MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – KENNY HSIUNG
Name: Kenny Hsiung
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Current Residence: Henderson, NV
Marital Status: Single
Profession: College Student (University of Nevada-Las Vegas)
Former Profession: Professional Poker Player
Education: Attended Ohio State University, now attending UNLV
Number of WSOP Cashes: 8
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 9th (2009)
First-Place Prize Money: $165,205
Note: Hsiung will be classified as a professional poker player in WSOP records, since he plays full-time exclusively and has no other occupation.
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: Would you give us a little bit of your background aside from poker?
KENNY: I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I went to Ohio State University. When I was 19, I found online poker. Just stopped going to class and basically played Limit Hold’em online and that’s what I did. It’s kind of a big deal for my parents obviously. But, I did well. I guess I didn’t really diversify my portfolio and I just stopped winning. I’m a pretty big spender. Long story short – now, I’m a student at UNLV and I don’t really play much poker. Question: What are you studying?
KENNY: Gaming Management.
Question: You might get into this industry, perhaps? Is that the idea?
KENNY: Maybe. I just kind of want to go to Macau and meet Asian girls!
Question: Did “Black Friday” affect you a great deal, or not at all?
KENNY: No, it affected me. I was still playing every day. Anyone who played poker was affected. They can’t say that it didn’t.
Question: How about this victory? I know that it’s a little early to make any assessments, but this might change things - give you more confidence, maybe play a little more.
KENNY: You know I’ve always been confident in my Limit Hold’em game. I think I’m really good. I haven’t played that many tournaments. In terms of confidence, I have all the confidence I need. But it’s not very profitable to play Limit Hold‘em right now when you could be playing PLO or Mixed-Games, no matter what stakes. Question: One thing we noticed about the final table tonight was you had quite the interesting set of rail birds over here. They really seemed to care. When things were getting long there, how much did it mean to have these guys here for you?
KENNY: I don’t know. I was kind of honed in and trying to focus. Obviously, it was funny. I feel bad for my opponent, because obviously it’s kind of obnoxious, but they’re my friends and I’m flattered to have them there. I was just talking to them the other night, I was playing this tournament and there were a zillion people going crazy like it was a soccer game and someone was like, ‘That’s so annoying.’ And I was like, ‘I wish I had that many friends.’ I mean they weren’t quite as crazy as the Europeans, or whomever. They had a chant. We have our own chants.
Question: Tell us a little about the heads-up final there. You and Robert Hwang were going for quite awhile. A lot of back and forth.
KENNY: Man! At the start, he kept picking up hands and every time I made a play, he just had it. You can’t make someone fold if they just have a pair. I tried to three barrel him once and then towards the end the board was A, 3, 3 or whatever and I bet, and he called, and I put him on King high and the turn was a 10. I had 9-4 off. Just 9-high, no pair, no draw. He checked again and I bet again because ‘Well, maybe I can get him to fold King-high.’ Then the river came – some low card that didn’t pair the board and didn’t complete the flush. He checked and without thinking, I just gave up without thinking the hand through. When the pot’s that big, I have to fire one bet on the river, I think, to make him fold a flush draw, because he was playing his flush draws like that. He was also check-raising his flush draws. So it’s a tough spot, but really not so tough of a spot if you think about it, because the pot’s so big and obviously a flush draw is in his range. That was just one hand of the heads-up. That was quite demoralizing, because it went check, check on the river and then he said, ‘Jack high.’ I just mucked my hand, because I had 9-high. Obviously, I probably would have won the pot if I had just bet.
Question: This is an event that’s struggling. In fact, Limit Hold’em is declining badly not just here, just about everywhere. Why is Limit Hold’em going down? And second of all, do you think it has much of a future?
KENNY: I don’t think it has much of a future, sadly. I want to have hope, but obviously I gave up a long time ago. It’s a dying game. It’s one of those games where if you go to Commerce (in Los Angeles), you know there’s one table of regulars and they’re all 50+ and they’re playing Stud. I think Limit Hold’em is going to be like that in twenty years. It’s just unfortunate, because No-Limit was popularized by TV. Thirty years ago, it was all about Limit. Then there was the Main Event Championship. There was a $10K Championship for Limit Hold’em and that was cool and now this year, they just don’t have one and I figured that it would get more players. The turnout was still droopy. People don’t know how to play it, they’re No-Limit pros and they don’t know how to play it, so I really don’t know. What are you going to do? I guess I’ll have to play in all of the Limit Hold‘Em events, every year.