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Online Poker: Interview with David 'dpeters17' Peters

Peters Talks About His Recent FTOPS Finish, How to Play Shootouts, and the World Series


David 'dpeters17' PetersDavid “dpeters17” Peters may not have the most creative online poker screen name of all time, but that creative deficiency holds no bearing on his poker game.

Peters has become well known because of his exploits on the digital felts, where he has earned almost $550,000 in Online Player of the Year-qualified finishes alone. He recently finished as runner-up in event No. 3 of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series VIII (FTOPS), a no-limit hold’em triple-shootout event, earning $51,000. His biggest-ever online score was for taking down the $1K Monday on Full Tilt this March, worth $110,000. The 21-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, also has almost $320,000 in live tournament cashes, and he recently took down his first-ever live event when he raked in the final pot at a prelim event of the World Series of Poker Circuit at Caesars Las Vegas, worth almost $87,000.

All said, Peters is off to a more-than-decent start after deciding to take a break from getting his business degree in college. He say that he still may go back to college, but for now, it’s all poker.

Card Player spoke with Peters about his deep finish in the FTOPS, his recent live win, shootout strategy, the World Series, and Yahtzee prop bets.

Shawn Patrick Green: When did you pick up poker?

David “dpeters17” Peters: In the summer of ’04, the summer after my junior year in high school.

SPG: And how did that come about?

DP: Just from playing home games with friends and watching it on ESPN. I started playing freerolls, and I eventually won one of the freerolls and just started from there.

SPG: What did you do with the winnings from the freeroll? How did you climbs up the ranks with that?

DP: I took that and played small-stakes sit-and-gos and grinded sit-and-gos for a while. Eventually I moved up the stakes and turned to multitable tournaments and did pretty well.

SPG: I’ve been hearing from a lot of people, actually, that they started with sit-and-gos. Do you think that that’s the natural progression that makes the most sense for beginning players, to start with sit-and-gos and then jump to multitable tournaments?

DP: Yeah, I think so. It’s a good way to build your bankroll. Plus, sit-and-gos are very important to play to be good at multitable tournaments, because you learn how to play shorthanded and short-stacked.

SPG: Speaking of sit-and-gos, your biggest score recently was for coming in second in a no-limit hold’em shootout event in the recent FTOPS VIII, which is basically just a bunch of single-table sit-and-gos. What is the best strategy for shootout events?

DP: Every table is winner-take-all, so you’ve got to be a little more fearless. But, for me, it’s not too different than a multitable tournament. You know that you’ve got to play for the win, so any extra-small edge you’ve got to take. You can’t be afraid to gamble.

SPG: As far as your opponents are concerned in that kind of tournament, in what ways were you able to exploit them? Because I’m sure that a lot of them probably weren’t as comfortable with the shootout format; it’s not an incredibly popular format, yet.

DP: Some people were playing too tight, especially at the final table. A lot of players were just playing really scared, so you can definitely exploit that. But a lot of the players don’t really have the winner-take-all mindset, they’re still trying to move up, even though you have to win your table, so you can take advantage of that.

SPG: Well, and it’s interesting in that respect, because it is winner-take-all, except at the final table, where the pay-jumps actually matter. So, it almost does make sense for players to play a little bit tighter at the final table, doesn’t it? Because time they outlast a player, the do earn a little more money, in contrast to the previous tables they played, where if they didn’t win outright, nothing else mattered.

DP: Oh, yeah, for sure. Most people will play really tight at the final table. I don’t really think that’s too smart, because a lot of them money is at the final three, so I’m going to be looking for the weak spots at the final table and play aggressively versus them. Because I’m trying to win, to get in the top two or three spots, because that’s where all of the money is at.

SPG: When you say you’re looking for the weak spots, what exactly are you looking for?

DP: People who are playing tight or who are trying to grind up to an extra spot, because, to them, it’s a lot of money. You can tell if they’re playing scared, just trying to slowly move up the pay-ladder.

SPG: One of our Card Player columnists wrote regarding shootout tournaments that he very much disagrees with the payout structures in them, because he thinks that the final table payout structure should be exactly like the rest of the tournament, where the winner of the table is the only person who gets a higher payout than the rest of the players at that table. So, everyone at the final table would be guaranteed a certain amount, and then the winner would get the lion’s share. What do you think of that notion?

