A Rare Conversation with Joey Ingram

Me and Joey IngramOne of the things I love being able to do with this poker blog is turn the mic around on those who produce poker content. Though he’s not “officially” a member of the poker media, “Chicago” Joey Ingram has built a tremendous following over the years amongst hard core poker fans who love listening to and watching his interviews and conversations with the world’s top online poker pros and other behind-the-scenes people in the poker community. His face and voice are familiar to practically everyone, but it’s ultra rare for Joey to “give up the host’s seat” and allow someone else to ask the questions.

In testament to building a solid, genuine relationship over a lengthy period of time and to finally getting to meet one another in person at the recently-held PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Joey was gracious enough to agree to let me “conversate” with him. Thank you Joey; you’re the man!

Note: For those of you without half an hour to spare, you’ll find the full transcript below the video.

Without further ado, I’m honored to bring you my conversation with the Papi-in-Chief, Joey Ingram.

Hey everybody, this is Robbie Strazynski for CardplayerLifestyle.com and I have the one, the only, Joey Ingram with me here. What a privilege.

Hey! What’s up buddy?

Doing great man. Thank you very much for joining us.

You know, I was sitting out here in this random hallway with no one here, getting a nice massage, when you walked up, put a camera in front of me and said: “Can I ask you some questions, Joey?” and I said: “Seems like a great idea.” So now here we are. Shout out to Amanda by the way, she’s working hard right now.

Thank you Amanda. Do you want to say hi to everybody?

Amanda: Hi!

So, Joey, usually the mic is in the other hand. Usually you’re the one doing the interviewing.

Conversating! Correct.

Conversating!

Not interviews. I have conversations with people.

You converse. So, obviously, you started out as a player, but I want to ask you, do you see yourself more as someone on the media side of things in poker, or on the player side of things?

I definitely see myself more on the player side of things. I still play more poker than 99.9% of people that exist on Earth. So I would consider myself more as a poker player. I guess the podcasts are definitely a form of media, depending on what your definition of ‘media’ is, but I still think that all my friends are poker players. Everyone I’ve known for so long is a poker player, and I’m sure I’m always going to be playing poker in some capacity:

1) because I still do really well at PLO, and

2) because I think having that poker ability and having the poker credibility really matters to a certain sub-section of people when you’re producing media type of content. So, I find that really important for myself and that’s definitely a reason why I intend to keep playing poker as long as I can still make money at the game.

That’s very good. So, I’ve got to ask you then, clearly you’re obviously very focused on the poker; what is it that made you start wanting to do media in the first place, and start the Poker Life Podcast?

I love the media. I don’t call it media. I guess I have to call it media.

The conversations!

I started doing them because my game is mainly Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), and there was really no content focused to the PLO community, and I wanted to create something entertaining that other high stakes players – like myself – could really enjoy and watch, and that had players in it that they knew. That sort of turned into me having guests on from the PLO world, and that turned into me deciding that I should have guests on from all the poker worlds, so that people who watch the podcast could get an accurate representation of what exactly the poker world is about in terms of the media people and the business side, the massage girls – shout out the massage women out there, shout out to Amanda, shout out to my girl Andrea.

All the behind-the-scenes people.

Exactly. You know, the behind-the-scenes people don’t get a lot of love sometimes, especially since a lot of the content that’s produced is focused on the players – which makes sense because the people that follow poker care about the players. They want to be these guys, they want to be high stakes players, they want to be on ESPN and stuff like that. So, it makes sense why everything is geared that way but I think a lot of people out there have really cool stories and ways they can contribute to poker.

That’s really interesting. When I prepared for this interview I was going to ask you how you can sort of expect someone to tune in for an hour and a half. That’s a long time. But when you’re telling me who the audience is, poker players decide how to use their own time, and they have an hour and a half free. You go ahead and announce: “Hey, Poker Life Podcast is going live in 2 hours,” and they’ll be like: “Oh yeah, I’ll remember that,” and they’ll tune in for an hour and a half. That’s pretty cool – to get someone’s attention for a long time.

