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David Williams: "I Try to Keep My Name in Lights"
What does it take to stay a sponsored poker pro for almost a decade?
Results are important, sure. But PokerStars pro David Williams knows the real secret: Attention.
Ten years after his famous run in the WSOP main event, PokerListings' Dirk Oetzmann caught up with Williams to talk about stayin gin the spotlight, moving forward in life and poker, the GPI, the shot clock and more.
PokerListings: It’s been 10 years since you had that famous runner-up finish to Greg Raymer at the WSOP main event. Can you give us a short recap of what's happened since then?
David Williams: A short one? OK. I won a WSOP bracelet and the WPT World Championship, I didn’t win an EPT yet. I got married, had a little girl, she’s three years old now.
It’s been an interesting 10 years. I feel like I’m truly blessed.
PL: Does it need to be an event as big as the EPT Grand Final to get you to Europe?
DW: I do travel to Europe a little bit. I usually come here for the EPTs but I haven’t had much success.
As I'm not playing the whole festival but rather just the main event I normally land in Europe the day before it starts and if I bust, which I've done a lot in the past, and early, too, I fly straight back.
So, sometimes I was already gone before people really noticed me. Now I seem to be making some noise in the main event, though, so this time it’ll be different I hope.
The reason I come for such short periods is my daughter. She’s three, she has school, and there is a lot going on with her. When I’m gone she’s always like “daddy, come home!”, so I’m trying not to be away for too long, although it’s business.
PL: You’ve been a sponsored pro for 10 years now ...
DW: Yes. After the WSOP 2004, I signed a contract and became the face of that site (ed. note: bodog.net) for five years.
My contract actually ended right after I won the WPT Championship in 2010. Then I signed on with PokerStars and it’s like a dream come true.
Being a representative of the best company in the business is like a dream come true.
PL: How did you manage to stay a sponsored pro for 10 years? There is almost nobody who manages that.
DW: I just try to make the most of every opportunity I have. If I’m not winning on the felt, I try to keep my name in lights.
I have a public persona, a brand. I might be involved in some controversy, but not all the time, but I try to make sure that people keep talking about me.
For example, there was a lot of talk when I ripped up cards at the NBC Heads-up Championship. Yes, it looked like a tantrum and it was, but this was also a tournament produced for TV and TV producers want interesting things to happen.
They don’t want to see two guys staring each other down. When people get coolered you know they want to see stuff like that and I thought this is the time to do it.
It’s not gonna hurt the game, it’s not slowing down the game and I’m gonna get busted now anyway.
Another time I had a diamond toothpick and people were ranting about it, asking how can this guy do something like that. You see, all this is stuff that keeps me in the spotlight, keeps my name around.
PL: I guess sitting at the feature table isn’t stressful for you, but a chance to show off then?
DW: Oh, yeah, I love the spotlight. The feature table to me is a lot of fun. I was happy to sit there all Day 3 of the main event.
PL: What do you, as a live player, think of the idea of a shot clock?
DW: I really like the shot clock. I really have to pace myself and force myself to take longer, as I usually play really fast.
I don’t like my opponents slowing down the game at all so shot clocks are great. Stalling has gotten out of hand. There is too much slow play.
PL: Is stalling even a strategic move? Does it really help the player who does it?
DW: I don’t really see what the point of the staller is. Maybe they are just trying to annoy everybody, maybe they are overthinking situations, I don’t really understand it.
I was always a quick player. If you look at me in 2010, I was speeding, I was all instinct and no thought.
PL: Stalling is not an issue in Magic: The Gathering. Are you still into it?
DW: I am very much into it. There is a good chance I’m going to Atlanta for the international tour with my friends. Magic is the greatest game in the world.
Of course, I don’t play Magic for the money as it is nowhere near poker, and I love poker, too, but if I had to choose between the two I would probably play Magic.
PL: Do you consider the Global Poker index a proper way to assess player quality?
DW: I think the GPI is great. I am pretty low and I want to run up the ranking.
In fact, I was with Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari at that personal development center, where we all did the same course, and I set as one of my goals to move up to the top 100 in the GPI.
PL: Do you use tracking software when you play online?
DW: No. When I play I often sit at the 8-game tables, where the software doesn’t work. Otherwise I play tournaments, but I never open many tables as I like to keep it old school.
I could probably use some teaching on how the online assistance works.
PL: Can you please sum up Ole Schemion and his game in two sentences.
DW: Ole Schemion is a beast. And he is a really nice guy.