Alexey “avr0ra” Borovkov and Brdz1 have been running a joint podcast for almost a year now, in which they discuss high-stakes events every month. Alexey is constantly expanding his poker-related activities. A couple of months ago I started a channel on Telegram, and have already conducted two independent streams. He played one table of the $10k buy-in Sunday tournament at both, explained his actions in each hand, and was active in the chat. Both sessions followed a similar scenario – avr0ra made one entry, held out until late registration, and crashed shortly before the prizes.
We have compiled a selection of Alexey's most interesting answers to questions from the chat.
– Why did you start streaming?
– I decided to play tournaments one day a week for practice in order to feel more confident in expensive series live. Super Millions is an ideal format for me, an expensive tournament with a small field, and a lot of familiar cash players, and I will meet most of the other players live. I'll try to interact more with the chat, but first of all, I'd like to focus on the game. The goal is to not screw up too much and not commit ICM suicide. I hope I can show an acceptable game, after all, it’s a $10,000 tournament. I’m happy to play with a slightly negative ROI, around -10% would be quite acceptable, I can afford to lose $1,000 for each such tournament, but below that, it won’t be very good. Moreover, I am still confident that over time I will begin to play better. When I say that I am afraid that I will make serious mistakes, I am lying a little. In reality, I hope that I can show an adequate level.
– Who is the strongest all-rounder now, that is, is equally strong in both cash and tournaments?
– I think Barak Wisbrod. He's very cool. I already said in my videos – if you want to learn something from others, disassemble Barak's game. He always makes clear and good decisions; there are practically no bad hands in his history. Limitless is also among the best.
– How long does it take to rise from NL10 to NL200?
– Long time, several thousand hours for sure. First of all, it will take practice. You will have to play a lot. The more talented a person is, the shorter this path will be, but it will still take at least 2,000 hours.
– Are you planning to stream cash?
– Only if very good tables appear during the Sunday stream, I’m not going to do it separately yet. The current plan is to stream Super Millions every week. I am quite capable of playing one table and communicating with the chat, but if I open another cash table, I will lose concentration and will not be able to do anything at all.
– You live in Argentina, have you already met Stefan?
– Yes, we met, but he has no time for me now. They have their own get-together with the Architect, I am far from singular and do not fit into their company a little.
– How do you analyze hands from tournaments?
– I prefer to discuss hands with familiar regulars. The format is better when they explain with examples what I should have done. I work independently in GTO Wizard, which is an analysis of ICM situations and a simulator in which you can practice. I analyze hands from the final tables, choose a specific situation, and try to understand the logic of where to narrow the ranges relative to the standard ones, where to expand them, and why. While I'm working more on preflop, this is my weakest point.
– How many tables do you play?
– Maximum comfort zone – 6 tables. I adhere to strict rules – I equate each table of regulars to two regular ones, that is, I don’t play more than three tables with regulars.
– How would you rate your love for poker on a scale of 10?
– I’ve always had a great love for poker. I don’t even remember the moments when I didn’t want to play. The longest break in my entire 13-year career was only two months. The only problem is that now I'm interested in competing at the highest level. It’s no longer interesting for me to play any NL100 live. In Argentina, we got together with friends for such a game, I enjoyed the conversation and had a good time, but the game itself did not evoke any emotions. I like to catch my opponents and find logical inconsistencies in their actions, I get real pleasure from this. It is clear that at high limits there are more such moments. But to play at the highest level, you need to devote almost all your time to poker, play a lot, work away from the table, study theory, and communicate with colleagues, all this takes a lot of time and effort. This is a real job, you can’t be a part-time high stakes player – you either give it your all or don’t do it at all. So I enjoy the game, but I can only really relax in tournaments. When I retire, I plan to travel and play tournaments offline for fun, like rich amateurs.
– From the point of view of improving the game, is it better to practice on your own, with a partner, or with a foundation?
