Andrew "good2cu" Robl was born in Okemos, MI. into a typical midwestern middle class family. His father was the oldest of seven children and the only child in his family to attend and graduate from college. Robl’s father always focused on the value of an education. His message to his children was simple and direct, “You need to attend school, learn and get good grades.”
In high school, Robl followed his father’s advice to the letter and earned excellent grades. He worked as a janitor at a local YMCA to earn enough for gas money to drive his 96 Saturn.
By age 16, Robl was enjoying gaming of any sort. He particularly liked playing computer strategy games (star craft, warcraft, halo) In his junior year of high school, Robl began playing $.25/$.50 poker games. He began his illustrious gambling career by using the $40 he got for Christmas and lost as many games as he won.
With his father’s words ringing in his ears, Robl decides to hit the books. But instead of his schoolbooks taking the lead role, he headed to Shuler’s Bookstore and read Super System by Doyle Bruson in one day. The book about gambling helped him to make $100 the week after he finished reading it.
In the next two to three months, Robl read 20 books about gambling. He was now playing better than any of his friends and decided to journey to a local Indian casino about 45 minutes from his home. The 17 year old played on a fake I.D.
On the back of one of his gambling strategy books, Robl found a URL of an online poker website, and learned even more about gambling strategies. He was in awe of players just a few years older than him that were making $20,000/month.
By 18, Robl was playing sit-n-go tournaments to hide his online gambling from his parents. He had fined tuned his strategies and understood bankroll management and risk. He was thinking about gambling in a more sophisticated way and his online earnings reflected his evolution.
Interview with Andrew Robl
Just to get it out of the way. For many people in poker, you are best known as the guy who sucked out on Patrik Antonius four times in the same hand. Hopefully we can adjust that perception in this interview, but could you take us through the hand from beginning to the end? I guess many are wondering what you felt his range was when you shoved the flop.
I for one don't see what the big deal is about this hand. I got it all in with top pair vs a draw (laughs). Prior to that game I hadn't played a ton of PLO, and I was told the game was going to be straight NL and that a lot of big non-professional action players were going to be playing. At the last minute a lot of players backed out and it looked like they were going to have trouble getting the game going so they had to make it half and half to get going. I considered not playing but I still thought I was a small favorite in the game and wanted to gamble, be on TV etc. So in the end I decided to play. No better way to learn a game than to play against the best, right?
Anyways, on to the hand. I think re-raising with AQQJss out of the small blind is fine. I'm well ahead of Patriks opening range and the hand plays well postflop. I would have preferred if we only had 100BB stacks here, though. In that case, I could just bet/call a lot of flops very easily.
On the actual hand we were a little deeper, around 140BB’s, I think. The flop came down A73dds giving me top pair, queen kicker and backdoor spades. I'm still well ahead of Patrick's range here so I decided to bet, planning to call off. Problem was, once he raised I realized that I wasn't getting quite the price I thought I was getting (he still had a little bit of money behind), so I was in kind of a though spot. I decided that I still had enough equity (~40%) against his range and decided to put it in. Thinking about the hand now I probably didn't have enough equity against his range on this flop and I think check calling the flop is a much better line. Against Patrik I'd prefer to flat this hand preflop considering the stacks and the fact that he is a very strong player. Playing this hand OOP with these stack sizes is nasty. But all in all I really don't think hand was THAT bad but I definitely made a mistake in betting the flop.
So basically all the railbirds are correct, I'm a PLO fish :). I'm sitting at high stakes PLO games almost every day so everyone can come get some :).
What should we know about Andrew Robl that has nothing to do with poker? How do you like to spend your time when you are not playing?
I enjoy spending time with other poker pros in Vegas enjoying nice dinners, nightclubs etc. while gambling on all sorts of random things.
What is your favorite prop-bet. Have you made any really strange ones?
Once my friend Alec Torelli and I bet a guy 40k he couldn't live inside a bathroom at Bellagio for 30 days. After 21 days there was a bunch of drama and we ended up paying off the bet.
And now that the non-poker stuff is out of the way, how long have you been playing poker and when did you realize that you had more talent for it than most of the other players? What, in your opinion, makes a good poker player?
When I was a freshman in college just turned 19, I was playing $215 SNGs (1 table tournament), and making a decent amount of money. Around that time I went to Vegas and met a lot of the other winning high-stakes SNG players and one guy was data mining all the games and comparing people's results. I remember in his database I had the highest ROI of any player which made me feel pretty good.
To be a truly great nosebleed player you have to be very intelligent. You have to be able to fully understand your opponent’s mental processes and try to find ways to exploit them. I love watching and playing against Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey. They are so in the heads of their opponents it’s frightening. They know how a lot of their opponents are going to react to various bets a scarily high % of the time.
