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Interview with Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​ about start in poker, about climbing up to the top and about transitioning out of it

Interview with Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​

Charles Hawk: As you told me, you are transitiong out of poker after 6 years of playing the game religiously: what are the main reason behind it?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: The main reason I’m transitioning out of poker is that I want to take on new challenges and to push myself to grow away from the tables. After playing poker full time for 6 years, I’ve achieved everything I wanted to through poker both on a performance and financial level. I’m in a fortunate position where I can zoom out and look at the bigger picture and choose a direction for my life which I will find the most fulfilling over the next 5-10 years. I’m excited to put all my efforts into pursing interests away from the tables.

Charles Hawk: What are you planning to do next?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: I’m going into performance coaching to help others take all areas of their life to the next level. Throughout my whole poker career I’ve been working on personal development and over the last 6 months I’ve really started to condense my knowledge into strategies that can be used by others which I’m really excited to roll out. I’ve devised a program called Winners Edge in which I will be working closely with poker players to recondition their health, mind and body so that they are crushing both on and off the tables. Something I’ve been passionate about for a long time is making your health a priority and looking after your body in order to get the most out of yourself mentally. It crosses over directly to your performance at the tables, as well as how you look and feel away from the tables. It’s this approach that allowed me to rise from $15 to $1000 IHUSNGs whilst travelling the world with my girlfriend and putting on 20kgs of lean muscle. Most poker players spend all of their time playing or studying and neglect everything else that they don’t think gives them an immediate return. This is where I think the poker community needs to make a lot of improvements. They end up not achieving the results they want at the tables and developing all sorts of health troubles. I’m here to change that and to help players cultivate the habits that have the highest rate of return over the long term, both at the tables and in life. You can put in longer sessions, get better results and will feel better in yourself every single day with a different approach. For those who want to find out more about the Winners Edge program they can join my private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/189271871615008/) where I give away lots of free information and explain the program in more detail. Alternatively just drop me a message on Skype (adamc1988).


"The first one was when i started out playing poker weighing 69kgs, the 2nd is from last month weighing 90kgs​"

Charles Hawk: What have you learned from the game?  How the skills you accumulated will help you in the future?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: I’ve learnt a great deal from my time as a poker player. Two of the main things I’ve learnt are the importance of self-discipline and the value of working hard to achieve your goals. I think these are crucial skills that will allow me to succeed in anything I do in the future. I’ve also learnt how to strategise effectively, to have a big goal that you are aiming for and how to break that down into the day-to-day actionable steps you need to take to get there. This is one of the things I want to share with others. I’ve learnt that the work I put into improving myself away from the tables is equally important and how life’s about enjoying the process rather than fixating on a particular outcome. Finally I’ve learnt that you always need to be progressing in everything you do, if you’re not getting better you will be left behind.

Charles Hawk: How you came into poker in the first place? What is the story behind this?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: It came about very randomly. So to set the scene, it’s 2011 and I’d recently graduated from University with a BSc in Sports Science. All the post-graduate jobs were very competitive to get on so I was doing part time work whilst I figured out what I was going to do with my life. I got a call from my friend John (the 1rake1) who had been browsing the internet and stumbled across a website called Sharkscope. He told me that people were making insane amounts of money playing online poker and that we should give it a go… he then dropped in that we should do this in Thailand so we could really concentrate and be free of distractions. Even though I thought this was a crazy idea, it sounded like fun so I said I’m in! At this time I had next to no poker experience other than games with friends and the odd casino tournament. On top of that I was completely broke, I had about $200 in my bank account and I'd maxed out my $5000 overdraft which needed to be repaid asap! I had no idea how I was going to get the money to do this so I put the idea to the back of my head. A few months later I got a frantic call from John (the 1rake1) telling me I needed to send him $1000 for the villa rental in Thailand and that it was due today! I didn’t have the cash so I spent the day visiting every single bank in my home city asking for an overdraft until one eventually gave in and gave me $1000! That was the rent taken care of, now I had save so I could afford to live in Thailand on top of having a roll to play the games. When it was time to go, I had to book a one-way flight to Thailand as I couldn’t afford the return, this left me with a $600 roll/spending money. We clubbed all our money together for a combined $3k roll. It could have gone wrong quite easily but luckily we were able to beat the $15 stakes straight away so that we had some money coming in, then we put in 12 hour days of playing and studying until we had a roll big enough to move unto the next level. The journey had begun!

