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2007 WSOP Interview: Nothing fazes Bill Gazes
Bill Gazes is always two steps ahead. That could be why he's so good at poker.
Let your mind wander for a second, and you've already fallen behind in any conversation with the pro player who, before he's tackled one topic has already pounced on the next and is segueing into a new story.
This quick thinking came in handy at the 2007 World Series of Poker where Gazes finished second after a brief round of heads-up in the $5,000 H.O.R.S.E. and cashed in the $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event.
His talents lie not only on the felt, however, as PokerListings.com learned in an interview with the politically and environmentally minded player Sunday. Gazes also has an aptitude for entertaining others, whether he's in pursuit of learning the latest grooves on the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution or expounding his political views through the 'No War' slogan t-shirt he donned for the WSOP Main Event.
How do you feel about your Series this year?
I feel great. I played to the best of my ability and I stayed tough throughout. All I care about is that I show up and give it my best.
Were you disappointed with how quickly the heads-up went in the H.O.R.S.E.?
That was disappointing. If there was one thing in the World Series that was disappointing, that would be it. Partially it's the structures because you get to heads-up, he had me two and a half to one and it took like three hands and I was out. I wish I could have had the chance to play. When you have two and a half to one, you should have a little more play in your stack.
Are you strong in mixed games?
I play everything but Badugi.
You were chosen to do The Nuts on ESPN. How did that come about?
That was a lot of fun. They're really cool people; I like the ESPN crew a lot. They're from New York like me and I spent the day with them which was cool. If The Nuts show was Cirque du Soleil, I was the clown.
I was extremely talented at making an ass of myself. For me it's all about spreading mirth. I just want to make the world a happier place. Anything to make the world a better place, I will do.
What happened in during the show to make you the clown?
One of the events we were supposed to do is Dance Dance Revolution. They told me that, and I thought, 'This isn't about winning; this is about not looking completely moronic.' My goal was to not finish last - to not break my ankle. Dance Dance Revolution is like slipping on banana peels without falling.
I was nervous about that for sure. I said, 'This could get really ugly, really fast.' So I went to practice. I went to a big arcade at the Orleans. I got there and my goal was to practice it, get a little oriented and to really find who was the Dance Dance Revolution master of Las Vegas. That was my goal.
So now on a break from for an hour or two hours (from the WSOP heads-up tournament) we went to get some food and go do Dance Dance Revolution. It turned out it was a bad move. I should have just gone for quiet time. You need quiet time between matches; those are intensive matches, more than I realized. I was intense. It's like two hours really locked in.
I tried Dance Dance Revolution and I couldn't even do the demo. These kids were looking at me and feeling bad. I could see the look on their face, like 'What is this grown man doing on this Dance Dance Revolution thing?'
There was this one guy and I was like, 'Dude, you've gotta save me. You've seen me do it and I'm pathetic.' I'm going to look beyond pathetic on TV. I'm not just going to lose - losing would be okay as long as I save face.
I arranged for the kid to meet me the next morning and I was going to take a lesson in Dance Dance Revolution; we were going to practice for like an hour and I was going to pay him $100 to practice with me. He said he was going to have his brother drop him off to meet me.
The next morning, it was just a free-for-all. The brother called me and said, 'My dad has left work and he's on his way here. He's fuming and he's really steamed up.'
They were mad that the brother was in the Orleans by himself; it was nothing I did wrong. I guess they'd lied to the parents and the brother said he'd drop him off which is not what he was supposed to do. So then, he said, 'Can you call my dad?' I was like, 'I'd rather not.'
So I called his dad and his dad starts going off on me like I'm a pedophile or something. I meet the family with the kid - we all converge at the same time in the parking lot and they start yelling at me, 'How could you do this with our son without asking us?'
It just seemed too unbelievable to them that some grown man was doing Dance Dance Revolution. It didn't work for them. So basically I burned rubber out of that parking lot and that was it.
And as it turned out, we never did Dance Dance Revolution (because of the copyrights on the game's songs).
Is what you did still entertaining?
It's going to be the most entertaining thing that's ever been seen in poker. It'll probably be shown during the Main Event, and I feel bad for the people who are in that episode because they're going to be overshadowed. It'll probably be the first time that The Nuts piece has ever overshadowed the actual poker.
Any other memorable events at the World Series of Poker?
I was playing the heads-up tournament. I beat Nam Le in my first match. I got a by the first round, which was nice. It was a good event too, the heads-up. People complained that so many people got bys. I think it was good to have as many people as possible and have random assignments. It was just a great event. There should be more heads-up events; heads-up is really great poker.
Ideally, they should have a best of three - maybe three short matches. Then you could pretty much do two rounds in a row and the next match could almost be those two winners (at one table) face each other instead of having to redraw. Then you could start sooner if you want. So heads-up is cool; there should be more of them.
I was in the zone against Nam Le. I was so in the zone, I had a close friend playing the next table over, and when the match was over I looked up and said, 'Are you playing the next round? When did you get there?' and he said, 'I tried to get your attention the whole two hours here.' ...
When I got back (from practicing Dance Dance Revolution), the next match I was all over the place; I didn't have it. Partially because Nam Le is a tough match and my next match was an excellent player too, so it was a tricky thing.
The Main Event is going on now. Have you been following it? Any favorites?
Well, I was rooting for Huck. Is Huck still in?
I don't know of anyone I'm rooting for. I haven't followed it in a while. I generally don't follow it after I'm out unless I have a close friend in it. It's such a big tournament. It blows away anything else.
I played well. You can't help but be disappointed when you're out of the Main Event. I feel like I played well, and I did all I could. I got to $55,000 mid-first day and I couldn't make a hand and that was pretty much it. It's mind boggling how so many great players go out. It's just stupefying. It just shows you how random any one event is.
How big of a part of your life is poker?
I've had renewed enthusiasm for poker in the last three years since I've found balance in my life and got involved in more environmental organizing. I'm involved in some other things in life that give me balance.
I've worked hard over the last six months especially to improve my poker game. I'm working hard on the mental side of poker. At the World Series here and just in general, I'm trying to build myself up mentally, physically - just trying the best I can be. These days, to be the best you have to work hard at it. Try not to be satisfied with where I'm at, just working hard at getting better.
What are your plans for after the Series?
I'm going to Europe for the rest of the year.
So you're going to play the European tournaments then?
Yeah, I'm going to Europe for a while. I'm going to play over there, live over there. I have some friends I'm going to visit.
The WSOP Europe?
Yeah, I'm going to play in that. Some EPT events. Just live over there for a while have some fun, read some books.