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Former Phillie Brad Lidge: “Baseball Players Love Texas Hold’em”
MLB all-star Brad Lidge was renowned as an ice-cold closer for the Phillies and he’s still benefiting from that mental toughness at the World Series of Poker.
Lidge has been playing poker for nearly 20 years but this is his first experience in the prestigious $10,000 buy-in Main Event.
Lidge decided to make the trip to Vegas after winning a Main Event seat in a charity tournament for Mike Coolbough that was held in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I wasn’t going to pass it up, considering I’ve wanted to play this for a long time,” he said.
“Finally there was no reason not to be in it.”
Minor League Poker Games
Lidge picked up poker when he was playing minor league ball in the Florida State League back in 1999.
“I’ve played for a long time amongst baseball friends and teammates,” he said.
“We were always playing Texas Hold’em. We’d have little tournaments. We didn’t have quite as much money back in those days but baseball players love Texas Hold’em.”
The stakes got higher when Lidge made it into the big leagues.
“The highest stakes we ever got up to were in the Phillies clubhouse,” he said.
“I don’t think it would surprise anyone that Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee were big-time action guys. They were not afraid to throw the cake around.
“We always had a good time with it though and no one’s feelings ever got hurt. We were all good friends.”
Action-Packed Phillies Clubhouse Poker
The WSOP Main Event, in which you start with 50,000 chips, is a sharp contrast to the action-heavy games that Lidge played in MLB clubhouses.
“It’s amazing how low you start with the blinds,” he said.
“It’s funny for me to get used to. In the clubhouse cash games in a matter of seconds people were throwing around as much as you could imagine. It takes some getting used to. It’s good though. It’s kept me in longer, that’s for sure.”
These days Lidge lives in Boulder, CO, and is one of the hosts for the MLB Network on SiriusXM Radio but he also went back to school and got his Masters in Archaeology.
Lidge, who famously threw the winning pitch for the Phillies when they won the World Series in 2008, makes it back to Philadelphia from time to time and often plays poker there.
“Texas Hold’em has just exploded in Philly with the opening of places like the SugarHouse,” he said.
“It’s always surprised me how many poker players from Philly come out here to play the Main Event.”
Looking to Pull a Joe McKeehen in Main Event
Last year Philadelphia native Joe McKeehen won the WSOP Main Event for $7.6m and you can count Lidge as one of his fans.
“I definitely watched it,” he said. “It was pretty cool to see. He killed it last year.”
There’s a great deal of psychology that goes into being a relief pitcher in baseball and Lidge definitely sees some parallels in poker.
“In terms of strategy and patience there are definitely some similarities,” he said. “You need to have discipline.”
“I think one of the biggest things you can understand — that really helps — is that sometimes you can make the best pitch in the world and the guy might still get a hit. Sometimes you can have the best hand in the world and you might still get beat.
“You need to accept that you can play well and not get a good result.”
Lidge has a shot at some serious cash in the 2016 WSOP Main Event. Thanks to the 6,737 entries this year first place will award $8,000,000. There’s a long road ahead, however, as the final table won’t be reached until July 18.
Regardless of how he finishes in the tournament, Lidge thinks he’ll be back at the WSOP.
“This has been a blast,” he said. “I can definitely see myself doing this a lot.”