“Poker is like Marriage; Never put yourself in a Tempting Position.”

Lawrence Rabie has been playing poker for 25 years, which is longer than Pius Heinz (pictured), Jonathan Duhamel and Joe Cada, the most recent winners of the World Series of Poker Main Event have been on this planet. Also known as the Prez, he’s seen the game go from highly inaccessible underground clubs to a ‘can’t escape’ online community, where having your hands in multiple pots leads the way. Regardless of the cultural change, Lawrence believes the next hand waits for nobody, so always mitigate your losses.

J:    What are your thoughts on online tournaments versus in-person tourneys?
Prez: Playing online is the worst. Here’s the problem with it and why it’s changed: You sign in and there’s 100 tourneys starting in an hour. There are 1000 people in each tourney and some enter six at a time, so they’ll play an extremely aggressive style. Patience is long gone. If they got knocked out they just move on, leaving them in one tourney, probably with a lot of chips. In the Bahamas you fly out there, get your chips and play patiently. If you don’t play patiently you’re out on the beach. Kids do well nowadays because there aren’t 100 people in the event, there’s thousands.

J:    What do you have to do get better? Practice right?
Prez: The only reason the pros are better than myself and say, guy A, is that they play way more tournaments. As a result poker becomes a game of math. If you have a pair and you need another card to complete the set, there’s a math equation right there. If you play ten tourneys in a year the math doesn’t help you. If you play 1000, you’ll win enough to cover the losses. Volume allows math to take over, so it’s less to do with practice, and more to do with volume. That and a big bankroll.
J:    So what’s your personal strategy?
Prez: One of the most important things to remember when you’re playing poker is the betting patterns of your opponents.  I don’t buy into the whole concept of reading a person. Maybe 1 out of 1000 people can do it, but even then the great poker players will set you up and trick you.  If you work out the betting pattern, ultimately you end up playing hands in a particular manner. What separates the greats from the others? The ability to mitigate your losses. Lose as little as you can before you win. Never focus on winning, only focus on losing as little as you can. When I win a big pot I’m ecstatic, but I almost immediately figure out what I’m going to do with my new chips. I work out the strategy on how I’m going to play with the small stack.

J:    Great advice. What about position betting or tilting (letting your emotions take over)?
Prez: Position is one of the most important parts of poker, play every group of cards from every position and use the size of your bet to find out information. Ultimately the kids have changed it to some degree, they’re so aggressive they’ll likely play out of position more often than the pros. Either way, never tilt. Tilting is overrated and I think so few people tilt nowadays. Play middle of the pack cards so it’s easier to fold, I play 9/10 all the time. It’s a game, so the more you play the more you can laugh off the cliché of ‘That’s Poker’ .  

J:    How do you handle Heads Up poker?
Prez: You got to remember that Q7 beats any random hand in heads up. For me I try to use it as a guide but it’s just a rule of thumb. You need to put total aggression on your opponent; go all in more, raise more and keep your foot on the pedal. There’s probably less bluffing in heads up and more likely your opponent will call you, since they only need better than Q7. For me you need to set your pattern and then try to beat your opponent by raising, folding, re-raising and going all in.

J:    Which poker pros do you look up to?
Prez: Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari (he gives great commentary) and Benny Spindler, probably the most aggressive player on the planet.
J:    Worst hand to play?
Prez: A10. Nothing good comes from A10.
J:    Trickiest hand to play?
Prez: Jacks. You just never know but usually they screw you.
J:    Who do you admire the least?
Prez: Phil Helmuth; he plays such an old school style of cards but he still does well though.
J:    What’s Helmuth like?
Prez: I played with him for six hours, he’s a normal guy. I think a lot of it is for television.
J:    Donkey spotting?
Prez: Try not to spot them. It’s an arrogant way to play. If you’re out spotting them, you’re the donkey.
J:    More tips?
Prez: Never over bet, and over confidence is the most dangerous thing. Always make sure you bet the least amount to find out the most. Every chip counts.


Lawrence Rabie is a professional sports bettor living in Toronto, Canada.


  1. Great interview, Jen. Rabie's responses were Very on-point and insightful. Couldn't help notice the first name he mentioned with admiration was 'Kid Poker'. :)

    1. Thanks deng! Kid Poker is a favourite of many and he's quite the talker! Rabie's advice helped me finish if 4th place!


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