Team Bodog recently announced that they have signed a new team member, a 25-year-old poker professional from Philadelphia, PA named Amanda Musumeci.
Amanda Musumeci, AKA “BodogMander,” lives in Las Vegas and is best known for turning a small initial deposit into a six figure bankroll playing poker online at Bodog.
I was fortunate enough to be able to catch up with Amanda and discuss poker with her in a recent interview. Below is a list of the questions I asked Amanda along with her replies.
Tom: Hi Amanda. When did you first start playing poker?
Amanda: I first started playing poker in August of 2007 when I was attending Kutztown University in PA. I was waitressing at the time. Once I had my first 1k+ score, I was sold, and quit my job so that I could play poker. The poker money helped me to pay for my schooling, and also was helpful because it allowed me to stay and work from home, so I could still do homework, draft up study guides, etc while I was playing.
Tom: Your Bodog profile states that you turned a small initial deposit into a six figure bankroll playing online poker. What was the amount of your initial deposit?
Amanda: I initially put on $150. Since that first deposit on Bodog, I’ve been blessed enough to never have to ever deposit any more money onto the internet for the sake of poker. I built my roll all from that one deposit back in late 2007.
Tom: When you first started playing online at Bodog, what was the buy-in for the sit-n-go’s that you would play in?
Amanda: For my first week on Bodog, I played the low limit beginner sit-n-gos, I think ranging from $4-$16. After I got my account up to about $350, I decided that each day, I would take half of my SNG profits, and put that back into my SNG bankroll to add to it, and then with the other half of my daily profit, I’d take some chances in the bigger fields in the MTTs on Bodog. I think I won something like the 5th tourney I’d ever played there… the $10 Rebuy 3k Guaranteed tourney for $1,000. Later that week, I won the Bodog $12 Rebuy 4k Guaranteed for $1200. That was when I took off into taking poker more seriously.
Tom: What was your largest cash playing poker online?
Amanda: Something which I feel deserves attention is that in online poker, the winnings are much smaller than you would see in the big buy-in live events. However, we as online players get to play every single day, not just in event seasons or by following circuits around the globe… and we get to play many tables at once with smaller buy-ins than you’d see in live event series as well. So the difference for us as onliners is that I think we generally make the same if not more than the live tourney pros, just in smaller more regular/consistent increments. Mindful we should all be of how the onliners are still grinding and improving in the online poker arena even between the live event series, playing hundreds of tournaments online per week. Also, some players are backed and some aren’t, which allows some of us to play higher buy-ins, thereby winning the bigger prize pools. Luckily for me, I got backed last spring by two TOP 10 online players in the world. They’ve mentored and coached me over the past year, and have let me play some of the buy-ins I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford (Since I was paying for my college out of my own poker roll for my first year in the industry). Over the past year of playing the mid-high stakes tourney schedules online, I’ve had several notable scores. Some of them are a 3rd place finish in the FTP Sunday $150 150k guaranteed special for around 27k, a 1st place finish in the FTP $200 50k 6max turb for 20k, two 15k scores, one as a 5th place finisher in the FTP Sunday Mulligan, and another with an outright win in the Sunday PokerStars $20 cubed event. Also, I’ve had a few scores right in-and-around the 10k mark, being an outright win in the FTP Sunday fifty-fifty event, another outright win in the PokerStars nightly fifty-fifty event, and an outright win in the PokerStars $109 40k guaranteed 6 max event. I’m not really sure what my total winnings are for the year since I got backed, but my best estimate for winnings for the year would probably be in the ball park of 250-350k.
Tom: Do you have any cashes in live tournaments?
Amanda: I’ve always been an online grinder. I like having the ability to mass-table and give myself a better shot and running deep in a tournament on a given evening than if I were to say play one live event. This is why I’ve chosen online poker as my chosen profession over live poker. Now that I’m a sponsored pro, I have much more incentive and desire to branch out from behind my computer screen, and to really diversify my game. I’m hoping that this next year or two of my career will prove to be equally as rewarding as the past few years, and that I can continue to work towards becoming one of the ‘Poker Greats,’ by conquering both the online and live tournament circuits.
Tom: Do you prefer to play ring games or tournaments? Explain why you prefer one over the other?
Amanda: Surprising as it may seem, I, matter-o-factly, do not like gambling LOL. I prefer tournaments and always have because I like the idea of making a small investment to gain a large return. Cash games always seemed a bit more risky to me, because you could sit down, bust your stack, rebuy, bust your stack, rebuy, bust stack etc, etc. To me, that seemed dangerous, and I know that I’d personally feel awful if I dropped heaps of money in one night like that. I can sit down at a 1/2 table and win or lose maybe something like $1000-1500 in a night I would imagine. But by playing online MTTs, for $1500 investment per night, I have the potential to win 10′s of 1000′s, even up into the hunderds of 1000′s of dollars if I had a stellar night on the online felts. Tournaments also offer that ‘built-in’ bankroll management/discipline built into it since you can’t just keep rebuying and rebuying if you bust out (unless of course it’s a rebuy tourney). People seem to have a hard time walking away from the cash tables when they are up or down money. That seems like another thing that is dangerous about cash games. In tournaments, when you bust, you’re done, and its over. If you’re tilted, you just finish up and get over it. In cash games, you can tilt, and just keep tilting and spewing chips. Considering the risk:reward ration, I find that tournaments are a bit more safe for someone who can competently and regularly beat the games.
Tom: You have recently joined Bodog‘s team of poker professionals. Tell me why you feel that Bodog is an online poker room that you can personally endorse?
