perez1187 has been with us since the very first day of Smart Spin! He was at the very beginning of our journey and we could always count on him.
He started off as a regular player, but today he is one of our coaches. A very active one, we must say, sometimes forgetting about his duties as a player!
We decided to talk a little about his life, the times when he was a drunk Pope, the $70,000 below EV downswing and recent record-breaking coachings!
dolar: Hey, perez1187! I’ve heard you’ve been really busy lately, so it’s great that you found time for this interview. What have you been doing in the last months in Smart Spin?
perez1187: Hey, hey! Yes, I put a lot of time into Smart League, we worked hard to make a good result as a team. I think we achieved that, however we were a little unlucky in the key match-ups. I developed as a coach, no doubt. I love coaching! I love sharing my knowledge! In the busiest weeks, I was able to give 15 hours of coachings, not because I was forced to, I just enjoyed it. Now, looking back, I sometimes catch myself thinking: “Perez, you freaking idiot, you are player first!” I think I need to be more cautious about that, I need to put my game at the first place. There is huge number of recreational players now, so I need to take as much as I can from this time. Unfortunately, it’s Christmas and my time is divided to meeting my girlfriend, shopping and doing other holiday stuff, but I try to work it out.
dolar: I heard some funny stories already, so… Who was perez1187 before poker? You were elected to be a Pope, right?
perez1187: Ha ha ha, yeah! Let’s start from the beginning. Before I started playing poker professionally, I had only one goal in mind - to party. There was a time when I partied every day. My day looked like this: wake up with hangover, visit university, take a nap, party. It was not always the “clubbing” thingy, I was living for 4 years in the dorm. A lot of times we just sit there, someone made a suggestion to drink some beers and it just went on. There was this tradition during student carnival, a march with people dressed like it’s a Halloween. On one of those events, someone suggested me to dress as a Pope. Well, it didn’t take long to convince me. I bought Pope’s outfit and it just played out. I blessed all students from the main scene. Couple of thousands of people and drunk Pope, an amazing feeling! Other stories? Well, there is so much to tell when you party six to seven times per week for almost four years, but I guess this interview is not long enough to tell everything.
dolar: Good times! So, let’s move to poker. In one of your latest videos you told the story of four poker players with different approaches to learning and playing. Which one of them were you at the beginning of your poker career?
perez1187: I was all of them :D It started with my love of the mathematical aspect of poker. I enjoyed getting deep into every hand and figuring out the best ways to beat my opponents. My biggest leak was mindset, which I didn’t really work on, and so-called “automaticity” in my game. Analyzing my games, I was sometimes thinking: “Fuck me, how could I make such a shitty play?” Not having full concentration has cost me a lot of money and if I had watched such a video at the beginning of my poker career, I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes and I would have improved a lot faster. Well, it was my goal while creating this. It was supposed to be simple, concise and without any bullshit, something I would like watch a couple of years back. Most of those mistakes I made myself, so I know very well what I am talking about and what are the consequences of those actions.
dolar: As I know, at first you were not really happy about PokerStars introducing Spin & Go’s. You were playing HU HTs at that time, right?
perez1187: Yeah, there was this huge outflow of recreational players from HU HTs and at the very beginning, we took it as a lottery which cannot be beaten, due to big rake and massive variance. However, there was one thing we did not took into account. It was the size of the pool which negated the rake and low multipliers, you can make good results regardless of those two nuances. I think that not a single player regrets his decision to start playing Spin & Go’s. Also, right now we’ve got an access to the huge amount of knowledge, so it’s easier and faster to win against recreationals. And you also win more from them. With strategic department of Smart Spin improving so much in the recent months, I see a bright future here.
dolar: Well, it’s still a pretty swingy format. Let’s talk about your downswing, a huge one, I must say - $70,000 below EV. What happened? How did you react? For me, it’s an unimaginable number.
perez1187: In short, it annihilated my mindset, which was already very weak at that point, what’s worse.
From the very beginning of my cooperation with the guys here at Smart Spin, they were always very helpful and eager to share their knowledge, thankfully I was also keen to learn from them. My theoretical knowledge skyrocketed in a short period of time. But there was a hidden flaw, my mindset. The variance at the higher stakes is huge and I knew that we almost never earn as much as our EV.
I was doing okay for some time, but after returning from my holidays I stumbled across the biggest downswing of my career. $70,000 below EV. However, the money was not really the most important issue here. It was still an incomprehensible feeling for someone playing mid stakes his whole life. However, I was mostly angry about my performance. I was talking to myself something along the lines of “You know this spot. Why didn't you concentrate? You could have played better!” It came to the point that even the smallest thing was able to tilt me. I checked instead of betting, I went all-in without a reason, I made a winning call which was not profitable in the long run - all of this made me so angry at myself. It was all in the back of my head. I was infuriated, I was working so hard on my game and I was doing some stupid mistakes because of, for example, lack of concentration. Money results didn't really matter to me. Winning didn't matter to me. My performance was the most important thing. With those thoughts and another mistake, I was going even angrier. Thankfully, I was reasonable enough to have a safety switch and when I got too far, I just finished my session.
I was not able to move down because I knew I was better than population. But that doesn’t matter if your head is not at the same level of mastery. What’s more, I didn’t want to talk about it, I just kept it inside me. I tried to grind it over, but in that state, I lost couple of months and a lot of potential winnings.
