Bring Your Questions for Poker Renaissance Man Phil Gordon

Phil Gordon

Phil Gordon has made more than a few appearances on this blog, most of them concerning his skills as a jack-of-all-poker-trades: he’s a champion player, author, teacher, ringleader, analyst, and entrepreneur.

He hasn’t always applied his smarts to cards: a former computer programmer, he started out working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company on artificial intelligence projects; he also sold a tech startup for a lot of money. He is so smart, or maybe it’s just that he’s so damn tall, that he persuaded Levitt and me to invest in a new startup he’s running. (This is what is known as full disclosure.)

He also likes Rock-Paper-Scissors a lot, and also fighting cancer.

Most important, he has agreed to take your questions here at, so fire away. As with past Q&A’s, we’ll let the questioning run for a couple of days and then publish his answers a few days later. Many thanks to Phil and to all of you for your kind, considerate, and heartfelt questions. And the inevitably snarky ones too.

Addendum: The answers to this Q&A can be found here.


Who do you think the top 5 NLH cash game players are in the world right now (including online pros)?


Who do you think are better at cash games: the best live pros or the best online pros (not including people like Antonius and Ivey who are part of both groups)?


What are your favourite poker books? I have read your little green book and liked it a lot (gotta reread it some day and get myself a copy of the other ones).

Books I also liked much are "Harrington on HE Vol. 1+2" for Tournament play and "Professional NL HE Vol. 1" by Ed Miller et al. for the Cashgames. Can you suggest some other good ones? :)

And are you rather playing Tournaments or also going to participate in formats like High Stakes Poker (although I think you probably have to forget about the "bankroll management" part then ;).

Thanks a lot! :D

ps: Ah... since I lost with flopped quad kings on a '3KK' board 2 weeks ago (Turn: A, River: A... LOL! 99,89% fav on the flop XD)... What was your toughest "bad beat"?!


Does the Tiltboys home game still run? On a related note, at what stakes do you take poker serious enough to play your "A" game?


What do you think is a more important skill in poker: the ability to conceal your own intentions, or the ability to read the intentions of others? Why?


Will a pro ever win the WSOP again now that there are so many entrants?

It seems like the best strategy for an amateur such as myself would be to try to go all-in on a professional as soon as possible. Two outcomes - I get taken out by the pro and have a great story to tell or I take out the pro simply by getting lucky. Doesn't that really hurt the pros early in the tournaments?


What skill is more important in Hold'em. Discipline in the range of hands you play, or the ability to read the other player? I find that I can make pretty good reads but sometimes finish playing the hand to a showdown to prove I was right. What kind of advice can you give to teach someone to trust their read and to let a hand go, or to trust the read and make a difficult call.

Joe H

I have been thinking about writing a simulation program that could be used with online playing for a final project in a class, and also for my own interest, that uses statistics to decides whether or not to play a hand and also uses a random bluffing factor. I am sure that I am not the first person to think of this. So what I want to know is, where have other people found problems when trying to attempt this? Has anyone, that you know of, been successful? Would it be unethical to use it?

"fancy dan" shahin

Who is the best poker author in your opinion? I think David Sklansky is still the best, but I wonder what you think.

Princess Leia

Is he married?


How did you go about developing your poker face so that other's couldn't read your unintentional body language?


Echoing #8....

Why no limit Texas Hold'em?

Why has no other type of poker caught on to anywhere near the same degree?


What kinds of adjustments have professional poker players, both online and live game players, had to make to counter the expansion of statistical information now available to players (such as computer modeling programs such as pokerstove and sngpowertools)?


What percent of your success would you say is attributable to randomness?


How do math and psychology cross in poker? For example, if the book says a this hand is a loser 60% of the time, how would this change if you know your opponent likes to raise with weak hands at this point, and if you suspect he is bluffing in this instance.


How was working on The Grand? Did you have to improv your lines, too? Why do you think The Grand hasn't achieved wider popularity, considering the widespread popularity of poker?

Ryan M

Is the picture of you that is posted on this blog photoshopped?


Cameras in the table or the internet - which had a bigger impact on poker? From a competitive as well as business perspective, is it a good thing?


One more question: why do so many highly intelligent people with advanced degrees decide to play poker?


What percentage of the poker pros seen on TV over the last five year are broke or in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars? Do you make more at the poker table of from selling poker books?