Christopher Womack Interview
High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players. Here is our interview with Christopher Womack, poker player & rep for Real Grinders, podcaster for The Drunken Donk Radio Show, and someone who believes the poker media is too soft, too biased and too friendly. Womack, after 'Black Friday,' became an entrepreneur, opening a bar/restaurant and getting into the cannabis wholesale industry.
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Christopher Womack Interview
Poker Player, Podcaster, Businessman
Full audio of this interviewHERE
Alright High Rollers, looking forward to our conversation today. 'Black Friday' was a nightmare for most online poker players in America but for this guy? You might say it gave him a new outlook on life. Before April 15th, 2011, he was a sponsored player at UltimateBet but when 'Black Friday' rocked the poker world, he was forced to change paths and that he did. He threw itself into business, opened a restaurant & bar and became a cannabis wholesaler in Colorado. Poker player, poker junkie, Christopher Womack welcome to the show man, thanks for being a high roller today!
High Roller Radio
CW: What’s up High Roller Nation? How’s it going Derrick? I appreciate you having me on the show. ‘Black Friday?' Bad day. Wake up and government screen. Government screen and no money!
Q: What was that like for you?
CW: Shock and awe. I was a child of the Moneymaker era and, playing online for seven years up to that point, it was a big upset. A gut shot. All of a sudden it’s like, ‘What do i do now?' I was in Colorado, in Breckenridge at the time, a ski resort town and we had Black Hawk Casino real close by but, at the time, the highest betting limit at Black Hawk was five dollars a bet. So we didn’t even have cash games, we just had tournaments. It was a gut shot. You had to rearrange your life. It’s like, ‘I want to work hard, I want to do well, but I guess it’s not going to be through online poker anymore.'
Q: Right. So you have you have to make some big decisions. I imagine that process of becoming an entrepreneur, a bar and restaurant owner, a cannabis wholesaler. is both scary and rewarding at the same time?
CW: It all happened at once. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, generationally speaking, in that we just had legalization here in Colorado. We’ve been growing it along time here in Colorado. It goes along with the hospitality scene, it really does. It goes along with the poker scene. It goes along with the ski and snowboarding scene. So, being in hospitality, being in the restaurant business, being in the cannabis wholesale business, even being in poker, it all happened at once. You’re kind of still in sales when you’re at the poker table, trying to sell yourself and keep your customers happy.
Q: I was going to ask you if there are any similarities between poker and business but you just outlined a real good one there?.
CW: I think Negreanu said it best, ‘Don’t be disrespectful at the table. Don’t annoy people at the table. Don’t get under their nerves.' You know why? Those are the people ho are paying your bills. Those are the people the money is coming from. You can be the best poker player in the world but if nobody wants to sit next to you because you’re a degenerate or obscene, then it’s going to take your bankroll further down than it would’ve been.
Q: It’s important to let recreational players lose as they wish. I’ve seen it, too many times, where a so-called expert at the table berates the fun, recreational player for a bad play and scares them away. Guess what? Their dead money goes with them.
CW: They’re paying he bills. That always cracks me up when someone berates another at the table, when somebody’s trying to give another advice. If you were at war with somebody, another country, would you tell them how you were going to ask before, during or after a war? No, you’re not. You’re at war at that table. You can be friendly but, essentially the underlying tone is, you’re at war. You want to get those chips, as many as possible, as fast as possible, especially in tournaments. In cash games you can roll along and really stick it to that one guy but, as far as tournaments, you really need to push that envelope in terms of getting those chips, having a good table image and following through with that because the moment you’re called out at the table your image goes down. The moment you cuss at somebody your table image goes down. It might work for some people. All of a sudden they're an aggro player and they want to get under somebody’s nerves? They’re going to get more calls that way. To each their own though. It’s not my style but I like to think of everybody as a customer. We’re in the hospitality business so you might as well be entertaining and have some fun. As for scaring people away from the table? It’s ego. It’s an ego thing. There are many ego’s at the poker table. Some of them involve berating players. Some of them involve giving strategy or telling another player that you know more than them. You might tell them that when someone three-bets they should shove every time. They need to live their own experience, especially at the table, because if you don’t let them you’re screwing up other peoples money. It’s not the money going to you or the next person, it’s just the money at the table. You’re affecting the money at the table by talking strategy. Talk about strategy at the bar afterwards. Talk about it at the pool. Talk it about it in you’re social groups like real grinders.com. Talk about it on High Roller Radio. Talk about it on the DrunkenDonk Radio Show. Talk about in the forums that are designed for this. At the table? Do your work. Everybody do your work. Your work is sometimes just entertaining your customers, keeping your mouth shut, and when you want to walk away? Play another 10 hands and get up. Don’t be that guy who takes down a big pot and then walks away immediately.
