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Exclusive Interview w/ Max Steinberg “Numbr2intheWorld”

FlopTurnRiver.com is joined by Max Steinberg, known as Numbr2intheWorld in the forums, to talk about his first WSOP bracelet win in event 33 of the 2012 WSOP and his poker career. Max took home $440k for his victory, but more importantly, was finally able to get his win after two second place finishes.

Category: Interview
Tags: Max Steinberg, WSOP 2012
Added by: givememyleg
Poker Room: N/A
Length: 32:11

Discuss this video in our Poker Forum: Exclusive Interview w/ Max Steinberg “Numbr2intheWorld” Forum Thread

Full Transcript

Carl C.: Okay, I think I can hear you now.

Max Steinberg: Can you hear me?

Carl C.: For some reason I had my microphone set to my speakers; that doesn’t work too well.

Max Steinberg: I know that this is a little dark, but this is, literally, the best area I can do it in, for now. Is that okay?

Carl C.: Well, it’s all right. Like I said, you look stunning, so it’s all good.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, but it kind of looks like I’m doing one of those mystery interviews where the guy is blacked out.

Carl C.: Yeah. I’ll black out your face and deepen your voice. Very cool. Well, this is “givememyleg” from FlopTurnRiver.com and we are thrilled to have FTR’s first bracelet winner, Max Steinberg, “Numbr2intheworld” with us. How are you doing today, Max?

Max Steinberg: I’m doing well. I just woke up a few minutes ago and ready to lay by the pool and not play poker for a little while.

Carl C.: Yeah, I saw it in your email there you had a late night. Were you out celebrating the Fourth with everyone, or what?

Max Steinberg: I mean, yeah, basically. I won’t go into too much detail.

Carl C.: All right, we’ll … That’ll be a mystery for us, then.

Max Steinberg: Yes.

Carl C.: I guess it’s pretty safe to say that you’ve had a pretty good World Series, this year.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, I’d say so. I mean, obviously, when you win one or two bracelet events, it’s pretty good. It’s funny how quickly you just go back into a, sort of, mode where you lose a few, and then, you feel like you’re unlucky, or you feel like something’s going wrong. I was just in the 10K, 6-max and it was a tournament that I really, really wanted to win, and I got out the second day. I found myself feeling pretty sad. I think, looking back now, it’s definitely been good, and if I have a good run in the main event-even better.

Carl C.: Yeah, so the ecstasy from your win has, kind of, already worn off and you’re just back into it now?

Max Steinberg: I’d say it’s still there, a little bit, but yeah, I’ve just gotten back into it now.

Carl C.: Before your win, did you have any success in any of the other tournaments leading up to it?

Max Steinberg: I had a few cashes. The 10K-Heads Up, I made it to the third round. Which was a mint cash. And I faced this really tough young Finnish kid who, even though he was really tough, I still ended up getting a position to win and I just didn’t want and he went all in. Actually, the 1K Event, the week before, the 1K that I won, I got 52, which is not bad. Then, a 1500 event, recently, I got 25th. I was close to a couple of final tables in some of the smaller events, besides the one I won. I’ve had a pretty solid World Series, all together.

Carl C.: Yeah, that’s good. It must feel great to finally get that Bracelet, because I know you took Second, I believe, it was in 2010. Then, was it in LAPT before that where you also took Second.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, one of the first tournaments I actually played, ever, was in Costa Rica. That was in 2008, or 2009; took Second place in that, took Second place in the World Series in 2010. It, kind of, became a running joke that I never finish first with some of my friends and family.

Carl C.: Well, there you go, Joke’s on them, now.

Max Steinberg: Yeah. It felt awesome not to get second again, finally close one out.

Carl C.: Yeah, 2700 people, you can’t very high expectations going into that, even though you’re capable of winning, you, probably, don’t expect to.

Max Steinberg: No, on the first day, I wasn’t thinking about anything. I wasn’t thinking about winning, I wasn’t thinking about Final Tabling. I was just thinking about just, grinding through the day, even in the second day, just still, grinding through the day. It wasn’t till the end of the second day, where I started to think; “Wow, I’m in a position to, possibly, final table”.

Carl C.: That’s good. Yeah, that’s awesome. What were some of the critical hands leading up to final table that really gave you your stack and set it in motion?