The great players also have a sick amount in gamble in them. They are willing to take much bigger risks than other players are. They are not afraid to put a large % of their bankroll on the line if they think they have an edge. I'm not sure if this something people should strive for as poker players because many broke players share this trait!
If you talking about merely being a good solid earning pro not a 'great player' I think the most important thing is to be disciplined and have a good work-ethic. You have to put in an insane number of hands to be truly good at poker, and not only that but you have to be willing to constantly learn by reviewing your play, watch training videos hiring coaches etc. I love reading Brian Townsend's blog because that guy is a machine. He is always reviewing his play, hiring new coaches, trying to find weaknesses in his opponents etc. All his work obv paid off because he's been able to win at the highest stakes in both NL and PLO after working his way up from microstakes in a short period of time. It's inspiring.
Which games do you prefer to play?
I prefer to play NL and PLO HU and Short-handed. Just because you get in more interesting hands than in ring games where people's hand ranges are so narrow. A lot of players are able to beat 6-max and full ring by playing a system, but when you get them shorthanded or HU you can really exploit the flaws in their thinking. Unfortunately, increasingly regulars are only willing to play non-professionals something I think is horrible for poker. It is going to continue to widen the gap between your average grinder and the top pros as the average grinder is not going to be improving his poker game at all.
Is this something that you think will come back and bite the regulars at some point, and if so, how?
I'm not sure. If they continue to play only when someone really bad is playing they will keep making money. I think in the long run though, the people who play tougher opponents and continue improving will make more money.
I read in your profile that you started out mainly as tournament player. Do you still consider yourself a tournament player or more of an all-rounder now?
I got my start playing 1 Table tournaments which are heavily math based. There is often a clear cut correct and incorrect play. I think this is the best way to learn poker as you can learn about tilt-control, managing emotions, bankroll management etc. in an environment where there is always a correct or incorrect play. In cash games and even MTTs the correct play is way more ambiguous. SNGs are kind of like poker with training wheels.
As far as me being a tournament player, I've never really played the big Multi's online and am pretty sure I am down in big buy-in live tournaments. I've made the vast majority of my income playing $25/$50+ NL Hold'em so I guess I would have to say I'm a cash game player. With that said, no matter what form of poker your playing it's all about putting your opponents on hand ranges on every hand and making correct decisions from there. I'm confident I can do that pretty well in all forms of poker.
How was your rise up through the stakes? Were there any particular milestones you remember, perhaps? Were there any particular stakes that you had any trouble overcoming? How was your bankroll management throughout this process?
I started playing with literally $20 in 10/.25c home games with my friends after school. After losing all my money a few times I started to consume any and all poker literature I could get my hands on. Eventually, I become the biggest winner in those home games and started to sneak in to the Indian Casino at 17. I played stakes ranging from $3/$6 to $10/$20 limit hold’em. The rake in these games was huge and I went broke a few times. Eventually I found the poker forums on twoplustwo.com and started playing $.50/$1 limit online and ran up a decent bankroll playing that before I moved to SNGs. I basically steadily worked my way up to $530 SNGs (the biggest at the time) without any major set-backs. Towards the end of my SNG career I started playing cash games. I was fortunate to have friends such at Tom Dwan, Peter Jetten, and Alan Sass who were already successful cash game players to help with the transition. I remember that in my first 70K hands I was beating the game for 7bb/100 (I doubt anyone is doing this now), and from there never looked back.
My biggest setback was when the $50/$100 NL game started to go around the clock on Full Tilt, maybe in late 2006…? I remember I had like a $250K bankroll at the time and ended up dropping 150k or so in one day. Looking back I'm not sure if I was a winner in those games at the time but I ran so disgustingly bad and was hit with so many sick set-ups. After that I went and stayed with my friend Phil Galfond for a week. He had just started playing nosebleeds and was playing basically whoever wanted to play him at nosebleed HU on FTP. I learned a lot from watching him play and his ability to analytically but a player on a hand range every hand. This helped my get my confidence back. If you want to learn to be an expert player, his site bluefirepoker.com is the best place to learn, hands down.
How do you develop your game? Is it just by playing a lot or do you do any kind of studying on the side? Any advice for up and coming players on how to improve their game?
Now days I am pretty lazy, as I am pretty comfortable with my game and don't study as much as I should. Would I was rising through stakes I'd look at what the biggest winners were doing in poker tracker and try to emulate their play and was constantly reviewing my play and sending questions about hands to people better than me. Really the only way to learn is to play and review. I think the best and fastest way to learn nowadays is by hiring a coach. They can quickly and easily identify what you are doing wrong and speed up your learning curve tremendously.