A lot has changed in the past 8 years for one-time poker phenom Jimmy Fricke. At only 19 years old the Illinois native was a dominant online grinder and by virtue of a deep run, the unwitting star of the 2007 Aussie Millions as the world watched him go heads-up against Gus Hansen...and lose.
Since that time, Fricke, a mainstay as “Gobboboy” on the popular Two Plus Two forums (now just “Gobbo”), has remained an active participant in the poker community. Sure, he’s been embroiled in his fair share of controversy and drama (see Howard Lederer's leaked 'freak and a very weird dude’ email) but his reputation for winning play and analytical thinking helped him become the go-to poker brain for strategy for PokerStars' taped broadcasts.
Over the years, Fricke found himself deeply entrenched in the poker community and the Las Vegas live scene. Then one day, Gobbo had enough. Fricke, seemingly, put it all behind him, packed up his things and literally left Las Vegas to move back home to Illinois.
But now, over a year later, he’s back. Having rediscovered his love of the game of poker (and his hatred for day jobs) Fricke has come back to Nevada to test his skill in the newly regulated online Nevada market and to spend the summer grinding the World Series of Poker. We spent a little time chatting with him recently – check out the return of Gobbo.
F5: How long has it been since you’ve moved to Las Vegas now?
JF: Moved here after the WSOP the year I turned 21. So late ’08. I moved back home for like 8 months because reality kicked my ass. But after a bit of trying out normal life I decided it sucked so I came back out to Vegas to try it again.
F5: DId you just recently move back and forth?
JF: I moved back to Illinois in January 13 and moved back to Vegas in September. When WSOP.com was launching because I heard the Nevada sites were going to be soft.
F5: Let’s get to it…are they?
JF: They certainly were. The sites launched and there was a lot of money on there. Games go a lot less now and there are mostly regs. Now, I’m not playing much until the compacts with other states happen or if the WSOP happens to make the games a lot better, which they will almost certainly for the summer.
F5: For those of us not in “free states” like Nevada, can you give us a little overview on what you think the current state of online poker in the US is from your experience – MTTs, cash, whatev..
JF: It’s like we’re starting from scratch. It’s a mix between people who know what they’re doing but have a lack of funds to make it happen and billion dollar corporations who don’t want to spend a cent to make a working site. It’d be nice if Pokerstars could come into the US, but it’ll probably be a while before legislation allows it.
F5: If you feel like calling any sites out in print, we’ll be happy to post it for you.
JF: [Lolz] No, thanks….I mean I know people who work for WSOP.com and they’re trying their best but they’re hand-tied by the red tape to get everything done.
It’s like the whole Borgata situation. The people, ultimately, who make the most important decision unfortunately has no clue about what is best in the situation because they don’t understand poker or poker players.
F5: So you’re back, in Vegas and with a new resolve?
JF: Yeah, I came back to Vegas hoping to drastically make my game better and trying not to slip back into bad habits. I love Vegas, it’s a great place to live. I’d prefer to stay here for a while.
F5: Talk a little about bad habits and maybe, if you don’t mind, why you left Vegas in the first place?
JF: I basically fell into some pretty deep depression. I can get pretty existential and paranoid about stupid stuff and combined with a downswing it made me into somewhat of a hermit who never played. And if you don’t play poker you’re not a very good poker player.
My game fell to rust because I never worked on it. Eventually my dad came out to visit and saw how miserable I was. I moved back to Illinois to try working at a startup company he started but I basically couldn’t stomach real life. I’m not built for going to a 9-5.
F5: So, you’re ready to get back to work on your game? How hard is it to get back into “playing shape”?
JF: Not that hard for me. I always tended to approach the game from a theoretical standpoint and when your fundamentals are pretty strong it’s not hard to adjust and get back into the groove. It’s really just making sure I play a bunch and don’t let me get too down.
F5: Gotta ask: Howard. You have any feelings on his current standing in the poker community? Like…“In Your Face!” or somthing?
JF: I have been trying to get to the point where I don’t really judge people anymore because who really knows the full story behind someone’s actions, but there’s a certain part of me that’s a little smug at all the hate he’s been getting in the poker world. I mean I wasn’t a very social person back when he sent that email about me and I probably deserved it to some degree but at the same time we had only really met the one time.
