exploit you because you are making a mistake of over folding or calling way too much and seeing a flop with a weak range. Both of these mistakes are equally bad and you really need to have a good understanding of unexploitable preflop strategy to excel in today games.
That being said, it should only work as your starting point. One thing that many players get wrong is that they think you should always try to be balanced and unexploitable. I think this is very wrong approach and could prevent you from actually having a big win rate.
You are right if you want to play this strategy against tough opponents, regulars and unknowns. However, if you playing against a weaker player you should be opening more than GTO suggest since you have a big edge post flop. I do have different 3-bet ranges against regulars and recreational players, I defend different hands from the blinds against them and so on. It is necessary to understand that having one chart will not help you crush your games, but building an understanding how to approach the game will and I am trying to teach exactly that.
Recently a guide to microstakes poker came out, Peter Clarke’s Grinder’s Manual, which seems to be written for the same players – online micro and low stakes – you are looking to coach. Clarke has a significant thread in 2+2’s book section and was on the Red Chip. Have you had a look at it or are you familiar with his work? If not, what is the best written poker strategy, in your opinion, for those who like books?
No, I have not heard of it, but will check it out. As for books, I think a must read for every serious poker player is Jared Tendler book The Mental Game of Poker. As for strategy book, I could recommend, Applications of No‑Limit Hold ’em by Matthew Janda.
It is nice to have all that information available, but just reading a book is not enough. You need to get up and at least try to incorporate something in your game and sometimes this is a hard part to do.
Continuing with this idea, who are your influences? Who do you look up to as a poker player?
For me, Phil Ivey always was the icon of the game and one to follow. I used to love watching him play and admired his hand reading abilities.
I would say Daniel Negreanu should be on the list as well. He is an aspiring player. I love how calm and relaxed he is all the time. People should see poker as more fun, not only a boring job like some sees it today. Moreover, he is a good ambassador of the game in is doing a great job representing it.
There are many young guns out there right now and if I need to choose one, I would say Fedor Holz is one to look at.
You seem focused on online poker, and have affiliations or rakeback deals with many European sites not everyone in the U.S might be familiar with. What sites are your favorites? Where do you advise players to play right now?
I think Microgaming (MPN) network rooms are a bit overlooked and are a good place to play. They offer significant bonuses, good rakeback and have quite some recreational players. According to recent Pokerscout study, Microgaming was one of very few poker networks that were able to increase its traffic and I know that they are heavily investing in expansion and attracting new players, so it should have bright future.
Party network rooms, Asia’s leading room Natural8 and Tonybet are good places for beginners as well. Make sure to sign in through an affiliate to get additional bonuses and if you need one,.
Tell us about your students. What makes a good or weak student of the game?
I am working with students from all over the world so naturally, I meet many different people with a different attitude towards the game and it is really interesting to communicate with them. I really love what I do and give everything I can for my students to succeed, but in order to do that, they have to put some effort as well. There is no magical pill or chart that will help you suddenly crush your games, you have to work hard and study different parts of your game separately and only then, when you eliminate your biggest mistakes, you can truly become a winner.
I would not say that I have bad students, so it is hard to comment on that, but the most important factor is a willingness to put the effort and time to studying and playing. A coach cannot do the entire job, he can show how to do it, but student plays the most important part here and has to implement his new knowledge in his game.
Any good coach can give you very detailed plan what to fix, how to learn, but you have to trust him. You should be willing to do what you coach says and at least try it. It is important to note, that if something seems strange to you, most of the time it is because you are not used to that, not because it is wrong.
So if you lucky enough to have a coach – trust him. This is a very important step and if you do not trust you coach then find someone that you will, otherwise it is a waste of time.
Where do you see the game going in two years? Five years? Ten years?
This is probably one of the toughest questions, but contrary to some, I do not think poker will be gone soon. It is obvious that games are getting tougher and tougher and in order to stay ahead of your competition you will need to put more work in. Being it studying game on your own, getting a coach or video courses – you just have to do that. Just playing is not enough anymore if you want to outplay your competition. If you be better than others, you are going to win at the end, it is simple as that.
Like everything in life, poker is going in cycles as well. Games get tougher and weaker regulars have to quit because they cannot make money anymore and when they quit games starts to become a bit easier. Later, some of them come back and so on. I would guess that we will have games going on even in 10 years, probably with smaller bonuses, probably with tougher competition, but games will be here and it is only up to you at with part of the player pool you end up – winners or others.
Some final remarks from Tadas on his book, which you can get.
The book is all about self-management, preparation for your games and emotions elimination. I do touch a bit of poker strategy as well, but the main focus is on the mental game. It all comes from my and my student’s experience and I really believe that these simple steps can help you reach phenomenal results. There is nothing groundbreaking in this book, but if you follow these guidelines, I am sure you will see great results in your game and in your life. I want to share this book with as many people as I can, so you can get your copy for free!
When you are done reading it, make sure to try something out! Moreover, when you will be happy with the results, go back to learning poker strategy. I hardly recommend you getting a coach if you can afford one since this is a great way to speed up your learning process. I know that private poker coaching could get very expensive to beginning players and I heard many complaints about that. When people really need the coach they can’t afford one and when they can, a lot of the time, they do not need it. Not sure if this is true, but this is a saying, I have seen somewhere. Keeping that in mind, I createdwhere you can get almost personal coaching for a fraction of a price and every poker player can afford.
In sum, there are many likable things about Tadas. His focus and expertise on small stakes online cash games is specific and credible. His recognition that there is nothing “groundbreaking” in his own book makes him trustworthy, and yet having read it, I found everything in it to make sense and be succinctly reasonable. This is a rare quality, and in a piece that is not written in his native tongue.
Overall, he seems, as all teachers do, to be finding a compromise between simplicity and complexity in his pedagogy. I’d still like to get a deeper understanding of his work with the solvers and theory to see what separates him, if anything, from others. Yet for the levels he teaches, I am satisfied with many of his principles.
Best wishes to Tadas and those who seek his guidance.