Understanding Greg "Fossilman" Raymer


Greg Raymer

Greg "Fossilman" Raymer become a household name (at least in poker households) after his domination in the 2004 World Series of Poker. He followed up that performance with a great showing in the 2005 event. His name was near the top of the leader board as the final table approached. A couple of tough beats had him bow out in 25th place --- truly amazing results. During the television coverage of his historic run in 2004, the ESPN commentators made Raymer out to be a complete amateur who'd fell into good cards.

In reality, Greg had been on the poker scene for quite a few years before the 2004 event ever had the first deal. Considered a very formidable player at the always busy poker room at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, Raymer had been building a reputation for solid play.

Raymer and Juanda

Greg started his gambling ways in college, where he and his frat pals flopped around in tiny-stakes poker (nickel/dime). During graduate school in the Midwest, he took a shot at counting cards at the blackjack tables and made some extra spending money. Soon, the poker bug hit him full-force. When he got his law degree and moved himself and his family to Connecticut, he worked his way up the poker ranks - starting in 3/6 games, up to 20/40 after some time and experience, and eventually playing the 150/300 tables. He has a list of tournament accomplishments, including an overlooked cash finish in the 2002 WSOP main event.

Poker players are an interesting lot. Some are crass, some are sheltered, some are egotistical, and some are just a bore. Raymer fits into none of the categories. He is personable, kind, accommodating, and as humble as possible (especially in light of winning the big one and instant stardom). All of those character traits I just listed are of Greg AWAY from the table. During the deal of the cards, he is cutthroat, deep thinking observant, and dangerous.

Allow me to explain an example of Raymer's poker and personal personality. I was at the Rio for a nearly forgotten WSOP event, the Deuce to Seven Lowball event. Only a couple of hundred people were in the corner of the airplane hanger sized conference room that was set up for play. Before play began, Greg (who I'd never met before) greeted me and some press members with a wide, genuine grin. He chatted with us for a while and peeled away when some fans asked for an autograph and picture. He strolled toward the tables, laughing with the dealer and a competitor, John Juanda. He was having fun, and it was evident. While a few other pros seemed annoyed by the attention of the fans and media, Greg was understanding and honored. Soon, the players found their way to their seats for the first deal. His now-famous lizard eyed sunglasses went onto his face, and a new Greg Raymer appeared. It is as if Fossilman is an entirely different person. Fossilman is like a poker-playing alter ego to this laid-back, gregarious fellow. He was instantly businesslike, professional, and 100% intense. He watched each player like a hawk, seemingly never missing a single clue to his opposition. I watched in awe, and began to understand how he made it through the massive field in 2004. As I watched him, I accurately predicted that he would be a player to "make noise" in the future (I didn't know it would be just a couple of days later as he went deep into the 2005 main event!)

A former patent attorney, Greg now is a professional poker player and spokesperson for a few different poker businesses, including PokerStars.com. Look for his book to appear on some of the best sellers lists, as his personality, intelligence, and experiences should combine for must-read material. He is a dedicated father and husband, and a great ambassador for poker.

Greg Raymer: Play Profile & Prediction

PLAY PROFILE: Greg is an outstanding tournament-style player. He is known to be able to toss out timely, bold bluffs in order to amass chips. While others may attempt to survive tournaments, he attacks to thrive and to have a chance to win. His reads on opponents seem to be as good as anyone playing, right now. He's never shown evidence of tilting at the tables. His balanced, solid life away from the table probably helps him stay focused at the tables. No Limit and Limit Hold 'Em are probably his best games, but he is comfortable at all spreads of games and variations. It may sound funny, but he actually still building his poker bankroll to put it into the stratosphere of some of the old-time pros. You see, he was staked by other players and friends to play poker before the WSOP win. Because of their financial investment in him and his playing bankroll, he owed them a percentage of all of his winnings. In typical Raymer style, he honored the agreement by giving his investors every dime they were owed in a very quick fashion. Because he had to pay taxes and give out these percentages, he did not make any amount close to the $5 million that he earned. Don't get me wrong, Raymer does not have to cut coupons to feed his family. What I am saying is that he probably isn't ready to plop down $4.5 million to play a series of $500,000 challenge matches against Daniel Negreanu (like Barry Greenstein is doing).

PREDICTIONS: Greg is now 40 years old. He probably has a couple of decades left to add to his growing list of accomplishments. His approachability and likeability have to have advertisers salivating. He has that style that casual poker players can relate to, making him a great pitch-man. I expect him to become one of the biggest faces in poker. He worked as a DJ in college to help pay the bills, helping him be very comfortable in front of the microphone for interviews and such. He will stay grounded, though. His wife and daughter will always be his first focus. Put simply, Raymer is not going to fade into the footnotes of poker history (like 2002 main event champion Robert Varkonyi.) I predict that Fossilman win multiple WSOP of bracelets in the future (not necessarily in the enormous field of the main event) and other major tournament championships.

 

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