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Cardplayer Lifestyle becomes new Media Partner of The Festival Series

Cardplayer Lifestyle becomes new Media Partner of The Festival Series

The Festival Series keeps expanding, and this time we are introducing to you a new media partner collaboration. We are pleased to introduce to you Cardplayer Lifestyle, hand-made by fellow mixed games passionate, Robbie Strazynski. With years of experience on- and off the poker tables, Robbie made a great brand out of Cardplayer Lifestyle, known all over the world.

The Festival Series Rozvadov is around the corner, and we cannot wait to welcome all players to the amazing location of the King's Resort. With guidance of poker director Federico Brunato, the whole series will kick off at May 31st, and will collude at June 9th. Online qualifiers are available through various operators, giving you great opportunities to get yourself saddled up for a lot less, compared to heading to Rozvadov directly. Enough about the event for now, let's meet Robbie Strazynski!

Melvin, The Festival: Hi Robbie! It's a huge pleasure to have you here. I've been seeing a lot of your work on Cardplayer Lifestyle, and I was very excited to see that your brand has become a new media partner of The Festival Series! To start off, can I ask you how you ended up rolling into the world of poker?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: So, I always loved the game. I first got introduced to poker when I was a little kid. My father taught me how to play. The industry side of things; well, I didn't even know there was an industry! Back in 2009, a friend of mine said, “Hey, let's start a poker blog.” I'm like, “Why?” He says, “Let's make a little money on the side.” I didn't even know how that could happen. He says “I have the technical know-how of how to create a website, and you know how to write and you know poker. So just write about poker and we'll have a blog and maybe make some extra money.” I said “OK!”

We found the domain cardplayerlifestyle.com, which was available. That resonated with me. I'm not a professional player, but there are a lot of people who like that lifestyle, who like the idea of going and playing not necessarily for a living, just enjoying and having fun playing. It's like their favourite hobby. That's how I first entered the poker industry. As I got more and more into it, it was like, “I think I have an audience here. I think the things that I have to say and express and the things that I'm writing and publishing about, more and more people seemed to be liking it and taking an interest.” So it became like a side gig.

A couple of years later, I bought out my partner, and it was just me doing it on nights and weekends when I came home from work. In March 2017, I said to myself “Well, if these are the kind of numbers we can do in nights and weekends part-time, maybe I could try this full-time.” Thankfully, I haven't looked back since.

Melvin, The Festival: So until you started writing blogs and working in the poker industry, you played some poker as well prior to this time?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: Yeah, always recreational, always home games with friends. I've always played cash games and almost always mixed games. I mean, online poker was there, but it never appealed to me in the same way that live poker did. Admittedly, perhaps because I wasn't necessarily as good at it. so it was always home games on my end. Online poker just didn't bring me the same joy that playing live did. When you're playing live, the experiences seem more real. I always make friends at the table. It's much more social. I enjoy it more for that reason. And generally speaking, I tend also to do better when I play live. I don't win every single session, but I'm primarily a cash games player, and I win the majority of my sessions. So, yeah, I always loved it.

Because we don't really have poker rooms or casinos here in Israel, the one thing I really haven't been able to do a lot of is play tournaments, because we just don't have any local way to do that. So, my poker life was always about home games with friends, and then going abroad to places like Las Vegas to play cash games.

Melvin, The Festival: Mixed Games are always a point of discussion in the poker industry. We can see an increase in the popularity of the mixed formats of poker, what's your take on this? Do you think the mixed games are being played more often these days?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: Yes, I do. I think that's a good question. I think the answer is yes. And I think there are a lot of reasons why. One of them, frankly, is because people are just looking for something different. You see this in other industries where people are tired of the same old thing and they're looking for something different. Don't get me wrong, of course, No-Limit Hold'em is still popular, but I think you're starting to see more and more people branching out and trying new things.

One of the things that's important to mention is that when it comes to mixed games, there's something special about them. It's not just the professionals who've always enjoyed playing mixed games. More and more, you're seeing amateur players, and recreational players, trying their hand at mixed games as well. I think people are just realising that there's a lot of fun to be had in mixed games. There are a lot of different strategies involved, and it's just a refreshing change from the same old No-Limit Hold'em all the time. So, yes, I do think the popularity of mixed games is growing at the moment, and I think it's only going to continue to grow in the future.

Melvin, The Festival: At the moment, GGpoker is the main player in the online poker industry. They are offering mainly Hold'em games, which gives a big reflection on the global poker scene of the games that are being played. Don't you agree with that? That it's bad for mixed games in general?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: I don't want to take a dump all over No Limit Hold'em. It's a great game! It's the reason that poker is as big as it is. I do enjoy playing it from time to time. It’s also the easiest to televise, it's most relatable. To so many people who don't know anything about poker, the two are interchangeable. Hold'em is poker, and then they don't realize there's anything else. As the saying goes, it takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.

