– Hello, Bert. The last time you were with us was a few years ago, when no one knew your name. Everyone called you Girafganger. Are you hiding anymore?
– Yes, the tax authorities still got to me, so there is nothing more to be afraid of. I haven't been on podcasts for a long time, but I accepted your invitation because I'm looking more and more into the role of an influencer. Seriously, I started streaming regularly and I want to show the viewers at least some positive example.
– Do you watch poker streams? To many, they seem incredibly boring.
– When I play online, I often include someone in the background. But in general, I agree, this is very specific content. It’s quite another thing to stream yourself. I get great pleasure, and it seems that the audience also likes my broadcasts more and more. So, if you haven't logged in for a long time, I advise you to try again. I stopped taking it seriously and hardly discuss strategy, more entertaining the audience, listening to music, and enjoying the process.
Have you thought about using your animals to attract an audience?
– Yes, there was an idea to hold a couple of streams from the street.
– Remind us the lineup of your menagerie.
– 15 cats, 2 dogs, 5 horses, 12 hens, 2 sheep, 3 goats, 2 geese and 2 chinchillas.
– Why did you return to streaming?
– Almost all streamers seem the same to me. There are many great guys among them, I have great relationships with many of them, but their streams are no different from each other. What image of a poker streamer has developed in the viewer? This is a person who takes himself very seriously, for him money and success come first: “Repeat after me, think positively, take care of your health, and you will succeed.” This is complete bullshit and incredibly boring. And we know very well that not all poker players are like that, many really love poker and enjoy the game.
I didn't play poker for a whole year, then I decided to come back. I thought I'd play for about a month to see if I liked it or not. And the response from the audience exceeded all my expectations. I never thought that I would immediately have so many viewers and so much positivity from them. Fortunately, there are almost no haters and dumbasses in my chat who criticize any of my actions at the table. I am completely satisfied with what happens; I hope nothing changes.
– Tell the people from America who last played on the Internet before Black Friday, when there was no GG at all, how has online poker changed?
– It's pretty bad. It's not just America's departure, in many other countries online is either banned, or placed in a separate zone, or there are absurd laws. For example, in England, where poker is not taxed and anyone can play, they have introduced strict restrictions on deposits and you need to confirm the legitimacy of your own funds. Something similar in Germany. Moreover, it is argued that all these laws are adopted to protect customers, although it is obvious to everyone that in fact, this is complete nonsense.
Look at PokerStars's performance when they don't have streaks. You can't look without tears. GG is doing much better because they are much more loyal to their customers and places to play from. There is also ACR, where there have also been many positive changes recently. Partypoker has been a poker corpse for a long time, Stars only come to life for the duration of the series. I don't play there at all. At first, I boycotted because of the increase in rake, then I decided to return, but I lived in England, and they demanded proof of income. I asked why they were not satisfied with the fact that I played there for a hundred years and won a lot of money. They simply replied that it was not suitable, and that was the end of our dialogue. The account has remained blocked. But I still want to play SCOOPs and WCOOPs, so I'll probably take care of this issue in the near future.
It seems to me that Stars themselves are to blame for everything. They rake up the consequences of their short-sighted actions, although it was clear to everyone that they would lead to just such an outcome. PokerStars seemed to think that online poker was only a couple of years away and wanted to make the most of it in that short period. First, the rake was raised, and then all qualified employees were fired. But GG's example shows that people are still willing to play poker. It is enough to ensure at least a little fair play and make relatively simple ways of deposits and cashouts.
Now Stars are paying for their mistakes and continue to stay afloat only because of the inaction of other competitors. ACR is trying to do something, but the software is terrible, and the tournament grid is inconvenient. So, again, in general, the situation online is deplorable, but MTTs will never die, you can still win a lot of money, especially on series.
– Cheaters and bots do not scare you?
– They scared me when GG banned a bunch of people with whom I crossed paths every day at expensive tables. I said to myself: "If all these guys are cheaters, then there is definitely nothing else to do online." True, it later turned out that almost everyone was banned for open charts, and only a couple of people used the prompts. One of them then recorded a very strange video on YouTube. I never understood why he did it.
But, of course, there are problems. There is a big Brazilian stable that everyone knows about. They almost openly visit there and use clues in the final stages. And this has been happening for many years, but the rooms just don't care. They put 400 people into each tournament, it is clear that this is beneficial for the room. Otherwise, in my opinion, the online game is relatively fair. Regular players have nothing to worry about at all. No one will play with a 20-table cheap tournament prompt early on, it's just not profitable. This only makes sense in the most expensive tournaments.
– What does open hosting mean? Tell us more about this Brazilian fund.
– It's called 4bet. As far as I know for beginners, they give backing for 30%, although the standard in the industry is 50/50 or so. At the same time, they offer unobtrusive ghosting in the deep stage. That is, you can kind of refuse, but when you play micro-limits on such conditions, almost anyone will agree.
– And the rooms do nothing about it?
