Bill Perkins: Landon Tice’s team quitting was “very sharp”

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 07/06/2021

Perkins credits solver-based study for his performance in the discontinued heads-up challenge against Tice

Poker’s latest heads-up challenge came to an abrupt halt over the July 4 weekend, creating many questions in the poker community.

Bill Perkins and Landon Tice made it through 4,907 hands of a scheduled 20,000-hand match. The final segment of the match played out on June 29, with Perkins gaining $28,000 on Tice in a 337-hand session.

That session pulled Perkins to within $63,270 of Tice overall in the challenge. The two players agreed on a 9bb/100 spot given to Perkins before the match, and the June 29 session put Tice on pace to win the challenge by $259,712 without factoring in the spot.

With the 9bb/100 spread applied to that total, however, Perkins stood to win $460,288 if that pace continued through the 20,000-hand match. On July 3, Tice announced that his team was pulling the plug on the challenge.

Poker.org caught up with Perkins via email, and the billionaire investor offered his insights on what turned out to be one of the most intriguing chapters yet in poker’s current heads-up challenge craze.

Perkins says Tice’s team made a wise move by ending the challenge

Poker.org asked Perkins his general opinion of Tice’s playing ability, and if the Tice team backing out of the challenge changed Perkins’ opinion of the player.

“Landon is a good player and did some very sharp things which upon solver review revealed themselves and like all players, there are spots where he was unbalanced,” Perkins wrote. “We are both new to this format and learning quickly.”

“I actually think them quitting was very sharp. If your opponent studies and can learn GTO quickly it’s going to be very difficult to cover a 9BB spread and variance is going to be the primary driver. So I actually had a higher opinion of their reasoning skills when they decided to surrender.”

Perkins credited his coaching team for a strong performance against Tice, which took some in the poker community by surprise. Perkins worked with Matt Boyd and MJ Gonzales from Hybrid Poker, the same team employed by Daniel Negreanu in Negreanu’s heads-up match against Doug Polk.

“They have an accelerated learning platform that allows you to learn by playing. This allowed me to quickly grasp concepts and heuristics to GTO play,” Perkins wrote. “We also played 30k hands and reviewed every significant spot with solvers to understand what is correct play and refine my thinking.”

“Once the match started we reviewed every hand that saw a flop and also played and worked with their software to train me in specific spots. For example, I drilled as 3-bet pot PFR (out-of-position) and practiced C-bets on different textures when I saw I was weak. Finally, we played 600 to 1200-ish hands before each match with review, and day of I played a little about 200-ish hands to refresh before each match typically.”

Perkins empathizes with Tice in the aftermath of the challenge

The unexpected end of the challenge is bringing forth criticism of Tice from some in the poker community. Tice played the $200/$400 HUNL challenge as a heavily-staked player by his own admission, and by all accounts, it appears the team behind Tice made the decision to end the challenge.

“I think the poker community is over harsh but that’s the community where we live,” Perkins wrote. “By Landon’s own admission he didn’t do what he expected of himself and let himself and his team down.

“I can’t count the number of times, I’ve made horrible mistakes and half-assed life in even more important situations,” Perkins continued. “I think there is a vocal few who are taking the criticism too far in a way that is meant to hurt instead of facts are friendly.

“That being said mistakes need to be promulgated/elucidated so not only Landon learns but other young up-and-coming poker players.”

Perkins says he’s now looking forward to enjoying some time away from poker, after spending significant time preparing for and playing in the challenge over the past month.

“I think the spate of HU challenges has got the poker community’s juices flowing. Challenges are coming out of the woodwork,” Perkins wrote. “First I’d like to enjoy summer and my close personal relationships but I will continue to learn HUNL as the game is infinitely deep.”

“I will just do it at a less frantic pace. I love poker and live to help it grow so I will be thinking of fun formats that will transcend just the experienced poker community.”

For more on the Bill Perkins vs. Landon Tice heads-up challenge, check out the Americas Cardroom YouTube playlist surrounding the match.

Featured image source: Flickr/World Poker Tour