Joe Pelton playing in Day 3 of the Festa al Lago
Joe Pelton is a lucky guy - just ask him. The Newport Beach, Calif., native won the WPT Legends of Poker main event in August, taking down a final table that included Scotty Nguyen and Hoyt Corkins, but if you ask him, he'll tell you he just caught the right cards at the right time. He's chip leader at the end of Day 3 at the next WPT event he's entered, with $1.29 million chips to his name - but if you ask him, he'll tell you he shouldn't even be in the tournament anymore. Don't believe a word of it.
Pelton, who makes his living as a business analyst when he's not winning WPT events, has been quietly amassing chips with the same strong and smart poker play that got him his first WPT ring, and is now in a dominating position going into the fourth day of play. I caught up with Joe at the end of Day 3, hoping to learn a little more about the man who is fast becoming a big name player on the poker circuit.
So you're one of the chip leaders. How have you been playing today?
I got just super, super lucky. I opened with jack-eight of hearts against Nick Schulman and Schulman raised me $75,000 more. I pushed all-in, and he instantly called for $350,000 more with two jacks. So I was all-in with jack-eight against two jacks. But I flopped a flush, doubled up from there, and now I've got a big stack so I can push people around a little bit.
How is your table looking right now?
All the tables are really tough right now. We have a ton of chips at my table. My image is sort of shot in terms of stealing and bluffing, so I'm trying to sort of slow down a little bit. I busted another guy with two jacks when he pushed on me with ace-four. If I pick up hands, I might get a little more chips, but I'm pretty much going to take it slow tonight. We've only got two players left to be eliminated and I've got over $1.2 million in chips, so I'm pretty happy to go into tomorrow with that much.
You recently won the WPT Legends of Poker event. How do these two tournaments compare?
They've both been the same in that I haven't run into any big hands when I've been all-in or had a big hand myself. I haven't had just those hands you can't get away from and you lose all your chips, so it's just been really lucky today. At the Legends, I didn't have any big suckouts like the one I had here, so I'm just really lucky right now. I shouldn't be in the tournament right now, you know, Nick Schulman should have the chip lead. I mean, just really lucky.
How did you get your start playing poker?
I started playing online when I saw the PartyPoker.com Million on the Travel Channel, the original one before the World Poker Tour. I've been playing around a lot. This is like the 11th WPT event I've played, and I travel a little bit, but not too much.
Where are you based out of?
Did you get out to Las Vegas for the World Series this year?
Yeah, I played in like six events and cashed in one. Not the Main Event. I lost money overall in that.
Is there anyone you look up to on the WPT?
There's lots of different people. All the players who are left are really great players, you know. Grinder's here and he's a great player, and C.K. (Hua) is a great player. Sean McCabe's here - I guess he gets out of bed before five some days, so you know. It's just going to take a lot of luck to get to the final table from here.
Thanks, Joe. Good luck the rest of the way.
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Despite his claim that he'll need a lot of luck to make the final table, with the stack of chips Pelton has in front of him he's pretty much a shoe-in for the final table, and if he keeps up the strong play, he'll have another $1.1 million to add to the $1.6 million he earned at the Legends event. But if you ask him, he'll probably just tell you he got lucky again.
Related Article: Joe Pelton Wins WPT Legends of Poker