DP: I’m not sure that I like that. I think the final table [payout structure] should stay how it is, but maybe for the prior events, like top two advance, so it’s not like you have to win, something like that. But I think the final table should be just like all other final tables, where the prize jumps with every spot.

SPG: So, you’re actually advocating an even more lenient structure wherein it’s not winner-take-all, even in the previous stages.

DP: Yeah, because in sit-and-gos, they’re not winner-take-all, and an important part of them at times is trying to make the money, so I think it would it have more of a feel of a sit-and-go if two spots advanced, then start back up the next round equal in chips, and then maybe finish with an eighthanded final table or something.

SPG: When you were beginning to learn poker, what is the most important lesson that you’ve learned along the way?

DP: Definitely just that you’ve got to have good bankroll management. I remember, starting out, there were definitely times when I had poor bankroll management [laughs], so it definitely hurt me. It’s huge.

SPG: So, what kind of bankroll did you start with, then? Were you just severely under-rolled, or was it not really that bad, but you know now that it was a mistake?

DP: Well, when I won that freeroll, it was for like $600. At first, I started off playing $5 and $10 sit-and-gos, but there would be times when I’d play $1-$2 no-limit hold’em with $600, which is just really dumb [laughs]. If you take a bad beat in a pot, it just crushes your bankroll.

SPG: Your biggest online score was for taking down the $1K Monday. Are the small-field, high buy-in tournaments your favorite to play?

DP: Oh, yeah, definitely, because it’s not such a crapshoot, where you have to get through 7,000 people, and there’s still a very good prize pool. The competition is a lot tougher, but I’m fine with that. I’d rather have that than get through a minefield.

SPG: You’re known primarily as an online player, but you’ve recently been showing up on the live circuit quite a bit. You booked your first major live win, recently. Do you get a different feeling winning a live tournament versus an online tournament?

DP: Oh yeah, it’s a lot nicer winning a live tournament. That was my first live win, so it was definitely really sweet.

SPG: Why is the feeling different?

DP: There is a ton of people watching you and you’re not just at your computer. The whole atmosphere is just a lot nicer.

SPG: What are the major differences that you personally account for when playing live?

DP: Usually, the players in live poker are a lot more passive and tight. You can usually play a lot more aggressively and try to run them over more. If you’re playing online, nowadays, everyone is just so aggressive that it’s a lot harder to run people over.

SPG: What are your plans for the upcoming World Series?

DP: I’m going to be there for the entire summer, and I’m getting a house with a few friends. I’m planning on playing a ton of events. I’m still not sure what, though.

SPG: Which friends? Anyone we’d know?

DP: Yeah, “Dumping”KGB, PlayaPlz, DCal Zone, AMAK316, and a few other friends.

SPG: Do you anticipate having any interesting prop bets with them during the series?

DP: Yeah, I’m sure we will. We had a house last year, and we definitely had some interesting gambling going on. We’d play pool, race with laps in the pool — the short way though, so it only took a few seconds — plus we had some pretty intense Yahtzee games [laughs].

SPG: [Laughing] How do you have intense Yahtzee games?

DP: [Laughing] Hitting miracles on your last roll, watching people go on tilt, trash talking. Plus, a few of them are fish at Yahtzee, and also run bad in general, so it’s easy money [laughs].

SPG: Do you have some suggestions for people coming from the online poker who may be playing in their first major live event during the Series?

DP: I’ve seen so many people who don’t play live make mistakes simply because they aren’t aware of the chip stacks. It’s such an important thing. Keep counting your stack; with me, I count my stack a lot. Some people may get annoyed by it, but I think it’s just so important that if they get mad, then whatever. Also, as soon as someone calls your raise, ask them for their chip count, or just keep looking at their stack to make sure that you know how many chips they have.

SPG: In your opinion, what is the most important thing to be good at to be a great poker player?

DP: I guess maybe just patience, especially in live poker. A ton of people are just going to get really bored, and you’ve just got to play your game and wait for decent spots.

SPG: Good advice, especially with the Series coming up. Thanks for doing this interview.

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