– I could talk for a long time about how useless the security service of almost any room is. But I still have hope to get a contract one day, haha. As soon as you understand that the room does not have a goal to ban all scammers, you will begin to take this problem a little easier. When there was a wave of bans on GG, all these players continued to play quietly in other rooms. Although it is believed that the same Stars have the most effective security service. One of the leaders of the 4bet fund is their ambassador in general ( ed. – talking about Rafael Moraes), he has not only a sponsorship contract but also a bunch of affiliate programs that provide additional rakeback. Zero chance the Stars don't know about his dubious dealings. I wrote letters to support, but did not receive a single answer. That's why I don't trust rooms at all when it comes to cheaters. It also amazes me that players find scammers faster than rooms, although the latter have much more opportunities for this.
The biggest problem is tournaments with many entry days. On the starting days, you can plant all your relatives, and on the second day, you will have 3-4 decent stacks. And this is not my fantasy, this happens in every major tournament. On the second day, suddenly almost everyone starts playing GTO. The good news is that most cheaters are dumb and still play poorly.
– Probably bad compared to you? The field in $20 tournaments, they hit with a margin.
– Yes, correct remark. But there are so many players in $20 tournaments that the percentage of guests and cheaters will be very small and will not affect the ROI. The most expensive tournaments with small fields suffer the most. I remember a couple of years ago GG had a regular $5k tournament. In anticipation of the fish, we often started it with six of us – me, Apestyles, Brewer, Schindler, Ali, and their second accounts. Everyone but me was eventually banned. I even thought that Brewer was also on the Ali team, but it turned out that he was one of those who suffered for them. Ali is certainly an amazing character. I liked how he said: “I didn’t use prompts, I just multi-accounted.” So it's much worse. In small fields, two accounts that know each other's cards will cause much more damage to the rest of the players. And he's a really good player. who could win a lot honestly. This only confirms that he is just a very bad person.
I repeat, the main threat to the players is high stakes. But I understand perfectly why the regulars of all stakes are scared. The main thing to remember is that the fight against scammers is not particularly profitable for the rooms. Most often, they create its appearance for the sake of reputation. So don't trust them 100%. So stay vigilant and play big fields, it's safest there.
– You collaborated with Bryn Kenney before the big scandal with him? Have you been offered frog poison too?
– No, and I didn't suspect anything at all. I know that sounds unconvincing, but I am very grateful to Martin that in his exposé he specifically mentioned me as a person who was not involved in anything. After that interview, I tweeted that many of the allegations were indeed true. Bryn went berserk and said I betrayed him. But I myself was outraged that my name could be used in some dubious business, it is very important for me to stay away from all this.
I then had a lot of conversations with all of them. I feel good about Martin and agree that at some points Bryn treated him horribly. But not all of his accusations were confirmed, although he claimed that all this was 100% fact. For example, ghosting and playing out finals could well have taken place, I readily believe in this. But these were isolated cases and did not have a mass character. The story with Lauren Roberts looks very doubtful. It seems to have never been confirmed that Bryn sometimes played from her account himself, and sometimes he planted horses specifically for her. The problem is that Bryn does not know how to communicate with people and his interview only made it worse. Everyone was under the impression that he had created some kind of huge fund solely for the purpose of fraud. But it certainly wasn't.
– How has living on a farm surrounded by animals changed your attitude towards life?
– Wow, what a sudden change of topic. But I love this question. I became a completely different person. We are all looking for our place in the world and often ask ourselves the question, why do we live, what is our goal? Thanks to animals, I now perfectly understand this goal. I still feel like I'm not doing enough good for the world. But at least I began to understand how I personally can make it better. We are all part of the Universe and are responsible for each other. Some personal interests and goals that have been planted in our heads since school years have faded into the background for me. There is nothing wrong with them either, but it seems to me that this is a too primitive view of life. The world is much more complicated, and each person is responsible.
– What benefits does poker bring to the world?
– Poker is not supposed to be useful. The main thing is that there is no harm from it, and this is already better than many professions that bring only negative things to the world. I personally bring benefits to the best of my ability – to close friends, animals, to everyone I can. For now, that's enough for me.
The real world is generally a very unfair and dirty place. And poker is not the worst choice. It's definitely better than working on Wall Street, where it's almost impossible to find good people. And then there are organizations that provide loans at extortionate interest, even in many multi-million dollar businesses that openly exploit ordinary employees. Therefore, I am very sad when professionals say: "I'd rather become an investment banker, where I can apply my skills more effectively." Yes, you may make more money, but why do you need it? This is what “dirty” money is.
And poker is a fair game, at least in my frame of reference. Here anyone can succeed, it all depends on you. People who sit down at the table know what they are getting into and do it of their own free will. Of course, it is sometimes difficult for weak players to understand how badly they are playing, but it is still a zero-sum game if you do not take into account the rake.
– At the end, give some advice to our listeners.
– Read Marx's Capital and regularly help the nearest animal shelter.