He’s only 23 but he’s already made over $800,000 in online tournaments. After a recent win in the Full Tilt Poker weekly 1k, Darryll Fish is showing he is an up-and-coming online force to be reckoned with. KL: How did you get started playing poker?
Darryll: Well, when I was like 16 I started playing Magic: The Gathering, and was pretty much hooked from the start. I started traveling and playing the game on a pretty competitive level for a year or so, making enough money to freeroll my travels and get by. When I was 17, one of my friends who had started playing a little poker, made me sit down and watch Rounders, and I was so intrigued I knew I had to find out more about the game. I started buying every poker book I could find and studying the game, and eventually we started having little poker games at the hobby shop where we played Magic. Nothing crazy, just betting dimes and quarters, but it was just so much fun I couldn't get enough. I pretty much fell in love with the game and never looked back. KL: Was it a slow start or did you move up quickly
Darryll: Well like I said, my Magic buddies and I started out playing for change, but slowly we eventually got a good group together, and started getting together at one of our friends' place to play SnGs, and we started out with $5 games, and slowly moved up. We also took trips to the local dog track to play $1-$2 Limit Holdem. I was more into it than anyone else in the group, and eventually deposited $50 on PartyPoker. In like 3 months I had $12,000 in my account just from playing Limit holdem, and felt like a king. Then I decided to take a shot playing 4 tables of $15-$30 and lost half of my bankroll in one day. That was an eye-opener and I went back to the grind, playing $1-$2 no limit home games and moving back down to $3-$6 and $5-$10 limit hold’em on Party. After a couple years of grinding cash games, I started to gain interest in tournament poker, and after my 2nd summer in Vegas (2008) I decided to move there and devote myself almost entirely to learning NLHE Tournament poker.
KL: How do you work to improve your game?
Darryll: I think about poker a ton, and I am always analyzing hands I play and thinking about what I could do differently. I often sweat players I think are better than me and see what they are doing in different spots. I am constantly analyzing hands with friends as well as studying forums.
KL: How much do you talk poker with your friends?
Darryll: Probably too much, lol. I discuss hands as well as different poker concepts on a daily basis.
KL: Who do you talk with?
Darryll: Well, I live with Matt Graham (MattG1983 online), who has been a major influence on my tournament game, and we talk about poker pretty much nonstop. Other people I try to learn from include Scott "SCTrojans" Freeman, Adam "Roothlus" Levy (who is a longtime friend and has done a lot to help rise through the ranks in poker), Russ "Rcrane" Crane, among quite a few others, mostly regular posters on the 2+2 HSMTT forum.
KL: Do you spend much time on the forums? Have they helped you?
Darryll: I have recently (in the past few months) become a fairly active poster on 2+2, as well as Pocketfives.com, although I generally prefer 1 on 1 discussion with someone I respect. I feel like forums can really help as far as keeping up with the current metagame and learning how others think about poker in general as well as specific tournament situations. Reading forums has certainly helped my game, but nowhere near as much as what I've learned from specific individuals.
KL: You recently won the Monday $1000 on Full Tilt. Tell us about that tournament.
Darryll: It was a huge monkey off my back, especially since I already had a win in the Stars 1k back in 07, and had always wanted to back it up with a win in the Full Tilt 1k. I was on the worst downswing of my career and that win really helped me regain my confidence, and get my groove back so to speak. As far as the tournament itself, it started off pretty amazing. In the first level, I got all in with K-K versus my good friend Geoff "Geoffras22" Rasmussen, who held A-A, and I spiked a king on the turn to double up.
I coasted for a while just picking up small pots, and then a big hand came up where I flopped a boat with 9-9 and doubled through A-K. After that hand, I was chipleader and sailed for a while. I ran J-J into Q-Q for a pretty huge pot with like 3 tables left, and then grinded down to like 14 players before I played another big pot. I reshoved like 16 big blinds on an extremely aggressive open raiser with A-9o, and he happened to have A-Q. Luckily, I happened to flop a 9 and went to the final table in like 4th place, and grinded it out until we were 3 handed.
I won a race with K-9 against David "Bakes" Baker's 2-2, and then got really lucky and beat his T-T with 5-5 all in preflop. I was chipleader heads up and the first hand I had T-T and my opponent had 8-8, so that made it pretty easy.
KL: How did you celebrate?
Darryll: Did a few victory laps, gave a few high fives to my roommates, and that was about it. It was really late so I was pretty tired and ready to pass out.
KL: What goals do you set for yourself?
Darryll: Well, I hope to be a millionaire by 30, which is probably a pretty common goal, lol, but I still like it. I also want to be a consistent winner in high stakes live cash games, because that’s where I think the best money is. Other than that, I want to eventually own a business and spend most of my time traveling and enjoying all the experiences life has to offer; only playing poker here and there. I guess winning a bracelet or two would be cool too.
KL: What do you think is your greatest strength in the game?
Darryll: I am always striving to get better, as I feel poker is a game where you should always be evolving and adapting to new ideas and situations. I also feel like I am very good at adapting to different players/situations and playing according to what is going on at the table rather than what cards I am being dealt. I also have nearly no emotions in poker, other than excitement after a tournament win. I almost never let bad luck affect how I play because I recognize I'm in it for the long haul and bad things are gonna happen no matter what. KL: What do you think is your biggest weakness?
Darryll: I sometimes level/outthink myself in situations that are really quite simple. I also sometimes lose confidence in my game when going through a downswing.
KL: What do you play mostly? Where?
Darryll: Although I am a cash game player at heart, I am currently devoting most of my time to high stakes no limit tournaments. I mostly play online, between PokerStars, Full Tilt, and UltimateBet. When I play live cash I usually play at Venetian. KL: What makes your respect another player’s game?
Darryll: Their ability to adjust to different situations and player tendencies. I also respect when people don't let their emotions get the best of them, and are able to remain in control at all times. And I respect/wonder how Shaun Deeb can play 30 tables on a 17" laptop with a touchpad.
Darryll: Heading to New Orleans this weekend to finish up FTOPS and then the $5k WSOP Circuit championship there, then back home to get ready for WSOP.
KL: What are your WSOP plans?
Darryll: I’m gonna play almost all of the smaller no limit hold’em events, as well as a few PLO and some other games. I’m Probably gonna grind some cash here and there as well and then win the Main Event, obv!
Like a wheel, the Round Table is a circle of adventures and victories, beats and stories, and life as it unfolds with a cast of characters that may, or may not, have joined you in your home on a local TV program. There's so much more to poker than what you see on TV. Although I won't use canvas, I will paint the full picture for you as I follow the lives of some of your favorite (and some unknown) players. The Round Table is an ongoing series of life, viewed full circle.