Nick Vertucci: All right, this is the Nick Vertucci show. I am Nick Vertucci and I'm here with Veronica Brill and the Golden Boy, Mariano. It's been about a year or more since you were here. I looked it up.

Mariano Grandoli: Yeah, I was meaning to ask you how long it's been.

N: A lot’s been going on this year from when you were here last time and we're going to talk about it.

M: Sounds good, thanks for having me by the way.

N: You texted me last night at like 11:30 and said "Do you really need me?" and the reason you did is because- and I totally get it, I've been there – is you've been on a bit of a downswing as of recent. But on Thursday I think you lost $50k and last night, $175k.

M: Healthy numbers.

N: So that's a big chunk of change, close to a quarter million dollars, right?

M: Yeah.

N: I'm assuming that there's been a little bit of a spin the other way. This is common in poker for two reasons.

One is we understand there's variance and sometimes it can last an awful long time and it's brutal. Starts to even make you wonder if you even know what the f*** you're doing.

And then the other thing is you're playing on streams, so you probably struggle with finding ways to give action and trying not to lose everything that you own. You and I have talked about this a little bit off-mic. I just want to talk about that because I think it's a really big thing in poker that poker players experience. And then if you are a stream player, it's also something that you deal with and battle. Would you agree?

M: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think a lot of people already know that playing on streams, you have to be someone who's fun to watch, not just win a bunch of money. So it's always a fine balance between trying to be a fun player but also, like you said, not lose everything you have.

N: And you know, people are fighting for seats because I think factually those are the best games around. And like we talked about, kind of the only games around at that level.

You know, because right now you go into a casino and you got to grind a $5/$10 and if you go into $5/$10 or $10/$20 it's just all day regs.

M: To play like high stakes, it's either streams or private games, and I don't play private games.

N: Ditto. So yeah, those are a lot of risk.

Veronica Brill: So when you say you want to be a fun player, is that being fun because you need to be invited back to Hustler? If you're not fun enough they won't invite you? Or is it because you've got a YouTube channel to maintain and you're using that content?

M: No, it's not for my YouTube channel. It's just because, for the show and the players and the audience, no one wants to see someone who just plays super tight and tries to maximize every edge all the time. Well, some people do, but...

N: Who are you trying to say?

M: Myself, actually no, I'm joking, I'm joking.

V: So yeah, let's talk about Kings.

M: That was just awful for a stream, you know, things like that.

V: Yeah, what was going on there? Are you... first of all, are you and Nik Airball fine or...?

M: Oh, um, yeah we're fine. We talked, everything's cool.

N: So right now compared to the last time you were in here, how would you say it's different for you?

I want to talk about a few things, about like how you were able to get from even last year – we talked about how we got from a pizza delivery to this. But you even have escalated it up as far as the stakes you're playing, from then the amounts you're winning and losing. You went on a sun run for a while, we'll talk about that.

But how are you, as far as your attitude, bankroll, and generally speaking now that you're more matured in poker?

M: Okay, that's a lot of questions packed into one.

V: You got to let him do this.

M: Those are all good questions. You're right, last time we spoke I was fresh-faced in here, and now I feel like a weathered, dead inside veteran. And it's only been like a year. I don't know how people do this for like 10 years.

If I'm still playing in 10 years, stop inviting me to the things, all right.

But no, like I would say generally it's been an awesome year, you know. That's poker – you get your ass kicked. Sometimes, you kick ass.

But overall, like, my life is pretty sweet. And it's a lot in part thanks to Hustler Casino Live and YouTube and the way things went. So I would say overall life happiness – great.

Bankroll is fine, you know, we're taking some dents. The ship has begun to sink a little, but it hasn't sunk. A little water has come on board.

But like I think I'm okay. And in terms of my attitude towards poker, I feel like this time last year when we spoke, I was super excited to try to become one of the Hustler players and I feel like that has happened over the last year.

Now, kind of being on the other side of it, it wasn't exactly the way I expected it to go. It was a little different. But overall, I'm happy with the way things went and I don't have very many regrets with the past year. Even what happened last night and a couple days ago. So yeah.

V: So you're on a downswing right now. Like, how much is too much? How much until you go down in stake, if you do?

