Six Minutes with Brett Faustman, WPO Champ

Faustman is Champ!
Brett Faustman wins 2008 World Poker Open

Few final tables in recent memory can compete with the star-studded roster we saw at this year's World Poker Open. Freddy Deeb, Hoyt Corkins and John Spadavecchia brought a staggering amount of experience to the table but in the end it was the amateur and Michigan native Brett Faustman who took down the title and the first-place cash prize.

Moments after his victory Faustman was kind enough to sit down with and give us his side of the story.

Let's start with the obligatory question: How are you feeling right now after taking down such a big tournament?

Well, I got all my money in with the worst hand at that final table one time against Hoyt and I was very fortunate not to have been eliminated. I know poker players tend to lie a lot but I got my money in with the worst of it three times in this tournament. So I really feel like even if you play tight and move up you're still going to need luck on your side at some point along the way.

Freddy Deeb are all world-class players so were you intimidated coming into today?

Not at all. I've analyzed the game so much, just like I've analyzed the sport of wrestling, and it's no different. If you want to get better you have to identify what mistakes you've been making in the past and fix them. I had a game plan coming in to project the image of an amateur who didn't know what he was doing so I was leading out a lot with big hands and they were re-raising me a lot.

That was my strategy, to make them think this was my first time in this atmosphere. And the bottom line is that I used to deal this game. One of my favorite sayings is that this isn't my first time at the rodeo. I've been here before, maybe not at this level, but the experience certainly pays off.

Brett Faustman
Shark in fish's clothing.

Did you find you were successful in manipulating your opponents with that strategy?

Definitely. Hoyt, especially, is so aggressive that when I got the big hands, I had pocket aces and queens, I flopped a set, I flopped trips, just checking it to him he's going to try to take the pot away. And when you lead out he's going to try to take it away from a less experienced player. So I tried to understand what he was thinking in each situation and it worked out.

You and Hoyt were pretty even in chips when the heads-up match started so it could have gone either way. When Men Nguyen was eliminated in third how did you feel about having to play heads-up against Hoyt rather than some of the alternatives?

Hoyt Corkins
Mr. All-In.

Coming into the final table Hoyt was the second-shortest stack and I really wanted him gone early because of the pressure he puts on people. Not to take anything away from Freddy or Men but Hoyt is just such an aggressive player. I was able to pick up some hands which certainly helped a lot.

I wanted him gone first but when I got heads-up I was thinking well, it's just one guy to deal with now and not three so I guess I can handle it.

This was your first major live tournament so give us an idea of your background in the game and what role poker plays in your life.

I'm 28 now and I learned the game all the way back in the sixth grade on a school wrestling trip when some of my friends taught me. At that point I had to write down what hand beat what so that's where I started. By the time Rounders came out I was losing money left and right. In college I took a lot of long road trips so we played a lot and then I started dealing. It all adds up and I'm always trying to get better and analyze my strengths and weaknesses. It's just sort of come together over the years.

You won a satellite to get your seat in this tournament. What sequence of events led up to you giving it a shot?

Well, I don't like patting myself on the back too much but I really feel like I've been making the right decisions for the last few months in every card game I've been in. I decided to come down here based on the fact that there were two big tournaments going on side by side, the World Series Circuit and this one. I was hitting the cash games hard and I was up like $12k so I figured I had a grand to throw at a satellite. I'm glad I did.

Brett Faustman
Glad I did: the understatement of the century.

I was debating whether or not to come down but I was reading a lot online and Russ "Dutch" Boyd said there was going to be a lot of action so I figured it was a good bet. I really felt like I had won just by getting on the plane because if you're living scared and not doing shit then why even go on.

I heard you say you're not going to quit your job or anything like that so what changes will this win [effect in] your life?

I'll pay off my mortgage, maybe a couple credit cards. Bottom line is that life will just get easier. I have a brand-new respect for the professionals who make their living this way after this tournament though. It's such a grind and it's so grueling and there's so much fortune that has to be on your side that I don't think I could do it. I'd be happy to play a tournament here and there but I have a lot of respect for those pros that do it as a career.

Thanks Brett and good luck in the future.

* * * * * * * * * *

If the way he played was any indication, Brett Faustman wasn't lying when he said he didn't feel intimidated. He played back at the pros and, whether it was due to good cards or a keen sense of timing, managed to outlast them all. wishes him good luck in whatever future endeavors he chooses to pursue and we hope to see him on at least a few stops of the World Poker Tour.

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