Allen Cunningham Interview from Caesars!

Allen Cunningham
Allen Cunningham after his victory at the 2008 World Series of Poker Circuit event at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

On Thursday night, Allen Cunningham won the World Series of Poker Circuit event at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for $499,162 in prize money.

The Full Tilt pro defeated Ben Fineman in heads-up play, outlasting a final table that featured the likes of Doug Lee, Justin Bonomo and Ralph Perry, to claim top prize over a pro-packed field of 334 souls. PokerListings.com talked to Cunningham minutes after his thrilling victory.

So how are you feeling right now?

I'm feeling alright. I don't really get too worked up at the end of a tournament. You know, I have some big swings in my poker life so it feels good to get a nice win.

Is this all kind of old hat for you now?

I mean, this is the first cash of the year for me out of 10 tournaments or so, so I haven't done anything really recently. It's pretty lucky that my first cash is a first-place finish.

Can you talk about how the final table played out?

Allen Cunningham
Bored with winning!

Well, I got off to sort of a good start, where I zoomed up from $300,000 to $750,000, and then I just didn't really have that many good hands and couldn't find too many spots, so I kind of drizzled down to less than I started with. And then I caught my biggest rush at the end, so that's what really counts.

It was a pretty tough table and everyone played pretty well. I feel like I was pretty lucky to have won it.

Obviously the final table included some pretty big names, with Ralph Perry, Doug Lee and Justin Bonomo among the finalists, but Ben Fineman was the chip leader. Was he someone that you felt you'd have to key on?

I hadn't played with him at all during the rest of the tournament - maybe one time or so - and he just seemed like a really solid player who would be somewhat tough to beat, but who wouldn't be that dramatically aggressive.

You managed to reverse your chip disadvantage pretty quickly in the heads-up match. What happened?

All I can say is that usually over a span of 50 or a hundred hands heads-up, often one guy just gets all of the cards and the other guy gets seven-deuce every hand and looks like an idiot because he can't do anything. I felt like I probably got a lot of better hands than him.

Heads-Up!
Caught the cards!

I doubled through him when I had Q-9 and he raised on the button. I called and the flop came queen-high, and with my size stack - 30 big blinds - I'm going to go with it for sure, so I check and he overbet the pot a little bit, which was kind of weird, but I couldn't outguess myself and I moved in and he called me and I had the winner.

And the final hand I made a flush versus his straight, so that was the case there.

Were you surprised at the quick pace of the final table?

No. It felt like it went almost exactly how I expected it to. Last night, when there were two or three tables left the stacks and the blinds and the antes were proportionally similar and it really played about the same today as the other day. It was as expected.

What were your impressions of the tournament as a whole?

It was a nice tournament. It moved along and I kind of liked the pace. It wasn't as slow as one of those four- and five-day long tournaments, but it was a little bit long so I felt like there was a nice balance of getting it over with and having a little bit of play.

Great. Thanks very much and congratulations.

Thank you.

*********

With the victory, Cunningham pushes his career tournament earnings over the $10 million mark, moving up to third place all-time and into top spot among those who haven't won the WSOP Main Event in the Moneymaker era. Just as Erik Seidel reaffirmed his status as a world-class pro with his victory at Foxwoods last month, Cunningham's win at Caesars once again serves notice of his own standing among the greatest poker players of the modern era.

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