"I've always wanted to run a business, and I've always hoped it would be a business that helps people."
Between sessions at the $50-100 NL games on ub.com (a game with a standard buy in of $10,000), these are the thoughts going through the mind of 22-year-old Taylor Caby, a senior at the University of Illinois, who has, in the past year, climbed the ladder into an elite class of poker players.
I met Taylor in Aruba in September 2004, when he was placed across the table from me on the first day. I didn't realize who he was at first, but he was discussing his poker career with Phil Gordon, and I was fascinated by what I heard: he had started with a $35 deposit on UltimateBet, and he had worked his bankroll up to more than $50k. I asked him what his name was on UB, and when he told me it was Green Plastic, I recognized him as a player that had been causing quite a stir lately at the $5-10 NL tables, seemingly having a lot of success.
He had started out playing small heads up sit-n-go tournaments on UB around the end of his freshman year of college. He would win, lose, win, lose, going back and forth, and he gradually worked his way up to somewhat larger stakes.
About 5 months after he deposited, he had made enough money where he could afford to play a $50 sit-n-go, and in his first try, he took first place, which was $250. It was the first win that really meant something to him, as it was a huge amount of money to him at the time. Not long after, he took 2nd in a $100 MTT for about $3,500, almost all of which he withdrew.
He had gotten to the point where he was a serious medium stakes player, keeping tabs on his bankroll and always trying to learn from situations that occurred at the tables on a daily basis. He was trying to stick to a rule of keeping at least 20-25 max buy ins for an NL cash game in his account, which is a rule he follows to this day. In moving up, he wanted to have both enough money to follow this rule at the next level and the belief that his game was ready for the move. "The biggest key for me," he told me, "was being confident that I was the best player at the level I was playing before I moved up."
Since Aruba, he has moved up to some of the biggest games on the net, regularly playing against top professionals and making a LOT of money. Taylor has established himself as a world class player, continually proving himself by regularly beating one of the toughest games you can find.
So what is the distinction? How are some players "good" and others "world class?" Taylor thinks that the primary factor is having very strong emotional control. "In poker, swings are going to happen, they're inevitable," he explained. "The typical winning player, when running bad or playing badly, doesn't know how to make the adjustments. The problem is they're losing too much when they're running poorly.
"The world class player realizes they're losing today and that they're not playing well, and they decide to get out of the game or they find a better game. There are other things too, but it's [their response to situations] where the going gets tough that separates the world class players from everyone else."
With the release of cardrunners.com, Taylor has actualized his goal of running a business at a very early age, and his business will help people—it could help some of them win lots of money at the poker tables. With an array of top players giving lessons, the level of insight will be invaluable to any aspiring poker player.
Taylor is teaching cash game strategy and short-handed play, while jsup and loewa79 teach tournament strategy for both sit-n-go's and multis. Muddywater, who has been very successful in the $2-4 and $5-10 NL games, is teaching about the games that many of their clients will be trying to beat, sticking to a medium stakes NL player's perspective.
In addition to focusing on his new business, Taylor hopes to play a number of major tournaments in the next year. He would like to make the final table of a WPT event, but mainly he wants to be sure to continue to improve as a player. "I feel that in the last 6 months, I'm a hell of a lot better player," he told me. "I have less leaks in my game, and I just want to fix more leaks."
"My style of play is loose aggressive," he said, when asked what it is about his game that enables him to win as much as he does. "I'm a loose player, but it's not just a typical loose-aggressive style in my opinion. I'm loose when in position, but I'm really not that loose out of position. One of my advantages over the typical loose-aggressive player that plays in these bigger games is that I pick my spots well. I like to put the pressure on people when I have position. It's really hard to play against aggressive players out of position. I'm just as aggressive as the other players, but I tend to stay away from tricky situations out of position."
Taylor doesn't avoid any specific opponents online, but he doesn't particularly like playing against players who buy in for the minimum, since he knows they will pretty much be all in or fold, taking away much of the skill involved in the game. He still feels he has an edge though, and he's willing to play against anyone. "That being said," he told me, "there are times I notice a game is better than others, and if I don't really feel like playing or I'm not in the best state of mind emotionally, I stay out of the game."
When I asked specifically about how he has had so much success in short-handed games, he had a long answer to add on to what he already mentioned in regards to his style of play: "I'm a deep thinker. I think on many different levels of the game. I think about what they have, I think about what they think I have. I think about what they think I think they have. There are times I sit down and just decide I'm gonna play tight this session. There are other times when I decide I'm just gonna run over the table, and I'll raise pot fives times in a row. There's really no rhyme or reason to it; I do it because I don't want people to know how I play all the time, and it's tough for people to play against someone like that.
"Also, I can't remember one time I've been on tilt in the past few months. Going on tilt in a short-handed cash game is a disaster. Everyone else tilts [sometimes], and that's a huge long run advantage for me."
The opponent he finds the toughest is Prahlad Friedman, A.K.A mahatma/spirit rock/prefontaine/devastator, because he has respect for his game and finds that it's always tough to play against someone who constantly puts you to the test.
To the players trying to get to a higher level, Taylor suggests that they should always have improving their game as the first thing at the front of their mind when playing. "You sit down wanting to win, but you should also be wanting to learn," he explained. "You should remember players' tendencies, so the next time you play, you will have more information. You should remember trouble situations you got into, like maybe you got burned playing AQ out of position to a raise and a reraise. You should try to avoid these situations in the future. Try to remember a lot about situations."
Taylor is also a big proponent of the heads up sit-n-go's, for players who want to learn about short-handed play. He believes that it really makes you think about people's tendencies, and that learning to beat people 1 on 1 translates into winning at ring games and tournaments.
Finally, he stresses the importance of playing within your bankroll. "That way, if you have a bad session, you can relax, and go out and have fun. It shouldn't be that big of a deal," he said.
Taylor would love to hear from anyone looking to learn how to become a top player, and you can reach him by email at email@example.com or by posting on our forums. Cardrunners.com looks to be a great poker resource, and you can expect to see Taylor's success continue, both in the poker world and in his business ventures.