Michael and Nick Binger: Same Genes, Different Games

Nick Binger watched his brother Michael play 75/150 Pot Limit Omaha

Three years ago Michael Binger suggested to his brother Nick Binger that he start playing poker online as a part time job.

“I said that’s insane, that is ridiculous,” Nick said. Now both brothers, Michael who has a Ph.D. Theoretical Particle Physics and Nick who has a Bachelors in Chemistry, live in Las Vegas and play poker full time. Nick admits he initially told Michael not to waste his money playing in tournaments. “You don’t get a good return on your investment,” Nick told him. When Michael had a big cash after making a final table Nick said “don’t blow it all, put some of it back into cash games.” About two weeks later Michael went really deep in the Main Event. “After that I said, ‘ok, there might be some money in tournaments’” said Nick. 

Michael began playing first, but said he did not teach his brother how to play. “I pointed him in the right direction, but he learned a lot on his own. Saying I taught him how to play would be a gross overstatement,” said Michael. Both brothers say that since they have been playing together they have learned a lot from each other. “It is nice to have someone to talk over the hands with,” said Michael.

It hasn’t happened yet but if the Binger brothers were to wind up at a final table together they both agree that it would be something to see. “I hope that would be a televised table,” said Nick. “If somehow we were heads up or three handed, we know each other so well, that would be fifth or sixth level thinking. You would see a lot of creative and crazy plays.” When asked who would win Michael said it was impossible to say. “It would depend on the day, who had the bigger stack going in, who got the better cards.”

Michael said he usually cannot read his brother’s poker face. He said if his brother is playing against an opponent who is not that good and is perhaps being a little transparent, he can read him, but they both know the opponent cannot. But when it comes to playing serious, Michael said he cannot tell what his brother has going on. When asked if he thought they could read each other Michael said, “I like to think we don’t give off too many tells, so no.”

Interestingly when asked the same question Nick said “yeah usually, I think Mike can read me pretty well.” When told Michael’s answer to the question Nick was a little surprised. “Oh really? Awesome,” he said. Nick recounted a story during the 2006 WSOP Main Event final table of watching his brother play. The opponent raised and Micahel went all in pre-flop. There were about 10 family members and friends there watching and Michael was shaking. “They all were praying for the opponent to fold, they all were sure he had nothing, they said ‘look how nervous he is,’” said Nick. “But I said no, this is a reverse tell. I knew exactly what he was doing.” As it turned out Michael wasn’t bluffing, his KK held up to his opponents KQ and he doubled up.  

While numbers are a big part of both brothers games, Nick said Michael is more of the numbers guy and said his game tends to be a little more on the psychological side. “I might make more creative and maybe not so good plays based on psychic tells,” Nick said. It is probably easy to assume the two brothers must have spent their entire lives being into games that involve strategy, but according to Nick that is not the case. “We played board games growing up, but nothing like chess or anything like that, nothing that involved serious strategy.”

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