M: We're not close to that yet, luckily. But so what happened was I went on this sun run, like Nick said, last year. And then I started losing near the end of the year. And then this year I was winning a bunch again, and then now I'm losing again. So it's kind of just been like doing this for the last six months now.

V: What do you think it is? Is it... are you not playing well? Are you...

M: Yeah, so I'm playing way worse, I'm running worse, and I am being less disciplined with my decision-making. So it's a combination of all those things.

V: Why are you being less disciplined?

M: Um, not sure. Probably like pent-up frustration. And also trying to navigate the landscape of like, not being some super tight pro who's playing on these streams when everyone else is like trying to have a good time and gambling a lot more. So yeah, probably just... And variance too. Like as boring as it is to hide behind that excuse, which it kind of is an excuse, but there's there's some degree to that.

N: It's not... It's not actually.

M: I've really dug into that now that I play poker often, versus when I was just showing up here and there. It's a real thing. And you can go months in a downswing. And you have to be financially and mentally prepared for that.

N: Let me just ask you this. Do you have 100% of yourself?

M: Yeah. Always.

N: You always have 100% of yourself?

Mariano: Unfortunately.



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Some Mariano Poker Theory vs Nik Airball's Rant

Mariano: So, okay, so Nik opens in this hand from early position, okay? And, he's not really f***ing around that much with like me and Henry left to act, and he's in early position, so okay, decent hand, right?

I am on the button, if I remember this correctly, and on the button you're supposed to call a lot versus someone who raises from early position. Yeah, it's a tight range from early position.

Yeah, you should call a good amount. You should also re-raise sometimes, but I re-raise against Nik, who I get wrecked by all the time, right?

So, okay, I have a pretty strong hand. It's obvious, right?

Now Henry, he sees this, he sees Nik raise and me re-raise, right.

Henry's in the blinds and he sees that Nik has opened from early and that I have re-raised this raise on the button – and he raises. It's shocking to me. I'm like, okay, like, he's got something really good, or maybe he's getting out of line sometimes. It's fine, it's Henry, we're on stream. All these are also variables, right?

So, all right, Nik folds, gets back to me, and I have . I think I should call sometimes and raise a few times. That's pretty much the only options. I decide to raise, which is the aggressive route. I know it seems insane because I have pocket kings, but given all the explanations…

So I 5-bet him in a spot where I should almost always call. I'm almost, I know it seems ridiculous, but I'm almost over-repping my hand at this point. I mean, but we're really deep and it's totally normal, 5-bet, whatever.

Now it gets back to Henry and he should, in my opinion, call or fold all his hands. That's it, that's just my two cents. I could be wrong. Even with aces, he should call, more profitable than jamming.

But Henry now jams all in. Like, so now this is a six-bet, and not only that, but it's for 600 big blinds, I think it was. It's a lot.

N: Give a dollar amount roughly to the fans.

M: I think it was $60,000.

It's a lot of money. It's a lot. So you could take like the nerdy approach and talk about everything I just spoke about and be like, this is scary. You have Kings, you have no removal to Aces. I'd rather have Ace King in this spot, which I mention to Henry later, like an idiot, and he was like, "What are you talking about?"

V: You're saying you would fold in that spot?

M: No, no, I would rather have . Like, it's less scary to have . So it's back on me now and I have . The nerdy aspect of it is like, it's scary, it's $60,000, and he could very easily have Aces. In a 2-5 game, this would be like 100% of the time.

But now you look at the other side of things, which is like, we're playing live, we're on stream, we f*** around all the time, people punt.

For a second I just forgot all that secondary information and I was just focusing on like the primary, like nerdy, technical poker aspect of it. And I was like, in that world, this is a tough spot. But in this other world, it's like, it's Henry, he's rich as hell, he gives action. Like, I have , there's no decision here, just call right away, right?

Once more, I think it's a topic that you could see both sides and make a case for at least thinking about it for a little bit. I don't know how long I thought about it.

V: Yeah, so I was, that was my next question. Did you even know? You were in the moment, did you know you took as long as you did?

M: I haven't gone back yet, I haven't seen it.

N: I'll do it.

M: I'm sure you will. Yeah, I'm sure someone watching right now probably knows the exact amount of seconds or something, right?

