By: Chad Holloway
Last month, the WSOP School of Poker was proud to announce the addition of Chris “Fox” Wallace to our roster of accomplished poker coaches. A long-time poker advocate and author, Wallace has amassed $855,542 in live tournament earnings and countless more playing online.
In 2014, Wallace broke through when he topped a field of 200 players in one of the toughest events of the year, the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship at the World Series of Poker. Wallace topped a tough final table that included Randy Ohel (2nd), Richard Ashby (4th), Max Pescatori (5th), and Calvin Anderson (8th) to walk away with his first piece of gold and a $507,614 first-place prize.
In addition to winning a gold bracelet, Wallace is involved in several other poker endeavors. Not only does he sport Blue Shark Optics poker eyewear whenever he plays, he actually has his own model with the company. He writes frequently in his blog, foxpoker.com, and recently published his first book No Limits: The Fundamentals of No-Limit Hold’em, which you can pick up at nolimitsbook.com.
We caught up with Wallace to get his thoughts on becoming a part of the WSOP School of Poker team.
WSOP School of Poker: How did the opportunity to teach at the WSOP School of Poker come about?
Wallace: I’ve known Arthur “Ace” MacFarland for a while. We did the Mark Hoke show together a few years ago when he was with Zen Poker Mentoring and we talked about working together but I thought my deal with Ivey League might have caused a conflict. With WSOP School of Poker, the two have no conflict because Ivey League is exclusively online and WSOP School of Poker is exclusively live.
What appealed to you about being a part of the WSOP School of Poker?
Obviously, any connection to the WSOP, the best brand in the game, is huge, but it was more than that. I really enjoy live poker and live coaching. I can be very efficient with online students over Skype, but there is nothing like meeting in person to talk poker and help someone improve their game.
When you were an up-and-coming poker player, did you ever attend any seminars or seek out coaching?
I did one lesson over the phone with Bob Ciaffone in 2002. He was the only poker coach anyone had heard of back then. Most of my instruction at the beginning came from books and online forums. With online video training and live coaching, it is much easier to learn now, but this has the negative effect of making the games much tougher.
On the flip side, you’ve been teaching poker for a long time. Can you speak about your history and experience as a poker instructor?
I started teaching around ten years ago. I spent some time making training videos and also studied education to learn how to teach people effectively when I first started out, and as soon as I worked with my first student I was hooked. Teaching the game helps keep me sharp too because I know that I can’t make a lot of mistakes when I’m working with a student. They expect me to be a world class player and coach and I really feel obligated to live up to that expectation.
What do you most enjoy about being a poker instructor? What are the biggest challenges?
I love it when my students are successful. I have had students final table some bracelet events, win circuit rings, and some of my students are now making a living playing poker. It really feels good to know that I helped someone achieve their goals.
The biggest challenge for me is being sharp on a schedule. If I have a 16:00 lesson with Jim, I better be getting ready at 15:30, grabbing a cup of coffee, eating something, and studying up a little on my notes on Jim and what we worked on last week. If I didn’t get a lot of sleep, I can’t just coast along like you can at a lot of jobs, I have to be sharp.
What sort of lessons/topics will your seminar encompass?
I have done live and online seminars on almost every topic I can think of over the years. Since the bracelet, everyone wants to learn mixed games, but I work with a lot of no-limit hold’em students as well. I love to teach about live poker and work on tells and live reads. I think humans are fascinating and studying them and finding tells and tendencies is the most interesting part of the game for me.
How has your life changed since winning a WSOP gold bracelet?
Funny you should ask. You were there when I walked off the stage at the Thunder Dome and you told me that it would change my life. I didn’t believe it at the time. It’s just a bracelet, a shiny trinket that lots of people have. They’ve given out around a thousand of them over the last 40 years, how big a deal could it be?
But you were absolutely right. I assume you knew that it would change my life because of your own bracelet experience. It didn’t bring in a flood of endorsement deals or piles of cash, but it did change how I saw myself. I was able to achieve the thing I most wanted in life. A thing that most people never dream of. That gave me confidence, and most importantly it gave me some peace. I didn’t need to prove anything. Anyone who didn’t believe in me after a world championship just wasn’t going to be convinced.
It really let me relax. I just play any game that looks good to me now, without worrying about playing the biggest game to impress anyone or getting into every big tournament to prove that I can play with the big boys. I also learned that I don’t want to take it much farther. I’m not jealous of the guys that are first-tier famous in the poker world. A few of them may be happy, but the majority of them are not living a good life. To be that famous you have to play everything, and that means living out of casinos and not having much of a life outside of poker. There are exceptions, like Daniel Negreanu, who have lives outside of poker and don’t play 24/7, but they are rare. I don’t want that life.
For more on Chris Wallace, be sure to follow him on Twitter @foxpokerfox.
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