Interview: Jimmy Fricke - aka 'Gobboboy'.
Monday, 20 October 2008
Tom Dwan, online sensation, has been described by the poker divinity that is Phil Ivey as being the man who might take No-Home Jerome’s mantle.
Phil Galfond, despite what the executives at GSN (he was dropped on High Stakes Poker due to being too tight and quiet; however he was saving his money for the $500k game – it had Sammy Farha and Guy LaLiberte; wouldn’t you?) think, is one of the best high-stakes cash game players around. Jimmy Fricke, well – he’s a freak and a very weird dude, according to The Professor.
That’s a reference to a now-legendary Two Plus Two thread in which one of the staff at Full Tilt (staff at Full Tilt making a mistake? Whatever next?!) accidentally attached an e-mail from Howard Lederer giving the above reason (as well as Fricke’s youth) for ‘staying away’. Fortunately for the ‘freak’ aka gobboboy, the forum guys who recognise him are in the minority. Those who ask for autographs and pictures, the experience of which Gobbo still describes as being “very weird” , mostly don’t know of his supposed abnormality.
Jimmy is recognisable now because of his famed second-place finish to Gus Hansen in the 2007 Aussie Millions tournament which was televised and then later the subject of Hansen’s esteemed book, Every Hand Revealed. Jimmy’s not bitter about his loss in the ‘Millions, though… well, much:
“I got a custom license plate the other day,” he said. “I went for GOBBO in the end but I was strongly considering FK GS HSN.” An AUD$800,000 score doesn’t leave you with many regrets, but Jimmy says he wishes he could have, perhaps with the aid of some sort of time machine (OK, the time machine bit was my addition), read Every Hand Revealed before playing Gus at that final table. “It’s an interesting book,” was his take.
Still, he’s only semi-critical rather than outright bitchy: “Gus has a way of beating NLHE tournaments,” Fricke said. “But it wouldn’t work for many other people. [It works for him because] your average player doesn’t want to make moves or play pots with a known player who calls a lot.”
It seems odd that BluffEurope.com is introducing an online poker section at a time when the two (online and live) games are juxtaposed – archetypical ‘live players’ such as Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu and Mike Matusow are now perhaps better known as barryg1, KidPoker and “that loud guy.” At the same time, people like Tom Dwan, Brian Townsend and Gobbo are trying out a lot more live games with appearances in televised cash games and live tournaments.
“Online is really tough,” says Fricke. “Live tournaments are soft; live cash is amazing. Online is just so tough now.” According to Gobbo, many live players are totally lost in certain situations.
“Andy seems to be a winning tournament player,” Fricke said of his Aussie Millions final-tablemate, Irishman Andy Black. “But he doesn’t have a lot of patience and seems to have a lot of the typical live player problems such as playing with a shortstack or in reraised pots.”
Sensing the chance to turn this article from a (admittedly humourous) discussion about insulting license plates into something actually about poker, I ask him to elucidate:
“With a short stack, [live players] either play way too loose or way too tight. You can't call raises and you can't do tricky stuff. You have to basically wait until it folds to you and figure out if the pot's big enough for you to shove.
“Live players also call re-raises too much with too wide of a range. They need to realize they're going to lose the pot unless they flop a monster.”
It would seem that live poker is making a slow (as in 25 hands an hour slow) comeback. While you’ll rarely find a $500/$1,000NL game going down at your local cardroom, there’s apparently still heaps of value to be had playing live.
So, now that he’s jetting off around the globe playing amid all the glitz and glamour of the world’s high-rolling casinos does Jimmy envision a life of luxury? Not quite: “I don’t like buying stuff. My most extravagant purchase was my car, a nice sports car, but I look like an idiot in it.
“It’s pretty hard to be a balla when you’re a fat guy who lived with his mom until he was 21,” he adds. It’s pretty easy when you pwn at poker, though, Jimmy.
In fairness, he had a good start to the game – starting, as so many do, by playing Magic: The Gathering. The friends he was playing with moved on to poker and like so many teenagers do with their friends, Jimmy followed.
“I didn’t want to lose the friends so I started too,” he recounts. “They were older than me by a few years and they taught me über-low-limit Hold ‘em. Luckily we were all really competitive so they set me up to make money off idiots, not to have fun playing – they even fixed me up with rakeback at $0.5/$1LHE on Party.”
As funny as it would be for those friends to still be playing penny games while Jimmy makes millions, it is not to be: “One of them is one of the best cash game players on UltimateBet and another was on course to be one of the best LHE players in the world before running bad.”
He had a good starting point, and it got better from there, turning him into a not-quite-household-but-perhaps-forum name. However, it hasn’t gone to his head: throughout the course of the interview we were both being irreverent and light-hearted, both being of a jolly (OK, fat) persuasion.
One question, however, elicited a genuine piece of wisdom. What do you wish you knew back when you were first starting out that you know now?
“Wow, that’s a tough one,” he said. “It’s too much to put into words but honestly, I would say that I wish I knew it would all work out.” Even though we were conversing via AIM, he must have noticed my puzzled look as he added: “I know that’s not what you meant when you asked the question, but that’s the best answer I have because poker is all about experience. Even if I was told what I was doing wrong and why I would still need to experience it to learn, and that’s why 99% of people will always suck at this game.”
So now he’s made it, what else does Gobbo envision doing in life besides poker? “Dying,” he says succinctly, before thinking and adding: “And Scrabble.”