Interview with Lee Watkinson on Day 2 of the WPT Borgata Poker Classic

Lee Watkinson
Lee Watkinson, 2008 Borgata Poker Classic - Day 2.

Lee Watkinson has quietly become a contender on the poker circuit. Watkinson has finished second twice at the WPT and in 2006 he had his biggest score ever when he won his first bracelet at the WSOP $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha event for $655,746.

Watkinson received the most media exposure of his poker-playing career when he made it to the final table of the 2007 Jerry Yang's relentless assault on his opponents.

Since then Watkinson has been back at the poker tables and finding even more success. He recently took down a $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Event at the Aussie Millions and made the final table of another Aussie Millions preliminary event.

On Day 2 of the Max Pescatori was also there. Overall it was just a tough table and I was lucky to get some good cards. [laughs] A lot of it was to do with the cards.

Did you go in with a sizable chip lead?

No; I was actually one of the middle stacks. I was actually in the middle for most of the tournament until it got four-handed and I finally got the lead. When it got heads-up durrr [Tom Dwan] and I were about even.

How did the heads-up go?

It went three hands. I thought it was going to go for hours but we hooked up on a big hand where he hit trips on the flop and I had the wrap. I hit a runner-runner flush and that was it.

Any more success in Australia?

I actually made eighth in the No-Limit tournament that had 250 or so players. That was pretty much it. I had a bad main event.

But you must have enjoyed the experience overall?

Oh yeah. Anytime you win a tournament on a trip you're happy - it doesn't matter what tournament. I also got to do a little kiteboarding. It's great to be able to get a little recreation in.

Back to the action today - it seemed like you had a tough table with Michael Gracz and John Pham are the two that spring to my mind. Nobody was giving their money away and there were no bad players at the table. After John lost a few big pots he started to gamble a bit but it was extremely difficult before that.

You played with Gavin Griffin near the end of the day and he had an enormous stack totaling more than $500,000. Did you ever get involved in any hands with him?

No. I only played with him for 45 minutes and he was just catching some really good hands. I actually only played a couple hands against Men "The Master" at that table and he gave up on both of them.

Philip Hilm, Lee Watkinson, Bob Slezak
Lee Watkinson along with Philip Hilm and Bob Slezak at the 2007 WSOP main event.

You placed eighth in the Main Event of the 2007 WSOP. Now that you've had six months or so to reflect do you have any thoughts about how it all went down?

Yeah I'm happy with it. I feel like I played as well as I could at the time. There are only two hands that I question - one of them being the last hand I played. The more I think about them I'm not even convinced they were the worst plays either. I think they were marginal hands.

I believe you stated that you were basically playing for first anyways...

That's right. Full Tilt Poker was offering me an extra $10 million plus everlasting glory [chuckles]. I didn't want to grind into third place and have no chance to win.

Finally, do you have any specific strategy heading into Day 3 of the WPT Borgata Poker Classic?

No, not at this point. My strategy is to get some sleep and go to bed early because us West Coast guys have a disadvantage when it comes to getting up in the morning. Getting up at 9 Eastern time is a whole lot earlier on the West coast. It's one of the reasons I don't come out here very often.

Thanks very much Lee.

It was my pleasure.

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The soft-spoken Watkinson is not the kind of person you would associate with loud-mouthed poker players like Phil Hellmuth or Mike Matusow but like those players Watkinson has made a lot of money playing poker. Do a little research and you'll see that he has close to $4 million earned in tournaments and with considerable success at both the WSOP and WPT he is not a player who should be taken lightly.

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