Want to learn more about James “SplitSuit” Sweeney? Find out what makes him tick, why he loves coaching, and why he wanted to create Red Chip Poker in the first place:
Where is your original hometown, and where do you call home now?
I’m originally from Chicago, IL (well, a suburb outside Chicago that you likely wouldn’t have ever heard of). I’ve lived in Boston, MA, Syracuse, NY, I resided & grinded in Las Vegas for the last 7 years and recently moved my family to Vancouver, WA (about a stone’s throw away from Portland, OR). Not the best place for poker ever, but it’s a great place to raise my son.
Where specifically are we most likely to see you playing cards these days?
I frequent the card clubs in Portland just about every weekend.
When and how did you start playing poker?
I started playing in college at Syracuse University. I quickly began playing poker online (long live the Party Poker days!) and after Black Friday transitioned back to playing live poker.
When and how did you decide to play poker professionally/seriously?
I began taking poker seriously in college since it was paying my bills and giving me plenty enough party cash. Around my senior year of college I began taking some students and really enjoyed the teaching element and realized there was a major need for full ring coaches (since most coaches before that were solely 6max or tournaments guys). I never really went fully pro since after college I was playing part-time and coaching part-time…but poker has always been a very serious endeavor for me.
What do you consider your proudest poker achievements?
As a cash game player I don’t have any big MTT scores or accolades I can point to…but I’m most proud of my first book “Dynamic Full Ring Poker: Beyond The Basics”. It’s gotten incredibly good reviews and continues to stay relevant, and even Mason Malmuth, one of the harshest poker book critics, complimented the book.
When and how did you start coaching others?
I started taking students in 2007 or 2008. There weren’t many full ring-specific coaches back then and I began by charging like $15- $20/hr just doing the typical sweat session thing. Very early on I was lucky to have an excellent student who was a math professor…he gave me tons of great feedback and really helped me improve my coaching. Over the last 7 years I’ve coached about 500 students and have enjoyed every moment of it.
What is your coaching specialty? Do you consider yourself a ‘specialist’ in any games?
I specialize in NL cash games with 6+ players. This includes online, live, 6max and full ring games. Those are the games where I have the most amount of experience and have put in the most amount of time studying.
What is your goal in providing coaching through Red Chip Poker?
As one of the founders of Red Chip Poker, the goal is to make poker training accessible, affordable, and more fun. It’s a fine line to walk making content that is entertaining and educational without going too far above or below your audience, but we walk that tight rope daily and the feedback tells us that we are striking the right chord.
My personal goal with RCP is to create solid content, meet more like-minded people, and help players improve and enjoy the game more. Poker is a beautiful game because it can be so many different things to different people, and I love when my content brings a smile to someone’s face while giving them a new ‘a-ha moment’.
Please share a coaching success story with us:
A few of my early students went on to become coaches on various poker training sites and a couple others went on to open very successful poker staking ventures. It’s awesome seeing my students become really successful!
Do you have a professional career/background outside of poker?
I’ve built up a ‘jack of all trades’ kind of skillset outside of poker. I do graphic design and have a small company that focuses on that. I do marketing, social media, video editing, writing, and some consulting on the side as well. I’m one of those people that just loves learning something new and experimenting…so I’m always looking for my next thing to explore.
What are your favorite hobbies and pursuits outside of poker?
I play videos games (primarily Halo and Destiny) and try to walk as much as possible. In the summers we go hiking as a family and we play a lot of card games as well. I’m still trying to develop other interests that get me away from my computer…but alas I work too much at the moment.
Can you link us to all of the products you’ve made?
- Dynamic Full Ring Poker: Beyond The Basics
- Red Chip Poker: Late Position
- And a variety of premium videos on my site: http://www.splitsuit.com/poker-store
Do you have any results?
Screenshot from my online play of 16+ tables
What’s your favorite thing about poker?
I love poker. This is a beautiful game that lets everyone compete on equal footing. Being physically gifted gives you no real advantage, and just being intelligent doesn’t guarantee success either. There are a million things to focus on, and a billion things to work on…but everyone has the same chance of success. I just want poker to grow and for the negative stigma of poker to be forgotten. This is a fantastic game that anyone can enjoy and it teaches skills that have wide-reaching applications.
Rapid Fire Fun Questions
Favorite color: Dr. Pepper red
Favorite starting hand: 97s (combines my favorite number with my wife’s)
Favorite poker room: I know it’s a sin, but the Venetian
Last song you listened to: Strobe – Deadmau5
Waffles or pancakes: Pancakes, no question
Favorite drink: Vanilla Dr. Pepper
Favorite thing to cook: Eggs Benedict
Do you have a lucky object?: This little domino I use as a card protector that says “Think Big” on one side and “The Possibilities Are Endless” on the other.
Favorite board game: Scrabble
Want to ask James your own question?
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