Interview with Past Champ Roy Winston

Roy Winston
Roy Winston on Day 1 of the 2008 Borgata Poker Classic

The last time spoke with Roy "The Oracle" Winston he had just won more than $1.5 million. It was here at Borgata, back in September of 2007, and Winston had outlasted a final table stacked with the likes of Haralabos Voulgaris, Eugene Todd and Mike Matusow. It's not even a year later and already The Oracle has booked more than $330,000 in tournament wins.

Roy's back at the Borgata today for the beginning of another East Coast World Poker Tour event and so far things have gone his way. On the last break of Day 1 Winston sat down with to tell us about where he's been and the developments he's seen his game undergo.

We last spoke not far from here when you took down the last WPT event here in Atlantic City. Since then we haven't had a chance to talk but you've been busy on the circuit. Give us the short version of what you've been up to for the last four months or so.

It's interesting actually. After having a good World Series in 2007 and then the win here I really decided to dedicate a bit more time to poker. After the win I played the events in Niagara and then Foxwoods and I was making money in the cash games but I didn't cash in any of the tournaments.

Roy Winston
The Oracle at work.

I think I had begun to play a bit too aggressively and it was funny because I was playing at the same table as Barry Greenstein a few times and I spoke to him and he helped to retune me a bit. I think I had got out of my game a bit after the win, thinking it was just going to go really easy and it didn't.

Then at the Five Diamond events I was very focused and played almost no cash, just tournaments, and I made two final tables, won one and ended up cashing [in] four out of the six events I played overall. With the exception of the main event when I went out early after losing most of my chips in a bad spot I felt I probably should have got away from I thought I played well throughout the series. I had a lot of fun.

When you had your win here last year you said that in the past you had been predominantly a cash game player and that you had made the switch to tournaments not long before.

That's true. My first tournament will be two years ago next month, at the L.A. Poker Classic, and since then I've been playing more and more. I just got back from the Aussie Millions and although I took a pretty horrendous beat to go out of the main event I played well. I took fourth in the Heads-Up and fourth in the Pot-Limit Mixed Games. I feel like I performed well and I had a great time. It's a fabulous place.

Roy Winston
The Oracle knows.

Tell us a bit not only about the transition between cash and tournaments but also the developments you've seen your game go through.

I really feel like I've been able to refine parts of my game for tournaments. In the $2,500 event here that I just played I ended up going out two off the bubble but I got my money in good. Every time I sit down in a tournament I feel like I'm going to go deep, unless I get unlucky, mainly because I've been able to eliminate the dumb mistakes in my game. It used to be I played pretty well but it was like the Matusow blow-ups. You feel like you're having an out-of-body experience and I'd do a few things and after I'd wonder why I did that.

I've tightened up a bit, especially the way I play marginal hands that can get you into trouble. I probably lay down some winning hands and lose some value on my good hands but my strategy is to survive until the final table and get to heads-up and give myself a chance to win.

The Champion

What are the biggest factors in your improvement? Are you learning from other players or is it more of a self-exploration process?

It's all of those things. I've read almost everything out there and I talk a lot with players I respect. I try to pull in pieces of knowledge from wherever I can but a lot of it is just thinking about the way I played certain hands and being critical of myself. If you're really critical and honest about your own game it's the only real way to improve.

It's like when you constantly hear people complaining about going broke with pocket aces but the money really went in on the river when they were beat. There are a lot of cooler situations that you're going to get stuck in but that's just the game of poker. Identifying the holes in your game and the misplays and eliminating them is what you have to be able to do. For me I have been running really well; I'm not going to lie - it's not all brilliant play.

It's been a pretty crazy year and a half.

Well, I'd like to get another year and a half out of it before it's over.

We'll be there to see it happen. Good luck Roy.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In addition to the results mentioned in this interview Roy also went deep in the 2007 WSOP Main Event, taking down $330,000. No matter how well he's been running since then luck alone cannot account for his success. will be following The Oracle here at the Borgata as well as at every other major tournament worldwide and we invite you to come along for the ride.

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