george danzer

IamA professional poker player. After nine years of grinding i finally won a couple of WSOP bracelets. George Danzer here, AMA!

Born in Brasil, grew up in Portugal and Germany. Now living in Salzburg Austria. Learned how to play texas hold’em in 1999. Played my first WSOP in 2005. I am a member of the Team Pokerstars Pro Team. I won two WCOOP bracelets, four SCOOP watches and three WSOP bracelets. I have won and lost six figures in one day on multiple occasions. I like games, alternative music, beer and wine.

I am happy to answer all questions. Especially about gambling, high stakes poker and game theory.

Proof: @trickyscarfy on twitter and @georgedanzerpoker on facebook.

How do you deal with the days you lose six figures?

Not too good. I usually cry a little and then play league of legends. A glass of good wine helps.

I’m about to sit down at a table in Vegas and play 1/2 nl. Any tips for me?

Just be yourself. I see too many players sit down, put a hoody and sunshades on pretending to be pros on a mission at the small stakes cashgame tables. The most important part is to enjoy the game. If you feel comfortable you are far more likely to win.

Do you feel TV coverage that only shows bad beats and bluffs give the average person an unrealistic view of the game?

I think the job of poker on tv should not be to give a realistic view. It should entertain and educate. And i agree, that they are not doing the best job but it is getting better.

How do you suggest someone should study to become an average player?

Read some books, watch some online videos. Then ask questions to other players and try to analyze the game.

Never tell a bad beat story.

Which books would you recommend?

Theory of Poker by Sklansky, Syper System by Brunson and Applications of NLHE by Janda.

Why never tell a bad beat story?

Because you should be telling a story of a interesting situation asking what the best line is. And not waste time on the bad beat.

Why is Texas Hold-em so popular compared to all the hundreds of other versions of poker?

The game is very simple and has a good combination of skill/luck and action. The all-in situations add to the excitement i think.

I like the mixed games a lot and rather play 2-7 all day.

Most remarkable hand in your career?

I first saw you playing at the 2006 WSOP feature table with your buddy Dimitri Nobles. Have you ever seen him again afterwards?

Yes i met him a couple of years later in the hallway at the Rio. We had small talk and he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.

What kind of advice would you give someone who plays a bit safe when playing Hold’em?

There is a easy way to learn to bluff. Every two times you bet or raise on the river with a hand you think is the best hand you HAVE to bet or raise once where you think you have the worst. So 2/3 value and 1/3 bluffs.

Game theory is your friend. Do not see a bluff as stealing chips. It is a useful tool in a fun game.

What is your tell? What are the top four most common tells?

I would not tell you my tell even if i knew …

  1. Drink during hand = nuts.
  2. Talk during hand = nuts.
  3. Look down after bet = bluff.
  4. Stare at you after bet = bluff.

What was the reason for moving to Salzburg? Why not Vienna like most other German pros?

I really like the mountains. I go skiing as often as i can in the winter. Just started to paraglide and in the summer i often go hiking. Salzburg is the perfect starting point for all of those activities.

What’s the total amount of prize money that you have won?

Maybe around 2.5 million.

Do you get to pocket all that or does it go back to the people who back you?

A lot was split up with people that had action. A lot went into expenses such as buy-ins and travel.

Any tips for mastering the bluff?

Just imagine you have a really good hand. Figure out what you would do with that hand. Then do it with the bad hand. But be careful to plan the bluff one or two streets ahead. That makes it easier. So on the turn you prepare to bluff always when the flush hits. Then on the river you just do it with no hesitation.

What is your take on Phil Hellmuth and his ridiculous rants? Have you ever been on the receiving end?

Yes i have. Once in a big tournaments he f-bombed me consecutive times. When he overdid it i called the floor to get him a penalty. When the floor came over Gus Hansen, who was also at the table persuaded me to let it slip and tell the floor that everything was alright because Hellmuth was playing so bad, that he wanted him not to get a penalty. Now Hellmuth was really tilted …

Are online tournaments anything like live ones? What playing style would you recommend for both? How in general do you play against a big stack?

