Grand Rapids is a fairly quiet city in the heartland of the struggling American automotive industry. Brutally cold in the winters, but that can’t be said for its very own Greg Lavery. Better known as captZEEbo, this 22 year old player has exploded on the poker scene in the last year, steadily and aggressively moving his way up from small stakes NLH to consistently scoring five and six figure months at $25/50 NLH.
CC: Tell me about how you started playing poker, as well as how you’ve progressed over time.
Greg: I started playing because some buddies in college were playing. And I've been playing for two years. I took my sweet time at each stake always being way over rolled for each game I played. Started with $5 sit n go’s up to $55 sit n go’s. Next, I went over to $.50/1 limit and played up to $10/20 limit holdem. I finally moved to $2/4 NL probably for three days then jumped to $5/10 NL. My game really varies now, but I like $25/50 NL. I rarely ever play live. I don’t really play tourneys, only when I’m goofing off after a bad day at the tables.
CC: How did you come to the decision to play poker professionally?
Greg: I play "full time" meaning like 25 hours a week. Prior to that I was at McDonalds. I found that I made more money at poker.
CC: It seems from your website that your roommate also plays poker professionally. How has that been a benefit to you?
Greg: Well he JUST made it to $5/10 NL, but it's really nice to be able to talk over hands a lot more. I have progressed a lot by discussing strategy and situations with others. Just thinking over hands and talking them over with friends.
CC: Where have you seen the greatest improvements to your game?
Greg: Every so often I'll think of some new trick to employ in my game and be really happy with myself.
CC: Do you challenge your bankroll to jump up? What is your bankroll management philosophy?
Greg: I've never really challenged my bankroll except when I FIRST started with $75 playing $5+1 sit n go's. Since my initial hot run, I've always played within a much bigger cushion than almost anyone recommends. I'm not too much of a gambler at heart, and risk of ruin is really, really scary to me for some reason. Taking shots was mostly just a feeler to see if I could handle the competition, and I handled all the competition up until $100/200 NL where the money became too much for me to handle and I was looking at pots in terms of cars won or lost. So I quickly backtracked.
CC: How do you handle setbacks and a down period? What is your game plan to work through this?
Greg: I usually cry when I lose a bunch of money and I often drop down stakes after a losing day or two. I don't really recommend this for everyone, but it helps me psychologically to book a win and remind myself I can win at poker.
CC: What has been your biggest month, as well as your toughest month?
Greg: My biggest month was March 2006: +233k, followed by my toughest month this past month - April 2006: -83k, which has been my first losing month. I experienced a lot of horrendous beats at the highest stakes 25/50 NL and 50/100 NL. I took a shot at Mahatma heads up. I tilted some too (of course). Overall a pretty depressing month though.
CC: Tell us about your Zeebo theorem. How has it worked for you?
Greg: A lot of people have been trying it out and getting good results. It really represents a wider policy of how I play though. When I think they're looking to make a big call, I let them. I just found people really have trouble folding full houses. I don't strictly follow that theorem, however. When I think a good player will not call the all-in on some board like 22256, I just make a nice full pot bet and they'll call. A lot of it has to do with feel.
CC: What does the future hold for you?
Greg: Hopefully being able to retire early by like age 24. My goal for this year is to make a bunch of money (hopefully more than $1mil).