A regular at fast-fold tables on Pokerdom (an EU and RU-facing site) started a blog on our Russian forum less than a year ago, in April 2023.

Every month he publishes the results – and the profits are impressive, with more stability than you'd expect.

We had to ask Alexander "Rocknrolla" about the secrets of his success.

– Alexander, hello! What and where did you play before you became a regular?

Did I hear something about a welcome bonus of $50 from a poker website?

– Hello Ivan! Thank you for the invitation to the interview, I'm glad we can have a heart-to-heart today.

I’m 36 years old, and of course, I need to say hello to Ilya Gorodetsky... and Mikhail Semin!

I have to thank Mikhail for my Pokerdom appearance. A deep bow to those guys. I can’t count how many guys like me they introduced to poker over the years. In 2007, I lived with my mother and locked myself in the kitchen to watch their evening broadcasts.

I got excited about the game, and found the book Dan Harrington's book, which I tore to pieces. The M Number and all that.

I also managed to hook up a little official offline game in St. Petersburg where I managed to go play in MTTs for about $10-$20 USD each. In those years, cash games didn't exist, only tournaments. There was a passion for sports, plus beating opponents and reaching the final tables.

I played freerolls in small Euro rooms, then on UNIBET for around ABI $20, and won something, playing strictly according to Dan Harrington. At that time, his tight approach to the game worked 100 percent. Of course, there was also fifty dollars from PokerStrategy, for clicking the buttons in different rooms.

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— You wrote in your blog that you “have been playing seriously since August 2020,” right from NL50. But to beat NL50 right away, you need a decent skill level. How did you study?

— In 2019, I lived in St. Petersburg and worked with my father in his company. On New Year's Eve, I met my future wife, and soon Covid burst into our life. Around the world, everything came to a standstill for almost a year.

While I was sitting at home, I thought about making poker the main source of income. I had an account on Pokerdom, all because a couple of years before that I watched the streams of Mikhail Semin and Sergei Rybachenko and entered their tournaments. It was interesting to bump heads with such poker mastodons and hear a few “flattering” words about myself on the stream. In those years, Dukalis with his stupid avatar was still actively playing on Pokerdom!

In general, I decided on the room quickly. By that time, I already had some poker experience, I lived in Thailand for 7 years (friends invited me there to develop an apartment rental business) and played quite a lot of offline cash games – in Thailand, Vietnam, India, and the Philippines. So, I thought that I should be able to cope with NL50.

Back then, the room had weekly rakeback payments and the idea of ​​working for a salary that was paid on Mondays appealed to me. I started grinding at fast-fold tables. I played clumsily at the time, but thanks to my offline experience I quickly a dapted to the field. I could even watch the tables for hours and not play, just writing notes on my opponents and coming up with adjustments. Online and offline are very different, but a live game teaches you very well how to adjust to specific opponents. At the same time, I watched streams of cash game players. Among ours are Misha Inner and Fellini. From foreign countries – Jeremiah Williams, David Kay, and the red-haired guy who has been recording podcasts with top regs lately.

— In one of the GreenLine videos, you said you were self-taught and in a couple of years, you ended up near NL1K. How did this happen?

– It’s still said loudly. I started playing NL1K on Pokerdom, joining the obvious amateurs. At first, I earned relatively a lot (including rakeback) on NL50-100, then I started grinding boost NL200 and regular tables NL200-500. Only in the laziest month, I missed out on over $10,000. There were times when I played up to 10 boost tables at the same time (or 12-16 tables, of which 8 were boost).

I played far from optimal poker by modern standards, but I played tons of hands, earning a huge amount of rakeback. This allowed me to move up the limits. And, of course, a fairly soft field. It is important to understand that I do not play among the uber-top regs!

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— If you could go back to 2020, what would you change about your poker journey?

— I would pay for the training and come to everything much earlier, would not learn from my own mistakes, and would save money and time. By the way, on streams I always recommend the Training section on GT, where profiles of poker trainers are posted, explaining to the guys that this will be the most effective way to improve their skills and earn adequate income.

