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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Weekly Interview Series: Bryan "PrimordialAA" Pellegrino

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Fellow Lock Elite Pro Bryan "PrimordialAA" Pellegrino is my next interviewee for my new weekly interview series.  You can read the interview below.

How did you get started in poker?  How old were you?  What did you play?  How did you progress through the stakes and different games?

I got started at poker kind of randomly, when I was 15 on some trip for a highschool thing where the top X students go to DC for a week, my roomate (who I had never met) showed me poker, and I crushed some 5c / 10c / 25c poker game for like $50 and I was insta hooked. Was pretty amazed I won $50 and bought a hoodie with it, thought it was the coolest thing in the world, and then when we left he told me about a site called Pokerstars and told me I could play this online... that started it all

As soon as I got home I made my dad create me an account and got him to deposit $50 for me... lost it over about a week playing $5 Sit n Gos. rinse/repeat, ran it up to $100 and then took shots at 10s and quickly busto'd it and was so mad at myself for playing higher stakes... this was my first run in with BRM. I was really frustrated, $100 was a ton to me then... I bought a book, read a few chapters, and put in 'my last $50', I said if I lost it I would take a few months off and read through a bunch of books. I ran it up a little, binked a small $1 or $3 MTT for like $800 and never looked back :).

After that I played a ton of sit n gos, and eventually moved into cash. At age 17 I was 4 tabling 5/10 NL (highest stakes on PS at the time), but after a big downswing I cashed out most of my money and went back to grinding smaller. In college I started getting a bit more serious, playing a ton of MTTs, and I won the HU MTT like 5 times in a couple of weeks, it was a $20 64 man early and 128 man later (2x / day) , and shipped both the early and the late one one of those days, so I thought I was decent at HU but stuck to MTTs for a while longer. It wasn't until I did a semester abroad in Budapest that I was kind of forced into switching to something else due to how HORRIBLE the MTT schedule was for anyone living in Eastern Europe. This is when I started to move into HU, and a year later I was playing 200s+ regularly and left school to play full time and never really looked back since.
What has worked best for you over the years in regards to improving your game?

For a long time I was the guy who played all the time and spent very little time studying. I came up via 2p2 though so I had that standard/logical mindset, which I think in a ways held me back a lot, despite giving me a really solid foundation. Now as the games have progressed I find it much more important to focus on your game and improving and my best methods have always been keeping a very strong network of good / smart poker players to bounce ideas off of and double check your game, and also self-HH review. I try to do this once a week when I can, where I just pull 3-5 of my own HHs at random and go through them, I think it gives me a good snap-shot of what I play like on a daily basis, and seeing some of the occasional glaring errors that sneak in there keep me level headed and help me remember there is always more to work on, so I find it pretty motivating and enlightening.
How old are you now?

I'm 24   
How many tables do you usually play online?
2-6 for HU, pretty much as many as I can get. I usually do something like I'll sit 1k, 500, 300, and when I had 3 tables stop regging 300's, 4 tables stop regging 500s, and pretty much never stop regging 1ks as long as I can get action.
When you were playing the most poker of your career, how many hours per week did you usually play?  How many hours did you usually spend total on poker-related activities? 

At my volume peak I would play probably minimum 8-9 hours per day, 7 days a week, so right around 60 hours, with some weeks being way way more, but during that time I pretty much never took days off which wasn't really ideal. Outside of actually playing I would spend another 5 to 10 weekly coaching and studying,
How many hours per week do you usually play now?  How many total hours a week do you usually spend on poker-related activities now?

Due to how tough it's become for me to get decent action my play has dropped off a lot, I probably spend 10-15 hours per week now with everything mixed in, including coaching, studying, and playing, but i'm hoping to increase that in the near future, especially with WSOP coming up.
What kind of a computer setup do you have for playing?  Do you use any poker software?

I have a PC I built myself for gaming, so pretty high quality, with 2 monitors, a 30" and a 24". I only use hold'em manager for poker software.   
What are your short term & long term poker goals?

Short term I don't have a lot of goals, just putting in volume when I can and enjoying it, long term i'd really like to focus a bit more on playing less of the 8 hours a day every day grind, and more focused on traveling a bit to some tourney series and playing REALLY focused for a couple weeks, and then break again outside of that. I've been playing for a really long time now and finding myself wanting to add increasing amounts of balance to the poker aspect of my life.
At this point in your career does poker feel more like a hobby or a job?  Do you still enjoy the game as much as you used to?

Definitely more like a job, i'm outside of the place in my life where i'm living in a cheap apartment with some friends and outside of basic living expenses it wouldn't be the end of the world to me if I busted a roll, or just stopped playing, etc., I have a wife, house, and so on, so I really feel the pressure of needing to do well and succeed to support my family and keep up a decent life, so it definitely feels like a job and I try to take it really seriously.
You have had some nice live scores, including a top 8 finish in the 2009 $10K WSOP HU event for $92,580 and 143rd in the 2010 WSOP Main Event for $57,000.  Were those your biggest scores ever and how did it feel to go so deep in such prestigious events?

