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Poker Stories Podcast With Ryan Laplante

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jan 30, 2019


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 28
Hometown: Brainerd, Minnesota
Live Tournament Earnings: $1.8 Million
Online Tournament Earnings: $1.9 Million

Top 10 Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
June 2016 WSOP $565 PLO 1st $190,328
July 2017 WSOP $1,500 NLH/PLO 2nd $165,983
June 2018 Wynn Summer Classic $1,000 NLH 2nd $161,169
June 2014 WSOP $3,000 NLH 5th $113,796
June 2018 WSOP $2,500 NLH 6th $87,819
June 2017 Goliath PHamous Series $520 NLH 4th $84,393
Nov. 2014 HPT Stratosphere $1,650 NLH 3rd $60,672
June 2012 WSOP $1,000 NLH 7th $56,372
June 2011 WSOP $1,500 NLH 8th $51,771
Dec. 2015 PHamous Weekend Series $565 NLH 1st $46,000

Ryan Laplante was barely in high school at the height of the poker boom, but even at that early age, he knew he wanted to be a professional player. The Brainerd, Minnesota-native was so dedicated to poker that he would walk two miles each way to his college campus so that he could play online after his laptop broke. After a rocky start that included some tilt issues, backing troubles, and the rough side of variance, Laplante hit his stride with his game.

The 28-year-old has since pocketed just under $2 million in live tournament earnings, along with another $2 million or so won online. In 2015, he topped a massive field of 2,483 to win the World Series of Poker $565 ‘PLOssus’ event, banking the $190,328 first-place prize. The next day while accepting his first bracelet, in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Laplante delivered an emotional speech to the room saying he was proud to be “an openly gay man,” encouraging people to “be proud” of who they are.

In addition to offering his services with Chip Leader Coaching, you can also inquire about poker training at his website, PokerProtential.

Highlights from this interview include the subtle difference between a solid year and an incredible year, how emotions can help your poker game, tilt issues, having no time to fly, a three-day Mario session, walking four miles a day for poker, the one college class he showed up for, a bad downswing in Canada, why you shouldn’t watch all-ins, forgetting the details, giving his bracelet winner speech, the diversity of live poker, why poker pros are more open-minded, why he loves poker coaching, giving away the keys to the house, adjusting from GTO play, the skill of looking busy, the pros of working at Subway, the realities of deal-making, and preferring Hemsworth with two eyes.

The Transcript Highlights

On Getting His Start In Poker

Ryan Laplante: During the Moneymaker boom, that’s when I got into poker with friends. This was back in junior high school, we were playing. What we would do is play $2 to $20 buy-in tournaments, and then play cash games.

I would watch every single episode of the World Series of Poker on television, religiously. As a new [season] would come out, I would go back and rewatch all of the episodes leading up to that.

Julio Rodriguez: You were a big poker fan.

RL: Yeah. Huge poker fan, essentially from Moneymaker on.

JR: So you were just waiting to turn 18, or 21, so that you could hurry up and start playing?

RL: Exactly. I made my first real money online poker account the day I turned 18. I found the TwoPlusTwo forums about a month and a half before I turned 18, and I spent the time leading up to my birthday just learning, studying, and trying to get better. I started playing online, built up a couple bankrolls from freerolls, and then got my first backing deal, never really looking back.

JR: Well, there had to be some troubles along the way…

RL: I was in college for a year, University of Minnesota – Duluth, and I dropped out. The year after that, I was still living pretty close to school, and I had a laptop that just gave me the blue screen of death. I couldn’t afford a new one, and I was working full-time at Subway to try and get the money together to buy one. So, in order to play online during that stretch, I would walk about two miles, each way, just to use the college campus computer lab. So I was working 40 hours a week [at Subway], and grinding 40 plus hours a week online, walking that distance, each way, the entire time.

I had a day where I won a $7 turbo and an $11 buy-in [tournament]. It was probably $5,000 between the two of them. I bought a laptop, quit Subway, and just went into 100 hours a week of grind mode.

JR: What did [the computer lab operators] think of this kid who would come in to play online poker?

RL: Well I still had my student password and stuff, and nobody ever said anything to me about it. I would have to download PokerStars every single day that I went there. I’d have to re-install it every time. I was playing without a HUD (Heads Up Display). I just had to put up with it and power through.

On The Diversity Of The Poker Community

JR: I remember talking to you about your thoughts on the poker community in general, and how they’ve been pretty good about being accepting of most people.

RL: Right.

JR: I can’t imagine you’ve had too many horrible experiences at the poker table.

RL: I’ve had a handful, but that’s to be expected. Especially if you’re playing live, you play against a very wide range of people. One of the reasons that I love playing live poker is that I’ve played against farmers, and I’ve also played against Michael Phelps. I’ve played against Emmy-nominate actors and actresses and I’ve played against Joe Mechanic. You name it, and everyone loves to play poker. It’s such as diverse group.

Yeah, it could be more diverse, and it should be more diverse. It should be a better representation of the population, but since the game requires a barrier to entry, which is money, that rules out a lot of people. But that being said, it’s such a wide range of people that have access to money, that love the game, that you get to play against everyone. And [everyone includes] some people that don’t have the nicest political views, or aren’t the most accepting or welcoming. I’ve had people call me the F word at the table and say really derogatory things, either directly to me or indirectly.

JR: Under their breath…

RL: Yeah. Or just talking about things they don’t understand. People saying things like ‘being gay is a choice,’ and it’s hard for me to not say something.

JR: That has to be exhausting to be playing, trying to make money, and also educating people at the same time.

RL: Well, the choice always comes down to… Do I want to turn this into a thing, or do I just want to try and make a living? But I think everyone needs to make that choice at the table to a decent degree. There’s always some form of misogyny or bigotry or homophobia or whatever at the table. Especially misogyny. The amount of misogynistic comments I hear at the table is very, very high.

JR: Yeah, we could do better with women for sure.

RL: You have to make that decision, whether to point it out and say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t say that,’ ‘You shouldn’t make those comments.’ Especially the comments that are really borderline. There are so many comments that men will make to women poker players or women dealers, where it’s clear they don’t necessarily mean to be misogynistic, but their tone and what they say is 100 percent misogynistic.

JR: So do you want to pick a fight or not?

RL: Do I want to be the PC white knight and say, ‘Hey, don’t use that tone with her.’ Because you wouldn’t use that tone with another guy at the table. And if you wouldn’t say that to another guy at the table, why are you being demeaning to her?

There is always that choice we have to make, but I definitely feel that, in general, poker players tend to be a more accepting, more giving, and more open-minded and respectful group of people. Especially the pros. The pros these days, so many of us grew up as online gaming nerds, especially growing up with the internet, which is going to make you a lot more progressive, as a general rule of thumb. And when you play poker with such a wide range of people, that is going to make you more open minded. So yeah, poker players in general, are more accepting, and are more open.

JR: And I imagine when there is an asshole at the table, other players will speak up…

RL: A little more often than the general population, yes. That’s one of the nice things about poker players is that we are a little more confrontational about things. ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.