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Higher Education Among the High Rollers: Dan Shak on Learning at the Tables

Dan Shak
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  • "When you're playing with these guys, you're studying," says Dan Shak of the super high rollers.

  • VIDEO: Dan Shak discusses how high rollers provide both a challenge and a chance to learn.

The 2017 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure schedule features multiple "high roller" and "super high roller" events, kicked off with the $100,000 Super High Roller won last night by Cary Katz following a huge final table comeback.

Meanwhile the $50,000 High Roller moves into its final day today, there are still two more $25,000 buy-in events coming later in the week, and Stefan Schillhabel also won an added $25,000 REG Charity event a couple of days ago.

Dan Shak is a frequent participant in such big buy-in events, and over the course of his career has won multiple high rollers and super high rollers in Melbourne, London, Las Vegas, and most recently at the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe in Rozvadov, Czech Republic where won a €25,000 Super High Roller side event.

We often hear the advice to practice smart "game selection," meaning finding tables containing beatable opponents in cash games, or choosing tournaments that aren't packed with top talent as is often the case in these small field, high buy-in events.

During the $100K SHR, PokerNews spoke with Shak about the toughness of the high roller fields and how, in truth, playing in them doesn't necessarily qualify as practicing smart game selection.

"I final-tabled this three years in a row — '12, '13, '14 — it is nowhere near the same tournament that it was then," explains Shak.

"The players I would say are three times as good as they were then.... I like a challenge, so I'm here for the challenge. But it's probably not a smart tournament for me to play in... the players are so much better than they were three or four years ago."

However, Shak made the interesting point that not only do such events appeal to his desire to compete, but facing such skilled opponents also can offer opportunities to learn and improve — that for him, the high rollers can serve as a place of "higher education," too.

"I'm willing to study. I put the time in. And to be honest... when you're playing with these guys, you're studying."

It's true — while few are bankrolled to play events like these, any poker player "taking a shot" in tougher games can benefit greatly from doing so, if they are willing to make the effort to pay attention and learn from what skilled opponents are doing at the tables.

Take a look and listen to what else Shak has to say about what such events offer him, as well as an added observation about the effect the Bitcoin "boom" is having on big buy-in tournaments:

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