– It is most effective to work with a partner, provided that you are both maximally charged. The Foundation does not provide information for free, but now almost everything can be found in the public domain. So, in my opinion, it is best to work in small teams of two or three people.
– What advice do you have on bankroll management?
– I am a supporter of a conservative approach; there is absolutely no hurry in poker. I wouldn't go to NL1k without 60 buy-ins.
– Viktor "Enlight" Kudinov recently went to Macau, how did he perform there?
-- He spent two weeks there, playing an insanely expensive game. There were sessions lasting 30 hours, and he was even older than me. It seems that Vita is 34 years old, I don’t know for sure, but he’s definitely not a boy anymore. At first, I lost a lot, but in the end, I won almost everything back and ended up with a slight minus. We played NL40k in deep stacks with amateurs who like to inflate the pots. The variance in a game like this is incredible. In general, he didn’t have a very good year, he lost more than $1 million online, and this was also an unsuccessful outing. He returned very tired and upset. It’s very difficult to play such marathon sessions offline, and it’s one thing when you win, but it’s completely unpleasant to lose.
– Top three most unpleasant opponents in your career?
– I have a very hard time with players who can make thin folds. The same Stefan at least pays for my value, but there are rivals who seem to have gotten into your soul. You bet thinly for value – they find a fold, you bluff – they find a thin call. The most obvious examples of such players for me are Sergey "MunEZ_StaRR" Nikiforov, it was always very difficult for me to play with him, and "TaxHere". Even with Linus, it's easier to play. These two immediately came to mind, but I don’t even know who to name third. There is such a player – DEX888, Marius Gierse. He and I reg-warred a lot at PokerStars in 2019, it seemed to me that he didn’t play very well, but I lost a lot of buy-ins to him.
– Why doesn’t MunEZ play on GG at all lately, although in the ACR leaderboard, he is almost always the leader in profit?
– Yes, this year he didn’t play at GG at all. I lost a lot in heads-ups at NL100k-200k and decided to take a break. Moreover, there was not much in buy-ins, but in money it was decent. After that, he concentrated on fewer tables and started working on his game more. I haven’t been to GG at all for the last 9 months, but I just destroyed ACR and showed great results there with a colossal win rate. But, apparently, he will return soon; I saw in the reg high-stakes conference that he was looking for an exchange for GG.
– How are things with Malinovsky?
– Everything is fine, he is having a very successful year. After losing to Stefan, he had serious psychological and financial problems, they even talked about significant debts. You could say he worked on Truteller's galleys. Things are looking up now.
– You said that at high stakes you need to be completely immersed in the game all the time. At what limit can you make money without straining? And are there any examples of such players?
– There are many such players, usually, they are quite tough. The fish's loss rate makes up for the fact that they don't have their finger on the pulse all the time. If you really have a huge amount of knowledge, then with a good selection you can make money on NL500-1k for years. It won't work any higher.
-Have you crossed paths with Isildur? What was his phenomenon?
– Unfortunately, I never played with him, I just followed his battles. He has enormous poker talent. In short, he played incredibly aggressively for his time. Then everyone kept within certain limits, and he, for example, became the first to use overbets and turn raises. Before him, it was believed that a raise on the turn was always the nuts.
– Name the players who stood out for their talent, but for some reason did not achieve much success.
– I'd say "BootieInUFace". He is very well-versed theoretically but has not yet achieved great results. Although he understands the technical part of the game better than most high stakes regs, perhaps even all of them. However, a good theorist is not always a good player. He has a problem with playing at a distance. To become an elite player, many factors must come together, and technical skill, unfortunately, is only one of them. Although for me, rather, fortunately. If everything depended on technical training, it would have been much harder for me.
– How many people in the world earn $100k+ per year online? Or $250k?
– It’s hard to say, but I’ll carefully guess that it’s 200. Maybe less, probably not more. $250k+ – 50 people, the gap is very large. I'm talking about waiting. Although I don’t understand MTT at all, maybe there are a lot of regs there who earn more than $100k, but I doubt it.
