Episode 185: Billy Sharkey

Billy Sharkey’s poker career has been a roller coaster that led him to mindfulness meditation, and that helps… except when it doesn’t. In this revealing interview, Billy discusses dealing with losses, the complex politics of high stakes home games, his struggle with pit gambling, and how he makes sense of it all.

Billy’s latest adventure is stand-up comedy. You can check out his work on Facebook and Instagram.


0:30 -hello
3:20 -2NL flopped FD
27:17 -billy


2NL 6 max on ACR. Effective stacks $2.60.

I am UTG with KcJc and open $0.06. Villain calls on Button.

Flop comes 8c 2c 5. I bet $0.06 into $0.15. Villain raises to $0.22. I re-raise to $0.82, which leaves the villain to call $0.60 for a pot of $1.79. This raise also leaves me a pot sized bet behind.

Turn is 5c, making the board 8c2c5s 5c. I check and the villain checks behind.

River Ks, making the board 8c2c5s 5c Ks. Hero?

22 thoughts on “Episode 185: Billy Sharkey

    • I agree, I love thinking poker podcast but in this episode, it really sounded like the guest was coming down off of some hard stimulates (e.g., meth, coke, adderall, etc.). I hope he’s alright.

  1. I also forgot to mention what I thought about the discussion about whether to shove the river or consider betting half pot. Whilst it’s true that giving Villain an extra strategic option can’t decrease his EV in a vacuum, since he can just ignore the option, that doesn’t obviously apply here for two reasons. Firstly, betting either half pot or full pot gives Hero an extra strategic option and, although he might never be folding to a shove with this particular hand, having that option may mean that, against Hero’s range, Villain has to call the bet or bluff raise when he would have checked behind. It’s easy to construct toy situations like this where the extra option gives Hero a bit of extra EV, e.g.




    Secondly, playing exploitatively instead of GTO, the half pot bet might induce Villain to spazz shove. Just because an optimal Villain ignores an extra, but -EV, option doesn’t mean an exploitable Villain will.

  2. Have to agree with Mark – brutal. Love you guys, so had to listen to the bitter end, but it never improved. Can’t imagine this guy trying to think on his feet as a comic. Yikes.

  3. I liked the podcast a lot, brought a unique perspective. A nice break from the glib narratives of online phenoms that are a dime a dozen.

  4. The thing that’s great about the podcast format is that with a good podcast, it feels like you are having an intimate conversation with the interviewee. This conversation was different but interesting, and I dont think I’ve ever listened to a bad Thinking Poker podcast.

  5. I can relate to a lot of Sharkey’s thinking about health, stress, and the deeper points of life. Almost everything he talks about except high stakes poker, politics, and comedy is effectively exactly what I’ve been pondering on. With the same conclusions. I can also understand the difficultly of understanding the flow of the podcast. I think him being on a downswing was the main contributor to the quality of the flow of this podcast. The funny thing is – I’m sure the best comedians have bounced some really horrible and unfunny points of view to others. The ones that hit – they use on stage. No big deal. Some really deep points in here for sure. A lot deeper than most dare to go or be taken too.

  6. I expand on this sentiment on the Alan Boston podcast comments: but just wanted to add that I enjoyed listening to Billy’s stories and insights, sure it meandered a little at times, but I’m grateful for the interview and the insights. Thanks to John The Lawyer for suggesting some interesting characters so we can all listen and learn and enjoy a range of perspectives and experience. Thinking Poker – you’re the nuts. And maybe a little nuts 😉

  7. I enjoyed this podcast and I admired Billy’s honesty through out. It was tough to listen to at times, but it’s never going to easy hearing about someone going through tough times and having struggles in poker and/or life.

    I’m kind of disappointed to see comments like: ‘Brutal podcast..’. I think this is pretty harsh on Nate, Andrew and Billy. Nate and Andrew put out great free content every week and get this criticism when they have a guest who is a bit alternative and going through some troubles.

    Also to James who said ‘I’d like that 1.5 hours of my life back please’. Noone forced you to f-ing listen mate.

    Keep up the great work Andrew and Nate. All the best to Billy in the future and I look forward to the next pod.

  8. I liked this episode a lot. I thought Billy was interesting and different.

    I can see how it might not have been for everyone but I enjoyed it!

  9. This was one of my favorite Thinking Poker podcasts.

    I found it compelling to hear Billy talk about being in the now and not getting stuck in one’s thoughts, and then mutter self-critical thoughts about his responses to the questions during the interview. I loved the concept of “getting money high” which I’ve never heard before and which shined a light on a reason I love playing poker that I wasn’t aware of before. I love the general theme of searching for meaning and appreciated Billy sharing his own search for meaning, as well as hearing him admit that his contentment might just be a self-delusion to protect his ego.

    Great interviewing as well. Andrew and Nate were curious, receptive, and encouraging. I think that helped Billy feel comfortable opening his mind and sharing with little filter.

    Billy was himself, and I found him fascinating.

  10. I really enjoyed this episode. Although Billy rambled and lost his train of thought from time to time, Andrew expressed exactly what I was thinking, that it was extremely interesting to hear him thinking in real time.

    One thing that got annoying was the background noise and music whenever Billy spoke. For future podcasts it would be nice if guests could find a quieter place for the interview.

    • Yeah, sorry about that – I think we talked a bit about that during the show, he was at Foxwoods. Our cop-out answer is that it’s “atmospheric”. In truth, I’d prefer to have less background noise, and certainly Nate and I work hard to minimize it from our end. There’s only so much we can do wit regard to our guests, though.

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