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Phil Gordon: One of the Good Guys
Phil Gordon, perhaps best known to the general public as former co-host of the televised "Celebrity Poker Showdown" alongside actor Dave Foley, has come to this World Series of Poker in search of the bracelet that has eluded him so far. With four cashes already this year, he's had a taste of the money but is still hungry for a victory. I sat down with Gordon in the Full Tilt Poker suite and he filled me in on how things are going so far and the reasons he believes he has a great shot at taking home a WSOP bracelet.
Phil, I've seen you playing in a lot of events so far, how are things going for you?
Yeah, I've played in eight events so far, and I've cashed in four. I've been deep in three No-Limit Hold'em events. I finished 15th in the $2,500 Short-Handed event a few days ago. I've had a lot of chips in all the tournaments, I've had my money in with the best hand in three out of four of the tournaments, and I feel pretty good about my play. I feel very confident about the remainder of the events and the Championship. I think I'm due for some good luck. I know everyone says that, but I haven't been winning those important coin flips, those are the ones that you really have to win.
What are the qualities you have that give you an edge over the other players in these tournaments?
I have very strong self-discipline, concentration. I'm relaxed out there whereas a lot of the other players aren't. Either this is one of their first or the only tournament they've played in or they're not used to dealing with the pressure of making the big decisions, and after so many years as a pro, it doesn't really affect me anymore. And I think I have an intense desire to win, more of a competitive nature than most of my opponents.
Take us through your routine here at the WSOP, is it all business or are there things you like to do to balance it out?
I try to focus on the days I'm playing. I'm going to really play, and I come fully prepared for a long day. I know I'm not getting out of here until 1 a.m. On days that I bust out early I try not to think about poker. I don't stick around and play the cash games. I go home and play golf, watch TV, relax, work out, try to think about anything but poker. [The WSOP] is a six-week haul, and if you approach it like a sprint, you're going to burn yourself out before the finish line, and the finish line is the Championship event. Everything up until that is a warm-up in my opinion.
What things are you passionate about these days besides poker?
Well, I'm still doing a lot of charity work. I'm working diligently on "The Bad Beat on Cancer" which is the initiative we started a few years ago where players pledge 1% of their tournament winnings to the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation. I'm working on that just about every day. I'm rooting for all my friends when they make a final table, my best friend Rafe Furst won a bracelet earlier in the series. When you have someone there, it really does make a difference, and I like to be there for my friends and root them on to victory or console them in defeat.
Can you tell us a bit more about "The Bad Beat on Cancer" initiative and the progress you've made with it so far?
It was started three years ago, and basically we ask professionals and amateurs alike to donate 1% of whatever they win at the WSOP. We've been extraordinarily successful over the last three years, raising over $1 million for a very worthy cause. It's a very fiscally responsible organization, nearly 86 cents from every dollar goes to the cancer research programs that we're funding. It's a great organization and we have most of the world's greatest players signed up, including a very generous donation by Phil Hellmuth. He donated $25,000 to kick this World Series off. That was a very nice gesture on his part, and we hope to have the winner of the Main Event pledge 1% out of that $10 million, and that would be a $100,000 donation.
Thanks so much Phil and keep up the good work.
So even though poker is an individual game, Gordon and all the players involved in this organization have found a way to make poker benefit everyone. More information on this initiative can be found on the Web at www.badbeatoncancer.org.