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2009 WSOP Best Bets: Isaac Baron
The most feared player in online poker tournament history has been in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker the past two summers.
But since Isaac Baron didn't turn 21 until a few days into the 2008 Main Event, he wasn't able to play.
This year, the West Menlo Park, California native will hit the WSOP felt for the first time and he's raring to go.
"I'm really excited," Baron told PokerListings.com during a break in the action on Day 1a of the WPT Championship in Las Vegas. "I really want to win a bracelet, so I can't wait."
Baron's online record reads like the stuff of legend.
Since then he's compiled a list of big time cashes in the biggest tournaments online under the screen names "westmenloAA" and "the guru 11", including an FTOPS win in 2008 and a SCOOP event title earlier this month.
If there were any questions about his game translating to the live felt, they were quickly answered when Baron made the final table of the PokerStars EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo last spring, finishing fourth a little over a week after an 11th place finish at EPT San Remo.
In his quest for a bracelet this summer, Baron said he will be playing a full schedule of events.
"My plan is to kind of play it by ear, but I do plan on playing a lot of events," he said. "Obviously if I do get burned out, I'm going to take a little time off here and there.
"I'm not going to kill myself, but I plan on playing a lot of events."
Baron plans to rent a condo with fellow online pros Zachary "CrazyZachary" Clark and Ben "ShankingYou" Palmer for the duration of the series.
He will be leaning on them for some serious strategy discussions as well.
"It's only natural because we're all playing events" he said. "You come home and talk about big hands, and interesting situations."
With his online poker background, one would think the short stacks and huge fields in some of the smaller buy-in events would be right up Baron's alley, but he has some different ideas.
"I'm sure that I would (have an edge) because a lot of people aren't used to playing with a short stack, but I prefer playing with deep stacks," he said. "I've been playing cash games a lot and a lot of my edge comes when the stacks are a little deeper. So I don't think I'll be playing too many of the $1,500's.
"I'll probably give a few a shot, but I think I'm going to skip a good amount of them."
Instead, he's focused on the highest profile events the 2009 WSOP has to offer.
"I'm really looking forward to the $40k No-Limit," he said. "Not that it's going to be the softest tournament by any means, but I think it'll be pretty fun.
"And of course the Main Event, because that's pretty much how I got started playing poker, watching that on TV. I've wanted to play that forever, so that's probably the one I'm looking forward to the most."
Being young, rich and in Las Vegas, Baron understands temptation will be around almost every corner this summer, but he plans to play it cool and keep his mind on the grind.
"There definitely is a danger," he said. "But I'd like to think that since I've been here the last couple of years and I've done a decent amount of partying and kind of seen what there is to see, I'm hoping that'll keep me grounded."
Keeping grounded is also part of Baron's plan to prepare for the Series in the coming weeks.
"I think I'm going to probably take a decently extended break after this tournament," he said.
"I might play a bit online, but for three weeks or a month before (the WSOP) I'm going to try and play as little poker as possible, golf a lot, work out, relax and just kind of be ready to go full throttle once the World Series comes around."
After five levels of poker on Day 1a at the $25k WPT Championship, Baron advanced to Day 2.
To follow his progress and the entire WPT Championship live from Las Vegas, tune into PokerListings' Live Tournaments section.