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When I Was A Donk – Kevin Eyster

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Dec 07, 2016


Kevin EysterIn this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Kevin Eyster cut his teeth playing online poker and in 2010 reached a high ranking of no. 4 in the world, but he has also proven to be a top competitor in the live arena as well. The Lafayette, Louisiana native won the World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in 2013 and his first World Series of Poker bracelet in 2014, taking down the $5,000 six-max event.

He followed up those scores with his second WPT win in 2015, taking down the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic. Eyster now has more than $4.1 million in live tournament earnings, along with another $3.5 million in online tournament earnings.

Here, Eyster talks about his over reliance on a risky play.

I think early on in my career, I had a bad habit of bluffing all-in too much. It was one of those plays that had a very high success rate, I want to say something like 80 percent, so I think I became kind of dependent on it.

The problem was that I didn’t really pick my spots very well. It didn’t really matter what kind of a spot I was in, I went for it. I would bluff all-in in spots where I couldn’t possibly represent a credible hand, just hoping that the amount of the bet was enough to get a fold. Even if my line made no sense, I would just bomb away and let aggression alone win me the hand.

Of course, the average player has gotten a lot better and you can’t get away with stuff like that as much anymore. It took me awhile to adjust, but I started getting called down super light, and it just hit me that I was throwing away so much equity in these all-or-nothing situations, when I could have chipped up with a lot less variance.

It was a big leak of mine. I bubbled so many final tables because I was trying to make a move that I shouldn’t have. Today, I’m much more methodical. Yes, I will still go for a huge all-in bluff, but I only go for it if it makes sense. I can’t just show up at the river without a plan, move all-in and hope for the best.

It’s important when you are considering a big bluff that you take everything into consideration. You have to be able to represent a range of hands that beats your opponents range of hands. If your range is too narrow or doesn’t include any of those value hands, then you are going to get called. You also have to stay balanced. If you don’t occasionally make an all-in bet with the nuts, then it will be easy for your opponent’s to read you for a bluff.