Winner Interview: Gavin Griffin

Gavin Griffin
Gavin Griffin wins the 2008 WPT Borgata Poker Classic

Gavin Griffin has won the 2008 WPT Borgata Poker Classic and in doing so has secured himself a place in poker history. The first player to ever win at the World Series, the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour, Griffin was forced to battle through a tough final table on his way to this new record.

When the winner photos had been taken, the champagne savored and the official Mike Sexton send-off successfully executed, PL.com took a few minutes to speak to Gavin about this momentous occasion.

Gavin, you're the first player to book a win on the EPT, WPT and World Series. What does this record mean to you?

It means a lot, you know? The fields are so tough these days. There are so many young online players who play really well and all the people who have been playing live for years. The fields are tough. Actually, after the EPT event in the Bahamas this year I told my girlfriend that I wanted to play more WPT events because I really wanted to be the first one to win all three. Then the second event I played after that I won.

David Tran
The Big Dragon.

Let's talk about the heads-up match with David Tran. Were you unhappy to face him as opposed to some of the other options?

Well, he was definitely going to be tough to play against. He started with $5 million and just kept accumulating chips. He's not scared to play back against me. If he felt he had the best hand he wasn't scared to put his money in.

You had him in some tough spots but he was able to stay alive. What was your approach to the match and what were you thinking along the way?

I was trying to play as many small pots as possible. Obviously there are going to be situations where a lot of chips are going to go in the middle and there's nothing you can do about it but when I play heads-up I really do like to play small pots, especially when I get the chip lead. I didn't want him to get back into it. I wanted to keep chipping away at him.

And I think overall I was able to implement that pretty well. I feel like I was winning most of the small pots and he just kept winning those big confrontations where all the money went in. Maybe check-raising all-in with 6-4 on that J-8-7 flop wasn't the best move but he bet a really nice amount for me to check-raise. He bet the perfect amount. He played that hand really well.

You've said before that you feel very comfortable playing heads-up. We were hoping you could elaborate on the strong points in your heads-up game and why you feel so comfortable at that stage in a tournament.

I think my two best skills as a player are my fearlessness and my ability to read people and both those things are very key to being successful heads-up. You can't be afraid to put chips in when you either think you have the best hand or when you think they don't have anything. And you have to decide if they have a hand or not. So I think the two things that I do the best fit really well with heads-up play.

You've had a lot of experience at final tables and going deep in these big events. How much does that experience and level of comfort help you along the way?

It definitely helps a lot. I didn't really feel like anyone at this final table was too uncomfortable playing under the lights and cameras but having been there before has got to help. Not only that, I've also won big tournaments before so I don't have that monkey on my back like I've been there before but I couldn't win. I'm not thinking that way; I'm more thinking that I've won before and I can do it again.

When we spoke a few days ago you said you had already decided to play the WPT Championship rather than the EPT Grand Final. Now that you've got your seat I guess it's for sure.

Yeah, after a long stretch of no cashes on the WPT this feels really good. Hopefully it'll propel me forward to winning more.

Thanks Gavin and good luck.

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Although Griffin won't be defending his title at the EPT Grand Final, he's guaranteed to be at the $25,000 WPT Championship, having received a seat as part of his prize package here at Borgata. PL.com will be on his trail from now until then to see if he can add any more titles to his already impressive record.

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