His father had a big family. He had 6 uncles and aunts; his father was the oldest of seven. Growing up he used to watch them play poker. The game they played was dealers’ choice on the kitchen table for change. Brian used to ask his father to let him play because it looked like fun, but he was never allowed to play because he was only six or seven years old. Eventually his father gave in and let him play. That was his earliest exposure to poker. He thought it was a fun game.
Much later in life after being exposed to poker on the kitchen table with his family, Brian discovered $3/$6 limit poker. It was the first game that he played in a casino. He had no idea what he was doing other than which hand beats which. Like most new players Brian thought he knew what he was doing but the reality was that he did not. He played that here and there for a while, he was not trying to play professionally at the time. Brian considered himself to be a degenerate gambler during that time and used to enjoyed playing other games like roulette.
Eventually he discovered $1/$2 no limit hold ‘em in Detroit. This is when he started to read any book he could get his hands on, like the Dummy’s guide to no limit hold ‘em. He just kept going to the library and checking out any book he could find on the game. Brian tried to educate himself on the basics. He started to learn about pot odds, what cards to play, and what to fold.
What is the poker scene like in the Detroit area?
When I first started out, I was playing at Motor City casino. I do not think it was as big as it is today. There were a bunch of $3/$6 limit games and $1/$2 no limit was like “Ohhh $1/$2 no limit”, that was a big game to me back then. The poker scene here in Detroit was a marshmallow pit, everyone sucked, including myself.
It didn’t start to get big until 2006 or 2007. A few years after the Moneymaker, that is when it really started to get big. They started to put the poker rooms where people could find them easier. It wasn’t easy to find poker rooms at most of the casinos, especially Greek Town. You had to navigate through a labyrinth of hallways and staircases to get to their poker room. That’s why everyone started to go to Motor City and was the place to go to until COVID happened. Now after COVID, MGM has taken the reigns of the poker community and all the games are there. Motor City is a barren waste land. Greek Town, I don’t know I haven’t been there. I’m still banned from Greek Town because I made videos there, you know I made a YouTube video. They don’t take kindly to table footage here in Michigan, can’t do it.
What was that like for you as a poker player after you got banned for that?
It was at a point in my life where I was working a job. I would bounce back and forth between poker and working. I think I was painting. Poker can get incredibly stressful and sometimes you just need to take a break. This was when I first created my vlog, and I was anonymous. I would have table footage, but I did not want anyone in the player pool to know who I was. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to get in trouble for making videos, it was just coincidence I started out the vlog anonymous. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was yet. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put it out there, but I wanted to talk about poker so what I would do is change the pitch of my voice in the videos. I didn’t know the casinos were trying to find out who it was for months and months and months and then I finally release my identity. Then the next time I went to go play at the casinos, they were like, “Oh you can’t be here. You are banned.” I called all three of them and I was banned at all three. Motor City agreed to allow me to come back if I agreed to take down my videos with table footage. So, I agreed and took the videos down and agreed not to make any more. I was granted access to Motor City right away with just a few phone calls. At MGM, the poker manager who is still the manager there, he got me back in by talking to the floor. Because I had such a good rapport with the floor and I was always nice, I never made a scene, I never had to be ejected because I was bitchin’ about winning or losing. Always had a good attitude and treated everyone with respect, so that helped me to get back in and he was able to get me back in. Greek Town, the poker room manager, he took that shit personally, he was so mad. I talked to him on the phone, he was like, “Oh no, they’re taking legal action against you!” I was like, “Stop it dude! Stop it. They’re not taking no legal action.” He’s like, “Ya, those chips are trademarked. Our table layout is trademarked, you can’t just film that.” So, I took the video down. That poker room manager isn’t even there but he told me that I had to write a letter to security to get back in. Which I did write a letter to security, saying what happened and what I did to correct the situation, but I never heard back from them.
Are you or have you ever been an online poker player?
I have tried it occasionally. I was a member of a forum. 2012 I started a Cards Chat thread. It was my cash game thread and I talked about cash game and stuff, live poker mostly. I was trying to improve, so I put a lot of hand histories on there got feedback from other members and talking poker. As part of my cash game thread somebody suggested you should play online, go play bodog, go play bovada, what ever it was called. I think it was bodog then. So, I was like ya, that sounds like a good idea. They were like, “Put in a sample size and see if you can beat it.” Two cents-five cents is what I chose, you know five dollar no limit. I wanted to see if I could beat that for any sort of sample. I think I played 25,000 hands. I might have beat it for 10BB/100, I don’t really remember what it was, somewhere around there. At that point I was almost playing exclusively two cents-five cents. Then once I was done with that, I just kinda realized I don’t really enjoy online poker. Its just really boring to me. Very difficult for me to pay attention to the game, stay focused. Most online players will find live to be super boring because it’s so slow, but I just can’t follow the game, it’s so boring.
Now that online poker is legal in Michigan, how is it effecting the poker ecosystem in Detroit?
If I sit and think about the player pool as a whole and I try to think about what guys are missing and what guys have returned, most everyone has returned. I would say 80% to 90% of the player pool is back again. I don’t think it has hurt the player pool population. All the same faces are showing up now but there are some that are missing now, and they may have transitioned to online, or they may be nervous about COVID and just haven’t fully found the confidence to return. I definitely don’t think it has had very much impact at all. If anything, I didn’t know what to expect when I came back after COVID, you know when they opened the casino. They opened it like middle of January, I think they opened MGM on the 15th, and I think I started playing on the 25th or something. Nothing changed at all! I started back at $1/$2, I wanted to see how these games are. I didn’t want to get back into $2/$5 just yet. You know it’s been a year since I played live poker. But its all been the same exact shit, people just calling ridiculous hands, absurd raises preflop, and just like giving money away, its exactly the same, exactly. Except for when they had the dividers, then you couldn’t talk with anybody.
