What does $12,000 at $1/$2 look like? Red Chip Poker co-founder, coach, author and software developer Doug Hull has seen it come to fruition in just 300 hours. He shares his story, starting with moving to Vegas and dealing with non-poker financial challenges. He searched for and found his dream poker room at the Mirage, where he was one of the most over-prepared, over-skilled and over-rolled competitor. This is the story of profiting in top percentile of $1/$2 players.
Viva Las Vegas
Hull’s story has a dramatic beginning involving moving to Las Vegas only to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D all fall through. Beset by a cold deck called life, he got bad beat after bad beat outside of his poker game. But his love of the game and intensely focused strategic prowess persevered. Because in the end, he set out to make the highest possible win rate at $1/$2. Despite the financial struggles, his decision to play those stakes was not about the money. Hull was way over-rolled for the bad run to affect him (a great lesson for younger poker players).
Hull had decided to play $1/$2 because he wanted to be in the trenches with the type of player that is the target audience for his books, and for Red Chip Poker. He set out to be like a fighter who trains for years before their first fight, so that right out of the gate they dominate the game on another level. And by achieving this through growing a bankroll to $12,000 at $1/$2, he not only proved his mettle, he sourced countless hands, strategies, tactics and techniques to teach the rest of us.
Finding The Mirage
When he first got to Vegas, he had to search around and sample the various poker rooms to identify his best areas of operation. In the end, he chose The Mirage, and he talked about how great it is to have a regular room where everybody knows your name, but also to have the choice to get up and walk down the Strip to a different game if his regular game is not great.
He moved from the south to the north end of the Strip, and noticed he was having more success at certain rooms vs. others. He notes “survivorship bias” could be entirely what is going on with his preference for the Mirage — i.e. you do well there initially so you associate the place with success, boosting your ability to play your A game.
Now he says playing poker at the Mirage feels like playing in his own living room. When you’re at work trying to not only focus on playing the best poker, but also take notes and ponder the game deeply to turn it into poker strategy content, being that comfortable is important. He even has a makeshift office set up in the sportsbook.
The Pain Threshold
Doug cites Christian Soto’s Pain Threshold concept as key to skyrocketing his win rate. The Pain Threshold concept is all about sizing your bet large enough to force your opponents to a tough decision.
“Somewhere between easy fold and easy call is a difficult spot where they don’t know what to do,” he says. “where is that point? Finding that point of indecision where they just don’t know what to do… that’s the pain threshold.”
Doug has seen his results skyrocket as a result of this strategic adjustment.
Exploiting weaker poker players is a major part of any big winner’s profit margin. Hull talks about specific ways he adjusts to profit from lesser players. Usually this means a lot of raising. He earns nicknames like “Sir Raise-a-Lot” quite frequently.
He talks about his typical day, walking to the Mirage after his ‘day job’ of coaching, writing and Red Chip Poker work. He’ll typically show up between 6-9 and play until the games are no good, or until he asks himself, “should I leave now?”
He cites Tommy Angelo’s advice that if you are starting to ask yourself if you should leave, you should leave.
Where the Money Comes From
The regulars aren’t so much the source of the biggest profit, Hull says. He’s making money from them $2, $7 at a time, mostly getting them to fold pre- and especially post-flop. The big pots come from the tourists who are much more clueless.
Folks are telling Hull to move up with results like $12K over 300 hours at $1/$2. He reiterates that it’s much more about the poker than the money for him, but admits it’s probably time to integrate some $2/$5 into his portfolio.