— How do you feel about GTO?

— One of the biggest boosts to my game came from getting acquainted with the GTO preflop charts from GTO Wizard. Of course, you have to make adjustments. The field does not play GTO, the field 3-bets tight, does not 4-bet bluff, weakly defends against aggression, and so on.

Therefore, studying trends also plays a huge role, often even more important than GTO. That's why I have crazy checkbacks with the nut full house and other extraordinary hands that are unthinkable in other lineups and at other limits.

The board where Alexander didn’t find a draw on the river in position (and he was right)

— This check wildly excited the community on our Russian poker forums, I remember.

— I didn’t even post this on the blog, people just came and attacked me, not wanting to listen to any arguments. This opponent played too passively in 3-bet and 4-bet pots against me. For example, in a 3-bet pot he could check-pass on the board, being the aggressor.

So, after he called a large turn bet in a 4-bet pot, his hand became relatively obvious to me. I'm not saying that this is the right game, I just played against my opponent. Pure exploit. I had never checked behind with such a hand before – this was the first and perhaps the last time.

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— You say that you’ve been playing poker for 20 years, but you registered on GipsyTeam even later than you started playing professionally. Why is that?

— I’ve been following GipsyTeam almost since the founding of the site, but I haven’t written anything myself. After all, the game has always been just a hobby for me; there was no poker dream. That’s why I didn’t associate myself with the community. By the way, for many guys who are trying to build a poker career, this is a big problem – the lack of like-minded people. If you want to develop in the game, you definitely need people around you who will be on the same wavelength as you. If they are not there, you need to look for them on the forum, on streams, in telegram chats.

In 2020, I started in a complete vacuum, I didn’t read the forum, and I didn’t really have any friends from the online poker community.

The breakthrough happened just when the movement began with the guys:

  • Max SNWay
  • Pasha strawnij
  • Misha Inner
  • Lyokha Istomin
  • Petya Boggart
  • Dima timenow
  • Valentin Vitamin
  • Yura Airenikus
  • Vitalik Termo
  • Denis evstore
  • Kostya RYSHER
  • Petya ThinkTwiceTeam

Sanya omahabot helped me create a channel on Twitch – but it’s impossible to list them all. In general, if you decide to devote yourself to poker, try to surround yourself with people from this world, this is very important.

From left to right: Inner, Rocknrolla, Max SNWay, Kostya Rysher

— You suddenly burst into the media sphere, with a blog, streams, and telegram channel. Is this a conscious strategy to create a personal brand or just a love of communication?

– Interesting question.

I want to answer with a Heath Ledger quote from The Dark Knight.

The Joker says, “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just... *do* things

I never thought that I would become a poker streamer. A year ago, Pokerdom wrote to me and offered to hold a marathon at limits of $0.25/$0.50 and $0.50/$1. I would have to post charts every week, communicate with the audience in the chat of the telegram channel, hold drawings. By that time, I had not played these limits for a long time, but the offer interested me.

I simply failed the first week of the marathon. I thought that I would hit the long-forgotten limits running, so I opened 16 tables at a time – and took such blows that I simply felt ashamed. In a week I lost more than $2,000, and I was only saved due to rakeback and the leaderboard. In the end, I actually lost about $400. This situation really spurred me on, I decided to complicate the challenge and stream the rest of the marathon on Twitch.

I did that to prove to the audience (and myself) that I’m still in good poker shape.

That's how, by the will of fate, I started streaming on Twitch. I didn't think I would be interested. I aimed to be more educational than entertaining. I decided to share my experience with the audience, analyze the hands that had just been played live, and answer questions. I started receiving positive feedback and gratitude – and I was hooked.

As a result, I realized I didn't know any streamer who would tell me how to make money with poker, answer questions, and help me get closer to my poker dream. It's been almost a year since I started streaming. I really like it, and I've met a lot of cool guys and girls. And I owe everything that I have achieved so far to the audience – if not for them, I would not be answering your questions now.

— Looking at your streams, we get the feeling that you’re not tilting at all. Even when you shipped it by mistake , mixing up the cards, you just laughed.