Q: We had Dutch Boyd on the show, a 3-time bracelet winner, and he says marijuana is big part of the poker subculture. Do poker and marijuana go hand in hand? And, can you talk about the differences between cannabis and alcohol in terms of the dangers involved?
CW: Big shout out to Dutch. Love him. I’ve been a big fan of his for long time. He does great things for the poker community. You can call it a major part of the tour, whether it’s MSPT, HPT, WSOP or WPT. As soon as that tournament break comes, you see people gathering, ‘Hey, you coming with me? You coming with me? You coming with me?’ You see buddying up, you go to the garage and you’re like, ‘Wow, it’s like a party in the parking garage all of a sudden.’ Compared to alcohol? I think a major percent of poker players smoke marijuana or cannabis to relax, to make themselves pause and to look at the situation another five or ten seconds. You don't get that gut reaction with marijuana to just react and push all-in, or call all-in. You’re going to sit back and relax. With alcohol? Most players don’t drink at the table. They do drink after the tournament but during the tournament alcohol can cause that gut reaction. You might call instantly and it’s a mistake. You’re ego might involved. It just affects the psyche in a different way. If you go to a concert where most people are smoking marijuana most times it’s chill. When you go to a concert and it’s sponsored by an alcohol vendor you;re probably going to see the police hanging around looking for fights. I believe it gives some slight advantages, especially to those of us who are ADD in the poker community, because it helps us slow down a little bit and look at the situation and then make a judgement call from there. Instead of the insta snap call or insta all-in, those gut reactions. Here in Colorado? everybody from out of state always asks, ‘Oh, is everybody out there always stoned all the time?’ There’s been no change in Colorado, in terms of the culture, or subculture of marijuana. One way to say it is that marinuana smokers in Colorado got more snobby. We don’t care about 4:20. Every day is 4:20 for us. We don’t want to break the rules and smoke in front of a cop. We don't want to do these things that draw attention to us. It should be a normality. There’s no reason to treat it as a big festival or, ‘Look what I’m doing government. Look what I’m doing police.’ That might of been the story 10 or 20 years ago, and that’s still the story in some states. That’s the people speaking up to the government saying, ‘Hey this us, this is what we do.’ Here in Colorado it’s really business like these days. Every thing is spreadsheets, price points, lab reports, it’s really come a long way. We’re the poster child for the world as far as cannabis and CBD sales go. CBD is the medicinal molecule of marijuana, or cannabis, that actually has the amazing healing properties to handle seizures, help with autism, help with muscular dystrophy. I could keep going on and on but the CBD is the true medicine. As far as coinciding with the poker world and Las Vegas? You’re going to see more and more of this intertwined. It has to be close to half of all poker players, I believe on tour, that are smoking pot. You’ve heard of people getting knocked out of tournaments because they're busted by security in the parking garage. All of a sudden their chip stack is at a table getting blinded off because they’ve been eliminated from the tournament because they’ve been banned from the property. It’s been talked about a lot with the WSOP and cannabis legalization in Las Vegas now.
Q: You have to be careful this year marijuana smokers if you’re heading down to Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Not everyone has the same attitude as those in Colorado. You could get 86’d if you’re not careful on the RIO property?