Max Steinberg: I don’t know … I’m not sure I remember. Hold on, I’m going to ask my friend for some help.

Speaker 3: Set of 9s.

Max Steinberg: Set of 9s where?

Speaker 3: When you were [running through that 00:05:05.27].

Max Steinberg: Oh, okay. We were about 14 away from the Final Table, at the start of the third day. I had a decent amount of chips. This older guy, who was an amateur, raised on the button and I 3-Bet him with 9s, and he, kind of, played it a little looser than one would expect a normal, older white guy would play.

He called, and the flop came: Jack-9-5, or something like that. I bet and he just jammed on me.

Carl C.: That must have been a great feeling.

Are you there? Can you hear me? All right, we’re having some problems; your video … Oh, you’re back now.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, I can hear you now.

Carl C.: There were two hands on the Final Table that a lot of people were talking about, at least, in FTR. The first one was when you made that All-In river bet, I can’t, specifically remember it.

Max Steinberg: I think I know the hand you’re talking about. Yeah, it was versus … There was this player that was playing extremely tight. It seemed like he wanted to just … Are you still there?

Carl C.: Yeah, I’m here. Can you hear me?

Max Steinberg: It seemed like he just wanted to get, sort of, Second or Third. He was playing really tight. The money was really, really important to him. I think I raised in early position with, I think, it was 6 at this point. This was [inaudible 00:07:02.07], but it came 3-suited. The whole table’s playing tight and I had a decent sized stack. I thought that was an okay raise. He called me from the big blind. He was the type of player who had called, sort of, loose from the big blind. Looser than you would expect from the big blind but he was very tight post-flop.

I don’t even remember the board really well, I think it was 8-7-6-flop, Jack-turn, 3-river. I ended up triple-barreling All-In. It was actually funny, because, he actually said that he wanted to call on the river, but he only had Ace-high. I’m, sort of, panicking because I think that I’m just triple-barreling air, but what I forgot is that I actually had pair of 3s on the river.

Carl C.: Oh! If he would have called that would have been.

Max Steinberg: I would have won, yeah. To be honest, he might have just been talking trash because he was such a tight player and he really did not want to get out in Sixth. It was just a spot where the board was draw-heavy and I just didn’t think that he would slow play a big hand in that spot, so I just barreled him and assumed that he would fold, basically, everything, and he did, so.

Carl C.: It seemed like you had a really good feel of how the table was playing. Did you have any good reads on anyone? How did that work out for you?

Max Steinberg: I did, actually, have good reads. Actually, my brother, obviously, who everyone knows as Iowa Skins fan. Danny, actually, called me up at breaks and he was watching the stream and he would tell me reads that he got on people.

Carl C.: Oh, really?

Max Steinberg: They were, actually, incredibly effective. The most reads he had were on Samuel Gerber, and those reads were incredibly effective and came in handy later in the tournament, especially when I got heads-up. I, also, had friends who had told me some information on some of the tournament players, like Matt Stout and Dylan Horton and that, also, was very helpful in the end.

Carl C.: Yeah, I guess, it’s helpful when you have your identical twin brother watching the stream, looking out for you. He’s, obviously, a really good live player, himself.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, exactly. I was just going to say there was one hand where I got a very good live read, which allowed me to make a call that I wouldn’t normally make. I don’t think people realized that I had a read here because the commentators were saying how they felt like it was a bad call.

Basically, I had opened the button and Dylan Horton, who is a very good player, just snap jammed on me for 20 big blinds. It folded back to me and I just got the sense that he had just planned to do it to my button open because I was playing so loose. That was supported by the fact that he jammed just so quickly. It just seemed like he was trying to act strong and he had planned to do this because he was opening so many buttons. I expected him to show up with some pretty weak holdings, and so, I called with Ace-5, off. Even though, if I had no read there, it should be a fold but since I did, it was a call.

He ended up having King-7 suited, so I felt like I had a pretty right read there.

Carl C.: Yeah, that was the other hand that I was going to bring up. Some people were talking about in FTR. Yeah, the commentators did, kind of, lean towards it being a bad call, but when you add in all that … Especially, the fact that you had a read. That makes it …

Max Steinberg: I was pretty confident in my read. I would never make that call without a read. It would just be bad math, basically. With that read, it makes it a call.

