by Craig Tapscott, Special to FOXSports.com
Taylor Caby first started playing poker online during his freshman year as a finance major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He tiptoed into the low-stakes heads-up sit-and-gos (SNG's) because he enjoyed the challenges of playing one-on-one poker. Possessing a keen sense of observation, he quickly picked up on betting patterns and player tendencies. Armed with great instincts and a thirst for knowledge he began to dominate the highest stakes heads-up and full-table SNG's. The next stop on this speeding locomotive was the cash games.
One of Caby's greatest assets is the ability to play within his bankroll and never go on tilt. A few stumbles along the way didn't stop him from his goal of being a fearless player in any ring game. By the end of his junior year, he had climbed aboard the biggest cash games the Internet had to offer.
"Poker has always been something that has been relatively easy for me," said Caby. "I obviously am a lot better player now than I was when I started, but even when I first started I almost always had some sort of small edge on my main competition. I never planned on playing seriously, even though I did joke with my family about becoming a poker pro someday. A lot of people have heard the story that I turned $35 into a large amount of money playing on UltimateBet.com; this is true. I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to make this money, but I'm realistic in that things this 'easy' can't last forever. Now, in no way am I saying doing what I have done has been easy. However, when a college kid can spend only 3-4 hours a day on a hobby yet still be able to turn $35 into enough money to comfortably play $10,000+ buy-in poker games, take a substantial position in the stock market, and start a retirement fund, it should be considered relatively easy when taken into account the amount of work and time period required to accomplish this feat."
Last year Caby met a player online at UB who offered him an internship at a private investment house on Wall Street. He snapped up the offer and spent an amazing summer in New York City. Would the experience take a potential poker professional out of the game?
"I decided to turn down a lucrative offer in the finance world when I graduate college," said Caby. "This is definitely not the safest choice, but it is one I am comfortable with. I thought about all of my options and think that I will be happier working for myself than for someone else. My emphasis is that even though I am sticking with poker as my primary source of income (upon graduation), I am realistic about the long-term prospects of playing poker for a living. I think that there will always be a lot of money to be made by the best poker players in the world, but it will never be as easy as it is now. I urge serious poker players, especially young players, to be aware of this fact and to choose carefully before making a career decision involving poker that may be tough to reverse."
Caby, known as Green Plastic online, graduates this year and will aim his laser-like focus on poker full-time, much to the chagrin of players everywhere. Taylor is also one of the founders of Cardrunners.com, an innovative poker-training site for beginners to advanced players.
The King of Cash takes a few moments to share with FOXSports.com some of his experience and grounded insight.
FOXSports.com: When did poker first enter your life?
Taylor Caby: My family first introduced me to poker. We played at Christmas and they never let me play when I was a kid. Finally, when I was 13 or 14 they let me play for the first time and I loved it. That year my parents bought me a book about poker for Christmas and I read the whole thing that morning. The next day I came home and checked out almost all of the poker books from the library.
FS.com: So you wanted to improve and kick everyone's butt?
TC: I loved to compete and be better at something than my competition. I also thought there was a good chance I could make some spending money for my troubles.
FS.com: Any single thing that made a big difference in your game?
TC: I wouldn't say there was any one factor. I think it's necessary to read a book that gives you a solid foundation. After that, the best thing to do is to find people that are better than you and ask them questions. A friend of mine had been playing online about three years ago and really started to help me improve my game. I would say he had the biggest influence on me becoming a very good player. The rest of it I did myself through hard work and practice.
FS.com: When did you realize you could really compete with the best players?
TC: It was at the start of my junior year of college following my first WPT event. I cashed in my first event (Aruba) and did very well at the cash games there. I had been playing 10-25 No Limit and 25-50 No Limit at this point but I really realized that it wasn't just luck that had got me there.
FS.com: What bankroll did you start out with online and how did you build it?
TC: I began with $35 dollars on Ultimate Bet - I had to withdraw and deposit a few times at the beginning, but I haven't made a deposit for online poker in two years. The biggest lessons I learned were to never play above your bankroll and never play when you aren't in the right state mentally (after drinking or when other parts of your life are troubling you).
FS.com: How would you describe your style of play?
TC: I'm a loose and aggressive player. A lot of people claim to have this style but I think mine is a little bit different. I try not to get myself into trouble when I am in poor table position or when I am playing against world-class players. I try to switch gears often, which I think is very important when you play online. You play a lot more hands against the same players so you need to mix up the way you play each player.
FS.com: What are some of your proudest achievements in poker?
