Pulling Back the Curtain: Assassinato


Alex AssassinatoFitzgerald (pictured) has carved out a name for himself on multiple levels in the online poker world. He’s an instructor with PocketFives Trainingand coached two recent Triple Crownwinners, bertulsonsand rakis6; latter recorded the second largest Triple Crown ever. Oh yeah, last month, Fitzgerald drove to a chop of a PokerStars WCOOP Second Chance tournament and booked a six-figure payday.

The poker coach and accomplished pro sat down with PocketFives to talk about his recent claims to greatness. It’s hard to believe he has been a member of our community since 2006.

PocketFives: Tell us about your PokerStars WCOOP Second Chance winfollowing a chop. That has to feel good, especially given how long your career has spanned. Walk us through how that tournament went.

Alex Fitzgerald: I was making an effort to play a little more solidly through the middle stages than I normally do. I felt there were a number of spots more appealing than the flashy 3bet bluffs and whatnot.

At one point in the tournament, I made a really light 4bet call with A-10, which in retrospect was a horrible play. I rivered a 10 versus my opponent’s A-K and from that point on, I promised myself I’d take that gift and do something with it. I never gave a pot up after that. I felt good about when I decided to apply pressure and when I laid off.

The tournament ended up finishing early in the morning and I chopped it because I had Day 2 of the WCOOP Main Event to play in six hours. I was so delirious that I was standing the whole final table to keep myself awake.

PocketFives: You recently had multiple students win PocketFives Triple Crowns. Can you tell us who they were and how your coaching may have helped?

Alex Fitzgerald: bertulsons (pictured) and rakis6 both shipped Triple Crowns the other week. It was really satisfying to see. The MTT approach we worked on really messes with the regs, but it’s comforting to actually see the results. You don’t always get such immediate confirmation from poker tournaments like we did.

It was a really ridiculous run. I shipped the WCOOP $1K, took second in the Big $109, and did well in some other tournaments for a $140,000 to $150,000 week. rakis6 won $200,000+ with three wins in a week, one being a WCOOP, and attained the second largest Triple Crown ever. bertulsons is always shipping tournaments and has deserved a Triple Crown for a while. He has grown so much as a professional since I met him.

They were both very solid players when I met them, but had a healthy interest to learn more. I have more bizarre ideas when it comes to poker, but through mathematical analysis, lessons attained through experience, and consulting with some of the top MTTers in the game, I have come to a method that I believe ruins 99 out of 100 players in an MTT.

They always showed up for lessons with tons of hands and analysis of their own to sort through. They always really took what I said to heart and went back at it the next day to get better. Now you can see it plainly: hard work and study really do pay off.

PocketFives: How did you get into coaching? What makes a good poker coach?

Alex Fitzgerald: When I was 20 and going out for the European Poker Tour full-time, I would do lessons and videos for PokerPwnage to pay my bills. I enjoyed being paid to review my work and mental process. It made the tour a lot less stressful. It was nice to have side income paying my rent and plane tickets.

Eventually, I got lost down the rabbit hole. Every time I watched a hand history, it was a challenge and I wanted to see more. Teaching forced me to break down every play to its core elements and prove that every one of them, without a shadow of a doubt, was true.

A real coach separates himself because of his responsibility to the player. He doesn’t watch the clock and bail on you the second it has been an hour. If a hand needs to be discussed or a concept needs to be fleshed out, it’s his responsibility to take an extra 10 minutes. A good coach has lesson plans, PowerPoints, personal notes, and specific hand histories prepared to illustrate his points.

More than anything, a good coach must be open. Nothing is more frustrating and useless to a paying student than a coach who says, “Do this here because I said so.” What is the logic behind the play you are suggesting? Does your student fully understand that logic? Has your student received instructions on how to apply that concept before their next lesson? You need to take your student’s potential development personally.

A friend and I have created another way to learn. For little more than the price of one individual lesson, my first public lecture will cover pretty much everything I believe a good MTTer needs to know to become an all-star. I have gone through all of my videos, lessons, and personal notes. I’m positive our presentation will be as comprehensive as it is profitable to the average player: [nofollow=”http://www.jaxtrawpoker.com/assassinato”]Jaxtrawpoker.com/assassinato[/nofollow].

PocketFives: Talk about the PokerStars takeover of Full Tilt. What were your first thoughts when you heard about a deal? What are you expecting from the new Full Tilt?

Alex Fitzgerald: I was elated to find out the six-figures I had in my Full Tilt account might not be lost forever. That enthusiasm has somewhat dampened upon learning that the extremely speedy, efficient, and fair people at the U.S. Department of Justice would be handling paying my money back.

For personal reasons, I hope Full Tilt remains how it was: a site designed to kill the average MTTer. The top-heavy prize pools, slow structures, and multi-entry tournaments were fantastic for experienced MTTers. Knowing how incredibly smart the people behind PokerStars are, I see no way this is going to continue. It’s their responsibility to protect the average player and they know that. I hope some semblance of the multi-entry tournaments and structures stick around and Full Tilt becomes an alternative for the more experienced player.

PocketFives: We’ve heard a rumor about Richard Ashby boxing Shaun Deeb(pictured). Who’s your horse? What do you think of poker players stepping into the boxing ring?

Alex Fitzgerald: I don’t know how big Ashby is. If Deeb could harness some of the anger he seemed to have, he could have a real shot. I’m all for poker players stepping into the ring. I get sick of the guys who act like jackasses behind their computers or near casino security. This puts a cap on all of it. Put the gloves on and fight me or shut the fuck up.

PocketFives: Where does Assassinatocome from? How did you get that name originally? Would you pick anything different if you could do it all over again?

Alex Fitzgerald: My father lives in Brazil and I was watching TV there and heard the word. When I was making my first poker accounts, I wanted to have a name I could actually remember. I looked up the word “murder” in other languages and just liked how Assassinato sounded. I wouldn’t change it if I had to do it again. It’s easier to remember than most poker names. It has helped me commercially and financially.

PocketFives: What are some of your hobbies away from poker?

Alex Fitzgerald: I usually run a lot with my dog at a local park. I need it to not feel so anxious. I dig weird foreign movies. I’m addicted to good television. I love “Boardwalk Empire,” “Game of Thrones,” “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” and all of the commercial stuff. My fiancée and I watch all of the new shows right when they come out and watch a lot of classics and weird ones people don’t really know about. I love anime and documentaries too.

I listen to a ton of hip-hop and metal. I read all the time. I love historical fiction, nonfiction, and philosophy. I like to take lots of little trips to the beach, mountains, and rainforest around here and lay around with no internet for a few days. I love traveling and taking pictures. I like chilling at cafes and writing on the laptop. I write every day as a habit. People can check out more of my rants and musings at [nofollow=”http://www.pokerheadrush.com”]PokerHeadRush.com[/nofollow].

You can e-mail Fitzgerald at [email]assassinatocoaching@gmail.com[/email].