POKER TIPS & STRATEGY

Octopi Poker Founder Andrew Lichtenberger Discusses The Company’s Vision to Disrupt Poker Training

By Robbie Strazynski
September 11, 2023

Just under a week ago, longtime poker pro Andrew Lichtenberger issued a press release announcing the arrival of Octopi Poker, a poker training platform set to break the mold. Numerous fellow poker pros were named in the press release and the company has a stated goal of “leveraging cloud computing and artificial intelligence to become a one-stop shop for studying, collaborating, and unraveling the complexities within the game of poker.”

While I normally just skim press releases and then move on, “something extra” happened this time. Shortly after the announcement, Andrew personally reached out to me to ask if I had any questions about his new initiative, if I wanted to interview him about it, or if there was some other way I’d be interested in collaborating. Personal outreach of that sort doesn’t usually happen too often, and Andrew’s passion and genuine investment in the project immediately became clear to me. That aforementioned “something extra” convinced me to take a closer look at and re-read the press release.

Yes, indeed; I certainly do have questions about Octopi Poker, and I want to thank Andrew for his candor in answering all of them. More and more poker players these days are dedicating the time and effort necessary to “get in the lab” and improve their game. It would seem that Octopi Poker’s approach to educating poker players has the potential for tremendous success. I invite you all to learn more about it below.

Octopi Poker

George and Tom, the Octopi Poker mascots

Octopi Poker is a pretty unique and offbeat name for a new poker training site/initiative. How did you come up with it?

It happened pretty organically! I made an off the cuff comment to Victoria (Livschitz) with no particular meaning about one of our co-founders Johan, being “more of an Octopus than someone else”, and she thought it was hilarious. We tossed the idea around and decided we could run with it! We love the ways we can have fun the idea of Octopi and underwater sea creatures, and we want to keep the branding fun, light, and goofy.

We also love capturing the nature of the Octopus and highlighting what it represents as an advanced creature, in a poker sense. For example, camouflaging and adapting to your circumstances, being able to squeeze and navigate through awkward situations and live to tell the tale, and lastly the amount of hearts(3) and brains(9) that they possess!

What was the impetus for diving into this project to begin with, and at what point did you first begin working on it?

The impetus to dive into this project really came down to a few major criteria:

  1. Modern poker and tech excellence in-house
  2. The desire to meaningfully and positively impact the poker industry and move things forward technologically, as in almost every other part of our lives
  3. Create a genuine poker community by which people can come and be a part of, and optimize the tools so that they can learn, play, and grow together

We began working on the project about 15 months ago.

The press release mentions that you’ve partnered with Victoria Livschitz and Nick Schulman, and that the project has an advisory board of Stephen Chidwick, Nick Petrangelo, Chris Brewer, and Jeff Platt. Please walk us through each of these “selections”. Why did you choose to work with these individuals and in what way do you feel they enhance what Octopi Poker has to offer?

Victoria Livschitz and Nick Schulman are co-founders, and the decision to work together was straightforward on my behalf.

Victoria has proven herself in the tech space, having been very early to cloud computing and AI, eventually taking her former company, Grid Dynamics, public in early 2020.

Nick, who needs no introduction, is a world renowned poker player, poker commentator, and has excellent creative insights into how the industry can be changed for the better.

We chose the advisory members based on how much we like them as well as how helpful we thought they would be throughout our journey. Sometimes a small piece of information or a subtle insight goes a long way. We’re super excited to have joined forces with these four to start!

Notably, you’ve partnered with PokerGO, which thereby gives you and people on the Octopi Poker social platform access to a huge archive of poker event footage, set to deliver sport stats and insights. How did that partnership come about and why do you specifically see PokerGO’s database as beneficial to the project?

We had casually thrown around the idea of different ways to celebrate pokers rich history. Since the majority of major tournaments are streamed these days, and many high stakes cash games get promoted this way as well, it seems like a natural way to be able to enhance the player stories, give extra layers of history for the commentary and broadcast teams to paint the picture of what’s going on, as well as increase the enjoyment for the viewer at home.

We see PokerGO’s database as particularly integral in this due to their incredibly high-quality production value. Plus, so many of our team members already play their events and support their brand as is. Nick being a commentator for them makes it a nice fit as well.

You’ve long been an instructor with LearnWPT. In what way, if at all, does your spearheading of the Octopi Poker project affect your collaboration with them?

I stepped down as lead instructor from LearnWPT before the WSOP began earlier this year. I may still do one-off seminars with them but I thought it wise to focus entirely on this and not cross too many wires and create potential confusion, being an employee of one brand and a founder of another.

To take on a project of this magnitude and dedicate the amount of time and effort you have, as well as get all those partners onboard; beyond your passion for the project, clearly making money must come into play at some point. Octopi Poker is currently in Beta, but for the time being can you share what you envision to eventually become the site’s revenue model?

Yes, naturally we want to succeed as a business and make money. We plan to leave beta and enter GA at the end of this year or very early next at the latest. We will charge a monthly fee which is TBD, with the option of additional add-ons for users who want access to premium services.

It would seem that, to a degree, what you’re aiming to do is “disrupt” the existing poker coaching model. Would you agree with that assessment?

I think it’s fair to say we intend to cause some disruption to the existing poker coaching model. We want to offer what we believe to be enhancements to the process, both from the tech side as well as the poker front. I have been a poker coach for a very long time, and working with Victoria as a mentor in her poker journey over the past year has given us both particularly deep insights into what works and what doesn’t.

For example, interactive and engaging learning is somewhat largely left out of modern poker training and courses unless private coaching is pursued. This is one way in which we think we can add value. We certainly want to grow poker overall though, and we believe that by educating people and de-mystifying the game we will achieve just that.

What type of poker player are you targeting? Who is best suited to benefit from what Octopi Poker has to offer?

Our vision is quite simple: we believe that our tools will be beneficial whether it’s your first day playing poker or you’re a long time professional who has studied for ages. We believe that as long as there is a desire from the user and a genuine interest in the game of poker, they will benefit from our platform.

The press release asks that people “please understand that this is our first iteration of the platform! There are still bugs and a myriad of features which will be added that greatly enhance the user experience. Don’t judge too harshly an unfinished product.” Given such a disclaimer, what made you feel that now was specifically the right time to announce the project’s existence to the poker world?

Very fair question. We discussed this and decided that getting feedback early while we are still building out and refining the product, and have lots of room to change and tweak things makes the most sense. It’s also fun to bring in more and more community members to be a part of a creative process in molding our broader ideas, and see where those ideas we have line up with others and where they don’t.

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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded Cardplayerlifestyle.com in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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