Gary Styczynski: Vacation to Victory in Five Short Years

Gary Styczynski wins Event 6, $1,500 Limit Hold'em

Nine players went behind the mystery curtain to show down at the final table for the 2007 WSOP $1,500 Limit Hold'em event - and after seven top-secret hours Gary Styczynski emerged victorious. sat down with Gary after the quarantine lifted on the live webcast event to talk about his win and his inspiring days in Aruba with Gavin Smith.

Could you take us through the end of the day's play from your point of view?

It has been like a roller-coaster ride. I went from a small stack, and when I did make it to the final 15 my brother and I had dinner, and he asked, "What's your strategy?"

The Champ!
Gary Got 'Gressive

I said, "Well, I'm either going to be the chip leader before I leave, or we're going to go home real quick," and I just got really aggressive. I got to the point where - and I started showing my cards - people were folding like crazy.

I actually got someone to call me with a jack-high - when I had a pair, of course - so people didn't know what to expect from me. I kind of took advantage at the final table. I did the same sort of thing. I tightened up at times, and tried to vary the play a little bit.

[Motioning to wall of black curtains] What about all this? We couldn't see anything - how was it playing inside the black shroud?

Gavin Smith
Gary's Pal Gavin

I don't know how it is to play in the dome. I know Gavin Smith well, so I'll have to ask him how he liked it. I know he didn't like it, because he didn't win.

You probably like this better.

Yeah, I could've been in the middle of the parking lot, and I would've enjoyed it.

What about a little bit of poker history? You've been playing poker as a professional for about two years, right?

Yeah, I play against the best competition. I have what I feel is balance in my life - I know that the life of a poker player has a lot of ups and downs. I work as a consultant also, so I play in a lot of the bigger tournaments. I think I reached two final tables of World Poker Tour events last year.

So I have done well, particularly with No-Limit Hold'em. This is the first time I've done well with Limit Hold'em.

I would say you've done really well.

Yeah, I guess so. That's a good thing, so maybe I'll end up playing some more Limit Hold'em after I get home.

You were talking about Gavin Smith. Are there any other pros that you play with?

Erick Lindgren
Lounged With Lindgren

It's funny; I met Gavin Smith, I don't know, five or six years ago in Aruba and he was just a regular guy. My brother and I went together, and he [Gavin] introduced us - he knew a lot of the pro players - but a lot of the guys I met weren't really poker-famous yet, like Erick Lindgren and Mike Matusow. Poker really wasn't peaking yet, so I was just hanging out with a bunch of guys, to be quite honest.

It was cool, they were talking poker - and I've always played poker my whole life - but they had a different philosophy on things. It was really interesting, and it got me into it. So they're really the ones who sort of spurred me to move on, try some bigger games, learn more about it and read some more books.

David Sklansky
Schooled Sklansky

I sat next to David Sklansky and - no offense - I put a beating on him; and I laughed because we got back to the room and my brother said, "You really put a beating on Dave Sklansky," and I said, "Look at the book I brought with me." It was David Sklansky's Theory of Poker.

It's a good book.

It's a great book, so I had a laugh. I guess every sucker can get lucky once in a while against the best. It's been an interesting five or six years.

* * * * * * * * * *

There you have it - from relaxing in Aruba to putting a beating on David Sklansky - Gary Styczynski seems to have things pretty well in hand. Whatever hands he's holding in the future, you know will be there to report back.

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