Carl C.: How about we switch gears here, a bit. Let’s talk about your poker career and how you got started.

Max Steinberg: Is that a question?

Carl C.: I guess. I know you and Danny were sharing an account, at first and you had a deposit. How about you just tell everyone when you started and how you got going?

Max Steinberg: Yeah, okay. I started when I was 17, playing online poker. I started playing poker a little before that but it was just with friends. My dad actually deposited $50 for us on our seventeenth birthday. That was fun, and cool. We told him; “Just deposit $50. This isn’t going to become some gambling thing. If we lose it, we lose it. If we don’t, then we’ll just keep playing and see what happens”. I have not deposited any more money, besides that $50.

It did get down to $2, multiple times. We had to win $1, or we had to play $.5 slots with $1 tournament on Paradise Poker in order to roll. Who knows what would have happened if we didn’t do well in that $1 tournament.

Max Steinberg: That’s awesome.

Carl C.: As you were learning the game and progressing; how did discussing hands and theory on Flop Turn River and other forums aid to your success? Do you think that was a large part of it?

Max Steinberg: Yeah, I definitely do. I’m not just saying that because you’re from Flop Turn River and you’re interviewing me right now-it really did. Not only as just a place to get feedback, but just a place to put something out there that I was thinking and just organizing my thoughts by just writing a post in general was really helpful. It was also just … I feel like helping other people who are at a lower level than me helped me straighten my thoughts a little about my own game, playing at the levels I was playing at. All around, FTR was extremely helpful to me. I definitely would not be as good a poker player as I am if it wasn’t for FTR, so, definitely, thankful for them.

Carl C.: Good to hear. As you were moving up and getting better, is there anything that clicked in your mind, where you started to get it? There wasn’t a slower progression that had like more factors to it?

Max Steinberg: There wasn’t, really, a eureka moment. I started getting a lot better when I started moving to heads-up cash games instead of playing 6-Max cash games. I guess the moment where it clicked is I just got a couple of lessons on heads-up cash games from Sauce, who is “Sauce123” on Flop Turn River.

He just said a few things to me that started … The way in which, in heads-up cash games, he was playing differently than 6-Max opened up my mind a bit about how to think about strategies in poker, and to think about how to counter someone, how to play against a specific opponent and how to develop good strategies. I think that was a big turning point in my game.

Carl C.: Cool, yeah. FTR members, on the forum, submitted some questions and we can go through those right now, if you want.

Max Steinberg: Okay.

Carl C.: All right. “Sasquatch991” asked: “What adjustments, mental or otherwise, do you make going from multi-tabling online to sitting at one table, sitting for long periods, while playing live?”.

Max Steinberg: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever made a conscious mental adjustment, but it does require, sort of, more patience. Actually, one of the big things, I think, is hands become much bigger deals to you, even though they shouldn’t. You’re playing live, and you have 30 big blinds in a big tournament, and if a lose a 10-big-blind pot, suddenly, a third of my stack is gone, and I’m feeling really dejected and upset. In an online environment, it would feel like nothing. It took me a while to make the mental adjustment, to realize that losing that 10-big-blind pot online, and losing that 10-big-blind pot in a live tournament is, basically, the same thing. Just the slower aspect can be mentally draining if you don’t take the right approach and realize how little of a deal some of the hands that seemed so big really are.

Carl C.: Right, yeah. Especially, because when you play online, when you bust a tournament you can just load another one up. With live, you have to wait a day or two, maybe, before you’re playing again.

Max Steinberg: Right, so you have time to dwell on the two hands you played that were, probably, just fine.

Carl C.: “Alexos” asked; “How do you adjust hand reading live versus online, and the fact that live ranges seem way wider?

Max Steinberg: I wouldn’t say they’re way wider. They’re just certain spots where they’re wider, for example, when people are calling out of the big blind. Most people have an extremely wide calling range from the big blind. Also, some of the worst players will have a wider calling range from the small blind than I expect.

The adjustments are hard because there’re a lot of good players who are looking to make the big call in spots where they have a wide range. Usually, what I’ve got to do is when I decide to be betting, I bet really hard and I bet a lot chips.

It allows me to do thinner value bets and I’ll throw in a few bluffs, and usually, it works pretty well. In summary; value bet thinner and bluff a little bit, and that’s it.

