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Silent Sumner: An Interview with the World Poker Open Champion
The 2007 World Poker Open has come to an end and our champion is 32-year-old Brian Sumner, a former accounting major from Smyrna, Tenn. and an online cash game specialist who has played poker professionally for three years.
Sumner came into the final table as something of an afterthought, overshadowed by better known pro personas like Daniel Negreanu, Kido Pham and J.C. Tran. The graduate of Middle Tennessee State University sat silent and stone rigid for the duration of the marathon final table, and even after his set of eights took down Negreanu's gutshot wheel draw for the title, the new champion barely cracked a smile or uttered a word until the spotlights were turned off and the crowd had dispersed.
PokerListings.com does not pay its reporters to be daunted by even the most reticent of subjects, however, and I got a few words out of Brian before he headed off to collect his winnings.
Brian, you've just won over $900,000. How does it feel?
It's pretty unbelievable. I haven't really given a lot of thought to the money, but to win the title is pretty nice, and it is a significant amount of money, so it's really nice.
You won your way into this event through a $1,000 satellite. Did you ever believe you could make it this far?
I thought that I had a shot, but I'm surprised that I did win the whole thing.
What was your strategy going into the final table?
My strategy was to come in and to play as well as I could, and to stay focused and pay as much attention as I could to what the other players were doing, and then just make the best possible decision I could at all times.
Was it difficult to maintain your focus as the hours passed at the final table?
I was able to do it, but it was pretty intense. Each hand, especially when the blinds got high - and even before that - it required a lot of energy. And I got a good night's rest last night, I think that helped, but it was pretty intense and it did require a lot of energy to stay focused.
I watched you yesterday and it seemed like Negreanu was raising your blinds most every round, while today you seemed to reverse it and raise every time he was in the big blind. Was this something you noticed and made part of your strategy?
Part of that was that I was card dead yesterday, and I have a lot of respect for Negreanu's play, so for the most part yesterday if I didn't have a hand I didn't really want to be in the pot with him, because I have a lot of respect for his play.
And today I had a lot of good hands against Daniel, so I feel like I was pretty fortunate, as far as that went.
How was it playing heads-up against him? Many players would say it's either their dream or their worst nightmare.
I was a little bit nervous playing with Daniel heads-up. I was pretty fortunate that I had a significant chip lead, but again I was trying to stay focused on playing as well as I could, while in the back of my mind I was sort of thinking, "well, if he does double up on me, this whole game is going to change." It could have been a really tough match. I was fortunate that he had a really good hand when he moved in on me. And that it held up.
What are you going to spend the money on? Do you have any impulse buys in mind?
I may get a house, and I may get a car sometime in the near future, but I don't have anything immediate that I'm going to get. That's definitely a significant amount of money, and it's pretty amazing, but I don't have anything that I'm planning to go out on splurge on or anything. I may get a house at some point this year, and I'll probably want to get a new vehicle.
Well, I'm sure you'll have fun figuring out how to spend it. Thanks for the time, Brian, and congratulations!
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A few members of the media had dinner with Brian about midway through the tournament. He was at the dinner table exactly the same as he was at the felt - quiet and unassuming, and certainly not searching for attention. As the World Poker Open progressed from Day 3 to Day 4 to the final table, Brian was always in contention, but seemingly always in the background. Even at the final table, most of the attention was on Daniel Negreanu and his drive to defeat the no-name to win his third World Poker Tour title. Thanks to his solid play and impressive focus, however, Brian Sumner has now ensured that the poker world will know and remember the man who took down Kid Poker.