Do other poker players give you more respect after your success in the 2005 World Series?
Generally, people I play with are very curious about my experience and want to talk about it. They're really friendly, but at the same time, they know that I'm a really good player and they want to know how I play. I think I'm getting more respect, which means I'm getting less action, so I have to change my strategy a little bit. I have to give other players the illusion that I'm playing bad, just to try and trap them I guess. But sometimes that backfires, because other players will start thinking of me as a bluffer. They will play incorrectly and call me down and give me bad beats.
What are your hopes for this year?
To make the final table again. [Laughs] From what I understand it's going to be 23 millionaires this year. Not to say that the money wouldn't be nice, but I think everybody at the final table would agree with me, it's really about the bracelet. So what are my hopes? I hope I can reach the final table again, and avoid making the mistakes I did last year and win.
How good a chance of winning do you think you have?
Do I think my odds are good? No. At this point the fields are so big and you have to survive all the bad beats. Last year I played a really solid match, where I didn't play any really big pots. I didn't allow myself, if I did get drawn out on, to lose a big hand. I always tried to win the hand when I was ahead, just to stay in the game. And that's pretty much is going to be my strategy for this year too.
Is winning a bracelet a big goal for you?
I've never won one so it is a big goal for me. It's like the scarecrow having the diploma, you know. He knows he's got a brain, but he needs the certificate.
Who do you think will win the Main Event this year? Is it even possible to make a prediction?
I think it's impossible to make a prediction. I think everyone of us pros with our experience have certainly got an advantage over players that don't have much live experience. Even the Internet players who have played thousands of hours will find it difficult. I don't think you can compare that to playing in live games and watching a player curse and sweat, and seeing their pulse vibrate in their hand.
Aside from experience, what other important factors are there?
You have to look at fitness also. Last year the oldest player at the final table was me at 42. And I had been working out for almost nine months just for that even, because I had a bet with some friend to lose weight. I was using a trainer, and I was really fit when I went to the final table. I'm actually working out now to gain stamina just so I can survive the long days and the long hours.
Are you as fit now as you were last year?
I'm getting there. I've gotten a lot of comments lately that I have lost weight. The more weight you drag around the more tired you are, and that affects your mental alertness. I'm definitely on the right track.
So everything looks good?Yes it does. [Laughs] I think there will be a lot of novices dumping of a lot of chips.