When you broadcast it on TV, also within five minutes you know what's going on. You know who's winning, you know who's losing. Mixed games are a little bit more complicated. Maybe it takes 10 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master 😊. That’s “per game,” so yeah, it'll take you a couple of hours until you get exposed to all of the games. So yeah, it takes a little bit more effort, but like anything in life the more effort you put into something, when you do eventually understand everything, it becomes that much more worthwhile to you.

To greatly simplify things, there are three basic categories of games: flop, draw, and stud. The individual variants of poker are just extrapolations within each of these three game categories. At the end of the day, if you know how those three categories of poker games work and you can master that, you're already 80% of the way there to understanding mixed games on the whole.

Maybe it takes 10 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.

Robbie Strazynski

Melvin, The Festival: When I'm playing, or witnessing, a live poker tournament of Open Face Chinese for example, I have the impression it's the same vibe as when you, for example, sit with your friends in a bar on a Friday night, playing dozens of card games, with such a positive atmosphere all around.

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: That’s 100% true! I was just aboard the WPT Voyage. I knew that I wanted to play mixed games while I was there. And I also knew, chances are, if I don't work to put a game together, it's probably not going to happen. So I came prepared, and I brought my own plaques: 25 plaques with 25 different games. And as it turned out, I had two or three other people who were into it. I said, “guys, the three, four, five of us, we'll get it started, and you'll see, we'll attract a crowd.” I didn’t try to get a mixed game together in order to “take money off the fish.” That wasn't the goal, but it was more, “hey, let's teach these people new games.”

And you know what happened? Every single time anyone passed by the table, they're like, “what's that? What are those plaques? What are you doing?” And it was all about the teaching. And we had most of the eight players at the table with someone sitting behind them, having the games/rules explained to them. When someone said they had a question, we encouraged them to say it out loud so that everyone at the table could hear it.

We want to teach. The dealers wanted to learn. The players want to learn and you know, it's great. And I think, again, it's just a matter of having patience because someone who's trying to make a living of poker, sure, play No Limit Hold'em, go to PLO, and try to make it there, study your charts, and that's fine.

Mixed games are very social by nature, and I think that's one of the best things about them. I've played as high as $80/160, and I've even sat at tables where they’re playing for multiple times those stakes. Obviously, they're not teaching –– they already know the games –– but they're still talking, they're still laughing, and they're betting on sports at the same time. And that could be even the guy who's losing two racks, they're still happy and smiling. So I think it's a much more positive atmosphere overall.

Melvin, The Festival: I've got a personal question for you as you mentioned Omaha now. Do you consider Omaha as a mixed game or not?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: I feel like it's a mixed game with an asterisk. To me, if you're sitting at a mixed game table, you're basically playing fixed-limit games. You know, you could have a “big bet mix”, which I've seen happen. You have a Big O, PLO, PLO8, 2-7 single draw mix, for example. But primarily when you say “mixed games” to me, and I believe most people understand that it means fixed limit. When you're putting on a mixed game tournament series people understand that it's not no-limit. That's what makes things different; at the same time many people don’t feel that’s very sexy or exciting.

In my opinion, playing all the other poker variants fixed limit is still very exciting because there are so many elements to it; so many things to keep track of, of the open cards in stud games, of the draws, how many people, how many draws are being made.

Melvin, The Festival: Which player in the world are you most impressed by? If you think of one, who would that be and why?

Robbie Strazynski, Cardplayer Lifestyle: It's a slightly biased answer, but I have to say Eli Elezra, and I'll explain why as the context is very important. I just have spent the most time with him, watching him play, both on screen and literally in person, right behind him while he plays. So I just have the most exposure to his game over any other professional player who I'm sure are all tremendous mixed games players.

Take for example Phil Ivey, or Daniel Negreanu, there is nothing bad to say about them. But I have the most personal exposure to Eli's game. And what I love about his game is that his 'D game' is better than so many people's 'A+ game'. But what does that mean exactly? He could be sitting and talking to me and ordering something from the menu and talking to the guy next to him on his left, on the phone with his wife, texting somebody, talking to the dealer, and he'll still make the correct play when the action comes to him. That's when someone's D game is good!

Like his mind could be in many different places and he could tell you after the hand, the player on his left had these open cards, the player on the right has this and that like he doesn't miss a beat. He'll remember hands that he won, and hands that he lost, and to me that is the definition of a tremendous mixed game player. Win or lose, but you have control, full 100% control over everything that's going on, and you can still concentrate on everything else at the same time. That's the most impressive thing to me about a mixed game player. And he's won all his bracelets in mixed games too!

When he was on high stakes poker, it was no limit Hold'em. When he won his WPT title it was no limit Hold'em. His bracelets are all non-Hold'em games, that's all five of them. But you know when you get into the Poker Hall of Fame it's not just about knowing how to win, it's standing the test of time. And you know, he's 62 years old and he still plays six days a week, $300/600, $400/800. He doesn't need to, but he loves the game. He's been doing this for 35 years. That's standing the test of time. And obviously, he's still in the black, he's still positive, still winning. How do you get better than that?