Carl C.: This one is an open-ended, simple question but I thought it was interesting. “Hoopie” asked: “Why did you become a professional player?”

Max Steinberg: Well, I think, originally, I became a professional player because I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was in college and I had no direction in what I wanted to do. Poker was going well, so I just decided I have so much fun doing this, why not just go pro.

I think, now, I would say the reason that I’m professional, still, is because I just enjoy playing, and I enjoy playing at a high level. There’s just something very satisfying about it, for me.

Carl C.: I thought it was interesting that you didn’t mention money, at all, in your answer. Is that something that you don’t really care about? You’re just more passionate about playing, and then, the money the money just follows?

Max Steinberg: No, I definitely care about the money, but I guess I didn’t mention that because I’ve, kind of, been pondering this myself, lately. I’m wondering how much longer I’m going to be doing this, and I’ve just been asking myself this question; “Why do I continue to play poker?” Obviously, money is going to be a reason. If I don’t have any reason, besides that, then I wouldn’t continue playing. I think the reasons that I stated before is a little more important. I would be lying to myself if I didn’t say I enjoyed making money.

Carl C.: There was a hand that everyone is talking about from the Big Drop, have you heard about it? Where the guy folded quads, face up?

Carl C.: He thought the guy had a straight flush.

Max Steinberg: What are your thoughts on that hand?

Carl C.: Well, I don’t know about the entire action. I read, briefly, about it. I read a statement from the guy who made the fold, and his logic was not terribly flawed. He just thought he had an incredibly strong read. He said, himself, that; “I don’t think he had kings, because he would have re-raised pre-flop. I didn’t think he had jacks, because he also would have re-raised pre-flop”. He also said he looked very excited on the flop.

Now, that’s fine and dandy that he got all those reads, but it seems like a pretty ridiculous spot to fold quads and put someone on such an exact hand. It seems like he doesn’t realize how infrequent it is for someone to have a straight flush, just understanding the ideas of combos of hands.

There’s only one combo of straight flush in that spot, even if there was a minute chance of Jacks or Jack-8, or the nut-flush. Just having that minute chance almost makes it a call, just because there’re so many possibilities for those hands.

Carl C.: It’s totally different if you feel like you have a soul read in that situation.

Max Steinberg: I doubt he had played with whoever [inaudible 00:21:47.08] I don’t know about it, but I do enjoy when people just go with their reads like that.

Carl C.: Yeah. It’s, definitely, one of the most interesting that I’ve ever read about.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, but debating it is, sort of, strange because, obviously, if you don’t have the read and information he has, there’s no way anyone can make that fold. If you have that much confidence, then, maybe you can-I don’t know.

Carl C.: Jims from FTR asked; “What’s the consensus amongst higher stakes online and live players, as far as online poker and the possibility of a second boom? Do you feel online is dead, long term?”

Max Steinberg: I don’t know what the consensus is among high stakes players, I know what my opinion is. I don’t think there’s going to be another boom unless something really incredible happens. I’m, kind of, cheering for someone to step up and become the Tiger Woods of poker. I think that would be really good for the game. Someone who’d just win three or four World Series events in one year, who’s a respectable pro and a big name. I think that would bring excitement back to poker that we haven’t had in while.

Saying it’s dead is also I think is an overstatement. I definitely think there’s going to be legal U.S. online poker, at some point. Also, another thing is that I feel like poker is, sort of, a young person’s game and every year, there’s a new generation of people turning 21.

That’s thousands of people who are going to be playing poker. I think 20 years from now, there’s going to be just a massive, massive player pool of players because there’s going to be so many young guys, who are now old who are going to be 40-year-olds, like me playing hot-shot 20-year-olds. The 40-year-olds are still going to be around, so I think it’ll get bigger and bigger. I just don’t think the quality of play will ever be as poor as it once was.

Carl C.: Right. If you could go back to 2005 with a $500 bankroll, with what you know now, back in the Party Poker days, you’d be doing pretty good.

Max Steinberg: Yeah. I think about that a lot, I think; “Why didn’t I start earlier?” Instead of 17, I think I could make pretty good money. That being said, the people who were making good money then, were ahead of their time. They didn’t have card runners, they didn’t have a … They taught a few, select people. They had to come up with everything on their own, so that’s pretty impressive in itself. I mean, I’ve had help to get where I am today. I would wonder if I put in enough hours, how well could have done pre-2006.

