You are doing pretty well so far today?
Yes, it's ridiculous. I wouldn't have imagined this in a million years. But it's so early, Day 2 chip leader means nothing. It the kind of start you only can dream about, and I'm really happy about it, but I haven't done anything yet.
What has been the key to success so far in the Main Event?
I feel very comfortable at my table. I haven't had a lot of people around me who have put me to big decisions, and when they have, I feel I have had a good idea of what to do. I've been able to constantly accumulate chips, because people are not playing back to me. I'm picking up a lot of blinds and antes, and a big pot here and there. It's one of those things where everything is going right, nothing is going wrong.
Your background as a poker player?
I started playing in my freshman year at college. I'm going to be a senior next year, so I've been playing for three full years. Basically I'm an online player. I won tournaments a lot, then I went over to cash games and worked my way up. I play pretty high online, $10/$20 No-Limit, $25/$50 No-Limit, $50/$100 Limit. When I have a break from school, I travel with friends and go to World Poker Tour events and things like that. I've travelled around Europe playing poker, I've been to the Bahamas, and I'm probably going to play some tournaments in the States this year. Poker is a huge part of my life.
Did you buy-in to the Main Event or did you qualify?
I paid the buy-in. This is the most incredible field in the world. It's hard to imagine how some of these people came up with $10,000, it's incredible. I helped some of my friend enter this tournament because I think this tournament has incredible value.
I guess you heard about the first prize?
$12 million, yes. I'm not crossing my fingers, so don't worry.
How would you describe yourself as a poker player?
I'm a very loose player, and I'm also very aggressive. I liked to raise a lot, and I like to see a lot of flops. In a tournament like this I try to win a lot of small pots, but I don't really go in there with a game plan. I think people who have game plans going in to a tournament are stupid, because it's all about reacting to what's around you. Every time you are at a new table you have to react to what's around you. I just try to pick my spots carefully, and generally try to make the other people have the hard decisions and not me.
You have another big stack at your table today?
Yes, he just bluffed off a lot of chips to me. I don't mind, he's right on my right, and I'll take that all day. If he was on my left giving me a lot of problems that would be a different story.
You made an amazing call against him with middle pair (9s). What about that?
He raised pre-flop, and I called him on the button. The flop came Q-9-something with a flush draw. He bet out, and he seemed like a very aggressive player. I'm not going to get too much into detail in case he reads this, but basically I didn't believe him, so I called him down, and I was right. It's a little bit more complicated than that, but yes.
There's a lot of talk about Young Guns of Poker. Have you been inspired by guys like Jeff Madsen?
My hat is off to this guy. That's really an incredible result. The size of the fields he's gone through is incredible. I played with him briefly, and he seemed like he knew what he was doing. I'm sure he's running really well. I mean four different events, in Pot-Limit, No-Limit, Stud, 08, all final tables. You've got to give him some credit, that's really impressive. I wouldn't say I'm inspired by him, but my hat is definitely off to him.
What do you think is the difference between the younger and the older poker players?
I would say that a lot of the younger players, the ones that grew up online - I don't think Jeff Madsen is one of the big online players - have put in a ton of hands online. And people underestimate the learning curve of young players. I can see five to ten times more hands online than some guy who will play his whole life in a casino. And generally the games are tougher online for equivalent stakes. I think there are a lot of young guys now that are terrific poker players. There are probably of bunch of players that are not even 21 that would be huge favorites in a field like this. There is not a style that unifies all of us, but there is just a ton of good young players out there.
So what are your hopes for the rest of today and the rest of the Main Event?
I have no hopes. I'm just going to go in there and react, and what happens, happens. I'm not really going to hope for anything. I'm just going to do what I can.
You have a cold. Will that affect your chances?
I've had it for about a week, and it's really bad. But the sicker I've got, the more chips I've gotten. I don't know if it's a good omen or a bad omen, but I'll probably be dead when it's time for the final table. (Laughs)
Will it be tough playing the long hours with a cold?
I've played these kinds of hours before. I would say yes, it can't be helpful that I'm not feeling well, but a lot of the guys here probably haven't put in as many 13 or plus hour sessions that I have, so I don't feel so bad about that.
NOTE: At the end of Day 2A Jason Strasser was in fourth place with $319,000 in chips.