Yeah, I think the plan that might be different – that I use, that most people don’t use – is that, I don’t care about numbers and viewers. A lot of people are so obsessed with how many people are watching. “How many people are watching my stuff?”, “How many people will watch this back?”, “How many people are reading my article?”, “How many people are doing this?”, and my philosophy has been that if I produce good content – whether that’s in the form of conversations, or whether it’s in the form of anything – people will come. If they want to watch it for an hour, they can watch for an hour. If they don’t want to watch it, they say it’s too long, well then okay, you don’t have to watch it. It’s not like I’m obsessed with getting every single person who consumes some type of entertaining content to sit down and watch my stuff for as long as it goes.

I personally enjoy having these conversations with the people I have them with. So, if you as the viewer want to watch that, I think there’s a lot of entertainment value in them, you learn a lot about mindset, about poker, and about other types of things. So you, as a viewer, can decide if there is value in this for you: “Do I want to tune in for this amount of time?” Yes or No. Me, as the creator, it’s not like I make more money. I don’t really make any money from this so it’s not like I’m going to make more money if a thousand more people tune in. It doesn’t make much of a difference, so for me, I just personally enjoy the long-form aspect of it, and that’s why I’ve stuck with that instead of making it shorter. I don’t know, it’s just like, how often do you get to sit down with one of your friends, or another high-level poker player and have an in-depth, 2-3 hour discussion about anything and everything?

And then to be able to witness that! You say you don’t care about the numbers, but you’re talking about five figures here of subscribers on YouTube, you’re talking high four figures of subscribers on Twitch. A lot of people are interested, and that’s a hell of an audience, man.

Sure.

Even though you don’t care about those numbers.

Well, I mean, obviously I want people to watch what I create, but it’s not necessarily where I’m willing to sort of compromise the ideas that I have in my mind for what I’d like to create for myself to sort of just get those numbers. Because if that was the case, you’d be having on all the biggest names in poker – the guys on ESPN, the guys that have a big American audience following – and I don’t really know those people. Those guys aren’t really my friends. I’m sure I’d find them interesting, but those aren’t the people I’m most excited to have a conversation with.

That’s why sometimes you might have some people on that the general audience doesn’t necessarily know, but I feel like after they watch them on the podcast they get to know them, they get to like them, they get to want to follow them, they become their fans, and then you sort of help other people get their name out there and turn them into people who have fans.

You helped me! You helped me like that. I remember back when you had me on the Poker Life Podcast, no one had heard of me before that.

I had you on the yet-to-be-named podcast until we decide what to name it. I don’t think we actually had an official name for that.

That’s right, we still don’t.

We still don’t.

Okay, Twitch or YouTube – which one and why?

Is my boy Scott Ball from Twitch watching this? He might get upset at this answer. He’s been trying to drill it to me hard that I’ve got to give up the YouTube live stream platform for a number of different reasons. I personally enjoy streaming my stuff on YouTube more. I enjoy keeping my content on one platform, like YouTube. Plus, the chat compared to Twitch chat… It’s like someone walked up here right now and said: “Amanda gives the worst fu**ing massage of all time.” That’s basically it. What do you say to that? That’s what happens on Twitch! They walk in there and they’re like: “Dude, you look like you smell.”

Sure, one way of looking at it is that all I have to do is disregard these comments, but on the other hand you’re still reading them. I just prefer not to take all these random, negative comments and energy into my life. On YouTube I feel like the chat engagement is so much better. You don’t get those random people on Twitch Poker popping in and they don’t know much about either person, and they might not even play poker, and they’re like: “Oh, who’s this guy?” Then they say some dumb things in the chat, and then you have 10-20 other people saying dumb things in the chat. Pretty soon no one smart wants to conversate in the chat, where it’s just terrible in there.

Conversate – I love it.

If I’m in a chat and the chat is just trolling, I have no desire to participate. I understand that some people want that type of comment – they just want people in there saying something – but for me, personally, I enjoy using my chat as a way to enhance the conversation I’m having with people or the conversation I’m having with the audience myself. I think on YouTube I get far better results with that, compared to Twitch.

