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A New Don: Don Baruch (and His Shirt) Take the Shootout
It took just three victories to earn Don Baruch the No-Limit Hold'em Shootout bracelet. Once in a field of 900, once in a field of 90, then one last win at a nine-handed table featuring Daniel Negreanu and Erick Lindgren.
Daniel made it to the final three, but couldn't best Baruch, who took home $264,107 and a Corum watch to go with his WSOP bracelet. Was it his lucky dirty laundry? Or was it his dinner with Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein that propelled Don to victory?
PokerListings.com got personal with Baruch after his victory to uncover the secrets of his success.
With the webcast final table shroud we don't see a lot - could you walk us through a little bit of what happened toward the end?
Sure - I played pretty tight early on, kept the flow of the game and didn't get knocked out. Toward the end we were three-handed; and we had about the same amount of chips. I really just got into the right pots at the right time, and got away from the right hands.
One of the biggest hands was when I had a T♠ 3♠ and Daniel Negreanu had T-Q - which I found out later - and on the flop there were two spades and a ten.
He had me out-kicked, but I had the spade draw. I bet, he made a pretty big re-raise, I moved all-in. He thought about it for at least five minutes. He folded, which was fine with me - who knows what could happen?
It was a pleasure playing with those guys. Every one of them was an excellent player, and it was a great experience.
What is your poker experience like?
I play a lot back home. I'm from Tampa, Florida and I play at the Hard Rock down there whenever my wife and kids let me out. We play a lot of sit-and-goes there, so I have a lot of experience in these kinds of tournaments - I play in the Shootout style twice a week.
This is my third World Series of Poker, but I only play one or two events every time I come out here. This is the first time I've cashed; and I think I'll try to play a few more this year.
Do you think the wife and kids will let you play a bit more now that you have a little credibility?
I do think I'll have a better bankroll and a little more credibility. I think they believe me now. It's the first time my wife has ever had a chance to watch me play a whole table, and I think it gave her a good appreciation.
You know - it's hard work and I work hard on my game. It was a fun experience and I look forward to the next one.
So I hear you're on vacation now - will this change the vacation at all?
No, it definitely won't. I mean, it will make it a little more enjoyable and relaxing, because I'm not going to gamble any more this vacation. I'll just hang out with the family. I may come back next week after I take them home, though, and come play a couple more tournaments.
I heard something - I don't want to make any accusations - about wearing the same shirt?
Yeah, I'm actually wearing every same piece of clothing that I wore yesterday. Normally I'm not superstitious, but my family talked me into it. It's a shirt that my mother-in-law and my wife bought me a couple of days ago.
Yesterday I had a good run - I won two tables - and that's tough to do. They said, "Don't change anything," so I put everything back on again this morning and came and did it again.
So if you do come back for some more events, will we be seeing these clothes?
Probably; but they'll be clean at least by then.
Your wife was saying I should ask about your major poker influences. Who would that be?
I had a good opportunity, when I was in Tampa, to spend some time with Phil Ivey and Barry Greenstein. They came in to play in a golf tournament, and they played at my country club.
I ran into them and, being a big fan as well as sort of a stalker, I offered to give them a ride back to the airport. I ended up having dinner with them and their wife and girlfriend.
I spent maybe three or four hours with them - they were heading off to a tournament. It was cool. They were really good guys, easy to talk to. They made me feel welcome. I didn't ask them about too much poker stuff, but they made me realize that I can play some cards, too.
Did that change your perspective on poker? Or were you already headed that way?
No, I'm pretty addicted - it's more than a hobby. I work hard at the game, I've read most of the books, I watch most of the shows. I try to talk to my friends and improve my game whenever I can.
But it was neat to spend time with those guys because they were sort of bigger than life; but when you go and have a drink with them and dinner with them with their wives and girlfriends they're not really different from the rest of us. They're just good poker players and good guys.
You said this is more than a hobby; but what's your day job?
I own a business - it's an investment management company. We invest in things and manage things. My other Nephew, Jason, and I run the business together, so it's a full-time job.
Is it less of a gamble than this?
It took you a while to answer.
If you'd asked me yesterday, I would've said it's definitely less of a gamble. Now I feel a little better about my poker success.
I heard you were planning to donate some money to charity.
I'd heard about someone - I believe it's Phil Gordon - who asks that all the players who win money at the World Series donate 1% of their winnings to help find a cure for cancer. It certainly seemed like a good group to support.
It's good karma and it's the right thing to do; and I'd made a mental note to myself that if I won any money I was going to do it. So I just signed up to "Put a Bad Beat on Cancer."
I also overheard something about buying a bottle.
Yep - I'm headed to the liquor store right now to buy a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, which is my favorite scotch. It's pretty expensive and I think I've earned it today; so I'll go back to my hotel and have a couple of cocktails.
Any other plans for the money?
No, I think that everyone's got bills to pay. There's certainly good uses for it. I think most importantly for me, it gives me a little leeway in my poker bankroll. I can do more things I've always wanted to do, in terms of getting into a few more tournaments and traveling a little more.
Were there any tournaments you had in mind?
I may have to come back for the Main Event now. I'll see how my family feels about it, but I wasn't planning to come.
I've never played a $10,000 event - normally it's a lower buy-in. The most I've ever done is $2,500; but I think I've earned my chance to come and get another shot. We'll see how I feel next week.
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You know PokerListings.com will be there watching if you rejoin the action, Don. We'll see you right here, whether you're in the Main Event or at home reading the planet's best poker coverage.