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Chiu On This! David Chiu Speaks
In fact, before this week's WPT Championship the Full Tilt Poker pro had only played one final table on the Tour - the Season 1 Celebrity Invitational, where he finished third, failing to cash. As of Saturday, however, Chiu will have doubled his WPT final tables and, with a bit of luck, added a WPT Championship to his formidable resume.
We talked to the Californian at the conclusion of play on Day 5 of the World Championship.
How are you feeling right now?
I feel great. A little tired, but I feel great. I like this tournament because of the short days - we only play five levels. We used to play all the way through, and during the World Series they do.
It's a pretty relaxed structure here.
Oh, you get a lot of time to play. I like it a lot.
How did you feel that the day went for you?
I felt pretty good; I liked it. But at first Gus [Hansen] was seated on the left of me. I kind of felt like I was handcuffed. (Laughs.)
Do you feel like you have a good read on all of the players going into the final table?
Some of them, but I'm not going to try to read Gus. If anyone tries to read Gus, they'll get brain damage. You'll never know what he's got. Sometimes he doesn't know what he's got!
What about the other players?
The other players are all pretty solid. They're all good players. With a $25,000 entry fee, every single player at the final table is a good player. But the point is you have to get lucky to be here. Definitely.
This has to be one of the most demanding fields you've faced.
Yes. I've been playing professionally for 12 years, and I know most of the players in this tournament. There are a lot of young players here who are excellent players, though. They're so aggressive. But in poker, you have to catch cards.
How does the deep-stack structure of the tournament affect your game? Do you approach the tournament any differently than a normal WPT event?
Definitely. This tournament gives you a lot of play and a lot of time to play it. What I like the most is that every day is only five levels. If we played eight levels, everyone would be exhausted, especially since it's a No-Limit tournament. You just have to keep your eyes and your brain functioning every single moment. It's very difficult.
Do you feel like you've managed to stay focused all the way through the tournament?
I got pretty lucky a few times. I had A-3 against A-A and flopped two threes, and today against Gus - I would have been out if I didn't catch this hand - I had K-J against A-J on a jack-high flop. And I caught a king on the turn, otherwise I'd be gone.
What have your impressions been of the tournament as a whole?
It's great. And hopefully I can afford to play every single time, and if so I'm not going to miss it. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best tournament of the season.
You guys have a day off tomorrow - does that help you prepare or would you rather get the final table over with on Friday?
I would rather take a day off, because I'm exhausted.
Obviously you and Gus are professional poker players and deal with large amounts of money as a part of your job. Is there a point at the final table where the money will start to matter?
Well, I've played high-limit poker for the last eight years, and sometimes your strategy in tournament play is to wait until other people are knocked out to increase the amount of money you get paid, but sometimes when you get a hand, you have to play it.
Do you think that you'll be able to use the large amount of money at stake as a weapon against some of the other players at the table?
Well, Gus could care less. The money doesn't mean much to him. I haven't really studied the other players - I'm going to go do my homework tonight or tomorrow and check up on the other players.
Do you think that Gus is the person to beat at the final table?
Yeah. Gus is serious, and he knows exactly what he's doing. People think he's playing sloppy, but he knows exactly what he's doing. He raises every single hand. But every time I get involved, he doesn't give me any action whatsoever. And I know that, and he knows that.
Have you had a chance to see how the other players - Cory Carroll, for instance - have played at all?
No, I've never played with him until today. I played with Gus quite a bit during this tournament, but the other players, not very much.
You mentioned you're going to go home and do your homework on your opponents. What kind of homework do you do?
I'll see what kind of styles they play, try to memorize how they play and whether they've got chips if they're in position on me.
Well good luck with that, sir. Thanks again.
Chiu clearly sees fellow Full Tilt pro Gus Hansen as the player to beat at Saturday's final table, and for good reason: the Great Dane will enter the Terror Dome with a tournament-best $8.57 million in chips. With $6.05 million to his own stack, however, Chiu will begin the day second in chips and with the best seat in the house - with Hansen on his right. If he does his homework, he might just be able to translate those chips and that fortuitous table draw into 3.4 million reasons to smile.