Anthony Gregg: Many Tournament Players Stay Staked 'Longer Than They Should'
Poker Pro Currently Sixth In The Player Of The Year Race
A first-place finish in the August’ World Poker Tour Parx main event was not a fluke for Anthony Gregg. He has four deep runs in 2012, with at least $100,000 in earnings for each event.
Currently sixth in the Player of the Year race, the Maryland native has more than $1,004,155 in POY winnings this year. With career tournament earnings north of $3.5 million, Gregg is definitely not the opponent you want to see at your poker table.
His early profitability in cash games transformed into tournament success, and his 2012 results are especially indicative of his consistency since then.
This week, Gregg talked with Card Player about his enchanted card-playing beginnings, his $1.7 million payday, and why he would much rather play poker without any financial help.
Logan Hronis: Talk a little about your poker beginnings: How you got started, when you decided you were going to play for a living, etc.
Anthony Gregg: I started playing in late 2002. Like many poker players, I used to play Magic: The Gathering when I was a kid, and I sort of graduated into poker. I started having a moderate amount of success during my senior year in high school, and didn’t have that much desire for college. So I decided to keep playing poker while I figured out what I wanted to do. I knew I’d be able to make good money doing it, but never imagined it would get to the level it did.
LH: It seems that more than a few poker players found their start in Magic. Can you identify any similarities in strategy between the two games, and how they may apply?
AG: There are definitely a lot of similarities. People with a background in Magic have so much experience thinking in a way that translates well to poker. It’s hard for me to put it into words, but it has to do with Magic just kind of instilling in you that need to be thinking about all of the decisions you’re making, in a very logic-based way. Meanwhile, you’re weighing a variety of different factors, and you have to be able to do so quickly.
There’s so much more to think about than ‘how good is my hand.’ The more information you’re taking into consideration, the more likely you’ll be able to make the best decision.
LH: You had your most successful event in 2009, scoring for $1.7 million in the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure main event. What did it mean for your career and for your life?
AG: It was pretty unbelievable for me. I was just a hard-working cash game player before PCA that year. I bought into the tournament with PokerStars FPPs that I acquired from grinding so much cash. The score made me a lot more relaxed financially. I helped out my parents and bought a new car, but other than that, not much changed. It did motivate me to play more live tournaments because I got that adrenaline rush from going deep in one.
LH: With four impressive cashes over $100,000, including a first-place finish at the WPT Parx Open Poker Classic, your live tournament game in 2012 has been a successful one. Are these cashes enough to steer you away from playing online as much in the future?
AG: Hmm, I wouldn’t say that they’re going to steer me away from online. My motivation to grind tournaments online has dropped a bit since I won Parx, but I’m sure it will return. I don’t get to play online too often anymore — pretty much only for SCOOP and WCOOP — so in the future I’ll probably just try to stick to fewer tables when online. It’s easier for me to focus.
LH: Have investors played a role in your career? Do you think it is a good idea for the average player to be staked in tournaments, or to be in business for himself?
AG: I started off playing primarily cash, so I was never really in need of investors for tournaments. Cash is a stabler way to build a bankroll. Back in the day, I’d grind cash nonstop, and occasionally play a big live event to reward myself for all my hard work. I didn’t realize this at the time, but this is for sure the best way to go about things. Way too many tournament players continue to be staked for a lot longer than they should. If I were in their shoes, I’d much rather go out on my own as soon as possible — even if that meant dropping down in [limits]. Travel and living expenses are too significant to be giving away half your winnings.
[Note: Gregg staked current WSOP finalist Greg Merson during the summer]
LH: What is your favorite venue to play live tournaments? Why?
AG: My favorite venue would definitely have to be PCA. I think the setting keeps me in a much more positive mindset, which helps me play my ‘A’ game more often — as opposed to playing in a cramped and smokey casino, with slot machines and stuff everywhere.
LH: Given the recent propositions, if the legality and availability of online poker present themselves soon, do you see yourself playing more or less than you did before?
AG: It’s hard to say. I go through phases where sometimes I want to play all day, everyday. Other times I’ll go weeks without having the desire to. I’m starting to learn that I need to trust my instinct when it comes to this, because when I’m in the mood to play, I definitely play a lot better a much higher percentage of the time than when I don’t feel like it, but force myself to.
LH: If you decided to quit playing poker tomorrow, what would you choose to do for a living?
AG: (Laughs) This is a tough question, I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I’d probably just end up going to school to try to figure something out. I could see myself getting really into nutrition and fitness, so maybe take that route.
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