I hear you. I totally hear you on that. So, let me ask you something.

You’ve been asking me a lot of things.

“Conversate,” “GTO,”

Pappiii

“Papi” – There’s a Joey-ese that not everyone is privileged to speak. How is it that you developed this sort of vocabulary? Joey walks into a room and everyone stands up and is like: “Pappppiiiiiii.” You were coining words left and right man.

I think you might be exaggerating how many people are standing up.

Oh everyone is standing up!

You’re getting carried away. This kid is exaggerating, I promise.

You invented this stuff, or this is always how you were as a kid?

I think I always made up my own phrases and words, and gave people nicknames and stuff like that. It’s just something I really enjoy.

And “GTO” is also a Joey-word?

GTO is a poker term. Amanda, you hang around poker a lot, what’s GTO to you?

Amanda: It really means nothing to me. I’m not really engaged in poker as much as I’m engaged at the massage.

Are you a professional speaker too?

Amanda: No.

(*Joey to Sharice, who is walking by*:  Hello, we’re doing a massage conversation right now.)

Sharice!! Everyone knows Sharice.

Shout out to Cherise.

Speaking of shout outs, one place where when you shout out everyone responds is Two Plus Two.

Sure.

Everyone knows ChicagoJoey on Two Plus Two. You’ve been there for a really long time, right?

Right.

Shout out to all the Two Plus Two grinders?

Shout out to all my boys on Two Plus Two. What up, Pappppiiiiiiis?

It’s a very tight community. I’ve got to know, what is it that you feel endears you to that community, and them to you?

The poker credibility aspect of things. I started off in the Micro Stakes Forums on Two Plus Two in 2007, just posting about playing 5c/10c and 10c/25c. Then you obviously want to gain the respect of the people on Two Plus Two. You want to give them something that people can either look up to a certain aspect of something that you do, or maybe they find you entertaining. Maybe it’s a combination of different things. It’s not like you get that from the Two Plus Two kind of crowds, these are trolls, they’re smart guys, and a mixture of people. But I’ve done things over the years. I played my 600,000-hand prop bet playing No Limit Full Ring.

This guy knows what he’s doing!

That was my first year. I made a big thread about that, and then you get your name out there a little bit. The next year, I played 50,000 hands in a day – the most hands ever played in a day. I made a prop bet about that, made it a little popular, and just sort of enhanced what I was doing.

So year by year the Joey-graph was going up. Your stock was rising.

Well, you know, at first I got notoriety but it was more notoriety for being a guy who had a sick work ethic and played 24 tables, but I didn’t actually win much money at poker. People respect you if you win money at poker, they don’t respect you if you’re break-even and can work really hard. So what happened was, after I got Supernova Elite twice on PokerStars – shout out to PokerStars, shout out to the now defunct Supernova Elite program – I started playing high stakes and I started having high stakes success. Once I had high stakes success, everyone was like: “Fu*k” – and that’s sort of how you get to be someone who gains this type of respect.

It does not happen overnight!

It takes years. This is what I tell a lot of new people. You meet a lot of Twitch streamers who are starting off, they’re new people, and they want to be the best, and they want to have all this respect. I’m like: “Listen, that’s going to take you 6 years, if ever.” You don’t just get in. You play poker every single day for two years straight and you might not be successful. Some people don’t care about respect. Some people just care about making money, they care about other things, and I certainly care about that too but I like the accomplishments, I like the challenges, I like achieving things that not many other people can really achieve when it comes to super-sick kind of things, like the prop bets I’ve done in the past, even building an audience.

That’s a life achievement. Money comes, money goes, but your tribe, your audience will stay.

Sure. I’ve had upswings, I’ve had big downswings playing poker, and I’m pretty confident that if at any point in time I want to make more money, I wouldn’t be playing poker. I’d probably be…. I don’t want to say it, this is a PG-13 type of stream. Nevermind, I’d probably just play more PLO and just dedicate my entire existence to only PLO and stop doing all other things. You can make so much money in so many different ways if you’ve got good work ethic.

Talking about dedicating your entire existence.

Sure.

You’re a young guy.

Debatably.