For what it’s worth, what he did is incredibly bad for poker and he ruined a lot of lives. I had basically no money on FTP at the time and so never thought too hard about the situation but I think it’s crazy to think he’ll be able to come back into poker without negative repercussions.
F5: How’s life in Vegas now? Are you playing live a lot? You used to spend a good deal of time at the Venetian, are you still playing there?
JF: I’m playing live a bit more because online has dried up slightly but also been playing less since I started running bad. It’s a weird mix right now. I have really started to enjoy cooking so I like to cook for my friends when I get the chance. But most of my free time is spent going to the dog park and hanging out. That’s what I couldn’t take in Illinois, just the complete lack of a social life.
I have a lot of friends who work at the Venetian poker room so I feel like it’s way better to generate money for them than it is bad to give pennies to Sheldon. Some people give me shit for playing there but Sheldon literally does not care about how a boycott in the poker room affects him. He’s an old man who is likely going to die in the next 5 years, he’s not going to care if poker room traffic drops 5%.
F5: Back on the grind, back in Vegas and next, you’ll be back at the WSOP. You recently posted on Two Plus Two that you are selling action to a full-on suite, if you will, of events. Looks like you are planning on hitting it hard this summer.
JF: Honestly the schedule is pretty tame compared to my schedules of old.
F5: Twenty-six events is tame?!
JF: I probably approached 100k in buyins a few years but I’m scaling it back because I’m trying to keep everything in my own roll. I have worked on my No Limit game a lot and feel super comfortable playing NLHE tournaments right now so I want to make sure I play a lot of them. I used to play a lot of the mixed game tournaments and I made sure to include some of the games that I feel as though I excelled at but I’m not going to throw in a bunch of 10ks in games I don’t feel like I’m an expert in.
F5: So No Limit is your game of choice right now? What event do you have circled with a red pen, like, that’s yours!?
JF: I feel like NL events are still very soft and have too much value to skip. So even though they’re not my most enjoyable events to play they’re ones I simply have to put hours into. But I do have a few favorite events. The 1k PLO I really think this year is going to be huge. Like 3k+ probably 4k players. It’s the first open event that’s not a huge buyin which generally always gets a huge field. Most of my best finishes in the WSOP have been Omaha 8 so I basically tried to fit in all the events I could of that. And the $1500 HORSE is arguably the softest tournament at the WSOP, so I’m super excited for that one. For some reason I’ve just never been able to accumulate a stack in that tournament.
F5: Before I let you go, just for fun, do you mind if I ask you some just seemingly random questions?
JF: Absolutely. My favorite part.
F5: Ok, 5 F5 questions…What TV show you most recommend someone binge watch?
JF: I absolutely love Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books released so far and find it super enthralling. Totally recommend everyone get into the series.
F5: Jimmy, you gotta get pumped up for a tournament, a date, a sporting event…whatever…you gotta be psyched – what song is playing?
JF: Action Jeff Garza knows the answer to this question. Heat of the Moment.
F5: There’s gotta be a secret place everyone should go to eat while in Vegas this summer, can you let secret out? Where must the masses eat?
JF: Mundo. It’s just ridiculously good. Upscale mexican. I’ve never been served anything that didn’t blow me away.
F5: You have to split a basket of chicken strips in the poker kitchen at the WSOP. Bad beat. You can split it with anyone, who get’s half?
JF: Are you referencing the chicken thing between me and [Adam] Junglen 6 years ago or or is this just a baffling coincidence?
F5: No! Baffling coincidence! I swear.
JF: (laughs) Fucking hilarious.
F5: I was just trying to find a clever way to ask you who, if you could pick anyone, you’d like to have lunch with!
JF: I’ll split it with Jack Effel so that if I get food poisoning this time he has to suffer it with me. I got food poisoning from one of their chicken wraps there a few years ago. It was a miserable few days.
F5: Nice. Lastly, if money isn’t an issue and poker is not an option, how do you spend your time?
JF: Go to the dog park, come home, cook a great meal for a bunch of my friends and go to sleep early. I don’t have lofty goals in life. If I could do that every day I’d be a very happy man.