Episode 64: John the Lawyer

John the Lawyer left a profitable legal practice to play poker professionally. He cut his teeth in the big game at Foxwoods playing against, among others, a young Vanessa Selbst. In this interview, he shares his thoughts on live poker, home games, game selection, the evolution and state of no-limit hold ’em, how to deal with collusion, and more. Plus Andrew and Nate talk about whether to fold Aces in a satellite.

John recommends reading Unbroken, watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and learning from Carlos Welch‘s latest Two Plus Two article. If you enjoy John’s stories, check this one out too.


0:30 Hello and Welcome
6:50 Treating Opponents with Respect
12:09 Strategy: Fold Aces?
25:29 Interview: John the Lawyer

19 thoughts on “Episode 64: John the Lawyer

  1. I was surprised to heard my thread get a shoutout on the podcast. I changed the name to something easier to say. It’s Carlos’s Cash Catastrophes now. Gotta find more hands for it now that it’s in the poker media.

    Great interview. I had a big smile when I heard John mention my article. Like just about everyone else associated with this show, he sounds like the kind of poker player I one day hope to be. I can try to do a better job making poker fun for the other players.

    These are the type of stories that give me hope. If he can replace a danggone lawyer’s salary with poker, then I gotsta be able to scrape together 1 to 2 thousand a month. I love the way the Thinking Poker community inspires one another. Keep choppin wood fellas.

    • That Frisbee piece was classic btw. It’s one of the hardest but most fundamental of all lessons to learn I think.

  2. another great show. pretty ironic, wish you had him on after the scandal of Borgata 2 million guarantee being cancelled. BTW, I’m one of the final 27…might have to give John a call

    • Brutal…being cheated is way up there for the worst of bad beats. I’m sorry to hear your misfortune in that regard and hope that somehow some good comes to you out of this.

  3. ah yes, i know you said you were interested in our listening habits. i usually catch your show when i am delivering mail. have to say I meant to download show so i could listen to it on ride home from Atlantic City and but i forgot to and was pretty pissed about that:)

  4. Remarkably cogent and articulate guest. Shortlist this guy for a follow up. Keep up the excellent work!

  5. Andrew – your complaining about no one e-mailing concern about your water pipes (and the reason no one did) reminded me of one of the best comedy sketches of all time on Mr. Show, the pre taped call in show: www youtube com / watch?v=HrlS9_n8GX4

    Also, I listen at work – usually when eating my lunch or doing some task that doesn’t require my full attention.

    • Great clip, thanks for sharing. Just as it seemed like the gag was getting old, they upped the ante. I really like Cross and Odenkirk, don’t know why I haven’t seen more of Mr Show. I did actually realize while I was talking why I hadn’t gotten any emails, but I decided to keep going with it anyway.

  6. Havent listened to the pc yet but Johns recommendation of Jiro Dreams of Sushi is great. Its on stream at Netflix if you have an account and is a fantastic study of lifelong commitment. If you have access to a copy you should watch Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. An interesting study of strategy, warfare, and class struggle.

  7. As a criminal defense attorney, I found John’s comments on making the switch to full-time poker quite interesting. He’s certainly right that the losses in poker are never as painful as the losses in a criminal defense practice. Professionally, there’s not much more painful than watching client get sentenced to several years in prison, even when the result was the legal equivalent of a bad beat or a cooler.

    That said, I would argue that the highs in the law can also be more rewarding. Clients are often facing the most difficult crises in their lives. Successfully helping them through that period — and reuniting them with their families and getting their lives back on track — is far better than even the best sessions that I’ve had on the felt.

    But of course there’s also another consideration. I’ve never played poker full time, but at least in my recreational pursuits, I’d rather spend several hours at the table than several hours reading legal opinions — even in the most interesting and righteous of cases. And even when the inevitable “grind” sets in, I suspect that the day-to-day of being a professional poker player would simply be more fun. And that’s quite valuable.

  8. Hello My name is Dick Carson. Been playing poker since 1961. Met John at Foxwoods about 12 years ago., Used to play him heads up quite frequently. He was the best player over me in heads up, Since that time John and I have become great friends away from Poker. I think the world of him as a human being. He has a quality a lot of poker players need to get. When I was playing daily with John I used to say to people”Some day this man will be a great player” That time might be here now but for sure he is a great person and I am proud to call him my friend
    Dick Carson

  9. That’s one of my favourite ever interviews of all the ones you’ve done. John’s a really compelling talker with really interesting things to say, and I’d bet he has plenty more good poker stories to tell. I agree with Ruxton Atheist – definitely a guy to have back on at some point in the future.

  10. Love the show and usually listen in the car on the way to work or as I’m walking around Glasgow city centre on my lunch hour.The only small request I would make is to ask if you guys could possibly remind us of the hero’s hand a bit more often during the strat talk as I have the recall powers of a small goldfish! Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, Zagga. We’ll try to be better about this, I’m sure you’re not the only one who would appreciate it.

  11. relatively new listener but John is a great interview. Bring him back. Well spoken with great stories and insight.

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