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Bill Edler: Renaissance Man and Lindgren Employer
Bill Edler is a many-faceted man: law student, Lindgren employer, loving husband and father; and one of the most feared faces at the No-Limit Hold'em/Six Handed final table.
Just after making the final table, Bill talked to PokerListings.com about his need to win, why he bets on his wife and why Erik Lindgren is no Einstein.
Your seem to have gained a lot of confidence since we talked to you an hour ago.
I don't know if I would put it that way. I had just lost a lot of chips, so I was probably not in my best mood. This has been an unusual tournament in that the average caliber of player at my table has been as high as I've ever seen in a tournament.
However, the flip side is that I always seem to get the right seat. I'm in the right position compared to where the chips are - or where the one weak spot is. That's worked out well for me.
I'm reasonably happy with my seat here for the final table. Except that Erik Friberg just got all those chips. He's to the left of me. It was fantastic before, when Alex Bolotin had all the chips.
I'm going to have to double through a little bit tomorrow. I have half of average, and with the blinds this big it won't be hard to find a spot to double up. I feel good. I have the huge advantage that I'm kind of sick and only care about first place.
That is a big advantage, because other people are going to be trying to move up. There's such a substantial amount of money - it's life-changing money - nine hundred-something for first place?
Over nine hundred and four thousand.
You can imagine that any reasonable person would care about each jump up. I don't, and that's a big advantage in a tournament like this. I intend to be the maniac that I normally am - hopefully in the right spots.
You've said before that it's not about the money, it's the win. Has that always been true?
It's always been true, because I've never had money. There are some people who play this who have a lot of money and they mean it for that reason. Money just means less to me than it does to most people. I'm blessed with everything else you would ever want in life.
I've got the sweetest, most wonderful wife and daughter. A lot of people say that, but they can't mean it more than I do. So I think I have perspective in poker; and I do it because I love it. When I come home, even after a loss, I don't feel too bad.
I feel like an idiot for thinking that I could possibly complain about anything; so I will be at peace tomorrow, just playing my best, trying to get the bracelet. I swear anything short of that will be a failure.
I'm sure for a lot of people it will be reasonable to take second place. If I take second I will feel I have failed. It's really first place or nothing - it's just the way I look at it.
Is that true in the rest of your life, or only with poker?
That's probably just poker. The rest of my life is marked with mediocrity.
You have a law degree, which seems like a competitive pursuit. Does that come into your play?
I wouldn't say so. It wasn't competitive for me, because shortly after I started - I went to a fine law school, U. of C. Berkley - I quickly knew I was not going to practice.
I finished and got my degree, but while everyone else was searching for grades and studying to do well on tests I was actually studying the material and enjoying it. It was fun for me, but it wasn't competitive for me the way it is for some people. I was just there to learn.
Imagine, being at school to learn.
I'm embarrassed to say that until law school I wasn't that way. I was too young for high school; and I was too young for college. When I was in college all I cared about were grades. I can't imagine how a person could be a history major at the age of 20.
I had so little perspective on the world I couldn't care less about history. Right now, I would kill to be able to go back to school again for four years. It would be fascinating; but I was such a child that, even when I was 21 and 22, the only thing I cared about was getting the best grade.
I was the classic guy, if: "Is this not going to be on the test?" then I didn't care; and if it was going to be on the test then I prepared myself well for it - only for that reason. That's really sad.
I want my daughter to have a little more of a world view. I guess she almost inevitably will, since she couldn't have less.
When did you go from enjoying school to playing poker professionally?
I was playing through law school, partly to put myself through it. I just realized there was no way I would prefer being in a law office to playing cards. I was good enough at it to make a living - I never considered myself great - but good enough; so I never even considered taking the bar.
What about the shift from cash games to your current all-or-nothing tournament attitude?
Lately I've just been playing tournaments. When you talk about the distinction between the two, I would tell anyone who's thinking about playing professionally that if they're interested in money without doubt what they should do is play in cash games.
You can make more money, it's more sure - there's so much less variance. I play tournaments because I enjoy them; and I like the competition. Tomorrow there's no place I'd rather be than at the final table.
Was there a first tournament that gave you that taste?
What happened was that some of my friends had some success in tournaments. A good friend of mine - Erick Lindgren, for example, one of the top tournament players - I've known him since he was a pup.