This question is going to take a couple of years to answer …

But tight aggressive is always a start. Even with a big stack.

How important are tells to your game? Are you always actively looking for and interpreting them, or is it only incidental to your play?

Very important when not playing against pros. I am always looking and if i find a tell it is worth gold. I think it is the single most important aspect of live poker.

I usually pay very little attention to mannerisms, because I find them deceiving when playing good players, I have however found myself monitoring other players heart rate at times. But, I would say 97% of my decisions are based on standard theory and other players betting patterns.  Do you think it is possible for a player like me to be a professional, or am I missing too much important information by not paying much attention to tells to be a winner. You say tells are the single most important aspect of live poker, and you have me worried that I have the single most horrible leak in my game. Do you think this is true?

It might very well be true. Heart rate is one thing to detect but to get to the right conclusion after that is a long way. The most important part is to analyze why the pulse is going up. If the oponent makes a continuation bet on the flop for example but suddenly is pumping blood very fast. Why could that be? If he is an experienced player you know that he hit that flop very hard. He wouldn’t have a higher heart rate on the continuation bet with a weak hand. That is just standard.

But hitting a set ist not.

An amateur might react completely different. A continuation bet with a bad hand might feel like a bluff to him. That is why his rate goes up.

Analyze the live tell in combination with psychological logic. Mike caros book of tells is a good starting point to improve on that.

How are you detecting peoples’ heart rates?

You look at the neck or under the ear. The carotid artery sometimes pops out. And Sometimes players start breathing heavily.

One of my favorite shows was High Stakes Poker on GSN (the seasons Gabe was on anyway). Also the Cash Games on Poker After Dark (didn’t care for the knockout format). Why aren’t games like this still televised? What would you do to bring their popularity back to the viewing public?

I loved the shows and hope that they will find the way back onto TV. And everybody i know liked them, too. Let us start a petition to bring them back.

Which pro player is the most respected as the guy or gal who’s the hardest out at the poker table?

There are so many good and respected players out there …

But if i have to pick by intimidating staredown i take Ivey, Timex and Chidwick.

Do you offer coachings?

Not right now as i am busy with preparing for tournaments and playing them. In my free time i just want to not have to worry about poker related stuff.

What do you do to prepare?

I take coaching myself, play a lot of hands and do some math.

Congrats on the bracelets for starters. Question about the WSOP. When you go, do you go out with the intention of playing as many events as possible? How do you stay focused and bounce back with such a grueling schedule?

I differs from year to year. Sometimes i fly over there for three weeks and play a balanced schedule with some breaks on red rock.

Others years i go for the full seven weeks and try to play every possible event. Then i have to find a regulard schedule. Wake up. Sport. Breakfast. Tournament. Sleep. And repeat. No Partying. No distraction.

If starting from the ground floor. How much money does one need to start playing, to become self sufficient if they are good enough?

I would save at least one year of fixed expenses before trying to go pro. And then you need a bankroll big enough for a game that you can surely beat. Which is not too much if you put the training hours in and start with micro stakes online. 10k$+1year in numbers.

I you have to fight Steven Seagal in his prime and you could pick a partner out of Gus Hansen, Viktor Blom, Phil Ivey, and Jason Mercier. Who would you choose and why?

I would pick Phil Ivey.

Jason jumps really high but how is that going to help me? Have you seen the fight between Gus Hansen and Theo Jörgensen? And i have the feeling, that Viktor is over his prime.

Phil Ivey is just going to stare Steven Seagal down until he crawls away shivering. /end dream

Is there any good online tells you notice?

Playing fast often tells a strong hand. Online the only thing you can pick up is the timing. Often players bet fast when they have a good hand. But it is a very unreliable tell.

I want to know more about the social skills you got out of poker. Do you usually use the “poker face” in your daily life? Ever tried social engineering or did something that could fit into that?

