Daniel Alaei - Playing for the Win

Daniel Alaei
Daniel Alaei playing in Day 5 of the 2007 WSOP Main Event

Daniel Alaei hasn't had a big stack the entire 2007 WSOP Main Event. But he's hung on until this point patiently waiting for an opportunity to grab some chips.


PokerListings.com caught up with Daniel at the late break on Day 5 to talk strategy and figure out how he plans to make a big stack and just exactly what he'll do with it once he grabs hold.

Where are you at right now and how do you feel about your chances?

I've got slightly over $1 million in chips right now. I don't really have play but I have enough chips to where if someone raises I can push all in and have plenty of fold equity. But really I need a good hand where I can get it in there and double up so I can have some chips to play with, I've really been looking forward to having some chips to play with because it's a great structure and a lot of players that I would like to play with.

Does it ever get to the point where you start thinking about moving up in the money or are you all about the win?

Daniel Alaei
Winning is Everything!

The money it's nice, but it's nothing compared to winning. I'm really going for the win. I'm just trying to find a hand to get it in there with, hopefully when it does happen I double up. I've only doubled up once the whole tournament and that's the only time the whole tournament that I've been all in. I have a pretty steady tournament. I had a really good Day 1, bad Day 2, bad Day 3, bad first half of Day 4 and good last part of Day 4 and then today's just been really slow.

Now with the ESPN crews catching every big hand, do you feel a bit more pressure?

To be honest when I first started, the first time I played in front of a camera it took a little getting used to, but now I've done it a few times it doesn't effect me. I don't think about it.

How about some of these crazy reactions from players when they win a hand, does that bother you? This Hevad "Rain" Khan is quite the character.

Daniel Alaei
I don't want to go home!

He's kind of a goof, but it's a really exciting time. I've played poker for a lot of money too and it's not nearly as exciting as this. I never feel this way about tournaments. Normally I don't care, I usually don't have a lot of patience for tournaments, but this one I really don't want to go home. It's the hardest I've ever fought in a tournament.

Sounds like you really get geared up for the Main Event?

I've been close before (in the Main Event) the first time I played I went out 59th. I had a lot of chips, it was an experience and it was my first big tournament. Since then I've wanted to get back in this spot. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of chips, but that can all change really fast.

There's a lot of weak players. But right now my seat is really bad.

Daniel Alaei, Scotty Nguyen
Scotty on the left, baby!

My table is the first to break and I'm looking forward to that. I have Scotty Nguyen on my left and he's got a lot of chips and he's playing a lot of pots and there's a Swedish kid to his left also with a lot of chips and playing a lot of pots and I've got some tight guys on my right so no one is really opening pots to my right so I can push over and I have to get through those guys if I want to steal the blinds so it's tough. But we're almost at the breaking time.

So is it time to push with any Ace?

I'm not waiting for Aces or Kings I'm just looking for a hand to get it in with and push over the top and if I get called I get called. Then it's up to the poker gods. Usually I don't like to do that, because I usually don't do well when the money gets all in, but we'll see what happens.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Well, what did happen was Daniel got it all in with A-2 against A-Q, but managed to find a deuce on the river to double up and stay in the top 36 headed to Day 6. If I was any of the other 35 left in this thing I'd be very careful of Daniel Alaei, because if he gets a big stack, he'll be tough to contend with for sure.



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