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Eric Hershler - The 2007 LAPC Champ!
The 2007 LAPC main event is over and it was South African newcomer Eric Hershler who made it to number one. Beating out WPT final table veteran J.C. Tran in the shortest heads-up match in World Poker Tour history, Eric was overwhelmed by the victory to say the least. After the awards ceremony and an endless media photo-op, he sat down to talk with me about the event.
Congratulations Eric. Let's start by talking about the heads-up match, as short as it was, how did you feel when you saw the flop that would end up winning you the tournament?
Well you saw the hand, I was already in for $400,000 and he raised it $700,000 before the flop. I think if you had been monitoring me before that you never would have been able to put me on J-6. I thought that if a jack and a six came, or running sixes, I could bury him. The miracle flop came and he had an ace, he just couldn't put me on J-6.
How much were you concentrating on appearing weak at that point, after the flop had come?
Yeah, I did the best acting job that I possibly could and I guess it worked because he came along. I was trying to convey that I had a hand but I didn't have a great hand. I was hoping that he had the ace and I would be able to trap him.
It was a little reminiscent of the hand yesterday where you took a huge pot from J.C. with two pair, did that enter into your thinking when you moved in?
Not that particular hand, to be candid with you. J.C. first of all is a great guy to play with, he's a gentleman, he's not a bad sport, he's an example to follow. Having said that, I think he was able to master everyone else at the table but when it came to me he just couldn't get me, I was his nemesis.
If he walked away from the table he would say I was his nemesis, generally speaking he just couldn't win a fight with me. But that's just the way poker is. He could be a better player and a more experienced player, as I'm sure he is, but on any particular day you just get two cards.
When watching you today I noticed that you are very determined in your decisions and you like to take your time. Is that a matter of continuity of action or do you like to really think things through carefully before you act?
I like to think it through; I don't like to be rushed. I play a pretty conservative and disciplined game and I think if they take a shot at me they're taking a chance at me coming over the top with better cards.
This was a long event; five days went by before the final table even started, so take us through how you got here.
To be honest with you I was pretty much just surviving. Not with the lowest amount of chips but never ever dominating anywhere, just keeping alive. Then I finally got into the final fifty-four. I was just trying to survive because I was thinking that a lot of people who play this tournament, and no disrespect to them because they may well be better players than me, but they have more gamble. And I think that when you lose patience and the cards don't hit you go out. So I was hoping that through attrition I could survive. It helped put me in a position that when I was a lower stack and I had to go all-in it might hold up.
We've heard that this is your first real tournament, give us a bit of background on how you got into poker and how your game developed.
Well I'm relatively new to Hold'em, I've played it a number of years but historically my game was always Seven-Card Stud and I used to play that quite a lot when I was growing up. When I was a college kid I played it a lot.
To be candid with you it's the World Poker Tour and everything that you guys put on here that's made Hold'em sort of the game d'jour. With the tour and the TV exposure and the tournaments I thought that if I was going to play I might as well play that. But this is my first tournament I've played of any nature.
What made you choose a $10,000 WPT event as your first foray into tournaments?
I'd watched the World Poker Tour so often, and when I say so often you have no idea. I would wager that it's probably more than most people. I just felt like I wanted to have the experience. So I had a friend who bought a piece of me.
A happy friend now I'm sure.
He's happy, I haven't even been able to speak with him, he must be so stoked. He took a piece and I'm happy for him but I just felt that I could do it.
You're from South Africa, give us an idea of what you do in life outside of poker.
I've got a family, three kids. I've been practicing personal injury law here in L.A. for over twenty-five years.
What are you going to do with your share of the money?
As you can well imagine, that question has been posed to me before and I remain perplexed as to how to answer it. I guess tomorrow I'll put on my pants and shirt and carry on.
I guess I don't mean specific purchases and stuff like that but how is winning a substantial amount of money going to change life for you and, perhaps more importantly, for your family?
Well I think anytime you get an influx of money it lets you pursue what you want to do as opposed to what you have to do. And poker is a passion of mine so it might give me the opportunity to play a bit more than I have in the past. But from a material point of view it's not going to change things a bit. I'm not a materialistic person so it's not like I'm going to go out and buy a diamond ring or anything.
Well congratulations again and good luck to you and your family.
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Despite being his first tournament and being up against one of the toughest fields to be found anywhere, Eric said that he felt he could do it. His confidence in himself proved correct and his patience and discipline paid off, to say the least. In conversation Eric comes across as a thoughtful person, a characteristic which seems to play a large part in the way he plays poker. We hope to see more of him on the World Poker Tour.