TC: One WPT cash out of three events played. I've won a few Multi-table tournaments for $10,000+, which I am proud of because I rarely play big buy-in MTT's. I have played in and beaten probably the toughest cash game on the Internet (UB's - 25/50nl and 50/100nl) for the past year and a half.
FS.com: At this point what part of your game do you feel needs improvement?
TC: Lately I haven't been as focused on working to improve my game as I should be. One thing I usually pride myself on is that I'm always learning new things about poker. Recently, I noticed I had become a little lazy about studying the game since then I've made a conscious effort to study more and improve my game.
FS.com: What's your personality at the table?
TC: I'm extremely confident but very quiet during hands. I won't really talk about poker at the tables (strategy, beats, etc.) but I love to talk about anything else. When playing live, I am very methodical and I will never rush a decision.
FS.com: What do you believe are the main differences between your live vs. online play?
TC: Online I'm usually playing multiple tables so I can't focus on the players as much as I can in a live game. There are times when I will have no read on a player if I'm at many tables. I will have to make a decision on what to do based on a "standard" type of play that I would make against the average player. This almost never happens live, as I feel I have a pretty good read on a player within 10-20 minutes at the table.
FS.com: How do you approach cash games vs. tournaments?
TC: Tourneys I play much more conservatively. I'm pretty cautious about busting early because there is just too much easy money for me to want to make a marginal play or take a chance. Cash games I am hardly ever a cautious player. I trust my reads and will put in a large amount of money in any spot if I feel I have even a small edge. In cash games, these small edges add up in the long run. In tournaments, they just mean you have a pretty good chance of being eliminated on that hand.
FS.com: Can you share your thoughts during a hand? What you are looking for at the table?
TC: First, I ask myself a few questions. What is my position at the table? Who are my opponents? How many chips do I/they have? What is my table image? I think about all of these factors before I make ANY decision at the poker table. I basically apply the answers to these questions to a set of guidelines that I have developed as to how to play certain hands in certain situations. This allows me to be extremely flexible in my decision-making and also makes it difficult for my opponent to really have a good read on me.
FS.com: What are your plans upon graduation?
TC: I'm going to go to Las Vegas for the WSOP. I plan on playing cash games and the main event. After the WSOP, I'm going to buy a place in Chicago with a friend and live there and rent it out to other friends. I'd like to play 2-3 poker tournaments a year, preferably in exotic or exciting locations. Eventually, I want to go to business school and work on starting and running some of my own businesses.
FS.com: Please give us an example of a cash game play that you use to knock someone off a hand. And can you expand on your thoughts about table image and using that in your favor?
TC: I guess the easiest way to push someone off a hand is to figure out who is unlikely to want to play a big pot without the nuts. There are always players at the table who are either under-bankrolled or playing scared. These players present the best opportunity to push someone off their hand because they just do not want to lose their buy-in. It is much more likely than not that they don't have a very strong hand, so a big bet will very likely get them to fold. However, it is important to understand that these types of players are usually the weaker players who will have a hard time folding top pair or better. You have to balance the two factors to decide if you should bluff.
Table image - there are some players who know that I am very aggressive and never give me credit for a hand. I will rarely run a big bluff against these players and will play my strong hands very fast. When I am on a rush at the table and have a strong image because I've been showing down good hands, I am more likely to come over the top of people because they will probably figure me for another good hand. There is a fine line here because eventually players just stop believing you have good hands all the time.
FS.com: Everyone hates middle pairs. Any advice?
TC: This totally depends on the situation. Generally, I will just call the blind or fold small/middle pairs if I am UTG or very early position in MTT's, and I will either call or raise with them in cash games. They can be tricky to play so if I am met with resistance I will fold unless the stack sizes are very large. Mid/Late positions I will raise them if I feel I have good control of the table and a large edge on the players. If the players are all excellent I may be more inclined to play them more cautiously.
FS.com: Tell us about your site CardRunners.com.
TC: I started CardRunners.com about 6 months ago with the idea of getting experience running my own business as well as helping aspiring poker players learn the game. We offer poker videos; a very active discussion board, articles, and a sense of community for players who want to learn how to win at online poker. I don't make nearly as much money from this website as I do playing poker, but that's okay to me. It is very gratifying to see players that joined my website six months ago now playing some of the biggest games on the Internet. There have even been a few players that went from playing $100 buy-in games and moved all the way up to $25-$50 NL cash games (with the proper bankroll) in just six months. We have even hired one of these players to make videos for us, he has become that good!
FS.com: Thanks for your time Taylor and good luck in Vegas this summer.
Craig Tapscott is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com Poker, Card Player & Card Player College magazine.