Editors note: The Mariano poker tank saga lasted for 3 minutes and 25 seconds. That's more than seven times less than Nik Airball's tank on The Lodge Livestream (~22 minutes), which happened a few weeks after this hand.

On a high-stakes streamed cash game, a player tanked for almost half-an-hour on the river. It was Nik Airball, creating controversy as usual and stirring up discussion.


Mariano: I don't know how long it was, probably too long, especially on a stream. Like, at the end of the day, if you get on a stream and you think someone has , you just call.

Nick: Were you legitimately thinking of folding? Like was that an option in your head?

M: Yes, literally, yeah it was. I was like, "Alright, this is going to be the stupidest thing ever," but then, you know, I came back to reality and I was like, "What am I thinking about?"

And it was probably in part to this big downswing I had. I also had to spend money on some personal family stuff recently, so I was thinking of all that and I was like, "You know, maybe I'm just running into it here." And so that's what happened.

But then I called and I was wrong, he had .

Mariano won this board, but Henry scooped the first with a lucky spade flush

Veronica: If you would have folded, Nik Airball would have lobbied to get you off of Hustler forever.

N: Either way, you were dead.

M: I would have seen myself out at that point.

N: How did you feel during that rant? Like, not now seeing both sides and everything good, but right at the time, what emotions were you feeling when he went on the rant, when he wouldn't kind of stop for a little bit, and then you would bring it up and then he would go back and start ranting. What were you thinking?

M: I actually really like that Nik is brutally honest on stream at all times, and I've always thought that it was a necessary evil, if you will. But it just hit me kind of off guard, because in my experience with Airball, he's always been that way to more so outsiders than his personal friends on the stream.

He and I have always been cool up to that point, so it kind of caught me off guard. I thought for sure if he had an issue with it, he would just tell me after the game or something.

N: Were you pissed at the time?

M: I wasn't pissed, I was just, like I said, a little off guard. And you know, he said that I was overly sensitive, and I could see that. You know, we're playing poker, he's just telling me to hurry up. How butthurt can I really be? But yeah, in the moment, I'm not going to lie, I was...

N: He kind of didn't just tell you to hurry up, he kind of berated you a little.

M: I don't ever put too much in store with that stuff, because I know as well as anyone, when things get a little heated at the poker table, half the time it has nothing to do with the person.

Mariano’s Most Memorable Hustler Casino Live Hands

Mariano: I had a straight flush versus the nut flush against Andy. That was insane. And then obviously the Aces and Kings and Kings hand.

They ran it twice, but of course, Aces scooped both

I played this one against Henry once where I bluffed him on the river. It was the biggest bluff I ever made at the time, about $8,000. I was shaking. He folded pocket Kings and it was an overpair. It was pretty awesome.

Then I had a hand where I got a double up from Garrett and that was very sentimental to me. I watched this guy for years and I finally got to play against him. I had Aces and he went all in, so I was like "Oh my God, this is sweet."

Veronica: If there was a million-dollar cash game and you got a seat, would you play?

M: I probably could get a seat, it's just I can't afford it. I like having all my own action.

I was talking to Ethan about it and he said I should sell action and play it because it's so good for YouTube. It honestly kind of got the wheels spinning in my head about that. I kind of do want to play it but I've never sold action. I don't even know how.

N: That hand you mentioned with Kings versus Aces – there was actually a player in the game that another player knew, that was his friend. He won't play there anymore because he thought it didn't make sense. Isn't that something?

M: I mean, it happens. I'm surprised no one's ever seen that before. It was a little spooky.

N: What do you think about the Chris hand with GT? Do you remember it? The 8-6 suited…

M: I don’t know. I don’t think I saw it. People were blabbering about cheating, right?

The poker world witnessed another cheating accusation from the Hustler Casino Live, this time directed at a fan favorite, Luda Chris.


Mariano: Oh I know the hand! Is this the one where Luda Cris called the re-raise and flopped trips?

Nick: Yeah!

M: Big deal! What GT doesn't understand, or maybe he does and he's just choosing to ignore it, like all the times that people play stupid and miss and you just win a pot with Aces. You don't think about it.

N: Yeah, you don't think about it. I know, and Chris does that on the regular. You know, he's out of his mind.

M: People play bad all the time, they're going to get there sometimes. It's the way it goes, big deal.

