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World Series of Poker -- Tom Schneider Explains Why He Doesn't Like No-Limit Hold'em

Two-Time Double Bracelet Winner Breaks Down H.O.R.S.E Games and Rants On Player Stalling


Tom SchneiderTom Schneider is in the middle of an incredible summer, winning his third and fourth gold bracelets at the World Series of Poker and over $600,000 in tournament earnings. He won the only two H.O.R.S.E. events of the series and cashed in seven tournaments.

However, the 2007 WSOP Player of the Year doesn’t see a lot of poker in his future, preferring to focus on his semi-regular 9 to 5 job and his other passions and hobbies.

Schneider sat down with Card Player to discuss his success in H.O.R.S.E. and why he won’t be playing on the tournament circuit this year.

Julio Rodriguez: You now have four bracelets at the WSOP and have twice won two bracelets in the same summer. That puts you in elite company with players such as Mike Matusow, Huck Seed, Bobby Baldwin, Amarillo Slim, Tom McEvoy and others. Where do you rank yourself as a player?

Tom Schneider: I feel like I can play with any of them, but I do feel that there is a certain mystique that comes with having won your bracelets early on and getting more TV time. Some of these poker legends have a built-in advantage because others are immediately intimidated by them and I don’t think I have that. I’ve had a great summer, no doubt about it, but it’s just one summer. Let’s see how I do next year or the year after that.

Winning a tournament just means that you played that tournament really well and got pretty lucky, it doesn’t make you the best in the world. I’m confident in my H.O.R.S.E. game, but just because I won both H.O.R.S.E. events this summer doesn’t mean I’m the best H.O.R.S.E. player in the world.

JR: You are no longer playing poker full time and have taken a job as Chief Financial Officer for Loud Mouth Golf. Did you just need to take a break from the game?

TS: I’m actually moving a little bit away from poker, which sounds absurd given how successful I’ve been this summer. Honestly, I’m just a little bored with it. It’s not my passion like it was at one time. Also, I feel like having a semi-normal job outside of poker has actually helped my game. When I do play, I look forward to playing. I’m not there to waste time or go through the motions. I’m there to win money.

JR: What’s more important to you at this point of your career, the money or the prestige?

TS: It’s more about the money. I hate to say that, because I know it’s not what people want to hear, but it’s the truth. I put some money into some businesses over the years that didn’t pan out. Maybe if I had millions of dollars it would be more about the accomplishment, but right now, the notoriety that comes from winning a tournament is just a nice, added bonus.

JR: You said that you are getting bored with poker. Can you elaborate on that at all?

TS: It’s not poker, really, it’s just no-limit hold’em. If there were more mixed games on the tournament circuit, then maybe I would still be playing on it, but I just have a hard time getting excited about no-limit hold’em these days and really, it’s because of the players.

The game is played at a either a nine- or ten-handed table, so you are squished in to start with. Also, the players take forever to act on their hand, making each hand last five minutes. There is one player on the circuit in particular who is agonizingly slow and takes 30 seconds before deciding to fold preflop. I just can’t take it. He and the others who do this don’t realize that some people who come to these tournaments are taking their one shot. Maybe they made a special trip out of it, maybe they won a satellite, but he is robbing them of the opportunity to play. People who do this are ruining the game for everyone else.

JR: Let’s talk about H.O.R.S.E., starting with limit hold’em. I would think that would be the toughest game for you to have an edge in because everyone thinks they know what they are doing.

TS: The nice thing about H.O.R.S.E. is that it is played eight-handed and a lot of these limit hold’em players are more used to playing short-handed games. My edge in that game comes from patience and playing better starting hands. Other players feel a need to press in limit hold’em because it’s their best game and inevitably, that means that their opening hands are going to be a little worse than normal.

JR: Can you talk a little bit about the stud games?

TS: I actually don’t play a lot of stud high games so I don’t try to get too fancy during that round. The game has an extra round of betting, so it’s important that you don’t go off unless you are confident in your hand or read. In razz, you can get away from bad hands much earlier, so your mistakes won’t cost you as much. It’s important to know all of the steal situations and realize when you are ahead and should let your opponent keep betting into you.

Where razz feels to me like a little bit of a gambling game because fourth street can just change your hand completely, stud eight-or-better is not. You are more or less at the mercy of your up cards. I like to play a lot of hands and I can’t seem to find a lot of hands to play in stud eight-or-better. When I played that game earlier in the series, I tweeted asking someone to come down and paint something just so I could watch it dry. It really is that boring.

JR: There seem to be two prevailing schools of though for Omaha eight-or-better. There are players who like to see a lot of flops and others who like to pump the pots with raises preflop when they feel like they have the best hand.

TS: Right. I feel very comfortable playing a lot of hands in Omaha eight-or-better. Some people can’t do that because they get into trouble post-flop, but I have a pretty good sense of where I’m at in a hand. Because my opening range is so wide, I tend to extract more value later on in the hand when I get paid off.

JR: Since you won’t be hitting the circuit later this year, what will you be doing?

TS: I’m going to go back to being CFO for Loud Mouth Golf and I’ll get back into my other passions. I love writing music and singing. I love to play golf. There’s more to life than poker. Some people, even when they aren’t trying to win money, still spend their time in poker rooms. I’m no longer that type of person. I think that will keep me more focused when I do play and keep me happier when I’m away from the tables.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.