Pretty good looking.

Debatably, again.

Debatably good looking.

You’ve got to ask Amanda, she’s a neutral party here. I’m only paying her for a massage, and professionally tipping her, so she might be inclined to give me a false answer.

Okay, well, I’ve got to ask you then; all those accolades, clearly you’re probably desirable among the womenfolk.

Shout out to all the stalkers.

Who is the woman out there who is going to win Joey Ingram’s heart? What does this woman have to have?

That’s a great question, Robbie.

Thank you. That’s what we do.

What does she have to have?

Yeah. Not physical assets, I’m talking more about what’s gotta to be in here (brain) that charms Joey for life?

I don’t necessarily have these type of expectations or qualifications for the type of person. I’m not like: “I just want to date a 99-pound girl who’s got fake breasts and a big butt from squatting all the time.” Sometimes some guys say things like that, some guys have a blonde, brunette, they like American girls, they like the black girls, they like the big girls – shout out to the BGG.

The BGG!

I don’t know. For me, in terms of type, I try to stay away from the girls in poker because they’re bad news, even though sometimes you break that type – it happens, for sure.

Hmm. That’s an interesting one.

You want to stay away from girls in poker because nothing good comes out of that. Even though you’ve seen some poker relationships that have come, but I can’t say I’ve excelled at this in the past. For now, the type of girl is smart, ambitious, someone that’s created something – I’m talking about ideas – someone who has something successful going on in their own life that they’re not all in on what your lifestyle is and what you’re doing, but they have their own goals and their own desires in the certain field they’re in.

Hopefully, you want to be with someone who’s also having success at what they’re doing, because it makes things a lot easier for a relationship when people are each doing well in their desired field. I’ve been in relationships in the past where the girl I was with – shout out to her, she’s watching – might not have been doing well at the time. In the future she’ll be doing well. So, there’s a big disconnect in terms of monetary value I made and what she made, and just our general lifestyle – my ability to have no schedule and travel anytime I wanted.

If you’re dating an independent woman who wants to provide for herself and doesn’t want to be catered to by a man, then that’s not going to work, and a lot of the more intelligent type of women who have studied for things. I guess those types of people usually want to provide for themselves. They don’t want someone providing for them. From what I found in the past there’s obviously situations you might find that are not quite like that but I’ve found that that’s a general effect. That’s a deep answer.

That’s a very deep answer. That’s a fantastic answer though.

I felt like I dipped 5% into the answer though. For me there’s no specific type of person that I look for or go after. I feel like I try to give everyone a chance and you see what happens. You go from there.

That’s a fantastic answer man.

What else you got on the list?

Well, talk about living the lifestyle, you obviously have a certain type of lifestyle you’re used to leading. When you do tie the knot or hook up, let’s say permanently…

Tie the knot? Kid, what is your problem right now? Tie the knot?!

Well let’s say you hook up permanently with someone – tie the knot or not tie the knot.

Meaning I get a girlfriend for a long-term?

Exactly. How do you see your lifestyle changing, if at all?

That’s a sad thought, I’ve got to tell you.

Maybe it won’t change?!

I think for a lot of long-term relationships there needs to be some form of sacrifice on both ends, and that might come in the form of traveling as a sacrifice, especially if you date someone who has a career in a certain city and she only gets to travel maybe a month out of the year. I feel like we’re not looking at the camera during this, but I’m focusing on the answers here.

You’re also focusing on the massage, for sure.

You  have to understand that this is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done – getting a massage and give these PokerUpdate GTO answers for all the audience out there, that may or may not watch this.

Even though this is Cardplayer Lifestyle, but that’s cool, we love PokerUpdate.

Oh, this is Cardplayer Lifestyle too?

This is Cardplayer Lifestyle!

You’ve got a dual life here papi!

We love PokerUpdate, man! We represent all the brands here.

I love PokerUpdate. I like Cardplayer Lifestyle, that’s my old spot.

Shout out to PokerUpdate.

Shout out to my boy David.

To David Huber.

Yes, so let’s get back to the question.

