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Talking to WPT Bay 101 Champ Brandon Cantu
Brandon Cantu won a WSOP bracelet in 2006, but has been out of the major poker spotlight ever since. While he's played a good number of events since that time, the big-money finishes have not come so easy.
That all changed this week at the 2008 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, where he jumped back into the limelight, grabbing the Day 1 chip lead and never really looking back. He came into the final six with an overwhelming chip lead that got even bigger throughout the day. After eight hours of poker he raked in his first WPT title and a million-dollar first-place prize, shooting down six stars and picking up another $40k in bonuses along the way.
PL.com sat down with Brandon after the win to see just how it felt to be back in the high life again.
Brandon, you just won a WPT title; how does it feel?
It's amazing. I don't know what to say. I'm just going to keep saying it was amazing. It hasn't really hit me yet. I don't know what I'm going to do.
Is the money that important to you? It is a million dollars. But was it the title you really wanted?
The million dollars is nice. But I wanted it so bad. I've said this in like 10 other interviews: you would not believe how bad I wanted a win. I've been so close lately in other tournaments. I guess everything came together at the right time.
You grabbed the chip lead on Day 1. Did you really feel like you had a good shot to win it then?
Yeah. I always felt like I had a good shot at it. There was only one minute on the second day where I felt like it wasn't there. But I was never short the whole tournament. I was almost wire-to-wire, not chip lead, but right there pretty close.
You did end Day 2 with just above an average chip stack...
Right, but it wasn't very long before things picked back up.
Yes because on Day 3 you ran very well...
I had a suck-out or two. One against (Joe) Hachem that was one of the craziest hands I've ever played.
Once you got to the final table you had the chip lead, then it got even bigger when Mike Baker shipped you all his chips with K♦ 3♦ against your aces with two diamonds on the board. What was going through your mind in that spot?
In hindsight I felt like I had a presence at the table. I felt like everybody was afraid of me. I had so many chips I would have actually rather [he] folded right there. I wasn't ready to play a pot that big and it was already big. I would have rather just taken the $600,000 pot. But that was one of the craziest hands I've ever seen. I really didn't know what he had. I wasn't looking at what color my aces were so I thought he might have had the A♦ K♦ when he said OK let's gamble for it.
But it must have been surprising to see him play K-3 suited for a pot that big?
Shock and awe is about the best way I can describe it. Amazement.
That pretty much handed you the tournament. Did you feel at that point you could just cruise?
I just didn't want to make any big errors. I didn't want to give anyone an easy double-up. I did kind of at the final table once but it was at a short stage. I don't think I gave anyone like a complete charity double-up. I really only made minor errors the whole way.
So what's next? Do you think you'll take a run at the triple crown and start playing in the EPT events?
I think so.
It's a bit of a different structure over there. Shorter stacks and quick levels...
I've never actually played in an EPT so I have to make a run at it. I told myself this year I really wanted to make a big run at Player of the Year. So I'm pretty much going to be playing all the events I can. I'm taking it seriously whereas back in 2007 I didn't take poker that seriously.
Thanks Brandon and good luck.
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If Brandon Cantu is serious about taking poker seriously, then the poker world is in serious trouble. His solid aggressive style was unbeatable at Bay 101 this week and he is showing no signs of being anywhere near ready to slow down. PL.com will certainly be watching out for Brandon down the road.