– Imagine that we switched places. I became a high-stakes reg, and you became a NL100 reg. How quickly will we meet at the same limit?
– Pretty soon. At NL100 I’m unlikely to show the highest win rate; the strongest regs will play better. But I will definitely play this limit for a good profit. I think I’ll reach NL1,000 in a year. This is on condition that I cannot take backing. Well, you’ll also end up at high stakes pretty quickly if you don’t stop. And I’m not saying that NL100 regs don’t know how to play. Usually, these are strong players with a lot of experience, but it is impossible to just come to high limits and immediately play them as a plus, even with a good selection.
– How big is the difference between NL1k and NL5k regulars?
– Not very big. Most likely, the strongest 1k regs play even better than the average 5k regs.
– What can you say about the NL1k tops who only play this limit on GG for the sake of leaderboards? Is the expectation there really higher than at NL2k?
– As far as I know, the wait there is really very long. There are some really strong regulars there. For example, Borys “GODofHU” Turitsa, had an excellent podcast on the Fellini channel. Vision is a top reg with a huge amount of knowledge. I do not rule out that for those who like to marathon and play long distances, such a game is more profitable not only than NL2k, but also the high-stakes grind.
– Name the top five strongest regs you met in Macau.
– I was greatly impressed by Bjorn Lee, he used to play on Stars under the nickname "Asianflushie". He is especially scary with a deep stack; money doesn’t put any pressure on him at all. He and Limitless are two of the top players who regularly play the expensive game in Macau. There is also Daniel “DANMERR” Merrilees, but he is inferior to them. It’s hard to name the top five, I spent only two weeks there, so I didn’t have time to see them play over time.
– It is clear that you are an educated person. Can you recommend some books, films, or TV series?
– You’re wrong here, I’m completely uneducated. I don’t even have a higher education; I’ve been playing cards on the Internet since I was 17 years old. I love science fiction very much, one of my favorite authors is Joe Abercrombie, an English writer in the dark fantasy genre. I like films about time travel, even the most primitive ones. For example, “Palm Springs,” a very simple American comedy, but I enjoyed it precisely because of the genre. Naturally, the classic is Groundhog Day.
– How many active high-stakes regs are there now?
– If we take those who play NL10k and higher online, then there are 50 people, perhaps even less.
– 10-15 years ago there were fewer such regs?
– Much. When I started, playing 10k was a unique event. I remember that I was already a NL2k-5k reg, I followed the lobby, and the NL10k game met once a month.
– What kind of bankroll management do you follow? Biggest downswing in your career and in one session?
– I have always had a careful approach. If the game was really good, I could sit down with a minimum of 40 buy-ins. There were no huge downswings in buy-ins, I didn’t lose more than 50. The money was pretty decent. For example, I went to Triton and lost $300,000. Is this a big downswing? I think so. But I played a $100k tournament and rebought once. This probably can’t even be called a downswing. I played two tournaments, and it didn’t work out, I was eliminated. In one session I lost 12 buy-ins. But in general, I don’t like to lose a lot, so I just end when I lose 10 buy-ins. After such losses, I always take a day off and, with a cool head, call my friends and analyze the hands.
– Do you agree with the opinion that due to the popularity of software, people at micro-limits get used to playing according to statistics and are completely incapable of playing logically?
– Yes, that is right. If you have global poker goals, try to look less at numbers and use logic more. You shouldn’t just memorize situations: “My opponent has a big fold to a continuation bet, so I’ll bet with any cards.” Perhaps the continuation bet here will be positive, but suddenly there is a more profitable action. Try to choose the right sizing or think about other lines. Suddenly, in some structures, it is better to play a checkback and bluff his second check. Playing by numbers can be profitable, but this is not the way to high stakes.
– Have you ever played with bots?
