Tom Dwan shares his ideas on how to improve the poker community

Jon Sofen
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Published: August 8, 2021 5:03 AM EDT

Tom Dwan made some suggestions on Joey Ingram’s YouTube podcast and Twitter this past week on how to improve the game of poker, most notably keeping the fish around long-term.

Dwan is accustomed to playing in private high-stakes cash games in Macau, China, and other parts of the world. Top pros all want to compete in those games because they bring out wealthy recreational players who don’t mind losing big bucks so long as they have an enjoyable experience. But many pros ruin that experience for those players because, as “durrrr” says, they don’t help create a fun environment.

Keeping the fish interested

The former Full Tilt Poker pro is gearing up for a heads-up match against Phil Hellmuth on PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel III show August 25 in Las Vegas. Last month, he competed in the $25,000 buy-in Heads-Up Poker Championship on Poker King, the poker app he now promotes. So, he’s been active in the mainstream poker world for the first time in a while.

On August 5, Poker King released a 90-minute interview on YouTube with Dwan, hosted by Joey Ingram, the popular poker podcaster. In that conversation, “durrrr” addressed the issue of pros hurting their bottom line by failing to cater to a recreational player’s needs.

“You have two classes of people in poker — you have people showing up for enjoyment, and people showing up to make money,” Dwan told Ingram about how to keep everyone in poker satisfied, win or lose. “You want to try to keep that in mind and solve for both so you can have a reasonable game economy.”

The poker legend went on to explain that the way to build a successful poker economy, one in which the pros earn a nice living, is to cater to the needs of the recreational players. By that, he means no tanking as that irritates the recreational players and will scare them away from a game. On top of that, he suggests letting the fish bend the rules a bit at times without a pro calling them out on it. Dwan claims by complaining about the actions of a recreational player, a pro is only hurting their bottom line.

“There were times there was some Chinese billionaire (in the games I played) in some spot, over almost no chips in the pot, and some pro would be staring him down, and I’d be like, ‘dude, you need to stop, you’re costing the poker economy money, you’re costing yourself a ton of money, you’re never going to get in the game with this dude” Dwan continued.

High-stakes private games with millions of dollars at stake, often referred to as nosebleeds, are prevalent in Macau and other parts of Asia. Dwan has spent much of his time in Macau the past decade competing in these games. But he has to work hard just to get invited back to play. The billionaires in the games won’t play with just any pro. If a pro isn’t friendly or fun, they’re unlikely to be welcome in the games. Dwan, however, made it clear in his interview with Ingram that he does everything he can to cater to the needs of the fish in the games. Tanking, complaining about the actions of the recreational players, and staring down opponents are turnoffs to the type of players Dwan likes to play against.

Following up

One day after the Poker King interview was released, Tom Dwan shared some follow-up ideas on Twitter on how to better the poker community. He wrote a series of three tweets, which doesn’t happen often for the future Poker Hall of Famer.

“Some feedback on the talk I had with @Joeingram1 seemed to be that people wanted to hear more personal stuff or stories… There’s some ideas in the works for stuff like that which I’m a part of. As far as overall views of the poker industry, I wish people would talk more Honestly about them. I think there’s a lot of vested interests that have stifled innovation in poker. And I think that makes the game less interesting, pros win less money, fish be less happy… and people overall miss some cool/healthy mental challenges,” Dwan tweeted.

He finished up with: “So I dunno… this is something that’s tilted me for a while. But with us online gaming likely to open in the next few years, and all the shifts that’ll come with that… I’m trying to do what I can to spur a discussion. I’m sure there’s some spots I’m a bit off.”

Dwan appears confident the U.S. will soon have legal online poker nationwide. Back in 2009, he signed as an ambassador with the now defunct Full Tilt Poker, a poker site that was shutdown by the U.S. Department of Justice on April 15, 2011 as part of a crackdown on illegal internet gambling.

Featured image source: Twitter – PokerGO