Amanda: Bodog is the site that I started my entire poker career. How could I not endorse the site from which I blossomed? It’s like my mother-site, my home-site. I’m a native there, I’ve networked with many of the regular Bodog players, and I’d love to see the site continue to grow from the inside out, which now I’m lucky enough to be able to witness and be apart of.
Tom: Obviously you have strong bankroll management skills as you turned a small deposit into six figures. Bankroll management seems to be overlooked by many poker players. Tell me why bankroll management is important and give some pointers on managing a poker bankroll.
Amanda: I think that many poker players have gambling problems. I don’t think that people who have addictions such as that should be indulgent in them. Those are the folks who need to get help. There is a difference between playing for fun, and playing to pacify an unhealthy gambling problem. But beyond that, there is a new catagory of poker player that is surfacing… the demographic of poker players is no longer just comprised of hobby players and gambling addicts. We’ve all noticed in the past few years more and more poker ‘professionals’ hitting the circuit. As poker continues to diversify over the next decade, we’ll all see how it’s turning into something that can be a monetarily lucrative, and likewise rewarding as a career choice. Bringing in and accepting the idea of poker as a business should help dictate how one is going to manage their bankroll. If you’re a hobby player, and have money to drop and just want to have a good time… then do whatever makes your heart happy. If you want to take poker seriously and build up a roll on your own however, it’s going to take several commitments and compromises to find a happy balance. You not only need to commit to never stop learning about the game, but also you need to have a fond, realistic idea of your bankroll and also a firm grasp on the ‘swings’ or ‘variance’ that can occur in the format of poker you might be interested in playing. Sit-n-go players will have different basic guidelines than an MTT player will, and same with cash players. Any basic internet search on bankroll management will return infinite sites that can recommend excellent strategies, spreadsheets, and calculations to help the average player manage their own bankroll. I think it’s equally important to have a realistic view on your own skill set, so that you aren’t playing in games that you won’t beat often enough to be super profitable from. Rather, I think it’s safest to play games we know we can crush, and once we’re up money, then maybe take the occassional risk in a higher buyin.
Tom: Do you prefer to play poker online or in live games? Explain what you feel is the major difference between playing online and in live games?
Amanda: The biggest part of why I play primarily online is because I can play several tables at once, and the buy-ins are cheaper for bigger prize pools than anything you’ll find in Vegas on any given day. I have a better shot at running deep and making a couple thousand dollars in one night than if I were merely one-tabling a live tourney. One more obvious reason I enjoy online more is that I can play within the comfort of my own home, and I have the freedom to travel or live whereever, whenever I want! That’s an obvious huge perk! The live players MUST live in a city with a decent poker scene otherwise they’d be traveling to and from Vegas all the time, making it hard to manage any kind of home-base elsewhere. The onliners definitely have the benefit and flexibility in this area that the live guys simply don’t, and will never have.
Tom: When you are not playing poker online at Bodog, what are some of the casinos in Las Vegas that you prefer to play at? What games and stakes are you usually playing?
Amanda: I don’t play a ton live, as I’ve mentioned. When I have friends come to town or family, they usually want to play in the live rooms, so we’ll go down to the Bellagio or Venetian. I’ll usually just play whatever stakes my guests want to play. I also do participate in some of the live local event series that run around here. I’ve played in a few of the Venetian Deep Stacked events last year, and a few Bellagio events sprinkled in over the years as well.
Tom: Why do you think that women poker players prefer to play live games instead of online? What advice do you have, specifically for women, about playing poker online?
Amanda: I think there are several catalysts that factor into what makes it so difficult to really gauge how many women play online poker. I think it’s obvious that the online poker players don’t get nearly the same notoriety that the live players do, so that’s one reason we don’t hear or see as many women OR men for that matter coming out of the online industry(YET!!). Another is that you obviously lose that face-to-face dynamic that you achieve when you’re playing live. You’re playing just one table, and usually people at the table talk and engage one another. We’re more apt to notice a female in live poker than online. Online, you don’t know who the ‘person’ sitting next to you is… but I think it’s just assumed it’s a male because it’s a male dominated sport. I think that women should definitely pick up on the online poker play. It’s great again because you don’t have to live in Vegas to do it. You can grind cash games online and still raise a family and stay at home with your kids. I hope that as poker becomes more commonplace around the sporting channels and in mainstream media, that people, women included, will become more open and less objective towards this game we love! Women who currently play live and online both should all definitely join the poker forums and become more active among the poker community. There are also forum sites that are directed at women, sites that sponsor events for ladies in different cities, and will post all ladies event calendars, etc etc. Let’s go ladies!!!
Tom: I noticed on your Twitter account that you mentioned your Bodog WSOP clothing is being made up. What events do you plan on participating in at this year’s WSOP?
Amanda: I’m going to try to play all the 1k’s as long as I don’t get shut out!!! Probably will play some 1.5′s and 2k’s, and definitely the main event. The ladies event is also an obvious MUST PLAY event for me. And if I do well leading up to the main, then you can expect to see me in a bunch more than just those!
Tom: Do you have any advice to offer poker players who may be thinking about playing professionally?
Amanda: If you’re in school, stay in school. You can play and manage school if you try! Also, just try to handle the money as a mature adult. So many young people are coming into the game now, so I just hope they all know good money management and wealth accumulation strategies. Have plans for your money so once you win it you can capitalize immediately. And again, just be careful as you move up stakes…. a quote from my Bodog page…”In life and in online poker, it’s important to make every decision with clear intentions.”
You can play online with Amanda Musumeci at Bodog Poker.
- by Tom Sangenito