CC: What is your name and where are you from?
Kurosh: My name is Kurosh Dejgosha. My parents moved from Iran to Canada, where they had me. When I was around two or three, we moved to Ohio, and I stayed there until 16, when I came to Illinois. I'm 20 now.
CC: Regarding your parents coming from Iran, have there been challenges for your family through their times in Ohio and Illinois?
Kurosh: For the most part, it has been fine. I was teased at school and called a terrorist occasionally, but I don't think it was any more than most kids go through. After 9/11, however, I was nearly attacked one time (article here ). Probably the worst that has happened with our family is people gawking a bit at Cracker Barrel. I think most of it had to do with us conversing in Farsi. I very rarely feel discriminated against. The last time I can remember the slightest bit is at the airport, where they singled me out for extra screening, yet even here, it's only happened on one of about ten flights in the past year.
CC: And what does your family think about their son playing poker?
Kurosh: Ha-ha, poker has caused tremendous problems between us. They think it's only a matter of time before I lose all my money. They are constantly trying to persuade me to let them hold on to a portion of my bankroll and quit to go back to school. I can't blame them for it. I wouldn't want my son to be a poker player.
CC: Tell us about how you started playing poker.
Kurosh: After the Moneymaker boom, I played occasionally in $5-$20 buy-in home games. At most, I made $50. It wasn't until a few months later, when I went to college, that I became serious about it. There were nightly games on my floor. Our floor became known as the place to go for poker. The competition was a lot stiffer than the home games and I turned to the internet to get better. I started playing online and participating in poker discussions on twoplustwo. I read every book and resource available to me.
CC: What drew you to poker?
Kurosh: Money. I also love the rush when you completely outplay someone, but that didn't come till later. Calling that all-in with ace-high, knowing you're good, or check-raising them off their hand with nothing... man, I love it.
CC: What stakes and where did you play starting out?
Kurosh: After I discovered the magical world of online poker, I pretty much quit playing live. The progression went something like:
$10-$50 NL SNGs
$20-$50 limit SNGs
.5/1 - 3/6 full ring limit
5/10 - 15/30 shorthanded limit and then I stuck with shorthanded limit for a long time.
CC: Tell us about how you've progressed in the last two years. You were like a bottle rocket.
Kurosh: I've always been able to learn things quickly. Poker was no different. It took a while for everything to click, but once it did, I was very confident in my game. After about 6 months, I was playing the biggest limit games PartyPoker spread (15/30 and 30/60). I then took shots at even bigger games, 50/100, 100/200 and 150/300. I did well at first, but I was playing over my head and lost nearly all my profit from those games in one session. I regrouped, studied and started grinding back. For the last 6 months, I've been playing primarily 50/100+ limit and 5/10+ NL.
CC: What was the key for your rapid escalation in the game?
Kurosh: I read a lot about poker, thought a lot about poker, and played a lot of poker. Once you understand the fundamentals, most of it is making sure you have a good game plan and adapting to your opponents.
CC: What do you play currently (games, stakes, where)?
Kurosh: I had been playing 5/10 - 10/20 NL on Party for the past three months mainly. Now, I've been playing 50/100+ and 5/10 NL+ on PokerStars and FullTilt . Things will take a while to settle down and then I can determine what is the most profitable game for me to play in.
CC: You focus more on cash games vs. tourneys. Is this correct, and why do you focus on cash games?
Kurosh: Money and tilt. Cash games are more profitable. Playing four+ hours to get nothing because some donkey outdrew you tilts the living hell out of me. I play tournaments occasionally, until I am reminded how much I hate them.
CC: I've noticed you've played HU recently. Is this a regular part of your game, or do you use this to challenge others?
Kurosh: HU is my favorite and strongest game. Of course, it is always fun to challenge people. The less players, the more hands you can play and the more opportunity to exercise your edge. There is much more history and flow involved. If you have a weak opponent HU, it's much more profitable than playing with a few fish.
CC: Tell us about some of your big swings (up and down). You've had some brutal slides.
Kurosh: My first big swing up was when I decided to jump into a 100/200 game with $3000. I don't remember how much I won that night. Over the next week, I made about 50k and my bankroll was only 20k at the time. The next day, I lost 35k. After this, I withdrew all my bankroll but 10k. I would grind at 10/20, then take shots at higher limits and run bad. I kept moving down until I only had 2k left. I started propping and ran it up to 20k in a month, PLAYING WITHIN MY BANKROLL. The next month, I made 60k. The next month, I lost 40k.
This last month, I had a Three day period where I lost 60k. Spread out over a week, I lost 80k. My biggest day was around +25k or 30k. As I said before, my worst day was losing 35k. My best month was +90k. Worst month -60k.
CC: There are many great players who have gone bust during these downturns, yet you've seen your way through it seems. During these downturns, can you recall what it was like?