Alexander happily called, but came up short

– I remember this hand well!

At that moment there were many tables, and on one of them I had , so I got them mixed up. Apparently fatigue took its toll. I was shocked at the showdown for a second, and then I started laughing. As soon as emotions take over rational thinking, it’s a lost cause.

At that point, you need to take a break and go rest. At the beginning of my career, of course, I made mistakes in this regard, I played a lot in a suboptimal state. But at some point you get tired of losing money out of stupidity, and you stop repeating the errors.

—You have an incredible ability to work, has it always been like that? Is it your love for poker that allows you to play such marathon sessions and stream almost every day – or are you like that in other aspects of life too?

— I always hated monotonous work. I think computer games developed perseverance in me. I was quite into CS 1.6, then World of Warcraft – I played for the strongest Russian guild at that time, known as Guess Who.

As we know, many of the strongest players came to poker from video games. Hello to Ivan Demidov, Bertrand Grospellier, Lex Feldhus and many other guys. By the way, Pokerdom is now actively developing partnerships with gaming streamers: Vudush, Rekrent, Cake. I think this is a very cool method to attract young blood into poker.

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— Do you have any advice on work/life balance?

– I know how to relax. Sometimes we have drinks on streams, for example. I load up on wine, launch Fortnite, and have fun with the audience and fellow players. Sometimes that goes for 15 hours. In the morning I wake up and it turns out that I owe everyone money, because I held some kind of draws that I don’t even remember. In short, my vacation needs a stop valve – thank God, I got married, and now more measured!

But seriously, I’m only striving for an ideal schedule. There is an example – Misha Inner, he works like a Swiss watch. Once I asked him: “Mish, please share your secret.”

He replied: “Have three children, and the secret will reveal itself.”

— Did your wife make your decision to become a poker player? She’s a ballerina, and suddenly you play cards? Does she know the rules of Holdem?

— I met Katya when I was a businessman, working for my father in the company. Then Covid, lockdown, and now we are locked in one room. Katya is the furthest person from any kind of gambling, just like I am from ballet.

And then suddenly I’m sitting in the kitchen at my MacBook, playing 5-6 tables, muttering something under my breath. Of course, she was probably worried, not understanding what kind of game this was, where you could supposedly earn some money, but like a wise woman, she didn’t say a word, but simply began to observe where it would lead.

We had to use win rates to prove the right to use the income for our family. But Katya is still very far from poker.

By the way, we got married on November 1, and this was a poker day and World Ballet Day. It turns out that we got married on the day of our professions: Katya graduated from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet and worked for more than 10 years at the Mariinsky Theater.

I proposed to Katya on her birthday, in front of all her relatives and our close friends, by organizing the entire event and buying a ring with poker earnings. Perhaps this also influenced her attitude towards poker!

— Many streamers say that playing live will inevitably affect the quality of decisions. It’s as if you managed to avoid this curse too, no? It is clear that Inner can sacrifice anticipation; he has additional obvious value from media exposure. But your story is not quite the same.

— Playing live will definitely impact your concentration and quality of play. You stream, monitor the chat, answer questions. When you need to make a decision, you comment on it (and sometimes, while you are explaining what you will do, the cards go to waste).

This is, of course, the main disadvantage of streaming, and it must be covered with additional income: agreements with poker rooms, affiliates, advertising.

But! When I started streaming, I stopped reacting so much to things. When no one can see you, it's easy to lose control, go beyond ranges, and make rash decisions. During streams, such emotional outbursts have become significantly less frequent; now they are almost non-existent.

I once asked Misha Inner, looking at his tilt sessions: “Mish, how can you tilt like that when so many viewers are watching?” And he replied: “At first I also tried to hold on, we’ll see you next year.”

Misha Inner about 3 seconds from an outburst

– Yes, I definitely don’t plan to quit. I particularly like the role of all poker streamers as ambassadors. Everyone is different, but in a sense they are doing a common cause.

