Interview with Harry "!P0krparty¡" Kaczka

Harry Kaczka tore up the mid/high stakes PLO scene in 2011/12 under the guise of "!P0krparty¡"

Remember !P0krparty¡?, (from here on referred to as the less painful on the typing fingers "pokrparty") sure you do.  He was the insane multi-tabling high-stakes beast who terrorized the PokerStars micro, mid, and high stakes PLO tables for a few brief but intense weeks back in 2011 and 2012. He came, he saw, he conquered, and he lost the lot - on several occasions! Rumours were abound on the forums as to who this crazy character could be, but having never publicly revealed his identity until now nobody could really be sure. Even some seasoned pros who had played with him previously were not convinced of who pokrparty really was. Finally, however, the rumours can be put to bed for good as pokrparty is, as some suspected, 25 year old Harry Kaczka – more commonly known in the high stakes community by his former Full Tilt and PokerStars monikers “Ugotabanana” and “BoobySmiles”.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Harry for a lengthy chat a few days ago where the affable, enthusiastic, and clearly hyper-intelligent former online poker phenom filled me in on what he’s been up to, his plans for the future, and his memories of those crazy high-stakes days. Perhaps most surprisingly, he revealed that pokrparty's 24 tabling “take on all-comers for as long as the Adderall lasts” sessions of PLO were in fact, regulated by a strict set of bankroll rules and criteria – that there was, in fact, method in the madness! Check out some highlights from an enlightening conversation below:
Hi Harry, I’m honestly not sure where to begin since I know there is so much our readers are going to want to hear regarding the phenomenon that was/is pokrparty.
Yep that was quite the joy ride. It was a pretty long time ago, but I guess you could say I’m still a little nauseous from that emotional rollercoaster. Playing heads up on 16 tables of 50/100 while playing heads up with Pokerstars Security is pretty taxing. 
You might need to explain the "playing heads-up with PokerStars Security" a bit more...

Well,  people who followed high stakes online poker back in the day might be aware that when I was 19 (Harry is 26 this coming November) I was banned from PokerStars over an infamous MA’ing (multi-accounting) incident and have never been officially allowed to play there since.

I don’t really want to go into my whole take on predatory vs happenstance MA’ing, but the fact of the matter was that I had put $10k in a good friends account (still a good friend, who is currently in Las Vegas with Harry) to stake him playing $5/$10 for a couple of hours after losing a bet to him. He had a couple of hours to win money on my stake but actually ended up even, so the $10k was still in there and due back to me. I decided to play it and see what happened and I ended up going on a huge heater, winning close to a million bucks over a relatively short period of time. Obviously I had no clue this was going to happen, and it certainly wasn’t a deliberate attempt to gain an edge. However, Stars found out, banned me and the rest is history. I’m not here to defend what I did – I happen to not think this is as big a deal as some people obviously do, I had been MA’d on plenty of times and never really cared, it’s pretty obvious who the player is if you’ve played them before, and if not then if you’re getting outplayed then you should quit them – accusations that I “stole a million dollars” are, frankly, ludicrous. Anyway, whatever your take on it I was a 19 year old kid who broke the rules and got perma-banned so I guess to those who felt so strongly about it, justice had been served.

This was really, really hard for me and I counted down the days I was banned. I have appealed to Stars on numerous occasions, and in the intervening years I’ve grown up somewhat and am not so brash or cocky, and I have tried to appeal to their better nature as all I really wanted was to be given another chance -  but I have been denied that opportunity. Anyone who follows poker, without naming any names, knows that there have been more than a few high profile people who have been banned for similar or worse offences who are now back playing on the site, but for some reason not me.

After Black Friday put paid to Full Tilt* I had nowhere, legitimately, to go. By the summer I guess the long and the short of it was that I was bored and I just wanted to have some fun, you know?

*Incidentally, when Full Tilt opened up again in late 2012, Harry's account there (Ugotabanana) was closed after just three days as Stars now effectively owned Full Tilt and decided that "if you're banned on PokerStars you're now banned on Full Tilt!"

So that’s the long answer as to why pokrparty! came into being. Again, I wasn’t trying to gain an edge over anyone by not saying publicly who I was, it’s just that if I did then that would be it for me and PokerStars forever. Now I’ve reached a point in my life where I really don’t care about playing online poker - and PokerStars in particular  - and I have nothing to lose and I just really wanted to get my side of the pokrparty! story out there I guess!