Yes i sometimes use the skills. Especially if somebody tries to sell me something. I just use my knowledge about tells to figure out if i am getting bullshitted and then call the bluff.

Would you say Hearthstone is more luck-based than Poker?

It is similar. Depends on the modus. Same as in Poker the Stacksizes compared to the blinds define the luckfactor. A Bo11 Hearthstone game is very skillbased. As is a Bo11 deepstacked Heads Up macth.

Did you ever watch the movie “Rounders” with Matt Damon and Edward Norton? If so, what your opinion on that movie and how well does it represent actual poker and grinding it out? I’ve heard a lot of pros love the movie and that it even started a few careers. If you haven’t seen it you should go watch it.

For a hollywood movie it represents poker really well. And the actors are great. The story is fine and the actual poker action is not a 100% accurate but it portrays all the characters really well. Great movie all around.

What is your chess background?

I was the portuguese champion in the under 10 year category and played the 1993 World Championship in Bratislava. After that i took a two year break because i was not allowed to play the official championships anymore (german nationality). Restarted in Germany and had 2310 as my first half-ELO with 15 years. All downhill from there …

I would play mixed tournaments with chess if they offered them during the EPT Festivals. Would be a nice change of pace.

What would you say are the most important attributes or qualities that seperate pros from average players?

Patience. Motivation. Being able to realistically evaluate Hands. Not biased.

If I invited you over to one of the monthly poker nights with the guys (all newbish players), would you be guaranteed to walk out of there by winning all of the games?

Depends on the blinds, stack sizes and for how long we play. Give me enough time and a nice stack to pot ratio and i will take your homies to school.

If we play 10 hands with 10 big blinds they will take me to school.

How do you stay composed and resist the chat abuse when someone plays a hand terribly to suck out?

For me there is no “bad” plays. There is theoretical unsound ways to play a hand if you want to earn money or chips in the long run. But maybe that player wants to gamble a little bit. Or maybe he just called your all in because he wanted to see your hand. And he would not sleep well if he folded. So there is a lot of reasons why players play a certain way and all of them are legitimate. I just do the same. I play my hand the way i want to play it and then the result is not so important anymore.

Sometimes i win sometimes i lose.

What is your opinion on the Full Tilt scandal and those involved? Has it had any effect on you as a poker professional?

I was lucky to have no funds on there when it happened. But it took a dent out of the industry at that time. I think Pokerstars handled it very well and prevented it from having a bigger impact.

How would you say the average poker player does in terms of quality of life? Are most of them struggling or is poker playing a decent good enough way to make a living?

I think a lot are struggling, as are most of the American Football players. For every one that makes it into the NFL there are 500 who don’t. Poker is similar. I think the best way is to have a nice job with steady income and play flag football or homegames as a hobby.

It is very hard to compete on the top level of every sport.

Have you ever caught someone cheating during a game?

I have never caught somebody cheating during a game. Some softplay or collusion has happened. Like french players telling buddys in french what they folded. I called them out and they stopped. At least they hid it better. Just keep your eyes open.

Who are some poker players that you look up to, and study? Who would you consider the best poker player in the circuit right now?

A lot of the german players work very hard. Ole Schemion is one of them and has had the best results. He is just a beast in live tournaments. No matter the buy in.

Do you find it harder to get games as you become more well known?

I am fine. Usually players like the competition to play against a “known” player. Who wants to be the one to dodge because he is afraid of the opponent? Only the online bumhunters.

People tell me that there is a difference between playing the cards and playing the people. How do you “play” the people? Especially, how do you read people?

If somebody has a tendency to fold often i bet often. If somebody has the tendency to call often i bet less, but bigger.

You read them by paying attention to all of the actions and combine it to a bigger picture of tendencies.

Is there any special tactic you spend your chips, while playing?

No, i try to focus on picking up tells from the opponents. Sometimes i riffle a little bit.

What is some aspect of the game which you give vital importance whereas others might not?