  • There are streamers with a sweet goofiness, like Minton or Sanya Badugi.
  • There are those who captivate viewers with huge pots, like Misha Inner.
  • There are those who are considered a bit boring, like Fellini, but their content is aimed at people who try to think.
  • There are educational streams, like those of Greenline or KOTS. Together they promote poker to the masses, motivate people, entertain, and unite. The poker community should be as united as possible in these difficult times. Let's make cool content together and treat each other with respect.
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— Your regular opponents, if they wish, could study your broadcasts and understand something about your strategy, find exploits.

Does this bother you?

— I often hear this question, but I consider myself a qualified player who can adapt to any field and any opponent.

If the field, after some clips where I fold strong hands, starts to think that I'm folding too much, I start overcalling A-high or 6-betting bluffs preflop deep. This is all very subtle: some viewers see the clip and come to the stream with questions: “why do you overfold,” or “why do you overbet only for value, without bluffs.”

But they simply don’t see the full picture, not watching the whole stream or not understanding who and how I’m playing against.

So you’re not afraid of ruining your edge? It seems like there's some money at stake.

— I did a big poker marathon in November, showing that on the $0.25/$0.50 tables you hold a decent win rate and get 50% rakeback.

I know that after this marathon, seeing the numbers, some regs decided to return or tried to play at Pokerdom for the first time. But this doesn't scare me at all. I know regs who beat Rush NL100 on GGPoker, but did not master NL50 Boost on Pokerdom.

GGPoker is a Hold’em and Omaha focused site on the Good Game Network. Offering a broad range of playing formats such as Randomised Sit & Gos, All-in or Fold, and 6+ Short Deck as well as fast cash games, and a plethora of tournament series including: GGMasters, Multi Millions and Bounty Hunters.

To each his own. It takes adjustments, it takes time. Not everyone is ready to adapt (especially without stats from HUDs). I recently streamed NL200 (rubles) and it went fine, I didn’t even understand who I was playing against, I ended up with a win rate of 1 BB/100 and the next day showed 11 BB per 100 at a limit 5 times higher.

— By the way, let’s talk about double-digit win rates.

Are fast tables usually less profitable than regular ones? Why do you specialize in them? Is it all for the sake of rakeback?

— You need to watch hourly. I don’t know a single person who would even earn money at regular tables comparably to fast-fold regs, taking into account the rakeback. I don’t monitor my results with a fine-toothed comb, but in November, during the marathon (200+ hours), the hourly rate came out to more than $40 per hour at the limits of ~$0.25/$0.50.

You can still make decent money playing poker, but you have to work hard. Diligence still pays off.

As a streamer, I see a huge number of new players who are just starting to take their first steps in the game, and I see a huge demand for educational content.

— Do you consider your high levels of rakeback to be the norm?

— From June to October, in my opinion, I had 3 negative sessions. Moreover, 100% of the time I played on streams (I haven’t played without streams for a long time). I calculate the results of all sessions taking into account rakeback. After playing 8 hours a day, it is very difficult to end up in the red, while having decent rakeback. The field is that soft.

To answer your question, yes. With my amount of hands, I consider this to be the norm.

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— How to work on the game and analyze hands in a room where trackers are prohibited?

— You can analyze sessions through the replayer (like the ones in the H2N tool), sort out all the important hands, and then write notes. There are communities of reg where guys show big folds, discuss opponents, and share thoughts.

By the way, the largest such conference is GT+ Pro, a very cool community of guys, everyone is as adequate and talented as possible, I’m glad to be part of this community. Guys, hello!

— How do you play without a HUD?

— In 2009 I tried to install Poker Tracker on my computer, POSTGRESQL is still a nightmare. Then I couldn’t cope, and since then I’ve forgotten about it.

When I started playing at Pokerdom, I was just glad that the hacks didn’t work there. Poker without HUDs is just real poker, as it is. Adapt to your opponents, write notes, and everyone is on an equal footing. I am sure that if tomorrow I go to play in a room where the regs are sitting, surrounded by stats, they will tear me apart until I learn to use all the modern benefits of poker.

So, I’m glad that at Pokerdom we can all play real classic poker.