Kurosh: Initially, I am depressed. I think about all the hours of grinding wasted. I think about the stupid things I did to get here. I think about my peers who have more money than me now. Then, I man up and make a plan to get my money back. I review my game entirely. I think hard about every decision I make. I review all of my sessions. I put in a lot of hours grinding, playing great poker and eventually it turns around.
CC: How did you work through this period?
Kurosh: The first few times it was really rough. You question whether or not you are even a winning poker player. I mean, even the fish win sometimes, but I'm losing all the time? Did I just get lucky to build my roll? You question every decision. Friends who play poker are great here. Their advice and comments helped me rebuild my confidence. It gets better with experience.
CC: Has bankroll management been a challenge for you? What would you tell others about bankroll management?
Kurosh: Ha-ha, yes, very much so. It's not that I don't know how to manage a roll well. I do. I know the proper bankroll requirement for each game and limit. I know you shouldn't risk large portions of your roll at once. I know the house has an edge in blackjack. I just lose control when I am tilting. Another issue is having too much money. When my roll is huge, I play worse. I get into the mentality, "oh one bet doesn't matter," and you can't give up those edges at high limits. I am a big advocate of taking shots. If there is a big game with fish, even if you aren't rolled for it, as long as you can stand to lose that money, GO! Your regular game will always be there for you to grind back.
CC: What is the difference between tilt and playing with emotion/being depressed after a loss?
Kurosh: There are only a few things that set me off and make me lose control. For me, the difference is in magnitude and whether or not I have control over it. If I make a bad play, I get depressed and frustrated with myself. If my opponent sucks out on me, I tilt. Of course, at this point, most bad beats have no effect on me. It's only when I make a marginal read and lose anyway. An example is I once called an all-in on a AQxx board with JJ and got two outered on the river by 88. I made that read and I feel as if I deserve that money. Those hands are the ones that make me go insane. It makes you feel as if it doesn't matter how well you play. The other big thing that tilts me is a big loss after many hours of grinding, especially at the end of a session. Say I've been playing for the past five hours and have a nice 5k win. In the last 15 minutes of my session, I've lost all of that profit to a few beats in a row. Then I think back and feel as if all that time has been wasted. Five hours of playing better than these stupid donkeys and I end up with nothing.
CC: Do you have a group of other players that you network with to improve your game? How important is this?
Kurosh: Yes, mainly people off of twoplustwo. It is very, very important. When you are first learning, of course it helps a lot to have experienced people telling you what you are doing wrong. Later, when you have become an experienced poker player yourself, it's always helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off or talk about hands with.
CC: What are the challenges of grinding away at online poker?
Kurosh: God, I hate grinding, to be honest. People always think it is so easy because, you know, I'm just "playing a game." The variance is brutal. Nothing is guaranteed. Your livelihood depends on your performance and even if you are playing perfectly, you still lose sometimes. Then when you lose, you question whether or not you are actually playing well. Your mind has to be clear and sharp. If you play tired, you will lose. Your mistakes directly affect your bottom line and in a big way. Sure you can set your own hours, but you still have to put those hours in. To maximize your hourly rate, you play as many tables as you can and that's not fun. You don't get good reads on people when you're playing eight tables. I hate it. I do it for the money. I enjoy it when I'm playing shorthanded and 2-4 tables.
CC: Poker can be quite consuming. How do you keep balance in your life, or is that a problem?
Kurosh: I actually don't play much poker anymore. It's a good day when I put in two hours. I've been trying to increase that lately. I've never had a problem with poker taking up too much time, only too little.
CC: What are the key ways that you work to improve your game?
Kurosh: At this point, I mostly just think about it. I'll review hands and talk to people too, but after my initial learning period, most of my improvements have been on my own. Learn the fundamentals - that can all be taken from books - and then, it's only a matter of logic and luck.
CC: You recently played in Aruba. Was this your first live casino play?
Kurosh: Nope. I've played at underground casinos, Commerce, the Rio and the MGM Grande.
CC: How was your experience prior to the UltimateBet event while you were in Aruba?
Kurosh: I've decided I don't like playing live. I played maybe an hour or two in the cash games and in a few satellites and tournaments. I made a bit in the cash game and lost in all the tournaments. Unrelated to poker, I had a great time. It's wonderful weather and a beautiful island.
CC: Your tourney was a disappointment for you. Take us through what happened.
Kurosh: I tried to satellite in the day before in two $600 SNGs but lost both, so I bought in directly the day of the event. Two of my friends bought in with me and since UB has crappy seat assignment, we were sitting next to each other at the same table. All my friends and family knew I was in Aruba to play in a big tournament. I was fantasizing about winning or doing really well and being on TV. There was so much leading up to it. It was my first big live tournament. I got knocked out within half an hour. I had A3 vs. AQ on a A3AQ2 board. It was very depressing. I hate tournaments.
CC: Since then, the poker world has been turned on its head with the new Internet Gambling legislation. You've had a few weeks now to evaluate it, as well as discuss it with other players. What happens next for you?
Kurosh: The US poker demand is too big for the government to stop completely. Online poker will still exist and as long as it is profitable, I will play.