Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Generation Next -- Chris Klodnicki

Chris Klodnicki Embraces Insanity in Moderation

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Sep 04, 2009


Living on the lunatic fringe has served soft-spoken Chris Klodnicki well over the past few years. Toss a little well-timed patience and a touch of perseverance into the mix and you’ve got potential for success. Klodnicki should know. Since graduating from Lehigh University with a finance degree in 2007, he’s stockpiled $2.1 million in cashes from live and online tournaments combined.

During the 2008 World Series of Poker main event, he was battered down to 3,000 in chips on the first day, only to come storming back to have a stack of 60,000 by day’s end. “In a tournament that’s as deep as the main event, you have to stay patient,” said Klodnicki. “With so many weaker players, it’s really important to avoid marginal spots. I have no problem pitching a hand if I believe that I have only a small edge. There will be much better spots later on, and preserving your stack is so important in a tournament like that.”

Klodnicki would eventually finish 12th in the main event, for a cool $591,000. That same year at the WSOP, he also took home $97,389 as the runner-up to Barry Greenstein in the $1,500 razz event. But in 2009, he’s struggled. Except for a third-place finish in the WSOP $2,500 mixed event for $97,896, he admits to some intense self-reflection into his steamrolling style. Deep finishes and profits don’t pour in as steadily as they used to.

Chris Klodnicki

Card Player recently sat down with Klodnicki to gain some insight into how a good player manipulates his own insane image, slows down, and adjusts to the dynamic flow of a table.

Craig Tapscott: When you first began playing tournaments, what was your basic approach?

Chris Klodnicki: I first took the tight-aggressive approach that I learned from Harrington’s books, with decent results. As I became more comfortable in my reads, I opened up my game. Eventually, I opened it up quite a bit (laughing). I would say that a year ago, I was one of the loosest players online, and that strategy worked very well back then.

CT: So, you’ve had to rethink things?

CK: Yes. It seems that lately, everybody is loosening up, quite a bit. My three-bets are getting shoved on a ton right now, and my opens are getting three-bet. I’m working on ways to adjust, but haven’t completely figured it out yet.

CT: How can you counter that?

CK: I’ve had to tighten it up — a bit.

CT: What situations are you looking for now?

CK: I’ll raise in spots where the people behind me are more passive types: If there are three passive players and one aggressive player behind me and everyone is fairly shallow-stacked, I can open with any two cards. But if it’s all aggressive players behind me, I’m basically going to be opening hands only when I’ll call a three-bet.

CT: What else are you paying attention to?

CK: You have to know the players you can get away with three-betting against. I’m referring to many overaggressive players who open a lot. Still, some of them will four-bet you right away when you three-bet them the first time. Some players are just fearless. They can tell when you’re three-betting them light, and it won’t matter what their cards are.

CT: Since these players know that you know all of this, wouldn’t they know that you are raising them tighter and then snap-calling their four-bet shoves?
CK: Exactly, it’s a weird dynamic. I’ve come to the point where I know a lot of the players who will play back at me, so I’m three-betting them with only very strong hands. But I’ve got to throw in some light three-bets just to let them know that I can three-bet light, or they will fold to all of my three-bets.

CT: I know that you’re a very tenacious player. So, tell me, what do you need to do now to take your game to the next level?

CK: I need to learn how to play better post-flop. Not many MTTs [multitable tournaments] online are very deep, there’s not much play beyond the flop. I also need to learn deep-stack situations and improve my game with 20 big blinds or less, as well.

CT: Really? I would think with your early experience in sit-and-gos, that would be second nature to you.

CK: Things evolve. I see everybody else shoving lighter than me and winning more than me. So, it’s time for a little change (laughing). That’s all I’ll say. I don’t want to give too much away. Spade Suit