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Eric "basebaldy" Baldwin Hungry for Second WSOP Title
Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin is one of the most successful and interesting players on the poker circuit with over $4m in live tournament earnings and nearly $1.5m won online.
Baldwin’s live results include a WSOP bracelet in 2009 along with a $1m+ score for a runner-up finish in the 2010 WPT Championship at Bellagio.
The Wisconsin-native also has a love of baseball and played right field for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Their 2005 team went on to win the 2005 NCAA Division III National Championship.
He is an avid Arizona Diamondbacks fan and has a very set opinion of the Designated Hitter rule.
Baldwin recently was part of an incredible final table in WSOP Event #7 where he battled a table which combined a mixture of big pros and young amateurs.
He finished runner-up to Matt Waxman after a roller-coaster, seven hour, heads-up match for the bracelet. He had added incentive as his father Steve flew in to surprise his son before the final table.
PokerListings: That $1,000 NLH final table was stacked with top players (Jason Koon, Amit “amak315” Makhija, Brent Hanks, Matt Waxman). How tough was that table compared with some of the other big final tables?
Eric Baldwin: It was very tough. I think there was some bizarre stat, like five of us combined for just had an absurd amount of career cashes and the other four combined for under $10,000.
But that’s pretty common for those $1k’s, you have a lot of complete amateurs and then the cream really does start to rise to the top towards the end of them.
A lot of people write those tournaments off as crap shoots and I think they’re doing themselves a tremendous disservice.
Because, yeah, there’s going to be two or three of them they really don’t have a chance because it’s so shallow but the one time you do accumulate chips, they’re so much fun and there is so much value there.
PL: Your dad is your biggest fan. What did it mean to you, and how surprised were you, when he showed up for the final table?
It was awesome. So great.
When I won the bracelet in 2009, he was coming out a week later to play the Seniors Event so he didn’t come out for the final table. And I think he kind of vowed to himself he wasn’t going let that happen again because he was coming out a week later again, and this time he just moved his trip up.
But yeah, that was really cool. I was coming in to do an interview before play started and he came walking down the hallway with a beer in hand.
It was really cool. He has so much fun out here, he comes out a few times a year.
Would have been nice to win, for his sake and mine, but it wasn’t in the cards.
PL: Your heads-up match with Matt Waxman went on for a staggering seven hours. How do you maintain concentration in those situations, especially with the loud rail right behind your seat?
That was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, both from the situational and mental exhaustion standpoint.
It’s easy to just look at the heads-up match, but that’s two full days of poker leading up to that final table and then another five or six hours just to get to the heads up. And the end of Day 2 and Day 3 is all high-pressure stuff.
You can ask Matt too, you kind of slow things down and make sure you’re not making a huge misclick. It’s really tough to get your brain to function the way it would at the snap of finger like you were fresh on Day 1.
So you really just try to slow things down, double check yourself a little bit, and as far as the atmosphere, you really try to block that out and focus on the game.
I think the good players are really able to do that and zone it out. Like you hear about pro athletes all the time, they say that they can’t hear anyone in the crowd.
You’ve come so close over the last few years to getting your second bracelet. How do you bounce back from getting that close but not winning?
It’s not easy, your mind wants to play the “what if” game. But it’s the start of the summer; this is the World Series of Poker, this is what we wait the year round for so I’m just not going to let myself do that and then miss the opportunity the next day and next tournament.
These things are too precious to me to play that game. But yeah, it’s tough.
Use it to fuel the fire to make you more hungry instead of saying “alright, I’ve already got one big score in the books but it didn’t go my way”, kind of give up and just coast through the series.
I just wanted to make sure I didn’t let that happen to me.
And I’m having fun. This is so much fun.
Finally, the MLB All-Star break is just about here. Who are your favorite teams to make the World Series?
I’m a huge Arizona Diamondbacks fan, they are in first place and the only national media attention they’ve gotten so far was their brawl with the Dodgers.
I kind of like that role, we don’t have many superstars but it’s a team of all good players who play the game the right way.
Plus we’re getting overlooked so it makes me love the team even more because that’s the type of ballplayer I tried to be.