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Joe Sebok - The Cub Cometh
Few will argue that Joe Sebok, co-host of "The Poker Road" (formerly "The Circuit") poker radio show is not one of the great personalities in the game today.
But somewhere along the road to success as a poker personality, Sebok has also managed to mint himself a reputation as one of the best players in the game without a major tournament win. He's been oh so close so many times, but has yet to win that elusive title.
What's easy to forget, however, is that despite growing up the stepson of one of the game's greats, Joe has only been playing a few short years. With close to $1.5 million in tournament earnings so far he's certainly on the right track and PokerListings.com decided Day 1 of the 2008 WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic would be the perfect time to sit and chat with Seebz about the road he's on.
So how goes the battle so far in Foxwoods, Joe?
I've had a pretty tough day. It's funny because like the last several tournaments before this, probably like the last five, I just haven't had any hands. I haven't been able to do anything. I just kind of sat there never really had anything and eventually got, not blinded out, but out. Today was awesome, I came in; I picked up two aces immediately and I lost that hand. But then I picked up two aces again and I lost that hand. So at least I got big hands, but they were not working out for me. I was down a little bit to like $20,000 or so and I just kind of hung out until I doubled up with aces right before the end and I ended with like $75,000.
You had a pretty big year in 2007, but 2008 has started a little slow. Are you getting frustrated with the way things are going?
I don't even think 2007 was that big a year for me.
You did have the seventh at Bay 101 and the seventh at Legends.
Yeah, I had a ton of, you know, almosts. I also final-tabled like three World Series events, but it was a bunch of almosts that didn't really happen. This year has been very frustrating to be honest with you. It's just been the last several events. Typically I don't go that long without cashing. I have a decent record although not a winning-these-events record. So it has been frustrating. That coupled with trying to run Poker Road on the side - it's been a lot. It's all good stuff; I'm just trying to do everything, I guess.
Does it get even more frustrating when you hear people calling you Seventhbok and even Matt Savage took a shot at you at Bay 101 saying they were going to give the Joe Sebok award to the player who leads early on but doesn't make the final table. Does that get under your skin at all?
You know, for me, it doesn't. I'm lucky that our family has always been sarcastic and it's all humor. Anybody that sees Bear (Joe's stepfather Barry Greenstein) and I together sees that it's always like that. You have to just take it and that's the bottom line. I'm sure there are days when I won't want to hear it, but by and large, you know, we do a radio show that's based on screwing with each other. So if you can't take it you should not dish it and I dish it a lot so I have to be able to take it.
You work on "The Poker Road" with and are friends with some great players, not to mention being the stepson of one of the greatest, Barry Greenstein. We see you discussing hands with Barry at breaks all the time and with other players. How much has their advice helped shape your game?
I'm lucky you know. Barry comes up to me at break times. I have Phil Ivey come and talk to me at the breaks. I have been in the most amazing situation in terms of coming up in the game with all these guys who have helped me out and it's been amazing. It was much bigger the first couple of years and now I think I sort of know what I'm doing. We discuss things now and the improvements are kind of smaller whereas before there were like these massive improvement over even the day before. There's no question I probably never would have gotten to the point where I'm at now without having access to those guys. So I don't think it's overstating it at all to say it has been amazing to have them all.
I suppose part of getting good at poker is talking about poker?
I think that's most of getting good at poker. Just having access to people; chatting about it. I get e-mails all the time from people asking what should I do to get better and I always say you should find people that are better than you and talk to them. It can happen so organically too, I'll be playing Chinese Poker with someone and Barry will come in and start pointing things out and it's like Oh! You just can't overstate it. It is the most amazing thing. It's not just poker either; if you can have access to people and discuss something, it's just going to improve things across the board, no matter what you are doing.
Speaking of talking about poker, you guys do a lot of that on your new site PokerRoad.com. For those who don't know, why don't you tell us what "The Poker Road" is all about?
We feel like the news side of poker has been done by a lot of sites and everyone does it very, very well. We just kind of wanted to bring people the MTV, cribs side of poker. We have all these radio shows and different personalities taking people inside the life of traveling to all these tournaments and hanging out and all that. We focus more on that and the comedy and humor. The best way I can describe it is we are the MTV of poker.
You are running the show so it's business a lot of the time, but you still have a good time doing it, don't you?
It's so much fun. I get to work with Ali (Nejad) and Gavin (Smith) and all my buddies Scott Huff and Joe Stapleton that I've always worked with in poker, but it is a ton of work, there's no question. To travel to all these tournaments, play and try to run it, it's tough, but it is rewarding. It is life you know and you have to take on as much as you can because there is so much out there to do. I think it's a blessing to be able to do as much as I have.
OK Joe, so you play, you're in the poker media with "Poker Road"; what's your ultimate goal here? Do you want to become the best poker player in the world and win a boatload of WPT and WSOP titles or just keep the ball rolling and try to stay involved in the game as long as you can?
Honestly, I would love to win WPTs and I would love to win bracelets and obviously make enough money to support myself and the people around me. But I don't have any illusions about becoming the best poker player in the world. I've really only been playing a couple of years; I make a million and one mistakes but as long as I'm having fun and I'm able to take on new challenges... for me poker is not just poker on the table. It's businesses and radio shows. It's an open forum. I've been able to get involved in so many aspects of the game I can't thank poker enough. I've been really lucky so I just want to keep things going - and maybe win a few WPTs and WSOPs along the way.
Well we're definitely rooting for you Joe; take it easy, and thanks.
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As lucky as Sebok says he's been to be a part of poker, the game is just as lucky to have him. He's a solid guy with a future as bright as his vibrant personality and PL.com is betting that major tournament win is right around the bend on Joe's poker road.