1 post / 0 new
Charles Hawk's picture
Interview with live poker coach Tommy Angelo: "I have been going to the WSOP since 1987 and I have never entered an event"

Charles Hawk: You are a professional poker player, writer, and coach, doing it for more than 25 years if I am correct? Tell me your story, please. Also - What did you do before discovering poker?

Tommy Angelo: Thank you Charles, and Husng, for this opportunity to spout off about myself. :-)

I have been playing poker for 45 of my 60 years on earth. My first career was musician. I played country and rock music five nights per week for ten years in bars. That was in the 80s. (I play piano, drums, bass, guitar, and a few years ago I took up banjo, and now I am learning harmonica!)

I left the music business in 1990 to become a professional poker player. I didn’t decide to become a poker pro. I was chosen. I was so poker crazed that all I wanted to do was play poker all the time, and the only way that was possible was if I made enough money from playing poker to support myself. So I learned how to do that.

In 1987, the book Hold’em For Advanced Players came out. That book, along with a couple others, gave me the information and inspiration I needed to begin to adopt the professional mindset. Three years later, I set sail into the sea of great joy and pain.

Charles Hawk: Share with our readers something about you, your poker career and poker-related off-table activities which isn't possible to find on the internet? :-) (Wikipedia or in your page: http://www.tommyangelo.com/)

Tommy Angelo: Okay. Here are three fun facts.

I have been going to the WSOP since 1987 and I have never entered an event.

I coined the term “hijack seat.”

In the mid 90s, I was arrested and charged with “running an illegal gaming house.” I plead guilty, because I was. :-)

Charles Hawk: Tell me about your current activities and involvements? What can we expect hearing from you in the near future?

Tommy Angelo: Right now I am making the audiobook version of Elements of Poker. My first baby is ten years old! And I happen to be a sound engineer. So I’m doing all the recording, editing, music, and special effects myself, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s coming out. The Elements of Poker audiobook will be at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes sometime this fall.

My other big project right now is a new book. It’s called: Dailyness Overcoming the Obstacles to a Daily Meditation Practice. This is my fourth book, and the first one without the word poker in the title, so that’s a little scary, writing something not intended for poker players only.

There’s a lot of interest in meditation these days, but I don’t see much about how to actually pull off doing it at home in a consistent, enjoyable way that really adds up and makes a stunning and huge difference. So that’s what this book is about. I gathered my material by way of coaching poker players who were interested in meditation, on how to get started. So I’ve gained some experience with helping others get past the common barriers.

Also new is that I am active on twitter and Facebook now, ever since Painless Poker came out in March. I’m trying to put out lots of useful stuff.



And I put out a newsletter. You can sign up for that here:


But wait! There’s more! Just now, I set up $5 discount code at my site. The code is: husng. Just type that in the discount box when you checkout. You can use it as often as you like and it will never expire.



Charles Hawk: You are live poker coach only if that’s accurate? What are the differences between coaching playing live in comparison with online? What is the most exciting about live coaching for you?

Tommy Angelo: I have coached many online players. The thing I like about coaching live poker is that I know I can deliver value to anyone.

Charles Hawk: What are your coaching methods?

Tommy Angelo: The client and I meet in Las Vegas for four days. From 11am to 5pm each day, we are in my hotel room and we move through the client’s customized curriculum. Each night, we play poker, in the same game, for mutual observation. That’s when I take notes about all sorts of things that the client does or doesn’t do, say, and think. These are often suggestions that surprise the client, and sometimes make a huge different in attitude, image, and results.

The coaching program includes three hours of follow up coaching that never expires, and after that, I am available for ongoing coaching for life.

Charles Hawk: Could you share some success stories?

Tommy Angelo: One time, at the end of our time in Vegas, a client said, “This was nothing at all like I expected, but it was exactly what I needed.” And my favorite client feedback was when a client wrote: “Tommy coached me at poker and it took five strokes off my golf game.”

Few questions from a fan of yours (Daniel Sklar)

It would be great to hear about some advanced level anti-tilt advices (how to do it less). After player are done with monkey tilt and smashing mouses - - there are still some tilt issues left in your game - even experienced players could tilt in more subtle ways - so some advice how to go further and how to continue the journey to that final destination - tiltlessness - would be great.

Tommy Angelo: Read Painless Poker, and take up a daily meditation practice. That’s the best advice I have.

My second best advice is to put big effort behind putting your attention on your breathing and your posture while you play. By that I mean sit up straight, on the edge of your chair. After that, you will inevitably return to your normal slouchy posture. And that’s when the key moment appears, when you notice yourself not sitting straight, and you sit up again.

If you go through that cycle of slouching and sitting up straight a few thousands times per year for a few years, you can turn yourself into an unflappable poker machine. In the meantime, each time you do it  even if it’s only a few times per session  will rate to improve your score, by resetting your mind and body more often than you used to.

Could you tell me about buddhist tradition, meditation, mindfullness and how it all relates to poker?

Tommy Angelo: Mindfulness means paying attention to what is going on now, without judging it. To me, that’s the ultimate skill that any poker player could possess. The training is very simple. You read about mindfulness everyday. And then you do it as often as possible. It’s like lifting weights to gain physical strength. With mindfulness, the training is to go back and forth from being mindless  our natural state  to mindful, meaning that you intentionally put your attention on your breathing and your posture, and you observe your thoughts, which allows you to consciously detach from them and remove yourself temporarily from the usual spirals of untamed thinking.

Then the mindlessness returns, as always, which is good because now you are suddenly presented with a fresh opportunity to make yourself mindful. And so the training goes until you die. Meanwhile, you feel a heck of a lot better during the ride.