The young Vietnam poker community is growing quickly, thanks to a more favorable legal setting, but also because of the passion of the people building the game in the country.
Interview is available in Vietnamese: Phỏng vấn anh Julien Tran, nhà đồng sáng lập của Poker Coach Vietnam
Somuchpoker has decided to discuss the issue with one of them – Julien Tran.
Player and co-founder of Poker Coach Vietnam, Julien Tran is one of the most respected members of the community. He shared his thoughts with us in this exclusive interview:
Somuchpoker: Can you tell us how did your poker journey start?
I first started playing poker in 2011, which is a bit late compared to many other players. What is different about my journey is that, while most players start poker as a hobby, I have been serious about poker as a career even before I read the rules or played any poker hand. At the time, I was an iOS app creator. The market wasn’t saturated yet, so I was doing quite well financially. However, I didn’t want to stay forever in one industry for my whole life. I wanted to try my hands at new things, to seek out new challenges. That’s why I started looking actively for a new side job. As a frequent traveller, my main criterion for the new job is to be location independent, so that I won’t get stuck in a 9-5 office. I googled around, and among the suggestions, poker fit the bill perfectly. I had a math background; I had always been calm and analytical so the decision was a no brainer.
SMP: Compared to other games / sports what makes poker so interesting in your eyes?
The blend between the technical and psychological aspects of the game, and the fact that as an amateur, you can still compete and have a legitimate shot at beating world class professionals.
SMP: What are your current goals as player?
In a game such as poker where variance is huge, it isn’t practical to set a monetary goal, or something like winning a WSOP bracelet. My goal is to simply keep studying the game, and try to reach the best version of myself as a poker player. The result should naturally come as I improve.
SMP: As player what is your best memory at the tables? Your worst memory?
Poker is so enjoyable to me, that I’ve plenty of great memories: my first home game with friends (when it confirmed to me that poker is a skill game), my biggest pot, or winning my first tournament trophy. My worst memories are all outside of the table: dealing with all sorts of scams, both live and online. Unfortunately, the “easy way to make big money” aspect of poker attracts quite a few shady people, and you have to stay very vigilant.
SMP: Can you tell us more about your Poker Coach Vietnam? When and why did you get started with this idea?
I wrote some poker articles on a whim and posted them on my personal Facebook account about a year ago, just to share with the Vietnamese community. They are nothing ground breaking, just basic stuff, but a lot of players are interested in them, because most people in Vietnam don’t speak English well enough to read/watch the abundance of poker content available on the web. My articles are perhaps the first real strategy content written in Vietnamese. Most other professional players in Vietnam don’t share anything, either because they are too busy / lazy / want to keep their secrets for themselves / or they are feel players who rely on instinct/experience instead of having a solid foundation. As more and more players get interested, I and Harry Duong decided to collaborate and we started this business. After teaching for half a year now, with nearly 50 students so far, I have become really fond of this side job and I enjoy it a lot. Besides, when I break down each poker topic into simple concepts and articulate them for my inexperienced students to understand, it’s also a great chance to go back to basics and refresh my poker knowledge. Richard Feynman, a Nobel physics winner once said that if you can’t explain something to a beginner, then you haven’t really understood it. Teaching something is the best way to learn it.
SMP: As a coach, if you only had one advice to give a player, what would it be?
Practice bankroll management and only play +EV games. Stay away from baccarat, roulettes and other forms of gambling.
SMP: What is the biggest misconception about the games that you have noticed among your students who are starting at poker?
Their biggest mistake is to be result oriented instead of process oriented. Few among them, even among the more experienced players comprehend just how much variance there is in poker. Just because you lose doesn’t mean you play incorrectly and vice versa, nothing is guaranteed no matter how well you play. As I’ve always explained to my students, the goal of the game is not to win the pot, to win a session, or a tournament, but to make the best decisions possible.
SMP: The Vietnam poker scene is currently flourishing with new poker rooms opening and plenty of initiatives which are aiming to develop the game in the country. What is your personal view on it?
Of course I am very happy with the recent development. My concern is that, some club owners only see poker as another business opportunity, and try to milk as much money from the players as possible, without truly trying to promote the game. This will hopefully change, as some passionate players get together and build their own clubs, and operate them out of interests for the players, not for profit only. I also hope the clubs can collaborate together and try to grow a stronger poker community, instead of fighting among themselves.
SMP: Who, according to you, are the most talented Vietnamese players?
There have been quite a lot of Vietnamese players winning prestigious trophies in Asia in recent years. However, the best player, without a doubt, is Linh Tran, and it’s not even close. What set him apart from the other Vietnamese players are his consistency and his professionalism. But I fully believe that, with the rapid development in the Vietnamese poker scene, if the other players can maintain the same discipline and professionalism as Linh Tran, they will have a good chance of closing the gap in the future.