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Poker Tournament Trail Q & A: David Fox

Fox Talks Card-Dead Strategy, Table Image, and Results


David FoxIn 2007, David Fox burst on to the tournament poker scene to make 11 final tables, vaulting him into sixth place in Card Player Player of the Year (POY) standings and putting him in elite company. For his efforts, Fox earned nearly $700,000 and had easily his best year on tour. Unfortunately for the 31-year-old professional, most of his success came in low-profile World Series of Poker Circuit events or other non-televised tournaments, making him somewhat unknown to the general poker public.

Fox opened his year innocently enough, with a few cashes in some preliminary events on the east coast. Three quick final tables in May changed it all around, however, including a third-place finish in New Orleans for his first six-figure score. A big win at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza salvaged an otherwise slow summer, and then things really started to pick up for the Coram, New York, resident. Fox finished the year off with seven more final tables, including a win at the Foxwoods World Poker Finals for $180,000.

Card Player caught up with the aspiring film writer at the Borgata, where he was battling a short stack and a lack of cooperating cards. Fox elaborated on his situation, spoke about strategy, his POY run, and his goals for 2008.

Julio Rodriguez: How has 2008 started off for you? Do you think you are playing your best game?

David Fox: I think I’m playing pretty well, but the cards aren’t cooperating much. I’m just going to have to fight harder.

JR: What’s the best strategy for this type of situation, when the blinds are still relatively low but you are card-dead?

DF: One of the better lines I heard recently — about a month ago, and I don’t even remember who said it — was, “I always know when I’m playing really bad, when after sitting there for maybe an hour abd getting cards like 8-3, 10-4, I find myself saying out loud, ‘God, I’m totally card-dead and I just can’t win any pots.’” When you start thinking and saying things like that, you’re just not going to have a shot, because you can’t win this game consistently with cards. You have to create your own opportunities. So, to answer your question, I do whatever I have to do: whatever it takes. If I see a spot where I sense weakness, I might try to repop the guy. If I think I can isolate against a weaker player, and I want to play against him, then I’ll go out of my way to do so. Say he’s in the blind, then I might limp the button or the cutoff so that I don’t have to invest too many chips, but I can get into a pot with him and try to get him to make a mistake. Cards always help, of course, but at the end of the day, you don’t want a lack of cards to be the reason you are out of the tournament.

JR: Do you think some players make the mistake of forcing the action too often?

DF: It’s definitely a fine line. It’s a delicate balance between trying to create your own fortune and pressing the issue. You have to find that middle ground and be aware of your table image. Your opponents can eventually deduce whether or not you are pressing and getting frustrated. They have to be able to give you a certain level of respect because you have sat out a few rounds. If you start to say things like, “Man, I’m so card dead,” and then you proceed to raise or reraise your opponents, you won’t get the same respect you would have if you had just kept that information to yourself. Now that you have sold the image of a tight player, you can pick your spots much better and find yourself in much better situations.

JR: Do you have any preference for your own image, whether it is as a maniac or a tight player?

DF: It really depends on the other players at my table. If the players at my table are really tight, then I want them to think I’m crazy and loose. If I have a table full of maniacs, then I want to be the rock, at least in their eyes. There is so much more to poker than each individual hand, it’s also about how you portray yourself in between hands and on the breaks. Setting people up to make a mistake and more importantly setting yourself up to win is a never-ending process. My protocol is to usually play the opposite of my table. There are some players out there who, when faced with aggression, will just try to take it to the next level. But a more ideal way to take advantage of the situation is to appear weak, look vulnerable, and generally play the part of a nit. You have to let the table dictate how you choose to play. When they zig, you’ve got to zag.

JR: Let’s talk about the Card Player’Player of the Year race. Your success last year put you in sixth place, practically out of nowhere.

DF: Look, I finished sixth; It doesn’t mean I was the sixth-best player in the world. It means that I was working hard. I’m completely honored to be in a group with some pretty elite players; to even be mentioned in the same sentence with them is a huge achievement. But, for me, it’s as simple as my love of the game. I just started to play seriously a few years ago, and luckily success has found me. My confidence grew with each deep finish or win, and eventually, when I sat down at the table, I started to belive that I had as good a shot as anybody to win. The year started creeping along and I could see that my point total was climbing. I just got hungrier. I played more events and realized that I had a shot to make it pretty high up the list. I’m definitely happy with sixth, especially considering I didn’t start playing all of the tournaments until late in the year.

JR: What are your goals for 2008?

DF: I’ve got a couple of goals for this year. I would love to make a World Poker Tour final table, as I still haven’t made one. I also want to have a successful World Series of Poker. Last year, I somehow managed to go the entire series without a single cash. Luckily, my win at the Venetian kept the summer profitable. I’d like to travel some more, as well. Most of my success has come on the East Coast or down South, but I’d like to see some exotic places like Monte Carlo or other parts of Europe. And, of course, another run at the POY wouldn’t be such a bad thing, either.