What are the highest stakes that you can regularly find in Detroit, and have you strived to move up to higher stakes?
If they were available and were regular, I would want to play higher stakes. However, let me just paint the picture of the $5/$10 landscape as it is in Detroit. There are times on a Friday, Saturday, whatever when a bunch of high rollers want to play $5/$10. What happens is that they call the game and then you get six to nine people that say yes and then you sit there. The buy in is $500 to $2000, generally if play that game I probably sit with $1000 or $1500. I don’t know if I would really want to buy in for the full $2000. Let’s say there are eight players at the table, four of these guys are going to sit down with 500 bucks and then when they bust, they won’t reload and then they break the game. They sit there, either they run it up then they get a bunch of chips and they just hit and run, or they go bust and then they just leave or if they reload, they reload for 500 bucks which as you know is only 50 big blinds. The only guys that load up for money are usually competent players or extreme degens, guys that have unlimited money and just don’t give a shit. They just crush your soul man. Its not a good game. A lot of times when I play the $5/$10, get into it, play for 2 hours stuck for 1500 and then the fucking game breaks! So that’s why I don’t aspire to move up because they are just not available. If the player pool evolves and the games evolve… I don’t know why they don’t have a $5/$10; they can just never get one running. All the guys who want to play bigger they play $1/$3 PLO $5/$10 PLO.
What was the motivation for becoming a coach that specializes in low stakes?
As you know, I started the vlog anonymous, did table footage. That rapidly ended. Now I had to think about some way to keep creating content. I wanted to make content. I have a passion for poker, and I want to talk about poker. I feel the need to want to help people. In nutshell, I feel like if you make other people’s lives better and you create joy for people then that is good. I want to make content for that purpose. You gotta have value to make this content. Why would people watch you if there is no value? I would do hand histories, where I played the hand. Try to illustrate the hand history with graphics and cards, but I’m competing against… I don’t want to say competing. But like the other vloggers that are doing hand histories they are playing at the table recording and all this. Why would someone watch my boring hand history when they could watch somebody else? They can live vicariously through them. It feels like you are playing against the table. I’m like OK, I am just going to switch over to kinda like more instructional. Then I was out to lunch with two of my poker friends at the casino. We had all been playing poker and had gotten together. One of them tells me, “You should make a series on the basics of how to beat $1/$2 no limit.” This guy who told me to make the series happens to be the guy who took me under his wing and taught me how to play $1/$2. 2015 I started working with this guy and another guy and they taught me the ropes. I wanted to go from being a break-even player to a profitable player. I wanted to turn this into my life’s work. I been playing on and off a lot of time and trying to educate myself. I was pretty educated in the game, but I had a lot of leaks and lack of fundamentals. They helped me. So he says, “Make a video series on how to beat $1/$2, like a crash course, just the basics.” And then he says, “After you make this whole video series you should try to coach people. Tell them you will give them 3 hours for $120.” OK… I am just thinking ya right, who is going to pay me to coach them. I was like, “Don’t I have to be some wizard to coach.” He was like, “No man! You got experience in the games they are trying to beat. You can beat $1/$2, I know you can. You can beat for $25 an hour probably. Just because you are not Jonathan Little doesn’t mean you can’t educate people.” So, I made the whole video series on how to beat $1/$2. Which is probably like one of my most successful videos, it wasn’t really my idea it was this other guy’s idea. I offered coaching at the end and now I talk about it in most of my videos I make.
Who do you admire as personal hero of yours in the poker community?
If you would have asked me this question 5 years ago, I would have probably said Daniel Negreanu. However, things have changed, Daniel Negreanu has been doing some weird stuff in the public eye lately. Who would I admire…? Not really anyone in particular just kinda general idea. Who I admire is the guys that put the work in. They come in day in and day out they grind and make their living at poker. That is who I admire. Who ever is doing that cause it’s really tough to do that man. To just come in and keep your head high and keep making good decisions no matter what happens. Whether you are running good or bad. So, I will see other guys in my card room, and I just see them fighting every single day, always fighting. That’s who I admire, that’s who I try to model myself after because its just so difficult to keep your shit together. Its real simple in theory, you just understand this is the long-term game. You just make a good decision; every single hand you play you just make the best decision you are capable of. Its very simple. But like going in there and actually executing that day in day out, its fucking impossible. You make mistakes, no matter what you do no matter how good you are, you make mistakes.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received for poker?
Keep it simple stupid. Let the game come to you, something like that. You know, you just follow a strategy and its that simple and you don’t deviate. If you let the game to come to you. If you take the way that you know how to play and you just don’t deviate from that and you execute. You win. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you’ll win the money eventually if you just have a good mindset. Execute what you know is right. Its not hard to beat live poker. Especially $1/$2.
What is the best piece of advice that you can give for a poker player reading this?
Button down your pre-flop game and understand position. Position is the most important aspect of poker in my opinion. Stop playing fucking QJo out of the blinds! Stop doing shit like that pre-flop! Button that shit down. Position, understand it! Respect it!
How much are you up for 2021?
You can find Brian’s YouTube channel, Detroit Poker by clicking on the link below.
Brian also has poker book out that he authored and can find on Amazon.