Charles Hawk: Tell me about your journey climbing up the limits. What was the hardest in this process? What was the main difficulties to reach your level?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: When myself, the 1rake1 and mavrickkk started out in 2011 we were playing $15 turbo HUSNGs as they had lower variance. We were dabbling at $300s by 2012 but it was obvious that the turbo games were drying up and that we needed to transition to hypers. We got ourselves established at $100/$200s hypers over a 12 month span of playing every day even though we weren’t particularly good at the time. Then at $300s I had to war with rams85 who was probably the best reg in the game at the time due to how much he was battling and crushed me for 3000 games over a 12 month spell. It was around this time I really started to make my health and fitness a priority and I became one of the better $300 regs through 2014 and would sit other regs to shorten the queues and keep me on pace for SNE. Fast forward to 2015 and it was myself, the 1rake1, mavrickkk, majcy and Campbell-gee all living together in Bali. We had an incline that the 1k regs were going to be behind the times in reg battling as they hadn’t been tested for so long. But the system was rigged against anyone shooting, even if you crushed them in a reg battle they would make so much off the fish they wouldn’t have to let you in. So we decided to all shoot and take the lobbies behind. Our incline was right and most of the 1k regs were not even willing to battle, but what we didn’t predict was that they would add every $500 reg who would play us to $1ks so that they could regain the lobbies. It ended up being Bali vs everyone, and they outnumbered us 20+ to 5 so they were getting all the fish money behind. We were winning the reg battle but they were making the money back off the fish. This battle went on for 8 months straight, it was prolonged by the fact we were running over $300k under EV and there were rumours going round that we were close to busting out. These were by far the hardest months of my poker career. I learnt a lot about myself over this period, how to stay motivated during the bad times, how to be resilient and to put in the work to get the outcome I wanted. During this time I really focused on all areas of my health, mind and body so that I could put in long sessions at peak performance. That’s where I developed my edge that allowed me to finally break into $1ks. 

Charles Hawk: Tell me more about main challenges about being able to remain at the top (limits) for a long period of time? What is the main success factors for it?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: The main challenges are to keep putting in the work on and off the tables so that you stay ahead of the competition. When you are at the top level, you are there to be shot at. The guys below want your spot and if you don’t stay on top of your game you are in danger of being replaced. I’d say the key thing to staying at the top is to always be improving, stay hungry and motivated to put in the work. The fact I put an emphasis on my health and fitness kept me sharp and motivated to deal with any challenges. 

Charles Hawk: If you will need to educate mid stakes reg who wants to reach the top, what would be the most important advices you would give him?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: You need to develop the habit of self improvement, to constantly be working on bettering yourself. You need to take a professional approach to everything you do, look after your health and body so that you are able to think more clearly and play your A-game longer than everyone else. It takes more than just understanding strategy to make it to the top. Once you are looking after yourself you need to become one the best players at your current level, obsess over the competition and know their exact strengths and weaknesses. If you know your competition well enough you will know when there is a good time to make a move. You may have to be patient, but don’t waste time - always be working on yourself so that when the opportunity arises you are ready. If you plan it out and believe in the process, it will keep you motivated through the difficult times of breaking in. Finally learn as much as you can from others, you don’t have figure it all out on your own.

Charles Hawk: Could you tell more what are your eating and sleeping habits? Also what sports do you do, how regularly etc.?  What else do you practice to be as healthy, fit  and productive as you are?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: I have at least 90% of my diet coming from whole foods, which are vegetables, animal proteins, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and dairy. The benefit this has on your health over the long term as opposed to a highly processed food diet is too substantial to quantify. I’m all about efficiency, so with your food you need to be organised, quick and easy meals or batch cooking food so that it’s there when you need it such as during a long grind. Eating the right foods can make a world of difference to your performance at the tables. Sleeping habits is an interesting one to cover, as I see a lot of poker players neglect this and I have made a lot of mistake in this area myself. When I first started playing poker I was on a polyphasic sleep pattern which consisted of 4.5 hours core sleep, then two 20 min naps to have throughout the day. Although it gave me more hours in your day, I don’t think it is a good approach as it’s sacrificing quality for quantity and looking back I was constantly tired. I now think getting enough good quality sleep is essential, between 7-9 hours for most people. Personally I aim for 8 hours and I have a whole routine of things I do from morning until bed time in order to guarantee I get the best quality sleep.
For exercise I go to the gym 4-5 times per week and fit in 45 minute walks (usually to the beach) every other day. I practice a host of things to be healthy, fit and productive - my whole day is built around habits and routines that allow me to get the most done whilst looking after my body. There are too many to elaborate on, but regular exercise, good nutrition, meditation, journalling, daily goal setting and a good nights sleep are some of them.

Charles Hawk: How has the husng hypers game changed from the days you remember? Have they changed much?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: HUSNGs have changed a lot, which is only natural. When I started out there was little reg battling and not much organisation even at the high levels. ‘Cartels’ as we call them started to form at each level around 2014 when I was playing $300 and moving up levels now became like an audition where you can to impress the current members at the level you wanted to play. Rake back was high then, up to 70% for SNE grinder such as myself which really incentivised reg battling and allowed the stronger players to profitably play the weaker players and push them out. With rake back now pretty much gone, it means you need a bigger skill advantage to be able to shoot higher but on the counter side when you do have an advantage you will likely have to play less games as the burn rate is higher for defenders. 

Charles Hawk: Since you are ending your poker carrier: please  reveal the secret and tell us now - how would you describe your game? What is your competitive advantage against the field?

Adam "adamc1988" Carmichael​: Haha good question! As a reg you effectively have two completely separate games - your reg vs reg game and your reg vs fish game. Anyone playing the same way against fish as they do against regs is leaving a lot of money on the tables. To get to the high stakes how you play against the regs is most important. You need to always be adapting your game, tuning into your opponents weaknesses, trying to exploit them whilst not leaving yourself open to be exploited. Your edge comes from being one step ahead of your opponent, which requires intense focus and strategizing. The better players can think more moves ahead then the worse players and know how to exploit any imbalances when they see them.