Those were my biggest cashes (along with a follow up similar cash in the 2011 WSOP Main Event as well), These all were really unique experiences, in the 10k HU I played suchhh sick draws leading up to the final 8 and had such a big lead there that it was pretty devastating losing to the player I did (someone who wasn't very good). The 2010 Main Event I was like top 10 in chips for days 2 - 5, so it was pretty crazy, got a lot of coverage, a few feature tables, and was just really exciting the whole way through. Lost a huge hand (my 3rd place vs his 6th place chip stacks) vs James Carroll late day 5 to make a HUGE Chip Leader, and then just kind of floated through to day 6 until I busted. Then last years Main Event I never had a great stack or got anything going, just kind of survived until Day 6 and lost a flip there for like 1.8M or so, so 3 super different experiences in all of the tournaments, but all were really amazing. There really is nothing quite like going deep in a big live MTT, one of the best and most exciting feelings there is.
You recently attended a poker training camp held by Daniel “jungleman12” Cates, who is widely regarded as one of the best NL players in the world.  Could you tell us more about that experience?

It was great, tons of great guys there and I learned a bunch. We basically all stayed at a really nice hotel in Vienna and were in the conference room 6-8 hours a day reviewing slides and discussing high level theory. Nights were set aside for going out and having fun, and although it was only a couple days I really feel like I learned a ton. The instructors were great and the setup really was a lot more focused than most things in poker. It was well worth it imo. 

You have been focusing more on the affiliate business and also your new fantasy sports site buzzdraft.com.  Do you still plan to play a lot of poker in the future or start to focus even more of your time on those projects?

Yea, black friday was a pretty big eye opener for me on just how fragile some things were. This kind of caused me to re-evaluate some things and start to spread myself out a bit more. I do plan to play a lot of poker in the future, especially with big events like the WSOP coming up, but I have really enjoyed working on some of these new projects so that's something i will definitely continue to pursue in the future.    
Speaking of buzzdraft, could you tell us more about it?  How did you get the idea for the site? 

 So there is a really big industry of Fantasy sports, traditional fantasy sports where you draft a team and stick with that same team throughout the entire season. It takes a ton of time and dedication to keep up with it (especially in BBall and Baseball) and if 1-2 of your stars get injured your totally #!@)$(d.

Take that and run it daily now, more like a poker site where you go on, draft a team for THAT night, enter it into a sit n go or two, and then sweat the games on TV as they happen in real time and see how you do vs your competition and then win money based on your result. The upside is that it's 100% legal in the US and Canada, paypal and all major cc's accepted, etc., so no bad stigmas, accepted by a very wide audience, etc.

I actually didn't end up coming up with the idea, I came into the project after that were already underway and development had started, so I came in a bit late, but I feel like i've had a lot to offer, and the industry parallels the poker industry so much I think it's very easy for me to see where some of the other major sites are making similar mistakes to poker sites in the early days.

If you never got into poker, what do you think you would be doing for a living right now?

Probably would have finished my Computer Science degree and been working on some startups, I don't think I would have ended up at a 'normal' job, at least not for long. It just was never something I could really see myself doing.
How did you go about getting a Lock Pro Elite contract?  How has your experience at Lock been so far?

We had talked a long long while back, when they were still on Cake, but never really finalized anything. So then a few years later when Black Friday happened they got in touch with me and I was really honored they still wanted to work with me. My experience with lock has been nothing but great, the owner Jen has been amazing. I'm thankful every day I got involved when I did and try to do everything I can to help them out, so nothing but good things to say about working with Lock.

What do you like to do in your spare time besides poker?

pretty typical stuff, I watch a bunch of movies and TV shows, play video games, work on my two other companies i'm running (BuzzDraft and Coder Den), hang out with my wife and dogs, and travel a bunch.   
What are your favorite movies and TV shows?  Who are your favorite bands/musical artists?

Movies it's way too tough I watch a TON, my favorite movies i've watched in the last couple of months would be Drive, Ip Man, and The Warrior. Really really enjoyed all of them. Bands is tough too, i'm a huge music guy, my favorite band had been Tool for a very very long time, on a daily basis lately though I find myself listening to a lot of Drake, Florence and The Machine, Lil Wayne, Adele, Foo Fighters, Metallica, and Mac Miller, so pretty weird mix
What’s your favorite food?
Wow all the questions I find oddly difficult to answer. I'd say some of my favorites are a really good filet, chicken cordon bleu, and fettucini carbonara. 
What’s your favorite place you have traveled to?

Really really enjoyed my time in Europe, Budapest, Cyprus, UK, France, really love all of them for totally different reasons.   
Thanks for taking the time to do this & good luck at the tables.

Thanks a lot for having me, much appreciated and much respect to your game jhub :). GL and thanks again.

For more on PrimordialAA you can follow him on twitter @PrimordialAA and watch his training videos at http://www.pokerstrategy.com/.  He is also starting up a new blog at http://bryanpellegrino.com/ 
You can sign up for Lock Poker here http://download.lockpoker.com/jaredhubbard for a 150% deposit bonus and VIP benefits (http://jaredhubbard.com/lock%20vip.htm)
In case you missed the past weekly interviews, here they are:

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