Taylor Caby is a professional poker playing sensation, but, unlike many others, the general public has never seen Mike Sexton gesticulate wildly over his 'folds of the century' or heard Vince Van Patten give him a nickname. The reason for this is that Mr. Caby isn't a television guy. In fact, he doesn't really appear to be that much of a tournament guy either. He is an online cash game player, and in that arena he is among the best in the world. Generally, when he's not busy forming a business empire, he can be found at the 25-50 and 50-100 limits at Ultimate Bet where he battles some of the most respected players in the world using the nickname 'Green Plastic.' At Full Tilt, he goes by 'Tay.' At only 23, he is already successful far beyond the dreams of the average adult. An online pro like Taylor Caby is a product of our age, and this young man is thriving at the present time.
Bernard Chapin (PokerNews): Taylor, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. The first thing I want to ask you is about your story. Most readers are going to find it very interesting because your rise is pretty astounding. Basically, as I recall, you we're just a regular Joe who threw in $35.00 online with a credit card. A few years later you woke up to find himself as a character in a rap video. Can you give readers a quick synopsis of your biography?
Taylor Caby: Besides, "how much money have you made," this is the most common thing people ask. I enjoy talking about it because I am proof that with talent and hard work you can really make something from nothing. I had probably $4,000 to my name after my freshman year of college. I have always been extremely goal oriented, and I remember telling my mom after freshman year I wanted to have $20,000 when I graduated. I just thought it would be awesome to graduate school with that "much" money and I would be able to then afford my own place (to rent) and be independent and everything. My whole life, I always worked for everything I had.
My family is upper middle class, but I had jobs during the summer since I was in junior high. My point is that I truly have earned every penny I ever made, and that's not something everyone can say. I first learned about poker from my family who play at Christmas time. They never let me play until high school, however. I should also thank my parents because when my family decided to let me play, my parents bought me two poker books so I would have something to help me out. After I read those (finished both of them on Christmas Day) I went to the library the next day and checked out maybe 5 or 6 poker books and read them in a few weeks. In high school, my friends and I saw Rounders and wanted to play poker. I basically was the catalyst for getting the games going; we usually played at my house on my dad's poker table (pretty nice table actually). We played probably twice a week for 2 years in high school, and I got lots of experience that way.
I used to caddie at Medinah Country Club and I would play there before a "loop" as well. Towards the end of high school I went there a couple times just to play cards too. I deposited $35 bucks online at UB in July of '03, after having lost maybe $50 at PokerRoom.com. I never redeposited again (a few times I had to reinvest profits, but never any of my own $), and to this day play mostly at UB. I basically just slowly built up my bankroll. It took me about 1.5 years to go from $5 buy-in games to $10,000 or even $20,000 buy-in games (with an adequate bankroll).
BC: A lot of people know you as Green Plastic, which is your screen name at Ultimate Bet. From where did the name originate? Wasn't it a line from a Radiohead song? Are you ever amazed at just how much a quickly determined screen name became a major part of your identity?
TC: In college, I really got into Radiohead. The song "Fake Plastic Trees" is one of my all time favorites, and Radiohead's unofficial (now its semi-official) fan website was GreenPlastic.com. I used to go there all the time to check out stuff about the band. What's kind of interesting was that my first and second choices for my name were also Radiohead songs, "No Surprises" and "Let Down," which both were taken. I emailed UB customer support to have them add an account for me (I wasn't sure if it was allowed) and gave them those three choices. The guy emailed me back and said Green Plastic was mine, and that he loved Radiohead too. In my opinion, all of these names would have been suitable, but I do find it funny how it just so happened that Green Plastic was available and will forever be my poker identity. Some of my friends call me GP now because they know it bugs me to be known as just some kid who plays online poker.
BC: This brings me to another point. Whenever I inform the average citizen that I vastly prefer playing poker online to playing in a casino they look at me as if I had just produced a very strange looking cigarette and taken a lengthy drag. Given their response, how do you describe the appeal of the online world to outsiders? When describing its allure, I get bogged down sometimes. Do you prefer virtual poker to the kind found in a brick and mortar establishment?
TC: The reason I love playing online is that it is convenient. If I have an hour to spare during the day, I can log on and get a few hundred hands in. It's nice to be able to interact with people when you are at the casinos, but this doesn't make up for the fact that you can play more tables at a time online and it is more convenient. Frankly, I get bored when I'm playing live unless it is with a lot of my friends or at a fun table.
BC: Would you say that poker is gambling? And, if you think so, why then is it a unique form of gambling? What are its advantages over, say, roulette?
TC: Poker is gambling because there is some element of chance. However, it is a skill based game with luck involved as opposed to a game based entirely on luck. For the skilled player, playing poker is similar to how the card counter can win money at blackjack. If you are counting cards at blackjack (which is against the rules and will get you thrown out of the casino because you CAN win) you cannot win every time but on average you will win. This is how it is for me in poker. I know I'm not going to win all of the time, but, over numerous sessions, my skill will prevail over most players so I know I will eventually turn a profit. Other casino games such as roulette, craps, and slot machines offer no way for players to win in the long run.
Join us tomorrow for part two as Taylor talks about his relationship with longtime rival Prahlad Friedman, and what a day in the life of a guy who plays poker for a living is like.