The question, yes – How you see your life changing if at all, and the sad thought and sacrifice. You’ll get there when you get there?

Yeah, for sure. It’s like an unknown thing. I feel like I’ve changed a lot in four years, changed a lot in three years, and three years from now my life might be different. The laws might be different in the USA, my current situation in life might be different, so when it comes along, nothing really in mind though.

Okay, but you’re open to change? You’re not like: “This is the way I lead life.”

Of course. I’m pretty open to it. You get your own habits – living by yourself for so long – being in your own little element for so long, especially as an online poker player where you’re playing poker every single day for 5-6 years straight. You become used to your pattern and your routine, your non-existent sleep schedule that has you wake up anytime, all the time.

Totally! I hear that.

So, I don’t know man. That’s a good question papi!

That’s alright, an honest answer. That’s what we’re about – honest answers.

I know a lot of guys who are just into saying what they think people want to hear, so I can give you some politically correct answers if you want.

Ah, politically correct.

Give me two questions and I’ll give you the politically correct answers some people in poker would give you to them questions.

Now you’re putting me on the spot. You’re turning the mic around.

I’m going to give you the politically correct answer that most people in poker would give because they don’t want to, you know.

Just like any random question?

For sure, yeah.

Okay. Do you like playing at the WSOP?

You know, I think the WSOP is such a great venue. I think the tournament directors there do such a good job; the dealers that they have come in each year do so well; massage women like Amanda come in there; and while I think she’s at a higher calibre quality than most of the massage people – men and women, shout out to them, I don’t want to be sexist to anyone. I feel like all the massage people do a great job there. The food service there is excellent. The prices might be a little too high, but I can understand that – they have a monopoly on the situation out there and they want to make the most amount of money that they can make from the people that are coming there to spend money. So the WSOP, they have great schedules; very marquee, and I think it’s just a really great event, Robbie. I’m super happy that they have me out there and they sponsor me for all the different things that I do out there. It’s definitely one of my favorite tour stops.

Oh, Good Lord! I think that you have proven that you know how to give the GTO politically correct answer there.

See, I didn’t rub any feather. No one watches that and is like: “I feel some type of way about that answer.” Everyone is like: “Yeah, I don’t believe him.” The people behind the scenes, who you’re trying to butter up for a sponsorship or for advertising, or if you want to get staked, and you want to be someone who doesn’t want to tow the line on hate-able or lovable but you try to be more lovable in that spot. Pretty good answer, right?

Well here we keep it real. So one last real question for you, Joey.

Go ahead.

What are your ambitions? What are your goals? At and away from the online poker felt; at and away from the real poker felt. Where do you see yourself in a few years?

See myself in a few years? I’m gonna have one of the most popular podcasts in the world, and that’s a very ambitious thing but I’m a very ambitious person. Obviously you’ve got to start venturing outside the poker world with your guests at some point in time, and that’s something that I’m excited to do – to breach other genres out there and talk to people who are successful, who are ambitious and people I’m interested in talking with that do other things. Put a lot of work ethic into it, put a lot of hustle, work hard, work hard behind the scenes, work hard on the scenes, work hard on camera, and just hustle hard.

I love it man. This is why everybody loves Joey Ingram.

I don’t think everybody does.

This is what I love about you, also, and I’m sure everyone who’s been watching does to.

This is the PC answer! This is the PC interview!

No, this is the real answer man. This is a hard worker, and it shows, and it pays off. He doesn’t give interviews often.

Conversations!

He does do a lot of conversations, but he doesn’t allow other people to hold the mic so often. Any last words for Cardplayer Lifestyle fans?

This is on Cardplayer Lifestyle right now. Who watches Cardplayer Lifestyle? Who’s the main audience?

The main audience is people who love poker. Just poker fans.

That’s a PC answer right there.

No! It’s the truth! The main audience is the people who I’m very, very grateful for every time you click on my links and visit my site, because it makes me feel good that you read my stuff.

You mean that, though? Because I feel that people that say that, though, like: “Guys, thank you so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it.” I feel that most people who say that are not sincere.

Oh, I’m sincere.

I feel your sincerity man. I know.

