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From the World Series of Poker, Always Bet On Black
Andrew Black has had the unique distinction of coming in fifth at the last two big tournaments he's played (the 2005 WSOP Main Event and the 2006 Tournament of Champions), but he's proven in the past that he can be a closer. Hailing from Ireland, Black is one of Europe's top players and is always a threat at the poker table. He talked to PokerListings.com about what it will take to get him that coveted first place finish.
What are your thoughts on the 2006 World Series of Poker so far?
I left the World Series of Poker in fifth place after having a huge chip lead last year, and basically, I've continued that trend. I had a huge stack in the Tournament of Champions this week, and somehow I managed to make a mistake and ended up in fifth again.
Are you getting frustrated?
I have to work with my own mind, much like other players. The guys that are really creative always have to work on not making the wrong decision at the wrong time. It can be tough.
Is it tough to play with a large stack?
During a normal tournament, I'm a nightmare to play against when I have the chip lead. It's just the last two big ones that have hurt me. Basically, I played a couple of hands I shouldn't have.
Is it hard to rebound from losing a lot of chips when you have a big stack?
It depends how you do it. A lot of people never rebound from it, and that's the truth. They never get back into position.
What was your preparation for this year's WSOP been like?
I've been playing poker for 15 or 16 years, but I probably worked three or four times harder on my game this year. I read all the books and watch the DVDs but mainly I work on myself. I do a lot of meditation, and I have a sports psychologist back home. The hardest part is changing your bad habits. It takes an awful lot of effort.
Who's going to be big this year?
There are so many brilliant players. I'd be surprised if the Scandinavians don't come through this year. There are a lot of fearless young Scandinavians, and although they didn't do well last year, you'd expect out of the pool of them at least one will break through. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is also good. A year hasn't gone by where he hasn't made it to at least two final tables.
Is there a sense of comradeship between the European players?
Absolutely. Ninety percent of the people here are Americans, so it's good to see Europeans. I'm sure the Americans feel the same way when they are in Europe.
What are your goals this year?
I wanted to try and win four tournaments since it's never been done, but I'm beginning to think that it may have been a bit of a stretch since I don't have the first one in the bag. I know if I get past the half-way mark with chips, then I'm a really good player.