MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – DAVID BAKER
Name: David Baker
Current Residence: Katy, Texas (suburb of Houston)
Profession: Professional Poker Player (8 years)
Previous Occupation: Salesman
Marital Status: Single (serious girlfriend)
Number of WSOP Cashes: 28
Number of WSOP final table appearances: 7
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 3rd (three times)
Total WSOP Earnings: $1,336,681
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: David, you had 27 WSOP cashes before today. Now, you finally broke through. How does it feel?
Baker: It feels amazing. I’ve always known that if I just kept getting there and kept giving myself shots that I would run well late in the tournament, and that’s basically what happened. I got short in this one – actually I had a lot of chips starting at the final table, and things didn’t really go my way kind of midway through the final table. I think my experience really helped to when I got short. I really focused in on the fact that I wasn’t desperate, I didn’t have to make marginal decisions, and I made some really good decisions with the shorter stack and took advantage of a good run and then stayed alive versus Greg and was really excited to come back today. I was really confident even though he had a big chip lead on me and he’s a fantastic player. I really felt that if I could just win a couple pots early that I would have a really good chance of taking it home. I had a lot of people who don’t really understand the dynamics of how fast things can change say, ‘how are you going to overcome such a big lead?’ I basically looked at it as I had 900,000, and so one of two things had to happen: Either he had to win 900,000 first to bust me, or I had 900,000 and I had the chip lead. So, whoever had the 900,000 first was going to be a favorite to get it. That was my first goal, just win 900,000 before he did, and I did. Then I caught some good cards, and I definitely got better cards than him in the last 30 minutes. He was kind of hamstrung by his hands and I had some real good opportunities and I finally ran good light. So, I’m thrilled.
Question: Your girlfriend was there all day yesterday, she was on the rail, standing there cheering you on. There’s something that has to be said for that commitment. And, all day today. What does it mean to have someone supporting you? Does that really add to your game or maybe inspire you in some way?
Baker: Yeah, it was amazing. Her support has been amazing from the beginning. Actually, she’s sweated this tournament more than she’s sweated any other tournament. She was pretty much here all three days. Having her here every time something went bad to be able to go over and have her calm me down and keep me focused was great. And to be able to celebrate the excitement was great. She does everything to make sure I can just focus on what I’m doing and she’s awesome.
Question: The format of the Eight-Game Mix -- you’ve had a ton of cashes spreading all across the different games. Does it mean anything extra to you to get your first bracelet in an event that requires you to be well-rounded?
Baker: Yeah for sure. This is definitely a premiere event and obviously the WSOP players committee and the best players on the committee think that Eight-Game is the test of the best poker skill or they wouldn’t have made it the 50K. So, obviously they feel that that’s the best representative of playing at poker. Obviously, it means a ton to do that. Last year I played the 50K and I got a table away from the money and I think that experience helped me here because I played basically five days with the best players in the world in the eight-game. I think that that experience helped me through this. Final table is a H.O.R.S.E. format each of the last two years, so I think being in there and seeing how the dynamics of how the game’s changing and the chips and the stack sizes and things like that worked at a final table. I think that helped, as well.
Question: How did the break between Day Three and Day Four affect you? Were you in favor of that last night?
Baker: Yeah I was. I was really in great shape yesterday as far as momentum-wise. So, on that side I felt it kind of hurt me, but on the plus side I really felt like it just gave me a chance to refocus. Greg’s one of my best friends in poker. The last thing I really want was one of us to make huge mistakes to bet that weren’t representative of us, and play a good match and whoever ran best and played best would win. At that time we had been playing for three days and 13 hours that day. I was definitely ready to go even though I had the momentum I felt last night, I was ready to take a break and just start over.
Question: Obviously Greg’s a very good Limit Hold’em player, that’s what he’s known for. Were there any games you were trying to stay out of his way or were you trying to find an edge in certain games?
Baker: It’s funny because everybody thinks that Greg’s the Limit Hold’em guy, but actually that’s what I’ve done for the last eight to 10 years – just playing Limit Hold’em. Even though he’s probably one of the top class limit players in the world, especially the tournament-wise, I wasn’t looking at that because I can hold my own in that game. Obviously, the No-Limit Hold’em, even though I feel very comfortable and confident in that, I didn’t want one situation to come about and cost me everything when I felt really comfortable in everything else. I kind of tried to stay out of the way in No-Limit Hold’em. We almost played a big hand the last hand of No-Limit but we folded. Other than that I just kind of stayed out of the way. PLO, I know that he wants to stay out of the way - he doesn’t like it. And I don’t really like it that much. I probably could’ve tried to do a little bit more in that game, but it looked like we both were just trying to get through the PLO part which is most of the time what happens in the eight-game, unless you get someone who’s a big bet expert that comes. But we played small pots in PLO, we played pretty small pots in No Limit, and then we just played the Limit games and I won some big crucial hands and that was it.
Question: Let’s talk about life away from poker. Can you imagine doing anything else as far as a career goes?
Baker: I was in sales. I had a couple different sales jobs. I worked for 10 years doing different sales things. Then I started making more money playing poker and having more fun and started travelling and enjoying it. I love it. Actually I love my job, so I think it’s funny when some of the young kids are like. ‘Oh if I win I’ll never play again.’ Go get a real job and then come and say that because I had a real job for 10 years and this is great. This is why we get up every day and come in here for an opportunity like this. Just hoping that it comes along. For us mere mortals, not Phil Ivey, it comes along once or twice a year. You just hope to take advantage of it -- and I’m so glad I did.