In this week’s episode of Poker Routines, we take a look at the professional poker playing life of Daniel “danistheking’ Carter.
Daniel Carter is an online grinder living in Cheltenham, England.
Carter’s online exploits have seen him win the PokerStars Thursday Thrill for $85,000, he has chopped the PokerStars Sunday Million for $100k on two separate occasions, and once won the partypoker Million for $200k.
Carter’s lifetime online MTT winnings exceed $1m.
In the live realm, Carter is the current Dutch Open Champion, defeating 112 entrants to capture the €41,111 first prize, and has close to half a million dollars in live MTT earnings.
You can find him playing on PokerStars as danistheking, and on partypoker as PenBehindTheEar.
In this interview, we focus on his online game.
What is your claim to fame?
“I have been a successful professional poker player for 13 years.”
When did your aspirations to become a poker player begin?
“When I was 16 years old I watched my step-dad play poker online. I found all the colours, chips and cards interesting. I always played card games from a young age with friends and family, and I remember the biggest difference with this game is that there seemed to be a lot of choices and decisions to make. At my old local golf club we used to play a card game that was similar to Spades where you have a trump card and have to predict and make a certain amount of tricks, it was a very technical game if you wanted it to be and I guess poker is exactly that.”
How do you spend the first hour when you wake up?
“I start the first hour in a daze. I often wake up, play games on my phone for 30 minutes then plod down the stairs to make breakfast and a cup of tea.”
What time of the day do you find it easier to play poker and why?
“For sure it has to be a 9-5 schedule. I wish that were possible.”
Do you have defined goals for how many hands/sessions you play in a week?
“It changes a lot but yes. It used to be 4-5 sessions a week; recently it’s 3-4.”
Where do you play online, what types of games, and stakes?
“I play on Stars, and party and I play mostly high stakes MTT’s (ABI $120). I sometimes can’t resist the big 11 though.”
Do you have a specific routine that you go through before you begin an online poker session?
“My session begins before I sit down at the computer. Throughout the day I think about the first tournament I am going to register and at what time. Recently I started listening to a warm-up routine by Elliot Roe, and I hope I can find the time to do that before most sessions because it helps tremendously.”
When you first sit down to play poker how do you begin?
“I boot up Hold’em Manager, boot up the poker clients and just get reggin’!”
Describe your grinding station set up.
“I have a large adjustable desk with a Herman Miller chair; this helps me stay comfortable for long periods. Two monitors, a 27” and a 24”. Plain walls. Quite boring really.”
What tools do you use when playing poker?
“Always Hold’em Manager with a HUD. I sometimes use shark scope when I see new players or if deciding to reg a high roller with not many runners; I will use Google to find out who my opponents are.”
What’s your thoughts on listening to music when playing? If you do, what do you listen to?
“I listen to music regularly, and I love it. It keeps the long sessions a little more entertaining for me. I listen to a large variety of music, but the theme is often much older music. My favourite band is the Sparks!”
If you use a HUD then how do you use it?
“If I’m feeling lazy and playing my C game, then I barely use it, but when in my A game or the zone I find myself using it heavily. It doesn’t affect my decision making greatly, but if a statistic can help me make a different decision, then that is a pretty huge edge I am taking on the field.”
What system do you use for taking notes on your opponent’s?
“Not something I do so much, probably only 2-3 notes per session. It will always highlight an unusual weakness or something interesting/unorthodox that I don’t see very often.”
Do you have a specific warm down routine after you have finished a session?
“Unless it’s extremely late, I will play a video game and then go to bed.”
What do you eat and drink when you play?
“Unfortunately because I start around 4-6pm I end up having a full blown meal early in my session. There isn’t much of a way around this since it would be too difficult for my partner and me. I tend to drink water/tea/coffee and snack on nuts/fruit.”
What is your process of review?
“I look at my stats quite regularly, sometimes during a session to see if some of my biggest leaks are creeping in without me noticing. I will often review with a friend when I get the chance since two sets of eyes are often better than one.”
How do you educate yourself about poker?
“I always take notice what my skilled opponents are doing. If I ever see something I don’t understand I don’t immediately write it off as an error on their part; I just try to understand it as much as I can. I do sometimes watch poker videos on runitonce, and I’ve had private lessons in the past. I coach myself as well as have a couple of horses, and this is always helping me improve since I can understand typical mistakes people make much better.”
How do you improve your mental state?
“My mental state can often be hard work, but I am at my strongest when I am deep into routines without taking extended breaks from poker. I try to be rested as much as possible as well as enjoy things out of the house like golf.”
How much of your time is spent playing versus learning?
“35h playing vs. 5h studying a week.”
How do you know when to stop a session?
“Stopping a session is too easy for me. If I am playing my C game, I stop regging because I don’t enjoy playing.”
Are you consciously trying to emulate the style of a particular player? Do you have people you look to as models for your game?
“I would say 5+ years ago I struggled with grinding it out with poker, but I decided I had to take a much more professional stance on it. I always wanted to be one of the high stakes crushers that seem to grind week in week out.”
Is poker easy? Does it come naturally to you?
“It definitely hasn’t come easily to me, anyone that tells you that poker has come naturally to them is forgetting about all the hard work they did to get there. I go through funny spells of becoming a little complacent like I have done at the start of this year. I think I’m better than I actually am and get punished hard for it. Luckily I’m not too stubborn and can identify this before it’s too late. I give myself a dose of reality and get back to grinding and studying hard again. When I am doing it week in week out, then it’s easy to me.”
What is your favourite moment in poker?
“‘Congratulations, you have won the tournament!’”
What books/courses/mentors have helped improve your game (doesn’t have to be a poker book)?
“I bought about 15 poker books around 13 years ago and read them all. I always always always ask questions especially to people who have been more successful than me. This is the biggest mistake that I see day in day out from people who don’t make it with poker, they bob along, study a little bit, but they don’t trust their mentors or people who are more successful than them.”
Do your surroundings affect your work, how?
“I can be easily distracted, so I tend to have a whole monitor dedicated just to tables. Someone trying to talk to me is always a killer. My poker office and surroundings are pretty plain to help me stay focused.”
Was there ever a time when you didn’t want to play poker? How did you get out of the funk?
“Poker is very intense for me, of course, there are times I don’t want to play. Sometimes getting out of the funk is very difficult so I try to ease myself in with short sessions and drop down stakes slightly. If things are really awry, then I will just study and/or get some sort of coaching/mentoring from someone.”
How does poker make you feel?
“When I am working hard, it always gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Hard work has almost always resulted in a reward for me in poker. If the results aren’t coming, I work harder.”
What is the one thing you know you have to change after answering these questions?
“I already knew it (which makes me a fool from time to time), but I must stop with the complacency. Never take my foot off the gas.”