I always knew that if an idiot like that could do so well then you didn't have to be Einstein to be successful [laughs] - and since I'm not it gave me some hope.
Could you give us a little of the history between you and Erick?
When I left law school, I was playing as a prop at a casino in Northern California, called Casino San Pablo; and their poker room manager quit. They hired me to be poker room manager, from prop. It's an unusual step, but I think the law school connection helped.
I hired Erick as a prop when he was just 21, barely old enough. I recall being really concerned about him being able to play well enough to feed himself. He was just not that impressive. I pointed him to a player by the name of Todd Keikoan who is a fine, fine player.
He's not that well-known. He doesn't play often; but when he plays he wins. He's a fantastic player - and I remember asking Todd to kind of put Erick under his wing; and I remember asking Erick to listen to Todd.
I think that may have helped a little bit; but it turns out that Erick is just a brilliant poker player. He will find a way to win in any environment you put him in. He's a terrific competitor and one of the most logical minds you'll ever meet, period.
I just misread him originally. [Laughs.] I was worried about him trying to beat a $3/$6 Hold'em game - that's pretty hilarious.
You're known for your heads-up play. Do you think of yourself as a heads-up specialist?
The shorter it is, the more I like it. Probably making the final table here at this six-handed event is not a coincidence. I find it more interesting. There's more poker played - you don't just sit around and wait for the deck to hit you.
You get to make more interesting decisions. I love heads-up play; but I feel comfortable in this shorter stuff. I also think a lot of poker players aren't comfortable when it gets below six-handed; and if I'm still in the tournament with chips it's to my advantage.
You can see the guys who are playing too tight for the situation, and exploit that. You can see other guys who kind of panic and just think it has to be a shove-fest - and you can exploit that, too. I have that experience.
There have been some... conflicting rumors....
Yeah, I'm gay.
No - even more scandalous - that you might be Canadian.
[Laughs.] I get a kick out of that. That's because I hang out with Gavin Smith. I'm not Canadian, no; however, because I hang out with Gavin a lot of people thought I was.
When I played in the WPT event they held in Canada, in Niagra Falls, there was a press release saying that Canada's famous poker players were going to be there - and listed Daniel Negreanu, Gavin and me. I got a kick out of it because I'm less famous than I am Canadian.
I'm neither, so it was fun to be put in their company, but I cannot claim that nationality.
Speaking of Gavin, how did the Wii prop betting for the Main Event seat go?
My wife saved my $#%. I entered it just for the hell of it; and I had no chance. I'd only done it once before and that became apparent. Michael Mizrachi was giving me odds on chances of making a strike; and it was Wii bowling, which is kind of realistic.
He would give me five-to-one and I'd lose - then as he thought I was getting the trick a little bit he'd give me less; but I lost every bet I made with him, literally. He gave me even money on an easy spare - I was stealing from him - and I missed it. I was a clown.
It was really bad. After eight frames, I was clearly not going to advance to the finals, so I said "Do you mind if my wife steps in for me?" and of course no one did. So she stepped in and got a really lucky spare in the ninth.
Then, when it was her turn in the tenth, Mizrachi of course was up all this money on me. The Ginder said: "Hey, you want to bet on your wife?"
I said, "Yeah, sure - what will you give me on a strike?" and he says four-to-one - which of course was exceedingly insulting, since he'd offered me five-to-one. I said, "Wait a minute, you offered me five-to-one," and he said, "Well, she's better than you."
My wife had played this game one time in her life, which is not much of course to get the hang of it. I took the four-to-one and she stepped up and buried it. So now she's got two more balls. He says: "Alright, alright - you want to go again? I'll give you three-to-one," and I said sure.
She buried it again; and now she's got one more ball. He says "I'll give you even money," and I looked at him like he's crazy - so he gave me two-to-one on the last one; and she made it again. She made a turkey - and of the four of us in our heat, in the whole ten frames no one else had a turkey.
That was filmed for ESPN, for the "Nuts" segment. I hope that they show her and not me, that's for sure.
As you said, family is clearly important.
Well, it helps when your family helps pay the bills like that.
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There's nothing like getting your wife to shark the Grinder, Bill. Keep that family spirit alive during the final table tomorrow. You know PokerListings.com will be watching every step of the way.