Ashley Frank Interviewed by Somuchpoker’s Gaelle Jaudon
Somuchpoker: You recently moved to Texas for poker, which is the place to be right now to play, as we’ve recently interviewed many other players like Andrew Neeme, Doug Polk or Cedrric Trevino “poker_traveler,” who have done the same. Poker rooms are booming in the state. So how is your new life in Texas and what do you mostly play?
Ashley Frank: I just moved here so I’m just getting my feet wet in the sense of seeing where to play, what games are running etc… but I played a lot at The Lodge in Austin. In Dallas, I played at Texas Cardhouse, which is also a really great room. A lot of the games out here are 2/5 Match the Stack so you can basically match whatever the biggest stack at the table is. So let’s say you buy in for $2,000 and double up, now someone can buy in at $4,000 so it makes the games a lot bigger. I’m still getting acclimated to how big the games are played here because I used to play 1/3, so there is a big difference!
SMP: Yes, I was surprised about how big the games are because in the previous interview, Cedrric Trevino told us there was no cap and that a 2/5 NLH was definitely not like a 2/5 in Las Vegas. For example, people buy in with $5,000 or even more, and there are always bigger straddles.
AF: Yeah, for example, I played on a live stream the other day and on the very last hand we had a 5/10/25/50/100/200/400 straddle on, and I had AK! I just had to go all in and it was crazy. They love to gamble out there, which is great for poker players.
SMP: You have a cool vlog (PokerfaceAsh) where you share your poker trips around the US and you cash the game session’s winnings and losses. What pushed you to start a vlog and how much work is actually behind the scenes?
AF: I started it because I’ve always been a creative person. I was in the music industry as a touring musician before I started playing poker. When I started playing full-time a few years ago, I started missing that creative aspect in my life, and working on a vlog helped me to fill that creative need. I love sharing my journey with others, hearing feedback from people, and giving good quality content to listen to and watch. So I started it and it is a lot of work! It takes about 20 to 30 hours per vlog. Every minute of a vlog is about an hour of editing time and my vlogs are around 25 minutes. I was doing it all by myself at the beginning, but the problem was I couldn’t get content out fast enough, so I had to hire some help in order to upload vlogs more frequently. Now I release a new vlog every Tuesday morning.
SMP: I think you have a very clear and calm way of explaining your hand. It’s very easy to listen to in the vlog. You’re reviewing many hands and explaining your thinking process. What would you say is your recipe for creating a good video and what type of community do you want to build?
AF: When I first started my vlog, I was very scared to share how I thought about poker because I knew I wasn’t very good. The content has improved a lot since the first vlog and a lot of that is just from getting better in the game, hiring a coach, and studying among other things. I now feel that what is truly important is teaching and giving people who want to watch a vlog important moments of thinking during hands which might help someone boost their poker strategy. That’s how I started learning myself. I became good friends with Andrew Neeme and I was watching his vlog. It helped me grow my poker knowledge and showed me other ways of thinking in some situations. That’s one of the most important things, I try to give some good teaching moments and good quality.
SMP: And how did it eventually change your live experience? Do you do meet-up sessions? Do people recognize you more on the live scene?
AF: Oh, it’s weird. I don’t think I can walk into a poker room anymore without having someone recognize me. I’m actually kind of an introvert and it’s a little bit of a weird feeling. So I’m pretty shy sometimes but it’s super cool. I want to build a community where I can help beginner to intermediate players get better and help the game grow. One of my biggest goals is to get more women to play. If they can see me playing and get inspired and more confident, that’s a huge win.
SMP: That was actually one of my questions. The perpetual debate on the poker scene on how to make women feel more welcome at the tables, how to bring more women into poker etc… the topic came back on the scene recently with the podcast between Doug Polk and Ebony Kenney. What differences do you see between now and when you started and what should still be improved? Did you have issues yourself?
