Interview with Greg Mueller during the 2013 WSOP in Las Vegas
Canada Poker (C.P.) “Intro” – Hey this is Ryan Snyder, I’m with CanadaPoker.com. I just caught up with Greg Mueller, hot off his third place finish in the 8-Game Mix. We are down here in the Brasilia Poker Room, Greg has just bagged chips for Day 2 in the $5k Stud 8 or Better Tournament. We ask Greg some tough questions, and we get some great answers. Let’s get down to the table and see what Greg has to say.
C.P- So Greg, many Canadians would know you for your hockey career in Europe, but I got to ask, what is tougher – playing professional hockey or professional poker?
Greg Mueller (G.M.) : Ya know… both require a lot of discipline and mental toughness, and even physical toughness. I grew up all my life playing hockey, and so it wasn’t really a change, but when… you know in hockey when you have a couple bad games it sucks, and you know it’s mentally draining but in poker it’s also mentally draining because when your bankroll depletes, you start stressing out so, they are actually believe it or not very similar even though they are both not physical sports.
C.P.- I read online that hockey ultimately got you starting playing poker, can you touch base on that story at all ?
G.M.- Ya I mean, in a couple ways, one was just long bus trips from city to city, that sitting back and having a few beers and playing some cards and you know, you started liking it. And I guess you know another part of the reason is the guy that kinda taught me poker… is a buddy of a guy that was on my hockey team and he came to Europe and our days off, which was Mondays, you know we would always drive to the casino and chat – poker, poker, poker. And he just ya know, set me up kinda along the way that so that when I retired, I could choose a new career.
C.P. – That’s awesome. So, what were some of the first games that you guys were playing on those bus trips ?
G.M.- Ohh back then, we played all kinds of goofy shit – High Chicago, High Spade in the Hole, you know like Firey Cross..
C.P.- Red Dog ?
G.M.- Well, (haha) Red Dog actually ya, that’s “Inbetween the Sheets” we called it, which was the same thing and that was like – people got hurt playing that because you know, you have the deuce and the king and people would just pot it and all of a sudeen you hit the post and then you would have to put double in the pot. Even though guys were making OK coin, they didn’t like writing cheques ya know, and some of the guys were cheaper. But you know, you got it 31, Stook, I mean, everything.
C.P.- Ya Stook ! Ya, that was a good one, I remember that one. So these tournaments at the WSOP can definitely be a long grind, do you find yourself preparing for the tournaments similar to professional hockey and sports ?
G.M.- I try to, and amazingly enough it pays off when you try to… You know like, for example when I would show up for camp in the summers I would train hard in the summers, just lifting weights and I did the same thing here, I took two months off to go home and drop twenty pounds so that I could get a little fitter and endure the long days. And you know, same thing before this tournament I went to the track and ran twelve laps at the UNLV Football field… to have more energy at the table, to be able to sustain the long hours… You know, very similar type of situations, because it is grueling – the fatter and more out of shape you are, the tougher it is you know, to not make mistakes throughout the eight and twelve hour days.
C.P.- I totally agree, and you mention this before ya know, things in hockey can be sometimes pretty straightforward, but a lot of times in poker, the game can be uncontrollable and so what are some of the changes you might make to your game if you are starting to “run bad”?
G.M.- Well, maybe drop limits, play shorter hours… ya know – just like in hockey… if you just can’t score – you change the curve of your stick, you change how you tape it up, you change patterns, um, you know you stay longer at practice and shoot pucks. Well.. you have to be honest with yourself you can walk around and act like your winning everyday but as your bankroll depletes, it’s yourself that you know, has to make changes so you just got to look in the mirror and say.. “Am I really just running bad ?” – In which case OK, stick to it, do the things I’m doing. Or, “Am I also playing bad” – in which case you have to make changes. If your playing good and your running bad, you might have to drop levels, if it is effecting you mentally. But if your playing… bad and running bad then you got to make changes altogether and evalutate, what are you doing wrong – whether I’m playing too long, gambling too much, tilting.
