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Interview with Poker Entrepreneur Taylor Caby: Runnin' Down a Dream

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Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

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So you're a young college kid, playing a lot of poker in your dorm room and making some money. The world seems like your oyster, what do you do next?

If your answer was "blow all your money, stupidly," you don't know what I'm getting at here.

In 2005, Taylor "GreenPlastic" Caby was just that college kid, but instead of buying an ungodly amount of cheap beer and pizza--as would be expected for his collegiate position--this high stakes online poker player from Chicago parlayed his poker success into a well-known poker training website, Cardrunners, with the help of his poker playing friend, Andrew Wiggins.

Caby was able to speak with me recently about his success with poker, Cardrunners and what he is thinking for the future.  

Windy City Rounder: Could you explain how Cardrunners came to be?

Taylor Caby:  It kind of all started while I was still at the University of Illinois, when a friend of mine, Andrew Wiggins, and I were playing a lot online. People would come up to us and ask how we were winning, what strategies we were using. So, basically from that we came up with the idea of a training website people could use for poker. From there it we went into a process of development for about a year and the site really launched in 2005.

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Pretty much the standard, successful business's office...


WCR: How did you and Andrew get into poker?

Caby: I think we were like everyone else. Around 2003 poker was really popular, with the World Series boom on TV and everything. So, I started playing with some friends in high school, but started playing online in college. So we began studying with each other and became winning players from there.

WCR: Let's talk about teaching poker. How difficult is it to talk to someone who is totally new at the game and make them a winning player?

Caby: It's definitely not easy. Most people come in to poker expecting to do well and most people, for whatever reason, think they're already good at the game. We tell people that it's going to take a solid investment of their time and their money, but if you work hard and study the game well, most people can improve their play. I mean, most people will not become professional players, but if you work hard you can become a winning player. I think what most people do is not take the game that seriously, treat it more as a hobby or something of a recreational nature. And to become good you have to take it as seriously as you would with a job or school or something. 

WCR: A large number of the teachers on Cardrunners play extremely high stakes. Do you think that makes it difficult to teach to the lower stakes player?

Caby: Yes, a lot of the pros that our site is known for play the really high stakes games, but we have also hired players that play at the smaller and medium stakes as instructors. We try to have a good mix of instructors who are good at different games and different stakes so that even the guy who's trying to pick something up for his home game will be able to find something for him.

WCR: Let's talk about the success of Cardrunners. How has the site changed since you launched it?

Caby: Well, I mean it literally started as a project between me and Andrew, managed in a fraternity room, and over the past four and a half years we've expanded to where we have our office in Chicago, about 52 people working full time. We now have acquired a few different sites and we have had over 80 people post instructional videos to the site. We now are noticing competitor sites popping up that are trying to do the same things that we've done, so yeah, it's been extremely successful.

WCR:  Can we talk about your partnership with Full Tilt, how that came about and what you see as the benefits for both sites?

Caby: Sure, in 2007 we were approached during the World Series by Full Tilt. They said that they had noticed that some of the top players on their site were pros for Cardrunners so they were looking to see if we'd be interested in a partnership so that both sites could promote each other. We thought that was great because we thought it would not only open Cardrunners up to a new audience, but kind of give some of our top pros some recognition. Before the partnership there were people who would say, "oh these kids just got lucky" but since becoming sponsored by a major site I think people have realized that we do in fact know what we're doing. We, also, I think do a good job of promoting Full Tilt on our site, through our videos and promotions we run. Overall, I think it's a good partnership.

WCR: All right, recently a number of the Cardrunners pros have been very successful at playing against the mysterious high stakes player "islidur1." Do you think that their success at beating one of the toughest players online has helped drive people to Cardrunners?

Caby: Yeah, it certainly didn't hurt us. I think when Brian Hastings took over $4 million from this guy the whole poker world took notice and it certainly gave us some notoriety because he's been making instructional videos for Cardrunners. Overall, I think it's been a really good thing for our company.

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Caby: "Yes WCR, our pros winning millions of dollars I think has helped us. Next 'great' question please"


WCR: So, Cardrunners has an actual physical office in Chicago, what was the reasoning, as a poker website, to have an office in Chicago?

Caby: We decided that instead of having our support team, marking people and other important staff working from their homes that we should have a physical office for them to work at. And considering that the two founding members of Cardrunners are from Chicago, we thought what better place to have it then there? So, we opened an office in Lincoln Park.

WCR: Going forward, what are some of the things in development for the future with Cardrunners?

Caby: We've been reworking our website for about a year or so, and that will launch in about a month. We've been on the same platform for about three years, so decided we just wanted to modernize the website a bit. Some of the things we are working on are adding more videos for mobile devices, podcasts, articles, just more diverse poker contact, where in the past we've been mostly know for just our poker videos. We are trying to give our customers more diversified poker content.

WCR: Thanks so much Taylor.    

      


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