CM: If you’re a cannabis smoker maybe you should switch to one of the e-cigarette vape pens that have cannabis infused cartridges. It’s really not the city, it’s the properties. When it comes to the properties, it’s not the properties but the insurance companies that work for the properties. We’ll see. It’s going to be a big deal when it’s somebody major getting banned. I don’t think we’ll be seeing anybody leave a final table to go and smoke pot, then come back. It might happen in the earlier tournaments, or the 2nd day of a tournament. It’ll be interesting.
Q: The WSOP fast approaching and this will be your third series. Any advice for a newbie heading down there, besides not smoking marijuana on the RIO properties. Any advice for first timers heading down there this year?
CW: Prepare, prepare, prepare. You’re going to have shock and awe. It’s going to happen. I encourage you to have shock and awe. Walk up to the Rio, take pictures, be awed, look around and you’ll see famous faces that you’ve seen on television your whole life. You’re going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ A game is a game is a game is a game. Plan, plan, plan,. My first world series? I didn’t satellite into mine. I was paying full value, $1,500. I didn’t have the events written down. I stayed on the strip at Planet Hollywood. It was a great first experience but it was an experience. I wasn’t there to play. My second trip? I went in prepared. I had a full schedule written down. I had people that knew I was there. At this point two years ago, I didn’t have a twitter account. I didn’t have twitter, so I had all my poker pro buddies asking why I wasn’t on twitter. If you have some kind of ranking on the Hendon Mob put yourself on twitter. You’re going to help yourself out. Maybe you’ll get into into an extra event because you can sell half yourself. The big thing I can tell first times is to prepare. Look at that schedule. Don’t think about Vegas as a party, that’s not what you’re there for. All you need to think about is that ten spot table. Everything else is obscure. I stay off the trip. During the world series I like to have meals prepared. It’s all about preparation and having that mindset. The first thing you should do when you get knocked out of a tournament is not to go to a craps table or a roulette table. Do not go to the bar immediately. You need to reassess your head because you’re there to play a lot of tournaments. If you think you’re going to win every single one of them? You’re not. Prepare yourself for that. Prepare yourself to walk away and not go to the bar or a table game at the casino. Preparation. Sleep schedule? That’s the biggest one. Try to get to bed at nine or ten o’clock and that’s why it's easier to get a house off the strip. You don't feel like you’re in the casino. I keep going back to this word preparation. Go grocery shopping. Plan all your meals, go to Vaughn’s, a great grocery store. It’s about getting yourself in that mindset. When you first get there it blows you away. You’re seeing these banners, all the WSOP signage, there’s people from all over the world, different nations, just walking passed you. You’re seeing sponsor patches. Don’t worry about any of that shit. Half those sponsor patches are off eBay.
Q: Can you talk about the value in playing satellites and how you approach satellites? I am one of these guys who goes down, plays one or two events and pays full price?
CW: I have a full World Series of Poker schedule and I‘m prepared to buy in to those tournaments, but every single one of those events I plan on shooting one or two satellites bullets. It is so worth it. Even if you sold percentages of yourself, those people still own that percentage even if you win a satellite into the event. It just costs you a lot less. It is the way to go. The weight of the World Series of Poker is value. There are so many side events going on at the Rio and around town. There are so many satellites. If you’re going to Vegas and you don’t have the biggest bankroll? There are ways to get yourself into events. The biggest way to do that is satellites. Going back to my previous answer, if you get knocked out of a tournament don’t go to the craps table, the bar, or the pool. Get your ass in a satellite and start grinding hard again. That’s what this is about. You’re going to regret it, if you leave a week or two later and you’re like, ‘Oh man, I could have been playing the Rio daily’s. I could have been playing the satellites.’ There are ways to get in these events that are cheap. Big shout out to William Kasouff. In for the min and out for the max. That’s the name of the game. Try to get in as cheap as possible. Your game will be so much better in that tournament if you know it’s cost you nothing. If you’re sitting down with 10,000 tournament chips you're going to be having fun playing cards. You're not going t be worried about the buy-ins, nor should you be worried about the buy-ins before you play. Satellites? That is the way to go. Pros as big as as Cord Garcia, who won the first Colossus, still satellite into HPT and MSPT events. These are guys who’ve won six and seven figures. It’s all about the satellite. Business is business and that’s a big part of poker business.
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