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The Pursuit Of Poker Success Showcases Insights From 50 Of The World's Best Poker Pros

Lance Bradley's New Book From D&B Poker Features Justin Bonomo, Daniel Negreanu, Stephen Chidwick, Jason Koon, Erik Seidel and More

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The Pursuit Of Poker Success is the latest from D&B Poker, written by PocketFives Editor-In-Chief Lance Bradley. Despite it being his first book, Bradley ambitiously took on the project of tracking down and interviewing 50 top poker pros to find their magic formula for success.

Judging by the recognizable faces littering the book’s front cover, it’s clear that Bradley was up to the task. In addition to poker legends such as Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, J.C. Tran, Jason Mercier, and Jennifer Harman, the book also includes some of the high roller world’s top minds like Justin Bonomo, Jason Koon, Stephen Chidwick, Steve O’Dwyer, Fedor Holz, and Dan Colman.

Card Player caught up with Bradley to find out more about The Pursuit Of Poker Success.

CP: What made you decide to write a book, and what was the process like?

LB: I got close to writing a book before Black Friday but the appetite for poker books changed a lot after that. About two years ago, D&B Poker reached out and said if you ever want to write a book, we’d love to hear your ideas. Once I got the idea for TPOPS, I started talking to them and ended up signing the contract to write the book.

Overall, it took me about a year to finish. I started by coming up with a list of players I’d like to interview and ended up with 97 in total. I then started crafting as many questions as I could that all fed off of the original idea of, “How do you define success?” I had to know that answer before I could ask anything else. Each interview took around an hour to do. Then the process of putting the chapter on that player together could begin. I sat on the interview for about a week afterwards and re-listened to it while transcribing. I finished the book in early January.

CP: Were any of the players especially tough to pin down? Who surprised you the most with their interview?

LB: I ran so hot here it’s not even funny. Of the 50, 49 were really easy to pin down. Sometimes through existing relationships I had with them and sometimes by asking one of the other players to put in a good word. The hardest to pin down was Fedor Holz – and not because he wasn’t responding, but he was swamped with work at the time I was doing the interviews.

At one point, I wrote off having him in the book. But as I got down to the end of the interviews I kept thinking how silly it would be to have a book about successful poker players and not have Fedor in it. So I kept at it and may have even threatened to kidnap him at some point. He found some time for me and we got the interview in and I’m really happy with how that interview turned out.

I think I was most impressed by Adrian Mateos. He decided much earlier in life than anybody else I’ve ever spoken to that he was going to be a professional poker player. I also learned a great deal from Ben Tollerene about some of the challenges and stresses he faced during his battles with Viktor Blom.

CP: What kind of a reader will benefit most from this book?

LB: This book will not teach you how to play baby pairs better. It won’t teach you how to understand flop texture better. And it won’t teach you how to size your bets properly. There are however 50 chapters in this book that deal with the things that some of the game’s best players have done to reach their place in the game. Players of all skill levels should be able to find something to relate to in this book that will give them a better shot at being successful.

Check out some excerpts from The Pursuit Of Poker Success below, and pick up your copy today.

How do the best players in the game go about studying poker?

Olivier Busquet

“I have never in my entire career used an HUD (heads-up display). I have never once done a hand history review, not once in my life. My strategic learning has come very haphazardly through trial and error, through observation of other people, either my opponents or some friends. But in terms of studying – it’s been a very small percentage compared to other professionals. My point is that my competitiveness had to have been such a factor because studying wasn’t much of a factor.”

Mohsin Charania

“When I’m really into poker, I go really hard working on my game. I generally get really good right before the World Series of Poker is about to start because during a big series like SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker), I can get in $200,000-$300,000 in buy-ins against the best players in the world. I really lock in. I go and get groceries for three weeks in advance and there’s nothing I do besides eat, read and dream tournament scenarios."

“I just get really locked into a cave and I’ll play the hours I feel comfortable playing and then I’ll be studying. Or if I’m one-tabling, I’ll be talking to people or running simulations or using PioSolver or I’ll be looking at different hand histories. When I’m actually playing, I’m dedicated to improving as much as I can. So, usually right after an online series, I tend to do pretty well in live tournaments because I’m so in the zone of playing poker and I’ve improved a lot in my game.”

Stephen Chidwick

“I try to work harder than my competition for sure. I think that something I can always kind-of console myself with when I have bad stretches or whatever is to know that if I’m working harder than my opponents then I’m happy."

“On the typical trip for a tournament, if I go to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for example, or the World Series, I guess I’ll usually be averaging 10 to 12 hours of playing, maybe nine to 11 hours of playing on average, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Then I’ll probably average an hour of review of my hands at the end of the day and then when I’m not at a tournament poker stop, I’ll maybe do average two to three hours of study a day.”

George Danzer

“In 2014, when I was learning heads-up, we started with shorthanded, that’s really easy. We looked at some charts on how to play seven or eight big blinds and when to push. What’s the next strategy? So there’s pushing and limping. I printed out a lot of hand-ranking sheets, just from aces to deuces and then aces to A-2. I printed them out quite big and I got some colored pencils and I colored in the ranges; eight big blinds, nine big blinds, 10 big blinds. Then I needed a different color for when my opponent doesn’t just push, but raises. I put them all on my wall in the living room and sat at my PC, just looking at all of the sheets and sometimes recoloring them a little bit. Every day I got a little bit better at playing heads-up."

Ari Engel

“I’ve always been really weak on the study part. I’ve always actually done a lot of watching videos and things like that but a lot of it’s like, well, I’m playing or going to sleep. Most of my learning has been done through playing.”

Isaac Haxton

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of times in my career where I’ve been putting a lot more away-from-the-table hours than at-the-table hours for an extended period. Playing is fun and it’s a lot less work than studying. I can very comfortably play an eight or 12-hour session of poker and, under the right circumstances, have played 24-plus hour sessions of poker. I don’t really think I have put in more than four straight productive studying hours on that many occasions. It’s just much, much more draining than playing.”

Adrian Mateos

“The studying now is different than when I was 16 years old because it’s a different way to study. Most of my work is studying what the tendencies of my opponents are. I’m playing with the same group of 20-30 people all the time, so I’m trying to study their games more than my game."

“You need to get better, otherwise you’ll get worse because everyone at the highest level is getting better every day. If you don’t get better, you’ll be out. A lot of the players who played really high stakes four years ago are not there anymore. Most of them are bust or playing lower stakes because they don’t put the work in. If you want to be the top player, you have to work more than anyone or at least more than most of the people. You have to improve on your mistakes and make less mistakes the next day.”

Nick Schulman

“I embraced the studying over the playing and then learned that every day is an opportunity to work, and giving myself structure kind-of in that sense. I almost consider myself a part-time player, part-time researcher. I like that mindset.”

Ben Tollerene

“I would notice mistakes that I was making and then I would feel when I studied, I could close that mistake off forever and never make it again. And that seemed so valuable to be plugging things like that and maybe that kind-of goes back to the pattern recognition thing and how that is a skill. I don’t know if this sounds like a skill to you because it really doesn’t to me, but I think I could write a hand down that I thought might have been a mistake, and then go spend a bunch of time on it, figure it out, figure out what I think the right answer is and then I think, as long as that solving that I did was relevant, I would just never make that mistake again. I don’t know if that’s an actual talent or not but I think maybe it is.”