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Erik Seidel: Big poker star, small ego
Erik Seidel is huge, both literally and figuratively. The poker player stands about 6'5" and has amassed eight bracelets and $6.5 million in tournaments winnings over the course of his lengthy career.
His ego, fortunately, doesn't match. While a few bracelets and some network air time has swollen more than one lesser player's sense of self-importance, Seidel keeps his hubris in check - that is, if he has any.
Just prior to his Event 54 win Seidel spoke to PokerListings.com about being unenthused by his 2007 World Series of Poker performance. "I'm hoping to do a little better the last week," he said.
Did he ever. Seidel picked up his eighth bracelet in the penultimate tournament of the Series: the No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball w/Re-buys. Don't expect this down-to-earth pro to let it go to his head, though.
In the following interview, Seidel explains how he copes with the grind of tournaments and life as a celebrity player.
Do you set goals or things like that going into the tournament?
Well sure. You always want to win a bracelet. For me a lot of it is to have enough energy to compete. (Laughs.) Just waking up every day rested and eating well and stuff like that. If I'm rested I think I can play well and that's just kind of my goal - to play well.
So you're not like Devilfish; you're not a partier while the World Series is going on?
I don't know how those guys do it; it's amazing. They can go out at night - at the end of the day I'm exhausted and all I want to do is go home. I'm just amazed that these guys have the stamina to do that. Devilfish, Jesus does that too, although this year I think he hasn't been. Yeah, they'll play a full day then go out partying for a couple hours and drinking. I'm amazed by that.
Because Harrah's added more tournaments on, do you feel pressure to play in more events, win more bracelets, keep up with the rat race?
Well, I feel pressure to try and play almost every day but I haven't really been keeping up with some of these other guys who are playing two tournaments a day. I've taken a lot of days off. I do feel I should get in there and play. It's kind of a funny mix because my best games are the Pot-Limit and No-Limit games, but the best value is in the Limit games. So I kind of like to play those too. It's kind of strange, because whenever you're playing No-Limit, you're playing against 2,000 people so it makes it much harder to win one of these things.
It must be overwhelming.
It is, yeah. It's weird. You walk in a room and the entire room is filled with people you have to beat. That's a lot. It really is.
You've been around long enough to see the transition in poker and see the World Series grow. What's that been like for you?
It's been kind of a strange trip. It's weird that the people you've hung out with and spent time with for years, all of a sudden these people are recognized wherever you go. So you go out to dinner with people and they recognize these guys. It is very weird to be part of the whole blow-up and to watch all these people taking themselves very seriously.
Do people recognize you often?
Yeah. I don't have the problem that someone like Phil Hellmuth or Annie Duke has, where wherever they go people recognize them.
Are you comfortable with your level of celebrity?
This is okay, yeah. I think I'd be concerned about it getting any worse than this. But it is kind of nice when you walk into a restaurant and people, you know, treat you well or whatever. But I don't think I'm in danger of it getting to the point where it's anything more than that.
I've seen your Full Tilt commercials and they're really funny. Were those fun to do?
I'm so proud of all the commercials they've done. We really have a great marketing team and, you know, each time they do the series of commercials I think that they do something surprising and something unique. I don't even know if they're the most effective commercials, but I'm proud to be part of the ones that they're doing because they're great; they're all great. They come on TV and they make an impression, I think.
Well you do a great job. I'm assuming you don't have any acting training.
(Laughs.) It's easy when you have to play yourself.
Was it fun working with Howard Lederer, seeing as you've been friends from way back?
We've known each other for so long and we've always been friends, so it's great to be part of the team with him and be included. All of these guys are people I enjoy being around. It's a fun group. I think that was a big part of it when we put it together was to find people we all liked and I think they did a good job doing that.
Poor Howard. With an eighth bracelet to add to his wrist, that jangling noise is going to get a lot louder in those Full Tilt commercials. Even so, it's impossible to feel anything but happy for Erik Seidel: humble, kind and, undeniably, a great poker player.