Marathon Man: Erik Seidel Interview

Erik Seidel after his victory at the Foxwoods Poker Classic, WPT Season 6

On Thursday morning in Foxwoods, Full Tilt Poker's Erik Seidel won his first-ever World Poker Tour title when he defeated Robert Richardson heads-up to win the Foxwoods Poker Classic.

Seidel came into the final day of the "Classic" with the chip lead and, perhaps more importantly, a veteran's savvy for playing the deep-stacked structure the final table offered. After Ted Forrest's surprising early elimination it seemed only a matter of time before the Gentle Giant ground out a victory and after a mere 12 hours of play he'd done so, winning $967,390 for the victory as well as this exclusive interview.

Erik, you've just won your first WPT title. How are you feeling right now?

I'm feeling great. It's so different. The difference between winning and finishing in any other place is really a big deal, so I'm really happy that things worked out and I was able to win.

Where does this title rank among the wins in your poker career?

I don't know, but it's a big one. I mean, especially because I've really felt the monkey on my back for a long time. I've cashed a lot on the World Poker Tour and I've only been to one final table, so I really feel like a slacker, you know - everyone else is making final tables, winning them - a lot of my friends have won them.

This year Ivey won one and then Lee Markholt won one, so...

Erik Seidel
This guy thinks he can test me!

It's kind of been a year for the "Nearly Men."

Yeah. Ivey had waited a long time for his, too.

Can you talk a bit about how you thought the final table went down?

It was crazy! [Laughs] It was a really, really interesting final table to play. I've never played any like that. First it was Frank [Cieri] being hyper-aggressive and really putting people to the test, and then toward the end Andrew [Barta] and Robert were both doing the same thing. It was really hyper-aggressive.

Were you surprised at all to see Ted Forrest eliminated in sixth place?

Yeah. I mean, I don't think it's that big a deal - there are many times when we'll have a chip lead and we'll go out next, so it does happen a lot, and I like Ted a lot personally so I felt badly for him, but it was good to eliminate such a great player.

Ted Forrest
Not a big deal!

We saw you go deep in the Aussie Millions earlier this year in a tournament that was quite similar to this one in terms of the final tables both being so deep-stacked. Can you talk about your impressions of the structure of this event?

The structure here is always great. This is the first time I've played for six straight days. They give you a lot of play the entire way through, you get to make a lot of decisions and the play was never forced. And I think that it's good for the tournament that they structure it so well because they end up with very, very tough final tables. I've always loved the structure here and I've always done well here, but this is obviously the farthest I've gotten.

You seemed to be quite comfortable with the structure, but as the hours wore on some of the other players at the table didn't really seem to know what to do with it. Andrew Barta, for one, took kind of an idiosyncratic approach to three-handed play.

Yeah, he did, and I don't know, maybe he was feeling like he could just move on and win a lot of little pots, and then even if he gets into a big pot at some point then he might win it. I don't know. I mean, it's dangerous to play against a guy like that.

Erik Seidel
No fan of ace-queen!

Were you surprised to see him turn up a hand as strong as ace-queen when you finally did call him down?

Yeah, I was really disappointed. [Laughs] I really was. Because I had to call the bet; there was no way I could throw it away at that point, because he had moved in so many times. When he turned over ace-queen I was not happy.

What were your impressions of Robert Richardson's play?

Robert played very tough and I thought he played the structure well, particularly at the beginning of the table. I think he was the least experienced player at the table, and given that I think he showed a lot of savvy. I was very surprised - I mean, truthfully, coming in I thought Frank and Robert were going to be at a huge disadvantage. Not only were they low in chips, but they weren't really experienced tournament players. And it turned out that they had a lot more play than I was expecting.

They were definitely surprising. Finally, let's talk about the final hand. I noticed you paused for just a second before calling Richardson's all-in. What was going through your mind?

Erik Seidel
And THIS guy thinks he can take my daughter out!

I was pretty much going to call, but I just wanted to make sure and also look for a read, just in case he had a monster, then maybe I would recognize that later. But yeah, I was committed to calling.

It turned out pretty well for you. Thanks very much and congratulations.


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In the poker world, it's almost a cliché to talk about how underrated Erik Seidel is as a poker player. Unfortunately, it's not even close to the same situation out in the world beyond tournament poker, where brash personalities and media manipulators in fire-retardant suits reign supreme while results and talent get slept on, so let us remind you of Seidel's accomplishments one more time: eight WSOP bracelets, a WPT title and over $9 million in total tournament earnings. Oh yeah, and possibly the greatest Full Tilt commercial of them all. So give the man his due already - or at the very least, pay the man his money.

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