Roy's Poker Room

Roy's Story


Why the hell should you listen to what I have to say about poker, anyway? I've written before that no-one can turn you into a winning player unless you yourself are willing to find the drive, the heart, and the spirit to do what it takes. Just who IS this guy who tries to help you out with your game?

When I was 15 years old I aspired to be a world class bowler. I spent hours every day in Washington State bowling alleys, got pretty good at it, won some local tournaments. It’s one of those flukes of my life that my best friend was the number one junior bowler in the country. I finished second a lot. I didn’t like that, at all!

Bowling alleys in Washington often have card rooms associated with them. I started sneaking into them, playing lowball. By age 18 I was supporting myself playing poker, mostly $5 limit hold’em, grinding out a living. David Sklansky’s first hold’em book had just come out, and I was the only one in the local card rooms who’d read it. I killed the games. Except for a 10-month stint as a computer programmer while in college, I never held a job again until I took up Real Estate when I was 33. 

From 1975 to 1982 I played all over the West — California, British Columbia, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Washington, Oregon and of course Nevada, particularly Reno. I played draw, stud, lowball, hold’em and Omaha. I played in bowling alleys, bars, strip joints, card clubs and private games. I put in nearly 3,000 hours a year, building a bankroll and a life. In 1980 — at age 22 — I split the Amarillo Slim Limit Hold’em tournament with Eddie Schwettman. 

The best part of my game was ferocious intensity, fire in my guts, competitive desire. Life was good. I had lots of friends, met lots of women, traveled, lived well, partied hard. Too hard.

In 1983 I entered a drug rehabilitation program, cleaned up my body and the bad part of my life. I met a cocktail waitress at the Totem Bowl Card Room in Kirkland, Washington. Kai Kei Leilani Piano, a Hawaiian girl. Her name means Morning Mist, Beautiful Flower. She was the right person at the right time, gave meaning to my life, and helped keep me get on the straight and narrow road I have followed since. Misty’s now my wife, my partner in the real estate business, the mother of our beautiful daughter, Krystle. 

In 1984 I moved to Las Vegas and became a daily grinder at the Golden Nugget, playing almost exclusively middle limit hold’em. Over the years I’ve played mostly at the Nugget, the Stardust, the Hilton, Binion’s, Mirage and the Bellagio. I played in and did well in lots of little local tournaments, was a frequent winner of the Stardust’s, Hilton’s and the Nugget’s weekly Most Money Won tournaments.

I found my poker niche, the middle limit hold’em games. I currently play $20-$40 and $40-$80 regularly at The Bellagio. I like the middle limits because they’re swing-resistant. I’m highly attentive to the concept of edge, and know that as you climb the poker ladder there are more tough players, and fewer weak players the higher you go. Higher limits are a lot harder to grind out on a consistent basis. 

In 1989 I got my real estate license, and with my wife started a successful real estate business. Now I play about 1000 hours a year, do real estate most of the time. I’ve never had a losing year. I’m still effective at the tables. But father time has changed my game. I don’t have the fire, the spirit of that 22-year-old at the Amarillo Slim. Today the strength of my game is analysis, experience, awareness and emotional strength.
In 1992 I started writing a poker column in CardPlayer magazine, the worlds largest international poker publication. Over time, I became their "Senior Columnist" and co-authored 6 poker books with John Bond, a professional writer. I still write for CardPlayer, my article comes out every two weeks. You may read them at

In 1998 I was asked to manage PlanetPoker, the world’s first Internet real money cardroom. The experience was a great one. I interacted with some of the world’s most successful people, learned and grew enormously from those interactions. It opened my eyes to perspectives I’d never previously considered. It also grew my poker knowledge greatly. Having access to billions of data-mined poker hands cultivated new concepts as well as distinguishing poker realities. Sadly, PlanetPoker closed its doors in 2006 with the Federal UIGEA legislation outlawing Internet poker rooms. 

I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the poker world. I’m sorry to say that the game hasn’t been good to most of them. Its swings, its stress, all the negative aspects of the game wear most people down, burn them out. I’m one of the few people I know for whom the game has been almost exclusively positive. I met my wife at a card room, as well as most of the friends I really care about. I built financial stability. I learned hard and true lessons about life, grew from them. The game has been very very good to me. 

What I’ve learned from the game, both about the game itself and about life — I’m going to share with you here. The poker world has been my life. It’s a real world, and I play real poker. What I have to share with you isn’t about hold’em. It’s about poker. And about life.

Roy's Top 12 Fundamental Poker Tips

The Wsop Is Almost Here

Roy's Writings