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Nam Le sets the bar high
You'd have to try not to like Nam Le. The rising poker star is laid back and friendly, lacking any ego or pretense.
What's even more endearing is that while some of his counterparts slip into grumbling about the game that made their name and fortune, Le has only good things to say about poker and the industry - including, of all things, Harrah's.
Despite being knocked out of a tournament just moments earlier, Le lent some of his time to PokerListings.com, which he used to talk about some WSOP side bets, his most crippling leak and his love of the game.
How's your Series been going so far?
I had a slow start and just recently made a final table. I did three cashes in a row; I came in third and picked up about a quarter of a million so I can't really complain.
Do you set goals coming in?
Yeah, actually I set a really high goal. I wanted at least a bracelet and a million dollars. Last year I set a goal for half a million and I reached my goal last year. This year I set it at a million and I'm three-fourths of the way short. But the Main Event's still coming up so you never know.
I was talking with J.C. Tran yesterday and he has some money on him winning bracelets. Do you do that sort of thing?
Actually, we both did. We had a prop bet against Phil Hellmuth for $100,000 for a bracelet. It was two on one: So if Phil won, we'd lose $100,000 each; if one of us would have won it, Phil loses $100,000. Unfortunately, Phil won a bracelet so we're both stuck $100,000.
Yeah, it does. It stings. Usually I don't make these bets - I don't like to root against people - but my friends made the bet, and I jumped on.
Do you have many leaks?
I used to have a lot of gambling leaks. I've got a bet going with J.C. - a pit bet: whoever plays the pit first loses $10,000. For it to be worth it, I would have to make $10,000 just to be even. So I haven't played the pits in a while.
Probably my biggest leak is not sleeping. Every night I'm up until six in the morning.
Are you a partier?
No - just watching TV and tossing and turning.
I quit eating sugar, quit caffeine; I tried everything. I mean, I don't want to go hardcore and start taking sleeping pills like a used to do. I can't figure it out yet - why I can't sleep during tournaments.
Can you not get away from poker sometimes?
For me, once I start thinking about a poker hand, it just keeps going. If I keep thinking about a topic, it just keeps going. I don't know. When I go home, I sleep fine. Even if I don't sleep for two days and I need to sleep for tomorrow's tournament, I'd be lucky if I get three or four hours in. That's probably my biggest leak.
And it must be hard because Harrah's added so many tournaments to play in.
I love it. I want to do it again. I wish we could reset. It's really draining; I'm miserable here. But it's kind of like high school: on the last day of school you're actually kind of sad. It's coming to an end and I kind of want to do it again.
Are you going to play in the WSOP Europe?
It all depends on my friends. They talked about planning a trip to Europe. I would love to go if we could gather enough people, because I don't want to go by myself. Yeah, I'm down to go.
Did you have any favorite events during the World Series?
My favorite was probably the triple draw event. It's unfortunate that they have only one. But I had the most fun playing triple draw, maybe because I play so much Hold'em. It's kind of refreshing.
How do you think Harrah's has done so far? I've been hearing a lot of complaints.
There's always going to be complaints whenever you have 3,000 entry fields and a lot things going on. I think they did a good job. Nothing really bothered me. Maybe the first event where they had those new cards, but they fixed that in two or three hours. So I give them a thumbs up for running the Series. They've done a great job.
Do you play much online lately?
I play almost every day online. Most of the time I just play to get my fix - my daily dose of poker. I'm more of a grinder online; I don't really gamble much online. I play maybe two hours a day.
Do you enjoy it?
I love online. I can't live without it. For me it's hard to go without playing poker for a day. Online's perfect, because before I go to sleep, I play - maybe that's why I can't sleep! I should quit playing online right before I go to sleep. Yeah, I play every day. I love it.
That's great because sometimes I talk to people who don't seem to really enjoy playing poker anymore.
No, I love it. With my friends all we do is eat, sleep and breathe poker. The conversation is not about girls; it's about poker. It's kind of odd: a group of guys talking about poker all day. But yeah, I love poker. I don't know what I'd do if they banned poker. I'd probably be... I don't know what I'd be doing.
With the Main Event still to come, there's no telling whether Le will meet his goals for this year's WSOP. But if his record is any indication, he has a shot: Le has cashed three times at this year's World Series of Poker and has seen numerous final tables and in-the money finishes, not to mention a World Poker Tour championship at Bay 101 in 2006.
One thing is for certain though. There's more than one tournament win in his future.