GUIDE PART III: LOU KRIEGER BIOGRAPHY
Lou Krieger is the co-author of Poker For Dummies, and the
Host of Royal Vegas Poker.
Lou Krieger learned poker at the tender age of seven, while standing
at his father's side during the weekly Thursday night games held
at the Krieger kitchen table in the blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood
where they resided. Always adept at sports and games, Lou's natural
abilities enabled him to keep his head above water during the high
school and college poker games he frequently played in.
But it wasn't until his first visit to Las Vegas that Lou took poker
seriously. "I didn't like Las Vegas at first. Blackjack was
boring, and I knew the odds were against the players shooting dice
or playing any of the other table games. Then I discovered the poker
table tucked into a small corner of the Desert Inn where we were
staying. I bought into a low-limit seven-card stud game and managed
- with a good deal of luck - to break even. While playing stud,
I noticed out of the corner of my eye another game that looked to
be a lot more fun. It was Texas hold'em.
"I left the stud game, watched the hold'em game for about thirty
minutes, and sat down to play. One hour and $100 later, I was hooked.
I didn't mind losing. It was the first time I played the game. I
expected to lose. But I didn't like feeling like a dummy, so I bought
every book on poker I could find.
"I studied. I played. I studied and played some more. Before
long I was playing and winning regularly, and I haven't had a losing
year since I began keeping records."
In the early '90s Lou Krieger began writing a column called On Strategy
for Card Player. Aimed squarely at hold'em players, the column is
chock full of advice for beginners, low-limit, and even experienced
mid-limit hold'em players.
When not writing about poker, Lou - who resides in Long Beach -
can be found playing $15-$30 or $20-$40 Texas hold'em in the card
casinos of Southern California.
AN INTERVIEW WITH LOU KRIEGER
Hi Lou, can you introduce yourself?
I'm Lou Krieger, writer, poker player, and now the host at Royal
Vegas Poker. I've written a regular column entitled "On Strategy"
for Card Player magazine for more than a decade, and I've written
six books: Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner (1995), MORE
Hold'em Excellence: A Winner For Life (1997), Poker For Dummies
(2000), Gambling For Dummies (2001), Internet Poker: How to Play
and Beat Online Poker Games (2003), and Winning Omaha/8 Poker (2003).
How did you get into gambling?
I don't like to use the term "gambling" to describe poker.
Gambling, to me, is when you bet against the house and the odds
are fixed and immutable, and you can't win in the long run. Poker
is a game of incomplete information predicated on risk taking and
the proper management of risk. Moreover, the odds in a poker game
are always shifting, and the winning players are those who take
the best of it most of the time. While poker players wager money,
it's not gambling in the sense of risking money at a game where
the payoff odds are always less than the true odds.
Have you ever worked a "regular" job in your life?
Oh, sure. I've been a management consultant for one of the worlds
largest consulting firms, a partner in a small, 9-employee consulting
firm, and been peripherally involved in politics. But I like writing
and poker playing a lot more than working in an office.
Do you consider tournament poker to be a "sport?"
It's a game, not a sport. To be a sport it would have to have some
physical dimension associated with it. But poker is no more a sport
than chess or checkers. I've seen writers refer to poker as a "mental
sport," and poker players as "mental athletes," but
that's a stretch, and by the same definition Scrabble and working
crossword puzzles would have to be considered sports too.
Do you see the Internet as being a major poker education
venue and a way to start to bring poker players together as a subculture
and initiate growth and change?
Absolutely. The advent of online poker, and with it play money games
and "micro" betting limit games (where the bets are under
one dollar), provide a great opportunity to learn poker, to play
in more tournaments online in a day than you can in the traditional
world in a week, and to learn poker skills as sites such as Poker
School Online. The philosopher and father of modern communications,
Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." And
the medium of online poker, along with poker on television, has
changed the game more than anyone imagined, and the impact of this
is still in it's infancy. I expect poker to continue to change,
and in ways we can barely imagine.
Do you think a player who has done all the homework, studied the
art and techniques of the game of poker can excel at both tournament
play and live cash game play, or should they concentrate on one
or the other?
That's not an easy question to answer because I play much more cash
game poker than tournament poker. While there are outstanding tournament
poker players who are really fish in cash games, there are others
who do quite well in both, so I think if one has the discipline
and temperament, along with the skills, one can do well in both
forms of poker. Come to think of it, you don't have to go any further
down the poker food chain than Doyle Brunson to find someone who
has excelled in both forms of poker.
Can you tell me more about your poker books?
I've written six books: Hold'em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner
(1995), MORE Hold'em Excellence: A Winner For Life (1997), Poker
For Dummies (2000), Gambling For Dummies (2001), Internet Poker:
How to Play and Beat Online Poker Games (2003), and Winning Omaha/8
I always wanted to write a book, any book would have sufficed, but
it wasn't until 1995 that I wrote my first book, Hold'em Excellence:
From Beginner to Winner, and followed it up with five more in eight
I also had some terrific encouragement when I needed it most. I
was immersed in my first book and was fortunate enough to interview
Al Alvarez, the author of The Biggest Game in Town, in London. When
I told him I was beginning my first book, he told me it would be
a hell of a lot of work, would never make me rich, and that I should
only do it if I really had the desire to work hard and believed
strongly in what I was doing. I'm not sure whether he was trying
to encourage me or discourage me, but I decided he was trying to
tell me to be prepared to work my ass off for not much money, and
to do it only if I had a burning desire to write. Coming from Alvarez,
who is one of my favorite writers, I took his admonition as a sign
of encouragement, finished my first book and just kept at it.
And you know what, I'd give the same message to any aspiring author
that Al gave to me. Do it because you have a visceral need to write,
because you are literate and articulate, and because you have something
to say. And those are the only reasons that matter.