We sat down with Ben "Bttech86" Tollerene to discuss how poker has been treating him, bankroll management, and who his celebrity crush is.
Ben, we all know you are a high-stakes cash-game player and have been a dominant force this year. Catch us up on what has been going on in your life and poker.
Life has been extremely busy lately. I'm trying to close on a house this week and it's taking up a lot of my time! I've also been working on a bunch of small things such as a new phone, car, health insurance, and one of my 30-inch monitors broke, etc. Poker wise though everything has been great! I've been playing mostly PLO the last few months and I have been running very well.
Tell us how you got started in poker and how you became so successful. What also made you transition from no-limit hold'em to pot-limit Omaha?
Well, I wouldn't say I've transitioned. I still love no-limit. I am admittedly pretty bored with NL 6-max, though. I still sit at empty NLHU tables and look for HU HA action from time to time. I got started in some home games with friends. The usual $20 games or so. I bought a few books back then but wasn't improving all that much. I remember I deposited $50 online and lost it 11 times. Then I found TwoPlusTwo in December of 2006. I read up every piece of information I could find on that site. Read some good advice on bankroll management, and then the next time I put $500 in and took a crack at 50NL with Full Tilt's matching $500 bonus and I never looked back. I was playing NL200 a few months later.
Two key factors that people seem to have problems with or reasons why they don’t become successful in poker is (A) bankroll management and (B) tilt. Can you give the readers your best advice on these two things?
Bankroll management is tricky because it's going to apply a little differently based on your personal circumstances. But we'll use the example that you are playing on your own poker bankroll and if it busts you are homeless. In that situation I recommend following the 50-10 rule. It's pretty simple, you have 50 buy-ins for the highest stakes you play, and if you lose 10 of those buy-ins, you immediately drop down to stakes in which you again have 50 buy-ins for. So an example would be having $50,000 for $5/$10, you lose $10,000, now you have $40,000, which is about 66 buy-ins for $3/$6. You need to grind back to $50,000 at $3/$6 and try again.
Tilt control is difficult to give advice on. What I tell my students is that it's completely unacceptable to tilt; you're a professional. You have to grow up and be realistic about the game you're playing. It's never that easy though, so I think realistically the best thing you can do is learn to honestly evaluate your play, and quit immediately when you're tilting.
You said you’re buying a house, since you have a good amount of poker earnings are you an investor, spender, or businessman?
Working on that right now. They are difficult decisions to make because I don't know enough about what I'm doing and I have a fear of not making the absolute best decision possible (probably helps in poker!). I am a combination of investor and business man though. I'm not much of a spender. I like to look for unique opportunities that I feel strongly about. For example, I have an old friend who is recently out of med school and doing his time — I think it's called residency. Someday he's going to start his own practice, and I know enough about him personally and his drive to succeed, that I would love to have a chance to invest in his practice. Those are the sort of things I'm looking for.
If you aren't crushing the high-stakes cash games what would Mr. Bttech86 be doing?
Definitely working out and running. I spend a lot of time in the gym. I need to find some new hobbies, though. My friends and family make fun of me because all I do during the day is work out and play poker.
Three movies that you recommend from this past year or so and why?
Well, this is the ultimate cliché as a poker player but you have to go see Inception. I saw it once, came home and read theories and reviews for hours. There were a lot of intricacies that I didn't pick up on. I love movies that make me think. I haven't been impressed by any other movies that I can remember so let's go with some classics. If anyone hasn't seen Donnie Darko that might be my all time favorite so I'll throw that in there. Same reasoning, it really makes you think. For the classic, let's go with Old School. Still funny 50 watches later.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Incubus - Pardon Me. They've been my favorite band for six or seven years. Easy to go with them, not easy to pick a single track.
Who is your celebrity dream crush and why?
Haha, Rachel McAdams. Don't know exactly why, but have had the biggest crush on her since she came on. It has something to do with her face and eyes. The honorable mention goes to Kate from Lost.
If you could have any super power, which one and why?
Hmm, telepathy! I'd be a live superuser.
Last, if you weren't a poker player, what would your profession be?
I imagine I'd be analyzing securities for an investment bank.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Best of luck with poker and your future investments!
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