David Pham: The Dragon is hungry for WPT victory

David Pham
David Pham playing in Day 1a of the Legends of Poker on Season 6 of the WPT

After the conclusion of Day 1a at the WPT Legends of Poker tournament at the Bicycle Casino, the Dragon was eager to discuss strategy, his race with J.C. Tran to win Player of the Year status and a decision by the tournament director that saw his table play five extra hands at the end of the day as all the other players headed home.

Nearing the end of the last level of the day with just a minute and a half left, the tournament director realized Pham's table hadn't played a hand for seven minutes as two short stacks attempted to slow the game to avoid meeting with the blinds.

The director stopped play and made an announcement in the grand ballroom that "One table has ruined it for everyone and we're all going to play five more minutes." After half the room groaned at his proclamation, the tournament director told the crowd he was kidding.

He then said the rest of the tables would the play the minute and a half left on the clock, while the table that had been stalling - Pham's - would have to play five more hands.

So, they made you play a couple extra hands tonight.

Because a couple of short stacks, they keep holding the hand - that's why, they said. The guy (made us) play like an extra five more hands. I think that was wrong; he was wrong.


Maybe other tables didn't slow down and my table got two minutes left, one and a half minutes left; two at my table are short-stacked and they're scared to come to the blinds and they tell me we play five extra hands. That's how I lost $20,000 on the ace-queen of spades. That's okay, I don't mind, but he's wrong. The player in time, he's got one minute to call the clock no matter what they do.

But they can't do that; I think the better job he could have done here is he has like four or five minutes left and they don't want any tables to slow down - they're scared of getting the blinds. They re-draw like Jack McClelland the director does it. Five more hands for every table, no matter what. Whether people play fast or slow each table plays five more hands and it's the same for every table - my table shouldn't have had a penalty.

But what they did was wrong; it cost me $20,000.

What are you at now?

I'm down to $74,000.

So you were above average for most of the day. How are you feeling?

I feel strong - I feel strong to play. Usually either I'm out early or I've got some chips to control the play and I've been controlling the play. For the last hand, the lady got like $20,000, I raise, she re-raise. So I'm thinking she might have a short stack and decided to push there. I raised one off the button, she was the button, she re-raised, so I pushed all-in. She had pocket aces.

Other than that, how was your table today?

I played another table - good. This table - good. Usually when I play I control the table the most, because I chip up a lot. I don't have to have a big hand to re-raise. I've got two types of raises to help me win the blinds. When I raise, I chip up or I re-raise - I make people lay down the hand. You know the one hand I play strong, I change it depending on if it's a tight player, a weak player or a strong player. I change my game to play.

So I feel strong to come back on Monday. I think I've got to a World Poker Tour final table four or five times, but I've never won first place yet. I hope one day I'm going to win first place and a World Poker Tour title. I hope I get that one.

What's going to be your strategy going into Day 2?

In Day 2 with my chips, I'm in a good position to play. I need to prevent the big stacks from getting me, but shorter than me I can play anytime. I can play position or I can make the weak player lay down the best hand even though I've got a draw or a weak hand I can make the people lay down a hand. So I feel good - $74,000 is good enough for me to play.

Do you plan on playing many tournaments this coming year?

Yeah. The rest of the year all the World Poker Tour events, I'm going to play because I'm second in the Player of the Year points now. I've got to pick up some. So hopefully I'm doing good. I've been runner-up a couple times in Player of the Year. I've come third and second - only one time I came in first, in 2002. The rest are like fifth or second. The 2004 Daniel Negreanu beat me. On the last event he had to make the final table to beat me and he came to the final table and he beat me in Player of the Year.

I'm behind J.C. Tran by 500 points now. I've got 3,800 and he's got 4,300. So I'm pretty close and I'm going to play a lot of World Poker Tour after this. I'm going to go to Biloxi, Borgata - a lot coming up so I hope I do something good.

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