N: Future in poker, any plans? Just playing it by ear?

M: Just playing it by ear. I want to just play more Hustler, like I said, and I kind of like the little lane I'm in now, so try to do more of that. I really do want to play some Poker Go stuff, but I don't even know like how to get in there.

N: Yeah, you're not allowed. You can’t.

M: I am?

N: No, you can't. We won't let you. No, I'm kidding. I can make a call for you. You want to play?

M: I do. I want to play something.

Also, I really like playing with interesting celebrities. Like, we had Magnus Carlsen on last year. He's the chess player.

The highest Elo chess player in the world, Magnus Carlsen, played four-three suited in a live cash game. Here's what Bencb thought about it.


That was like the most fun I've ever had playing poker. And I know like sometimes Neymar, the soccer player, he plays. And some other soccer players play. Like, playing against real-life awesome people like that is really cool.

Hustler is oddly connected. Like, I got to play against Ryan Garcia. How did did that even happen?

V: Well, that's because Ryan Feldman is a gem in the industry. Ryan's very well-connected.

M: Yeah, no, I know. Sometimes he'll just have someone on that I'm like, "What the hell?" Like when he said Magnus was playing...mHe was just like, "Some chess guy named Magnus Carlsen's playing."

V: I'm like, "Dude..." I was sitting at Hustler having like steamed fish with you or steamed... And like Ryan Feldman comes up to me and he's like, "Hey, we're playing $5/$10, you want to come play?"

And I'm like, "Uh, okay."

He's like, "Just for a couple hours before the live stream."

Okay, I sit down – f***ing Mr. Beast is sitting right there and I'm just like, "What is going on?" It's so random.

M: Yeah. So I would say future in poker would be cool to play against more people like that, you know. Yeah, that'd be cool. That's actually the only time I've begged Ryan Feldman for a seat in a game.

Yeah, I was up his ass about that.

Questions for Mariano About the Poker Community

N: What would you change about the poker community and why, and what would you change about the poker community and why?

M: The one thing I would change in the poker community is I wish people had more perspective. I'm a victim to it too. Sometimes I get in my own head and forget, but we all have a lot of money to gamble with that almost the entire world population doesn't. You’re in the 1% of the 1%, it's pretty f***ing sweet. All these problems we have with each other, like me and Nik Airball, Andy, or GT and Luda Chris, or any of the beefs, it's all just noise. It’s all bullshit.

N: That’s my go-to. If I'm down about a loss or something that's going on relative to poker, I go to family, kids. I'm able to play in this game that most people in the world can't play. I get the luxury of being able to help create it. I just have to bring myself back to reality.

We lose perspective of how good we have it.

That's the one thing I would change. I wish everyone was a little more in touch with that.

You know, I came with my family from Argentina in 2002. My dad told me when I was older cuz I was only seven, but when I grew up he told me that we came over with just under like $5,000 and that was it. No job here, no nothing. We just had to try to figure it out and now looking back it's like holy s*** you know my life is a dream, my life is so sweet.

Even just a few years ago like I was delivering pizzas, going to college in debt, didn't know what the hell I was doing with my life.

N: So cool.

M: It's so cool! So whenever there's beefs or I lose or I punt in a hand, I try to just go back and be like, everything's pretty great. It's tough to bitch about this stuff.

I guess the personal relationships are pretty sweet too. I've met people who I never would have met if it wasn't for poker. Somehow I'm really good friends with some kid from Boston who started a YouTube channel. How the hell are me and Rampage really close friends now? He's born 3,000 miles away.

Poker brought us together. The whole community aspect can be pretty sweet. I've met a lot of cool people.

N: Val you got anything? Got any final thoughts besides how awesome I am?

M: To anyone who's made it this far, thanks for watching. I still find it odd that people care what I have to say. I still kind of feel like the pizza delivery dude. I'm just playing a card game, it's not a big deal in the poker community.

N: I’m not. You absolutely earned it. I think you're one of the classiest people in poker if I have to give my opinion and I'm glad you're part of what we do.

M: Yeah it's been it's been fun so far,

N: All right and I guess if you guys didn't know this this is Nick Vertucci Show. I am Nick Vertucci and for Veronica and Mr Poker, Mariano – we out.