Finally, Lee Watkinson is a winner. After finishing second, third or fourth on a number of big occasions, this solid and skilled, but not very well-known poker player made it all the way in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event. Watkinson and his girlfriend are working on making him more of a public figure, and winning his first WSOP bracelet and $655,746 might be a big step on the way to poker glory. As Watkinson himself puts it, "Nobody remembers second place."
How do you feel after winning your first WSOP bracelet?
I feel elated - relieved and elated. It's great. I've been on a cold streak, and this was the first time I've made it past the dinner break in this World Series.
You have finished in second place a number of times. Do you feel relieved to have finally won a major tournament?
Yes, it's a relief. I lost a huge pot in the beginning of heads-up, and I was starting to think that I'm never going to win a tournament, but it's nice to know I can do it.
What was the key to success today?
I was just patient throughout the whole thing, I never lost focus. I had my friends around reminding me to keep focus, and I had a really good coach who really helped me out. I got some lucky breaks as well, like when Jani Vilmunen from Finland, who was in the chip lead, caught a full house on me, and I had only four outs on the river, and got a miracle. There were some really tough players, and I feel that I was really fortunate.
Was it a tough heads-up match against Mike Guttman?
There were tougher players at the table. The reason the heads-up was tough was because I had a lot of pressure on me, because I've gotten there so many times and failed. I felt the pressure, but the play seemed to go well for me this time.
But Mike took the lead for a while.
He had a very small lead for a short while, but his style suited my game plan well, and I had my friend coaching me and helping to reaffirm that I was using the right strategy.
What are your hopes for the rest of the World Series?
I hope to make another final table, and win another one. I don't think I'll be playing the H.O.R.S.E. event, but I haven't ruled it out yet. But if not, I will play the next Pot-Limit or No-Limit event that comes up.
Why won't you play the H.O.R.S.E. event?
I don't play Limit poker. I haven't played Limit poker in five years, except for one Omaha Hi-Lo tournament.
What about the Main Event? You have finished in the money two years in a row (113th and 45th).
Yes. I love the Main Event and can't wait for that. I've got a lot of hopes for the Main Event. It's difficult with the big starting field, but I'll just take it one day at a time. I'm hoping to improve every year and eventually maybe get to the final table.
You're known to keep a low profile. Why?
It's just my nature. My girlfriend is working on letting people know more about me and what I'm about. She says it's good for my career to let people see my personality and know more about me, and she's helping me out with that. I think it's going to work, and maybe I'll be a more public figure.
The win tonight might help you out.
Yes, nobody remembers second place.
So, how will you celebrate tonight?
I don't know - no plans yet. I've got a lot of friends and my girlfriend here, but I might just go home and be with my girlfriend.
Thank you Lee, and congratulations.