It's a shame that we'll probably never get to see pokrparty! on PokerStars again though.

Personally I'm just sick of watching Pokerstars do more damage to online poker than any legislation ever has. Not only that, they’ve been benching one of their largest cash game action-drivers. For the past few years now, they’ve been leveraging their monopoly over online poker to squeeze out the pros and rob the fish blind. That, coupled with their inconsistent and disingenuous decision making and policy has obliterated the good standing and relationships that the company used to have with its players, as well as any remaining shred of its previous glory days.
It’s actually laughable since, for the past 2 years while they’ve been deforesting the mid-stakes which has obliterated the delicate balance that was the cash game ecosystem, all they had to do was put Booby in and watch me spin. 
Ok, let's rewind. Take us back to the story of pokrparty, because it's a pretty phenomenal one - those legendary runs which had such a huge impact on the poker scene at the time (30+ hour sessions, 24 tabling, going from 25c/50c to 50/100 and crushing souls) - how was it for you?
Oh it was fun! You know one day I'd like to maybe share my whole bankroll structure/strategy with everyone in a kinda "here, you can do it too" type way.
You had a strategy??
Oh yeah. The bankroll structure provided, sort of, a foundation, but a foundation that was about to grow upwards or about to shrink downwards at all points in time. Every session I played it was calibrated to my variance, my stop-losses, to everything, where I knew I would have an adequate amount of time to do such-and-such at this limit, and if didn't do that I'd just drop right down and scale it, and then go back up and scale it, drop back down and scale it, and so on and so forth - the idea was always to be moving, creating momentum and momentum was a big part of my strategy. One thing which worked pretty well was I tried out a two buy-in heads-up strategy in which I gave myself three tries. I managed, on the second try to go from 2/4 up to 10/20, and when I succeeded there I was onto a 50/100 multi-tabling session and quit +$120k, when I was only rolled for 2/4! 
Other than that it was very basic. I had the four games I played; heads-up half stack, short stack 6max, full stack heads-up, and full stack 6max, and the only time I'd played full stack 6max is if it was an ante game or if it were a deep game randomly because the theory was always this: if you're not finding reciprocity in your cost basis to their cost basis then you don't have any intrinsic value there.
Wow. Ok. I'm pretty sure that not too many people railing you at the time would have thought there had been quite so much method in your madness...
Ha ha, yeah you're right, it's true - let me think, there might be...erm, no not one person. I can think of a few people in particular that might lose their minds over this. They're just not going to believe it actually!
So, what went wrong with the strategy?
Well, and this is gonna sound strange, but I couldn't play high enough and just had too much money in my bankroll.
Yes, that does sound strange, I think you're going to have to elaborate?
Ok, well, the way I was playing and how I like to play is to what I'd call to "plug into the Matrix". I'm a big believer in flow, and I felt like I'd created the conditions to get into the zone, into the flow, and all I had to do was plug in and then basically I didn't have to do anything, it all just happened - on a sub-conscious level I mean. I had my bankroll strategy, my games, I knew where a lot of my edges were all I had to do was flow. I just had so much fun with it! (side note: according to the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the phrase,  "flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand").
Anyway, the problem was that once my bankroll reached $400-$500k staying in the "sweet spot" as far as flow was concerned would mean moving up to $100/$200 and to play above $50/$100 PokerStars need to security pass your account. After reviewing my account they wouldn't let me pass and for obvious reasons I couldn't do much about that. I was out of flow and I suffered because of it. If I can share a flow graph with your readers it's probably a lot easier to understand what I mean

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$500k at $50/$100 leans bottom right real fast, whereas $500k at $100/$200 is right up the flow channel!! I got to $500k or above on several occasions during my pokrparty runs, and this happened every time. I think there was one point, playing heads-up against Galfond where I hit $1m but I was so focused on enjoying the game I didn't even notice the money, but by the end of the game I'd lost some back anyway. I'm not saying I would have carried on winning indefinitely of course, but it sure would have been good to see how much more damage I could have done up at $100/$200 and $200/$400!
This is the end of the first part of our interview with Harry. Be sure to check out part 2 later in the week where we'll be getting Harry's views on his poker peers and what he hopes his future involvement in the game will entail.
For more info on Harry check out his Twitter where he'll soon be posting details of how you can buy a piece of pokrparty!'s action at the WSOP.  You can also check out his blog here
Also, check out our recaps on pokrparty's insane rushes on PokerStars during 2011/12 at HSDB - links below


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