Under The Gun: Inside the mind of Greg Raymer

Craig Tapscott
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Posted on: January 13, 2024 7:45 am EST

The player known as ‘Fossilman’ has, to date, almost 50 cashes at the World Series of Poker, but most will know him for his 2004 Main Event victory. Back in the first post-Moneymaker WSOP, Raymer outlasted the biggest live field ever seen at the time, defeating David Williams heads-up to claim the most coveted crown in poker.

Raymer returned to defend that crown the following year, only to find the previous year’s record-breaking field had more than doubled in size. Nevertheless, he once again made an incredible deep run to finish 25th of 5,600+ entrants for a six-figure score.

An active player, Raymer has continued his winning ways and has made numerous final table appearances at the WSOP, but is still hunting that elusive second bracelet.

What’s one bit of essential prep you do before a big tournament or cash game session?

“Get plenty of sleep the night before.  And then eat a proper meal before the game, something that will give you energy and not weigh you down. This will be different for everyone.”

What piece of strategy advice did you get when you first started playing that you wish you had ignored?

“Protect your tournament life at all costs. Horrible advice. Your goal in a tournament is the same as in a cash game: to maximize your equity. If the decision that risks your tournament life is higher EV than the decision that avoids that risk, you choose to take on the risk. Always pick the play that has the highest cash EV.”

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen or done at the poker table?

“I watched a drunk guy start insulting me once in a cash game. I was able to ignore it, but my friend couldn’t. He talked back to the drunk guy. Drunk guy started getting pushy, security arrived. Drunk guy then starts pushing security. The police are called. Drunk guy now gets into it with the police, and goes to jail.

And it’s not like he was some guy just barely past 21, he was probably at least 40-50 years old. How can you be that stupid, and still be doing stuff that stupid, two decades after you started drinking?”

Greg Raymer ponders a decision at the poker table

What’s your most memorable hand?

“Easy question: 8♠8♦️ in the final hand of the 2004 WSOP Main Event. I can’t imagine ever playing a better hand than that.”

What’s your single best piece of advice for poker players?

“If you are a recreational player and just playing for fun, then play to maximize your fun. Don’t get too serious, enjoy yourself, and stick to games where the money you lose won’t matter.

If you’re a pro, or trying to play like a pro, then you need to be focused and solid when you play. You should never play when not at your best, stick to games that are within your bankroll, and spend a LOT of time away from the table working to improve your game.

And, still, try to have fun while still playing at 100%. Because if it’s not fun, you are probably better off doing something else for a living.”

If you owned a poker room, who’s the first player you’d want to sign as an ambassador and why?

“Chris Moneymaker. Everybody loves him, he gets along with everyone at the table, and he gives good action. Nobody has more name recognition than him also. Even people who don’t play poker will recognize who he is.  When it comes to poker, he’s the man!”