We caught up with Josh "LitleBastrd" Tieman recently to talk to him about his recent World Series of Poker bracelet win, his pot-limit Omaha game, and more.
First of all, congratulations on your winning a World Series of Poker bracelet in the $5k six-max no-limit hold'em event. What's been going on with poker and what's new in your life?
Thanks for the congrats. Ever since the bracelet win, I think I've been playing less poker. It's a little tough to keep motivated playing for smaller amounts after a big win like that. I did play the first couple weeks after I got back home, as I didn't play online at all during the WSOP and hardly any Omaha, so had to get my fix of some heads-up PLO after having to play so tight in a lot of nine-handed WSOP events. But I've been taking it easy and enjoying what's left of summer and planning a trip to Europe that's long overdue.
You have been regarded as the best HU PLO player in the world at the $5/$10 - $25/$50 limits with a win rate of 16/bb, which is the best anyone has seen. You still had a good no-limit hold'em win rate before the PLO. What made you switch from NLH to PLO and what has been the key ingredient in your success?
I played a lot of nine-handed NLH early in my poker career and eventually found my way to heads up. I think heads up play in general is just much more fun and you really get to dissect your opponent and take advantage of anything they do wrong. That's much tougher to do in six- or nine-handed poker as it's tougher to get reads, and tougher to exploit those reads as you'll often be playing against a different opponent in every hand. So I found myself playing a lot of heads-up NLH and eventually the games kind of died off a bit.
It was very tough to get a heads-up game and the players that would be willing to play were often very good and tough to take money from, so I found myself a little bored waiting for action and eventually just decided to try out some PLO. I played some Omaha eight or better so I had a little bit of a foundation and of course PLO has a ton of similarities to NLH so I just started playing PLO at the $1/$2 level and to be honest never really felt outmatched at that level as I was so used to a heads-up dynamic from NLH and I found people at that level were often predictable.
It definitely took a lot of practice and hands to get the right feel for everything in Omaha, but I think the game just fit my style very well in general and in addition, compared to NLH where I was just so used to making the same plays over and over, PLO was all new to me and really got my brain working, thinking about what to do in different spots and how to exploit people the best. I just really enjoyed playing poker again and I think that's how the best players are made - ones that really love what they do and for a period want to think about nothing other than poker. This just makes you try different ideas and always be thinking about different situations and how to play them the best. I went through that for a few months where I was always thinking about the game and it really helps your understanding of it
Very insightful. You are now one of the pros on PokerNews Strategy with nanonoko and urnotindanger2. What made you decide to join PokerNews Strategy over the other training sites?
I think it was just a chance to be on the ground floor of a new training site and learn more about the business world. I really liked the aim of the PokerNews creators of going after the top players at their levels to try to put out the best strategy content possible. While average instructors or coaches can be useful, a lot of breakeven or small winners still make a lot of mistakes and pass those on in advice. I think PokerNews does a good job of making sure they get quality over quantity.
Talk to us about this trip to Europe? Who are you going with and what countries do you plan on visiting? Which country are you looking most forward to seeing?
I'm going for around 16 days with a couple of friends and plan on going to Berlin, Munich, and Rome. I'm looking forward to Germany as that's my heritage and studied some of the language and culture in school. I hope I can remember some of the language though as that's getting to be a long time ago now, I'll probably make an idiot of myself because I have to at least try. I've heard so many good things about Rome though, that I'm not really sure which will be better but I'm excited to see all three cities. I'm tempted to swing by London as the WSOP Europe is, I think the week before my trip is planned, but I already got my plane ticket so I guess it'll be a nonpoker- related trip.
What about the PokerNews Strategy trip? Which are you more excited about? Europe or the $10 million mansion beach trip in Miami with the PokerNews Strategy pros and Jungleman12?
[Laughs] That trip will definitely be a great time, too. I guess I'm just taking them one at a time and still have a lot to book for Europe. It'll be great to see some of the PokerNews guys that I met in Vegas again, and some new ones too. I just hope I don't flip a switch or something to turn off Jungleman's computer while he's six-tabling durrrr and cost him the Challenge.
After your recent successes, do you think you'll be traveling and playing more live events such as WPTs and EPTs, or just invest it and keep crushing online?
I think I'll be more likely just to stick with online. I tried to travel the circuit and play a bunch of WSOP and WPT tournaments back in 2005 - 2006, but never hit the big score. It can be very frustrating to travel all the way to different cities and get bad beat or unlucky in the big buy in tournament and kind of ruin the whole trip. I'm also a cash-game player at heart and don't find the tournament lifestyle as much fun. I think one month a year at the WSOP where a lot of big events are in one spot is enough for me.
If you had to guess who would win the durrrr/jungleman challenge. Who do you choose and why?
I've been a bit out of the loop in the HU NLH scene so I'm not sure my opinion is any more qualified than anyone else, but if you made me choose I'd probably go with Jungleman. He seems like he's emerged from the mid-stakes/high-stakes pack over the last couple years as the top HU NLH player, winning a lot of money off of very good players at a good win rate. It's tough to count Durrrr out as he's been at the top so long, but I'm not sure if he's played as much NLH lately as he once did, and Jungleman is probably at the top of his game right now and has been beating up on some other really good players
What is the craziest prop bet you have done in the past year?
I'm not too big into the crazy prop bets. I don't hang out with too many poker players, and most of my "normal" friends aren't too crazy on betting. They usually accuse me of trying to hustle them when I'd just want to bet for fun. I did put down 17 tacos to beat out a friend in an eating challenge that I'm quite proud of. I think I won about $7 on that one. It probably wasn't worth it considering how I felt afterwards and how much I spent on the tacos themselves.
Who is your celebrity crush and why?
Hmmm, don't have much of a celebrity crush. I guess I'll have to go with Elisha Cuthbert!
Rate these teams in the order of interest. All Chicago teams naturally, since you’re from there. Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs
I'm a bit of a fairweather fan, definitely like all the teams from Chicago but generally get more excited about whatever team's on top. So probably have to go Blackhawks, Bears, Bulls, Cubs. Even though the Bears will probably be bad this year they can't be worse than the Cubs.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
For superpower I'd probably say teleportation would be the coolest. You'd have freedom to travel anywhere instantly but there would probably be more useful ones out there like mind control or the ability to heal. As long as I didn't get Meg's superpower from Family Guy I'd probably be happy.
If you weren't a poker player what would your profession be?
Not too sure. I started winning at poker the last semester before I graduated from college. I guess at the time I wanted to get into organizational/production management, consulting, or entrepreneurship. I guess I liked business and wanted to be in charge of trying to make a company better or more efficient. I'd still like to get into business management or entrepreneurship, but I feel like it's tough to break into a good industry without risking a lot of money. I think a lot of people get ideas or get their start by working within a company and I guess I don't have that unless I decide to get a 9-5. My ultimate goal would be to invent something awesome and then market/sell that and make a bunch of money while running the company, but obviously that is easier said than done.