C.P. – So let’s get back to the WSOP, you just got third in Event #8 – the 8 Game Mixed Event… and last year you also got second in that event, are you starting finding an edge in the mixed games, compared to the Hold Em games ?
G.M.- Well, you know, I fancy myself to play all pretty well, other than PLO which is not really my favorite game, or greatest game but most of the people in the Mixed you know, are one or two game specialists. So they might accel at a game or two, but I’m always in there competing for pots. Whereas, this might be his game, or this might be his game, well I’m in there in every game! And.. it’s probably not a coincidence that I do well in mixed games because… I play almost exclusively mixed games only anyways now, ya know, so its no more just Hold Em anymore and so… when that’s your “road game” well, it helps for sure.
C.P. – So what is your favorite game out of the 8 games ?
G.M. – I like Deuce to Seven. Because, I feel that people enjoy the game but don’t know it as well. So, certain games people don’t know they just stay out of the way. Everybody fancies themselves a Deuce player which means that they give action, they like to make moves but they don’t really know the game. So I think my edge in that game is maybe a little bit higher than most games and I also enjoy it.
C.P. – Greg, poker has taken you all over the world. What are some of your favorite card rooms ?
G.M. – Umm, you know what, as much as I go… When I travel, other than Vegas, L.A. – I like to call it the little “Triangle” – Vegas, Vancouver, L.A. But when I travel elsewhere, I generally just try and play the big tournament that I am there for – and then try and enjoy where I’m at… We go to Australia for example, big deal they have a nice card room… I am there to watch the Australian Open Tennis and go to Sydney and lay on the beach and enjoy… When I’m in Vegas, L.A. and Vancouver – that’s where I’m playing poker. I don’t know if I have a favorite card room, but I like playing in Bobby’s Room, Ivey’s Room and the Bellagio and Aria and the Commerce, those three places – River Rock when I’m at home, ya know…
C.P.- I have a buddy that played a Omaha Hi/Lo Tournament with you in Edmonton at the Yellowhead..
G.M. – Omaha Ed ?
C.P. – Ya, absolutely, yup.
G.M. – That’s funny I met him right as I was kind of starting. He is a very nice guy.
C.P. – So what advice can you give up and coming poker professionals ?
G.M.- You know I say it all the time, the key is – don’t jump limits too high and play within your financial means. People wanna play in the nose bleed games as high as they possibly can and when they struggle, they are going to get punished doubley – a) they are not going to make as much on their hands and b) they are going to lose more on their hands because people make them pay… When someone is just starting out, the key is to play where the money doesn’t hurt you too much. Ya know, a lot of guys don’t start out as a full fledged pro, they start out working on the side and playing – and if they are playing in a game they are comfortable in and they can sustain a two, three day a week job playing poker while it doesn’t affect. If the money is too big for them, they start missing work and letting it effect them and now… ninety percent of the time they end up quitting and just doing their full time job because it hurts their relationships, it hurts their marriage, it hurts their work, it hurts everything. Because they are playing too big. If they are playing very small where they can go to the casino and lose $200 bucks, it doesn’t effect them they leave early enough to go to work the same day, they leave early enough where they are not going to be late. But if they are playing and they lose $800 instead of $300 and they’re stuck and now they are staying ‘til 4am, it effects them in negative ways. So, it was a bit of a long one to answer but my number one advice I always give up and coming players is – play within your financial means where you can enjoy the game, learn the game, try and make some money but it doesn’t break you – if you struggle.
C.P. – Greg on behalf of CanadaPoker.com we’d like to thank you for this.
G.M. – My pleasure, man.
C.P. – “Recap” – We just heard from Mixed Game specialist Greg Mueller. He gave us some good advice, it was pretty solid and his background in professional sports is no doubt gaining him an edge in these long few weeks at the World Series of Poker. He’s an intelligent and friendly guy and the poker community is lucky to have him on board. Thanks for reading everyone this has been Ryan Snyder with CanadaPoker.com at the Rio Hotel Suites and Casino, Las Vegas.