That’s the truth. Look, when you work really hard on something and no one watches it, it doesn’t feel as good as when even a single person watches it.

I disagree. I disagree.

Really?

For sure. I don’t think it should matter, honestly, if you put all that you can put into something, and you feel like you created the best type of content and people don’t necessarily view it, I honestly feel like that’s their loss – provided that the content is as good as you think it is. It’s subjective because the content could be really good depending on the type of audience you’re trying to make it for. If you’re trying to make it to get a lot of views then you might gear your content one type of way that’s going to pander to that type of broader audience. It depends if you have this visible name, if you’re someone they recognize, and for someone like you, let’s say you put in a lot of hard work into some content – and you might not get the amount of engagement, or viewers, or response that you hope to get – well that’s just a function of that people might not know who you are in general. It’s not that they didn’t like the content, it’s just that they’re not finding the content.

That’s true.

So your mission, as the creator, is to get them to find you and honestly that’s the challenge. That’s the challenge that people who create things face: “How can people see this? The stuff that I think is fu**ing awesome,” and once more people start to see it then maybe you might realize that it’s not as awesome as it was. That might not even matter. It’s just a matter of you creating the content. Even if people 20 people watch it and they’re like: “I hated that,” but you enjoy doing that, and you feel that it’s really benefiting you, overall as a person, well then sort of fu*k what the other people are saying in that spot. That’s obviously just one way of looking at it when you factor in that  you might want to make a living, or you might want to build yourself up as a name, and you want the content to be good, obviously that’s going to change your approach to creating things, or writing things. I feel like I gave away too much strategy for people who are creating things out there, in this part.

No!

I did! I talk too much, man. Oh my God! Anyone who creates things should watch this.

But you know what, though? I just sort of feel like a lightbulb went off there because it’s true. The fact is, whether anyone watches this or not, I’m going to have this amazing memory of sitting here with Joey and just learning from you man. That’s really awesome.

And all the other people you’ve been here with. I saw you do something with my boy, Daniel Negreanu, shout out to Kid Poker. If no one watches it, or they think it sucks, who cares man?

Life experience.

You’re a huge poker fan. You love poker, you love following poker, you love writing about poker and talking about poker, so, for you to meet someone like Daniel – who’s the biggest person in poker right now – and to have this platform to have a 10-15 minute conversation with them, who cares what anyone else thinks about them? As long as you enjoyed it, and you have a memory that you can think about when you’re sitting at home talking with your kids – shout out to your kids – and you feel like: “Man, can you believe I was just sitting there with all these poker players that I look up to, who I respect and admire?”

He’s listening to the conversations I have with my wife every night. “Can you believe that I had these experiences?”

To be fair, I do know Robbie better than most of the people who he might have had these types of talks with this week, so I do know that he’s a very passionate guy. He’s very hardworking, very respectful, a very honest guy – those are some of the things I love about him – and yeah, that’s about it. I don’t want to blow the smoke up you too much, kid.

It’s all good man.

I don’t want to leave you on too much of a high note here papi.

Joey, you are the man. That’s it.

Do you want to get a question for Amanda? Where are you going to be going in the future, on the tournament stops? Where can people find you next if they want to get a massage.

Amanda: I’m gonna go to the Hard Rock in South Florida – Seminole Hard Rock, I’m going to go work there next in April, and then it’s the WSOP for me.

So if anyone is interested in following you on some sort of social media, maybe if they want to get a massage, thought you were cute, or just want to learn more about your life, is there a place to find you on the Twitter-sphere or anything like that?

Amanda: Not Twitter, but I have an Instagram – it’s AmandaMichelle2.0, and Amanda Michelle on Facebook.

AmandaMichelle2.0, Amanda Michelle on Facebook. The guys out there who watch this are going to be like: “This girl… her hands… she works so well, she’s focused, she’s responsive, speaks well.” They’re going to be fired up.

She’s doing a good job. I have been trying to get Joey to do something like this for months, and it took Amanda to get these answers out of him.

Is that true? I don’t know, maybe.

Thanks everybody.

That’s it. Peace. Adios.

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