Carl C.: Right, yeah. You’re still doing pretty good right now. You can’t really complain too much.

Max Steinberg: No, I can’t complain. Also, if you’re looking for bad players, maybe you should start playing some of the other games. Maybe, not PLO, but my friend is really into Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, and he seems to find some pretty good games in Hi-Lo. Maybe, switching to a different game could help find fishes, for other people.

Carl C.: Have you played any of the mixed games? Are you mainly just sticking to Hold-Em?

Max Steinberg: I, mainly, was just playing the Hold-Em. I won at some tournament that was a PLO, Hold-Em Mix. I wouldn’t really classify that as playing a mixed game. My friend, who’s actually staying with me, he’s my roommate this summer, taught me some PLO 8.

I played one of the tournaments and didn’t do so well. I have been playing in PLO at cash games too, and that’s been a little more successful. It’s a fun game. I always tell myself, after every World Series, that I want to learn mixed games, so I can play in them. Maybe, this will be the year. We’ll see. Carl C.: Good deal. “A 500 Pound Gorrilla” asked; “Which one skill or technique do you think you possess over your standard opposition?”.

Max Steinberg: One technique … I would just say, I understand strategy better than most people that I play with. I just think that at any given table I’ll be the most strategically sound player there. That can go a long way. Someone can have more talent and ability to read someone, but if my strategy is just superior to theirs than it’s about playing better.

Carl C.: Hello. Can you hear me? It keeps locking up here every once in a while. Just a couple more questions, here. You talked about this earlier, but “FoulMan” asked; “Approximately, how often a physical tell a factor when you make a decision?”

Max Steinberg: Sometimes, I think, it’s too much of a factor for me. It, sort of, overwhelms me; taking in so much information. Sometimes, I get lost in the hand thinking about ranges and I, sort of, get infatuated with whether someone is physically doing something that makes me think they’re strong or weak. It can be really big. I would say, it changes my decision 25-30% of the time, when I’m playing.

Carl C.: That is a pretty big percentage.

Max Steinberg: I thought about it a lot and I’ve read books on psychology. I really think it’s incredibly important and I value it a lot. Here’s one live read that I used, which I think is a really, really good read-especially, in a tournament. If you’re in position on a pre-flop raiser and he sees that you called the flop and the turn comes some card, doesn’t matter what card. He thinks for a while and then checks. I would say, that that, usually, pretty big weakness because I would assume that if he’s thinking about it and then checking he’s thinking about bluffing and deciding not to, and checking. A quick check there would mean he has a plan. Usually, a [inaudible 00:29:06.11]

Carl C.: Cool, that’s good advice, then. I guess that goes without saying. It’s so important to take time, 5,10 seconds before your actions.

Max Steinberg: Yeah. Well, everyone I tell that to says; “All right, next time I play with you, I’m going to [the turn 00:29:27.03], I’m going to barrel off Yeah, but most people just don’t do it.

Carl C.: “FoulMan” also asked; “Who the number 1 in the world is?”

Max Steinberg: That would be Danny, my twin brother.

Carl C.: Yeah, so you were born second, then?

Max Steinberg: Yeah, I was born second. That’s part of a joke.

Carl C.: “KingNat” wants to know what your drink of choice is at the table.

Max Steinberg: BV and water.

Carl C.: I thought this one, here, was interesting. “KingNat” asked; “What is your breakdown of political leanings among professional poker players?” So, like, Democratic, Republican, or liberal, or conservative?

Max Steinberg: I would say … I don’t know. I know a lot of players who are extremely liberal. I would say most of the players are conservative or, sort of, in the Ron Paul conservative wing of conservatism, which is extremely right-wing, and extremely libertarian. I would say, I don’t know. I guess it would be half and half, half liberal and half are libertarian-conservative.

Carl C.: Interview with us, and this is “givememyleg” from Flop Turn River.com and if you visit Flop Turn River, you can talk to the one and only-Max Steinberg whenever he’s on.

Max Steinberg: Yeah, so we might have to change my screen name, though, Numbr1intheworld, now.

Carl C.: You got the Bracelet, so you’re Number 1? Is that how it goes?

Max Steinberg: Possibly, possibly. We’ll see.

Carl C.: I hope you have a good main event and rest of the Series.

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