The help came from killuifuplay, I started to pay attention to my head while playing poker. But it’s not like your mindset can be fixed in a week. I had some bad habits, rotten really deep inside me. They were going to destroy me. It took me a lot of time to win in the unfair fight against them, but I did it. Now I know that being regular and consistent are the only things that will make us achieve success. It took me really long to fully implement that thinking process.
dolar: Well, I think that was also a great win for you. Over thousand buy-ins under EV, so much money! Such an amount might have destroyed you, but you did not drop poker. You keep playing!
perez1187: I was never here for money. Since I started working with founders, my main goal was to constantly improve as a player. Well, it’s got some downsides because learning goes before playing. I often found myself not reaching the volume I was capable of or giving poker coachings instead of playing. After talking to killuifuplay, I’ve been doing everything to change it.
Going back to my downswing, I was well-aware how much money this is. All of my mindset issues had been revealed during that time, but I was always talking to myself: “Perez, you can play like shit, but you need to regularly work on your game! This is your job, you can be weak now, but you will not get worse by working on yourself. That’s too bad, you can’t do anything about this swing. But work here! Or start working as a cashier in the supermarket. You don’t want that? So get your shit together and move your ass!” It helped me somehow. And I need to say it again - talking to killuifuplay helped me find my path and solve many problems.
dolar: Yes, he is an amazing person. How did you both meet, by the way?
perez1187: I know killuifuplay and FCD from junior chess times. Hah, FCD and I share a funny story from those times. At semifinals of Polish junior chess championships, we almost got kicked out of the tournament because we organized a party (and it wasn’t a party with tea and cookies). So, we’ve known each other for a long time. I met bakudranski and iJustGamble by an accident. I got a call from FCD to make a small favour to Faldorn07. Faldorn07 thanked me by adding me to the group with top Polish HU players, which consisted of all Smart Spin founders, TeemTeem and others. They had always been working really hard on their skills, for example they organized a weekly live seminar which was all about improving at poker.
It was… weird. All of those great nicknames and me, a guy from nowhere, some random mid stakes reg. But the first meeting with guys went really good and since that time, I started to feel much better in their company and regularly work with them in different areas.
dolar: So, you are working pretty well together? Were you here when Smart Spin started?
perez1187: Yeah, we work great together, this is one of the reasons why Smart Spin has become so successful. I was here from the beginning. I visited guys to work on the game. There, I found out about the birth of Smart Spin and we just dropped everything and started celebrating.
What were the beginnings? Full improv. This project was started by an accident and it consisted of the world top HU SnG players. Those guys know how to play cards, they had the necessary capital, but no one had any idea how to optimally use everything they had on their disposal.
But then, Banis came in the picture, our CEO. He said that we are reaching for the sky, no excuses. And everyone started to listen to him. Banis felt really comfortable with his position and with so many successful poker players, there was no way that we were going to fail.
I remember the first Smart Spin’s live event. Ten people, one apartment, you were lucky to not sleep on the floor. And brainstorming - what to do, how to do it and already, how to do it better. No more than two years later, we’ve got 3 day event in the 5 star hotel. I don’t think that anyone had thought we will improve so much and so fast.
dolar: Yeah, I’ve been meaning to ask you… How did you like our last, December event? Did you took part in all activities there?
perez1187: Unfortunately, I was not able to, I cured my hangover :D But seriously, that was an amazing time. I got to meet old friends, as speaking to someone face to face is something different than writing on messengers, and see some new faces. Now, I can connect their faces with their nicks when I talk to them every day. For sure, it will introduce even more friendly environment.
There was a lot to do and I am sure everyone found something to do, was it FIFA tournament, foosball, different simulators, escape room and attractions inside the hotel - sauna or spa. No way to feel bored!
I concentrated on partying on the first day and chilling during the second. Looking at how much we improve every day, I just can’t wait for the next event!
dolar: I’d like to talk about your interesting attitude towards playing, somehow that made you to our TOP 5 coaches EV list. So… why “Fuck Balance”?
perez1187: People are often getting lost in their thought process, especially while playing against recreational players. They don’t have any history and they get too deep into the hand, they overthink every action while the most profitable answer is often the most obvious one. Why would you level yourself against an amateur player who you just met and, probably, you will never see again? Why do you balance your range? If you’ve got the strong holding, just make the bet. If you don’t, just sit quiet and gather information about your rival. People are burning money because they think “fuck, I need to bluff here” or “I need to call because…” I am a big fan of playing low number of tables. Fuck balance and play max exploit strategy when you have some info on your opponent to change your decisions.
dolar: Yeah, this may be why you are so popular at your coachings lately. In few months, the numbers of participants is three or four times higher than in the past. I was working with you closely for couple of months now and it’s funny because in your style of teaching I can still see this drunk Pope, blessing younger generation of players.
perez1187: It’s true, that’s an amazing feeling when 60 or 70 people joins my coaching and after it’s over, I get a private feedback “it was awesome, I learnt so fucking much, thanks!” But I think I am more mature, party is over. I still enjoy talking about it with friends from those times. I am still the same man, but my priorities are different. Now, I want to become a very good poker player. Back then, I was just looking for ways to get drunk for a little money.
dolar: What do you plan on doing in the nearest future? Any plans for you as a coach and as a player?
perez1187: The most important thing for me is to set my priorities straight and write down my goals. Recent months were not so productive, sometimes I found myself without an idea what to do. It was such a waste of time. I need to boost my productivity, concentrate on my game and simply improve. Being a player comes first.
Generally speaking, I’d like my next year to be better in every area of my life, there are some things to improve. As a coach, I will still hold seminars and answer in hand discussions, but I will try to stay away from hosting three different coachings in one day. I will focus on quality, not quantity. I also plan to make at least one more episode of “Perez tip series”, but back in my head there are ideas for more recurring videos.
I look optimistically towards my future. You know, there is so much for me to achieve! My past successes are not so big, I distanced myself from them because I see how many mistakes I made and how many things I need to improve.