– Yes, I had such an experience in the Chico network many years ago. In a one-on-one game, they simply dominate you, the sensation is not the most pleasant. At a 3-max table, there are some chances, at a full table I may be able to play even better than a not-strong bot, but in heads-up a human has no options.
– How often do you tilt?
– I was lucky here, this happens very rarely. I can get upset when I realize that I played poorly. This is also a form of tilt. But I’ve never thrown things at the wall or started to hate those around me; I’ve never even hit a table in my life.
– Why did you start to be so active in media activities?
– I do what interests me. I have already realized myself in poker and could end my career, but I still like to play, and the question immediately arises, what to do next? So I’m trying myself in the media field, like football players who, after a professional career, go to television. Maybe someday in the future, I will try myself as a commentator for an expensive cash game or tournaments. I try not to make any guesses, I do what interests me and pay for it out of my own pocket. We experiment and see what the audience likes. The latest issue turned out to be more analytical, there is a lot of analysis of hands, and I wonder how it will be received.
– Did they give you a warning at GG for bum hunting?
– Yes, but I was very lucky. Limitless, Linus, and Makeboifin stood up for me. They wrote that I was definitely not a bumhunter and the warning was removed from me. This was at the height of last year's boycott. This is where my media activity came in handy.
– How to avoid such warnings?
– On GG the rule is “everything is for friends, law for enemies.” If you play at zero or negative, you can do whatever you want – leave at any time, and change tables as much as you like. Nothing will happen for this. And if you are a winner, you will have to follow the strict rules of poker etiquette. Briefly, they are like this: you can’t change tables at all, the system doesn’t like it, and you can close a table in the black only with the client.
– What do you think about Truteller’s skill?
– A very strong player, according to my classification he is a typical “IQ 200 player.” He is its brightest representative, a poker genius, who beats everyone using his intelligence and logic. He may not be as technically savvy, but that doesn’t stop him. The era of such “IQ 200” players is over, now the nerds are at the top. Jonas "RedBaron" Mols is somewhat the same. Timofey is incredibly rich, and poker is not that interesting to him now. As far as I know, he is involved in investments and the stock market. He is also actively involved in backing activities; many famous high rollers play for him.
– How many bb/100 will a top reg NL100 lose at NL40k?
– I think around 10bb, no matter how incredible it may sound. At first, in 100bb stacks, he can play very tightly and carefully, showing a slight minus of about 2-3bb/100, but gradually the depth will increase, and accordingly, the edge of opponents above him will increase.
– What results will the MTT tops have – Michael Addamo, Roman "RomeoPro" Romanovsky, Mikita Badziakouski?
– Much better than reg NL100. Due to the lack of gameplay, they will be weaker than the average reg, but they will not lose much. All three of you listed are very strong players with an excellent overall understanding of poker.
– What can you say about Addamo’s game?
– When we crossed paths in cash games, I didn’t notice him doing anything terrible. Although, of course, there were mistakes; perhaps at times he acted too loosely. He played NL100k only with a game select, and sat next to a very good amateur. I lost a lot, but there are 10 buy-ins – that’s already minus a million. I admit that he can generally be a plus in such a lineup. With all due respect to Artur Martirosyan, he played worse than Addamo in 3-max+ cash games and was very far behind the ranges. And it’s definitely not for me to evaluate Addamo based on tournaments, where I am, and where he is.
– How do you like Inner’s performance?
– A strong player with vast experience, perhaps sometimes spends too much emotion on streams. But all his haters should be reminded that Misha played more than 15 million hands during his career. It’s possible that this is more than the 1,000 people currently in the chat combined.
– Do you consider yourself to be among the top 10/20/50 strongest players in the world?
– This is all too subjective. I'm definitely not in the top 10; it won’t be a problem to find ten players stronger than me. You can put me in the top 20 if there is a lot of love. I’m definitely in the top 50, but all these ratings are subjective.