I walk off bad beats very quickly. Mostly even without a walk. I do not tilt often and when i do i have the ability to just stand up and call it a day.

What would you say your ROI is over, say, a year?

It really depends. With live tournaments the variance is so incredibly high. Some years i had -50% ROI and some i had 350% ROI. Online it is a little bit better and prob around 3% overall if you factor in all the SNGs.

How did you start being able to play highstakes?

I won some at midstakes and tournaments.

How do you learn a new game?

Find the player in your circle of friends who knows that game the best and start working with him. That is what i did for most games.

Do you think everybody has the potential to be a professional poker player, given they devote a lot of time to practice? Do you have to be naturally skilled in certain aspects?

I think you have to bring some skills. Most important is patience and a a tendency not to tilt. There are people that just cannot cope with the swings.

How online poker changed in the last 10 years?

Where should i start …

A lot more action now. A lot more diversity. A lot more good players and infinitely more very good players. But it is still fun.

Why do professional poker players not tip the dealer/ tip well in general? I have known a few dealers and they all say the same thing but have no idea as to why.

I think it is because professional poker players have to pay their bills from the chips they have on the table at the end of the session. If you have an hourly income of 20$ in a midstakes cashgame, but tip 5$ every pot you win, your children will be very hungry. An amateur who is there to play for fun does not care too much if he loses 25$ or 35$ per hour on average. He is there for the swings.

Which one is harder in your opinion, Texas hold-em or blackjack?

Texas hold’em is a lot harder than blackjack. You can find a simple sheet online on how to play perfect blackjack and memorize it in a day. No Limit Texas Hold’em is still not solved.

I’m a poker dealer and regularly deal to some WSOP winners as well. What are done practices you as a player like the dealer to do?

First of all thank you very much for dealing the cards. Dealers do not get the appreciation they deserve.

I think dealers should try to have the cards as low as possible (close to the table). Run the game smoothly with no interference and be attentive where the action is.

I think tournament poker requires A LOT of good luck to win. What is your opinion of that?

70% luck.

When did you realize you had made the transition from a losing player to a winning player? I know the games online used to be super soft but how did you stay ahead of the game?

In 2006 i tried to win a monthly online tournament leaderboard and finished second. But it was very close. After that i knew that if i put in the work the results will follow. After that i had some good and bad years, but it was always fun and exciting. I nearly always had enough to pay my rent and live a comfortable live. The most important thing is to do a rational analyses of your game. When i broke even for over 100k hands online i knew i had to to strategy again. I did and two months later the results followed. Rinse and repeat.

What do you do when you go on a bad losing streak and lose all your bank roll?


Which is more important, being able to read your opponent or the ability to determine pot odds?

At live tournaments i think the reads are more important. Online it is all math.

Have you played any Bitcoin Poker? What are your thoughts?

Have not played any Bitcoin Poker. I have to read a lot and understands Bitcoins before i try it. Somehow the Bitcoin hype flew by me.

What music are you listening to lately?

LaBrassBanda, Muse, Serj Tankian, Madsen. Just a mixture of alternative rock, some ska and indie.

What’d be your suggestion for the best way to improve post-flop play?

Try to balance your game. Value bet 2 times. Bluff 1 time. And use Flopzilla or similar tools to get a feeling how certain ranges of hands do on certain flops.

It seems like the long hours of sitting would lead to physical problems. How do you counteract this? I would think this is especially true for the older players.

Yeah after a couple of years the back hurts. But i started lifting weights and for most of the poker pros sports are a very important part of the schedule nowadays.

Any unbelievable low points you came back from that you’d care to share?

I had a bad run online once a couple of years back and had to go to the hospital because of my problems with ear. Was operated and on pain medication for some time and was not able to grind. Practically broke, friends helped out and gave me some money for rent and food. Took me a couple of months to recoup and small stakes grinding of a lot of hands to get me back on track.

Why do they allow sunglasses and hats?

I honestly do not know. Get rid of them. But as long as they allow them and i am at a tough table i am going to wear glasses, too.