If you’ve never heard of BBZ Poker’s new cash game coach Wey “CRAIBaby” Xie, don’t worry. That’s exactly how he wanted it.
While tournament poker players steal the spotlight through all-time money lists and leaderboards, professional cash game grinders often prefer to remain behind the scenes. When it comes to sharing results, there’s little in it for them, aside from garnering the respect of their peers.
But there are ways to make a name for yourself without ever needing to shout from the rooftops.
The first is to win with assured consistency, something Xie has been doing for years. While the majority of the 26-year-old’s lifetime volume has been at the $500 Zoom tables, he regularly played in $1KNL and $2KNL games and has played as high as $5KNL on PokerStars.
The second is to pass on your knowledge to others and let their results speak for you. For years, Xie–who is predominantly self-taught and wrote a thesis on game theory–has been cash game coaching’s best-kept secret; an end boss educator privately teaching some of the best grinders in the game today.
Xie has been playing less poker over the past year, partly because he recently decided to go back to university to study artificial intelligence at one of Germany’s best computer science schools (“One of the reasons I went back to the uni was because I’d been on something of a spiritual journey when travelling. It changed the way I am and how I see the world. It’s super exciting to now be on the forefront of technological education,” he says), and partly because he’s been busy coaching.
It was his coaching prowess that first caught the attention of Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, a.k.a. BBZ. “Jordan was talking with one of my students and his results were improving significantly, so I guess that’s how he became interested,” says Xie from his home near Berlin, Germany. “Jordan and I then had some calls and did some coaching together. I’m pretty excited about it all. It’s just a nice feeling to be able to give some value and provide some nice content for people.”
When Xie put poker to one side and returned to education, he felt mixed emotions. He was excited about the future, but he’d also put countless hours into studying poker, running endless sims, and he didn’t want to see his plethora of knowledge locked away. “I felt like I’d be taking all of that knowledge with me to my grave, in a sense,” he says. “So it’s nice to have a platform with BBZ where I can output that and help people win more.
“I know how difficult it is to learn the game properly because there’s just so much information out there and everyone wants to give their two cents on how to play this game. But only very few actually understand it properly and digging and manoeuvring through that portion of misconception is a struggle.”
“You end up feeling paranoid. You’re just executing a strategy that you don’t understand.”
It was a struggle Xie faced when he first started playing poker, having discovered the game during a semester abroad. He became fascinated with poker and became a breakeven $100 Zoom regular whilst pursuing his degree. He tried out various coaches and training tools, but none felt right.
“I just started figuring out how to play this game by myself,” he says. “The way I was being taught poker, it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It was pretty clear to me that I didn’t want to play that way because you end up feeling paranoid. You’re just executing a strategy that you don’t understand.”
Interestingly, but not surprising for someone obsessed with the endless strategic labyrinth that poker provides, Xie wrote his thesis about game theory.
“It was really complicated. I understood the ideas behind it, but it wasn’t like all of a sudden I was going to be a game theory end boss,” he says. “But that’s when I started to try and hammer this whole thing home and learn more about the ideas that I was writing about. I was like, OK, let’s throw all of this away and try my best to forget everything I’ve ever learnt and just figure it out myself.”
Xie would play a session and then review every single spot where he felt like he didn’t know a complete solution. If he played a 30-minute session, he’d have 30 marked hands to then analyse. “I felt like my understanding improved slowly but steadily over time and it became easier for me to connect the things I’d learned.”
His professor was a renowned expert in game theory who was intrigued by his new student’s side-career as a professional poker player. “We’d have discussions about how we would define the game of poker,” Xie says. “It was really fucking valuable back then. I didn’t realise it, but later on, I did because he didn’t know the rules of the game so we had to build a strategy from the ground up.”
When Xie decided to teach himself and go back to game theory fundamentals, he quickly began crushing at $100 Zoom, eventually doing the same at $200 Zoom and then $500 Zoom.
If poker was Xie’s passion, cash games became his purpose. It was the first form of poker he ever played, but it wasn’t as if he never had dreams of being on ESPN crushing a big tournament. “I actually remember busting a third of my roll taking a shot in a $2K tournament,” he laughs. “So I definitely had dreams of winning the Main Event and things like that.”
But as he progressed in poker, Xie wanted to keep things consistent. He knew what situations he’d have to deal with in a cash game, whereas tournaments present infinite spots to study. “I wanted to deeply understand the game and solve it,” he says. “One big aspect is definitely the variance. I didn’t want to deal with the tournament variance. Maybe there’s more money to be made in tournaments, but the variance is higher. I was more interested in the competitive nature and becoming really good at the game.
“I don’t make many distinctions between cash and MTTs really, I only see it as the same game with slightly different nuances,” he continues. “I think a player like Linus ‘LLinusLLove’ Loeliger probably has a similar mindset because he seems to be transitioning to MTTs rather effortlessly. I think that just comes from a deep, fundamental understanding of the game.”
Xie remembers a time when he messaged Loeliger a hand history in the hope he’d get to talk strategy with a player he looked up to. “For those reading, don’t go spamming crushers,” he says, jokingly. “But he actually responded and said it was an exception. He gave me his thought process and it was an aha moment for me as Linus was looking at the game from a completely different perspective. Now I completely understand where he was coming from, but back then, I was in the dark.”
“My students have enjoyed huge success. That really motivates me.”
Xie now wants to provide the BBZ community with some aha moments of his own. “Through my coaching experience I became super comfortable explaining concepts,” he says. “I try to actively make good decisions, in terms of how I can convey information in the most appropriate way for my audience. One of the reasons I’m excited about this BBZ partnership is because I have so many ideas and I’m looking to create a bunch of products.”
Coaching others not only helps Xie learn the game more, but it also inspires him to play more himself. “My students have enjoyed huge success,” he says. “One of them showed me a graph recently and it was insane. So that really motivates me, you know? On one hand, I’m obviously super happy I can help them achieve that kind of success, but on the other hand, I’m also thinking I should continue to crush like that as well. It motivates me to put in more volume.”
After his cash game bundle arrives on BBZ Poker, you’ll also be able to watch and learn from Xie on Twitch as he starts to stream his play.
Soon a lot more people in the poker world are going to know about Wey “CRAIBaby” Xie. And that’s exactly how he wants it.