Interview with 'pr1nnyraid', aka Jason Rosenkrantz.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
'pr1nnyraid' is a name that you might know for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps you know him as the author of Jason Rosenkrantz, founder and Executive Producer at DeucesCracked.com.
Maybe you know him as the man who regularly takes on Antonius, Galfond and co. in the nosebleed games. You might also know him as the guy who managed to win a $98k pot while off his face on weed brownies. If you don't know him already, you certainly ought to as Bluff Europe caught up with one of the coolest kids on the poker scene.
Like so many before him, Jason Rosenkrantz was not born with the silver poker spoon in his mouth. 'He saw the film which launched a thousand fish, and it wasn't long before he was playing home games with friends. "Rounders was really my first experience with poker. After that I played tons in high school with my friends. We'd get together every Friday night and have home games playing all varieties of poker. Eventually that became every night and hold'em quickly became my favourite game."
Reassuringly, the man who now claims to feel comfortable against anyone in the world was once a donkey too. "I sucked badly, but luckily all my friends sucked too. I read Ken Warren's "How To Win At Texas Hold'em" and followed his advice like a religion. That in addition to thinking about poker all the time had me gaining a nice edge."
What began with Ken Warren's tome for beginners soon saw a young kid who liked to play with his mates turn to online poker. The success didn't come immediately though, as pr1nnyraid learnt the hard way about online poker. "Getting really good took me a while. I went broke often when i started playing online. Eventually I found TwoPlusTwo.com and just absorbed every bit of literature on there daily. I started thinking about my play differently, learned not to be so results oriented, managing tilt, bankroll management... Before long I realised I could make a living at poker and how it could be approached so that luck would no longer matter as much."
Pr1nnyraid put in the same hours as the rest of his contemporaries as he moved through the limits on his way to the biggest games on the net. "I started out with small stakes online, $0.50/1, $1/2, $2/4... Once I figured out how to manage my bankroll I was more methodical and put in lots of hands at every single limit. I had a hard time with $2/4 way back when. I think it's because the money meant a lot more to me and I thought the players were much better so I'd try to play differently. After a while I realised I shouldn't be changing the way I played unless I needed to."
When was it time to move up to the next level? "It wasn't really a matter of playing a certain number of hands, but there'd be one hand here or there that I would play really well, a hand or strategy that I never saw posted or talked about on 2+2, and those moments coupled with winning at a high win rate told me that i was on to something."
TwoPlusTwo meant he was part of the biggest mob going, as players shared ideas about how to best play the game. What began in the online forums soon evolved into his lifestyle as he found himself discussing the game with some of the best young players in the game. "Once I had moved up to high stakes I was really fortunate to be able to have been friends with some other really strong players. That constant analysis and criticism day in and day out of no-limit hold'em - and only no-limit hold'em - was a huge part of my development."
Once he was on top of the $200/$400 games, there was only one way to go - up. Very up, in fact, as pr1nnyraid took on some of the best players in the world at the nosebleed games. Did he ever just think to himself this was one step too far? "By the time I started playing that high, I had already been crushing very soft $200/400 and $300/600 games and had experience playing with some very, very good players I wasn't really worried about playing anyone unless they gave me reason to be."
Locking horns with Dwan and Antonius seemed to go pretty smoothly for pr1nnyraid, with impressive results against Durrrr in particular. "The first time I played Tom I killed him! As for Patrik, we played for like seven hours straight and broke even. I didn't play him again for almost a year but when i did (this past summer) he was very rusty at no-limit and I'd been playing solely no-limit for a long time so I had a decent edge. After you've won lots of money at poker and played against lots of tough competition, there's really no fear at all, just morbid curiosity for how guys like Ivey, Antonius, et al. think about the game."
While pr1nnyraid might have taken on the best in the world, the respect he has for them doesn't come just because of their name. "I have a lot of respect for anyone who has made a lot of money from poker. It's a brutal game at times and to consistently be on top after years is impressive. Just because I might play NL cash better than some of those guys doesn't mean I'm better than them, just different... I'm sure I'd get my ass kicked at Omaha Eight or PLO. At the same time though, I've never handed anyone respect just because they've been on TV."
A recent coming together on Full Tilt Poker showed that ethic after Rosenkrantz clashed with one of the biggest players on the site, David Benyamine. When Benyamine quit their session, Rosenkrantz felt there wasn't enough notice served, and accused the Frenchman of poor etiquette. Erica Schoenberg stood by her man, labelling the online pro "young, arrogant, and disrespectful." The whole episode doesn't seem to have changed Jason's assessment of Benyamine's heads-up game. "Any time David Benyamine wants to play me at heads up no-limit I will play with no stop loss."
When you consider the swings involved playing $500/1000, you wonder why on Earth someone would still consider teaching. 'Krantz' is one of the co-founders of DeucesCracked, and is the current Creative Director. The involvement with the site has seen him impart some of his wisdom to the DeucesCracked community in much the same way he had prospered at TwoPlusTwo years before. When he recently announced 'Rhapsody of KRANTZ', a video series designed to teach advanced heads-up. A total of 24 episodes each weighing in at 125 minutes, all yours for $14,000. The move left some wondered if he'd been holding back his best stuff for a bumper payday.
"I decided to keep it separate because I think the theories contained in the videos can really only benefit those players who are already thinking on an extremely high level. It just would not be of use to 99% of players out there." Some of the subject areas left us scratching our heads, simply reaffirming we're in the 99%. "I talk about things that develop during the course of HU poker that are extremely hard to pinpoint in normal videos. You have magic realism and its influence on 2-street poker, stack-to-avatar ratio, and way more fuzzy concepts like sonar, radar and attack by land and sea. Those topics just could not even be touched in even an 8 episode series and wouldn't even be useful unless you're playing lots of heads up against very tough competition."
Stack to avatar ratio got you thinking? We daren't ask about attack by land and sea. What would someone like Ivey or Brunson would make of the content? " I think it would be hard to say, I suspect a lot of the chapters about online play would seem too foreign." Did pr1nnyraid just put Ivey in the 99% too? Expect some angry blogs from his wife if so!
Of course, no chat with pr1nnyraid would be complete without one of the most priceless things he's contributed to the online poker world: when the hell did he decide weed browines was good for his win rate?! "Haha, actually it's a little known fact that we lost about $120,000 during that brownie session. It was well worth it though because that video is hilarious. Ariel ('FoxwoodsFiend' - a fellow high stakes pro) ended up sleeping in a closet that night because he thought his room was on fire or something."
There was also Rosenkrantz now legendary 'well' thread on Two Plus Two, where the pro offered to answer any questions about his poker strategy, lifestyle, and well... creativity. Back in the days when he would fleece his friends of their not yet earned money, Jason found other ways to have them repay their debts, including bringing a duvet and pillows to lectures then having to try to sleep during class. Those days are over though - apparently he'd rather have the $200k than get any of the pros to do anything crazy.
"At this point in my life im happy to just take the cash. Mind you, before the WSOP 'whitelime' [online pro and close friend Emil Patel] and I had a personal assistant who thought he could beat me at Wii tennis. We played heads up for his salary, f he lost he would have to be our slave and work for nothing. He lost but I felt bad and ended up paying him anyway, but not before he was sad for a little bit." Basically you're a fairly soft game on Wii Tennis then? "No comment", came the reply. Very wise, Mr. Rosenkrantz.