AF: There are a lot more women in the game now than five years ago, which shows that it’s good and that it’s growing. For the most part, I would say I always had a good experience at the poker tables in general, but there’s always one or two people or a situation here or there that happens which is just unfortunate. What it really comes down to as a whole, is that those people who say negative things towards women at the tables are probably just not good human beings. So I think it’s more about the human nature of the people you meet versus the sexism issue. I have also had issues with women at the table so my stand is to make everybody feel welcome. I feel respected for the most part, but you know there’s also a lot of ego and pride involved in poker. So I think whether male or female, bad behavior can always happen at the table. It’s better for the game and for the professional poker players to have more people in the game, so it’s more about promoting the game and having minority groups, in this case women, feel comfortable to help them play more. So my thought is that it’s not necessarily a gender issue but more about boosting general behavior to make new players feel welcome. We need to keep working and improving on that.
SMP: You also became a sponsored pro player with PokerBROS, so how has having a sponsorship changed your career, and what are your goals with the site?
AF: As much as I love cash games, my love and my heart are in poker tournaments. I love poker tournaments and I wish I could play full-time but I think it’s too much of a grind. Most people who are watching my vlog love to watch cash games hands so I want to give them what they want to see! In my partnership with PokerBROS, I get to go to circuit events like WSOP, WPT, RunGood series, and basically all of those major tournament series. I go play a few tournaments, wear my patch and help promote the app which has honestly been a dream come true. When I first started, I wanted to be a sponsored pro, travel to live events and represent a poker room so it’s been amazing to realize that I truly love it. I love touring, I’ve been traveling a lot and it’s been really busy!
SMP: Did you already have to face a big downswing in your poker career and have you thought about quitting? If it’s the case, how did you overcome it?
AF: I have been very fortunate to not have to face a huge downswing. I had one bad losing month in poker which was actually last month because I played PLO in really big games. If I hadn’t played PLO I probably wouldn’t have had a losing month! But I do still struggle when I have a couple of losing sessions in a row. It can be mentally daunting and you can get gunshot for the next session so I would say it’s important to make sure to come back to your next session refreshed and ready to play without hanging onto those losing sessions. I lost the most I ever lost in one session last month and it’s really hard to not let it affect me too much, but we’re all human. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate to not have too many downswings but with that being said, I’m now starting to play in way bigger games and I’m sure I’m going to face that at some point. I hope that my mental toughness is ready to handle this.
SMP: You’ve been working on your game with Matt Berkey and also on your mindset, is that right?
AF: Yeah, I was fortunately in the Solve For Why course which really helped build my fundamentals in poker and they do talk a lot about mental toughness. I hired a mental mindset coach during the WSOP and it helped me a lot in making sure that my mind was right. It does help keep you accountable too, so you can’t start sulking or feel sorry for yourself when you keep busting tournaments over and over. You have to keep going. I also worked with Advanced poker training more recently and they really helped me as well. As I said earlier, I want to give very good content to the people watching my vlog. I want to know what I’m talking about and I can only do that if I keep getting better at poker. I have a one-on-one coach I talk with regularly after a poker session to review some hands which helps me see what I could say about a specific hand to help other people. It’s very important to me to improve and I have some fun things coming soon. Hopefully, I will be able to work with some really high-level poker players. It wasn’t as important at first when I started my vlog because I got so wrapped up in the vlog-creating process that I kind of went down with my poker study but now I’m definitely back on track!
SMP: And as you said, you started to play bigger PLO games recently, but do you also play other games with big draws?
AF: I just played on my very first live mixed games session recently which was crazy because I had never played Big O before. It was a very good experience. Here in Texas, the dealers change every thirty minutes and you play a double PLO bomb pot at every change. So I had to start getting familiar with PLO because those pots get huge. You’re basically going to play a PLO hand with two boards every thirty minutes, even if you’re playing at a Holdem NL table and it becomes a crazy game. During those hands, we can see big changes in people’s stacks and it’s uncapped, so you can easily end all in. I also play around twice a week at The Lodge. I love to go there, Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen are really doing a great job.