Greg Raymer talks England, Gus Hansen

Greg Raymer in the 2005 WSOP.

Greg Raymer was a monster on Day 2a at the Main Event of the WSOPE in London.

The Fossilman, who is best known for winning the Las Vegas Main Event in 2004, made some good calls, won some races and quickly stacked himself up to past $100,000 chips in the early stages of the day.

In the later portion of the day Raymer was moved to the TV table and sat alongside Gus Hansen, Jennifer Harman and Vickey Coren. PokerListings caught up with the Fossilman just as they broke for dinner.

How are you doing out there today, Greg?

It's going good. Things were going great until I was moved up here. This is obviously a very tough table. I came up here with around $100,000, which was a few thousand more than Gus Hansen. In one of the early hands Jennifer raised to $3,000 and I raised to $10,000 and then Gus raised to $31,000 and I passed. He told Jennifer he had queens so if I believe him I made a good lay-down.

Greg Raymer

What do you think of Gus as a player?

He's really tricky so it's hard to narrow down his range. Once you reach a certain point you never want to lay down your starting hands because he's made some extreme raises in spots where you expect people to call. He's a very good player.

He won a $50,000 pot off me where I had the best hand until the river and he hit a four-outer against me. He re-raised with K-9 off-suit which is obviously not a typical raising hand. He ended up rivering three nines. He actually checked on the river, which meant I only put chips in the pot when I was ahead. It makes it hard to complain.

How were your previous tables? It sounded like you were running them over...

I had a couple of different tables. I was never running over the table or anything like that. I don't play enough hands to run a table over. I haven't run over a table, well, hardly ever. I just got in some good situations at the other tables. I made some good calls and my hand always held up. I was able to move up very quickly. I started with $40,000 and I was up to $80,000 by the end of the first level. I did have some lucky moments though. I was fortunate I won the races at the other tables but I've been a little unfortunate so far at the TV table so it evens out.

What do you think of playing at a TV table? Is it harder or easier?

I love being on at the TV table but the lineup here doesn't really have any inexperienced players. Back at the Main Event in Las Vegas in 2005, I was defending that year, and I was just getting crippled at my starting table. Jennifer Harman was actually at the TV table that day and she got eliminated by the famous "full house gets beaten by a straight flush" affair. They wanted somebody known at the TV table and they noticed I was low on chips so they brought me up. They thought they might catch my elimination.

The next day I ended up being a chip leader but for some reason I wasn't at the TV table. Then on Day 4 I had a bad day and I was very low and they brought me back to the TV table. It felt like death watch! Everytime I was in serious danger they put me on TV so they could try and get a story out of it.

Is there more pressure to perform at those tables?

I like it. In events like the Main Event in Las Vegas there are so many inexperienced players. It's not really that they don't know what they are doing but they are new to a big-buy-in tournament and a TV table situation. When they get on TV they stop doing some of the things that made them successful because they don't want to look stupid. They won't make any bluffs on seven-high even if they had a good chance of winning the hand.

Obviously when you get players like Gus Hansen and Jennifer Harman they are not afraid to make some moves. They will basically just play their game no matter what and not think about looking silly. I don't think anyone at this table expects anyone else to be playing differently because they are on TV.

Gus Hansen

What have you thought of the WSOPE so far?

Well the PLO sucked for me because I kept getting out-flopped and all that. Not because I did anything wrong but because my cards sucked. I'm happy with the structure though. It's a shame that for a tournament of this size there are no venues to seat everybody under one roof. We could have shortened this whole tournament by two days if it were being held in Vegas. They didn't go to two Day 1s at the WSOP until there were over 600 players and that was when it was still at Binions, which isn't a huge venue as far as Vegas locations go.

In London you're just not going to find a big warehouse or convention center to hold the event...

[Gus Hansen walks by]

"Greg would have a lot more chips if it wasn't for that four-outer by Gus Hansen," quipped Raymer to Hansen.

[Hansen laughs and responds]

"You would have less if I hadn't been playing badly," Hansen said.

"No I'd have more because then you'd just fold before the flop," Raymer fired back.

[Hansen laughs and walks away while Raymer continues]

Overall I'm very happy with the World Series of Poker Europe. A lot of people are debating whether it's a real bracelet or not and I'm on the "It's a real bracelet" side.

How come?

It's the World Series of Poker. Just because it has traditionally been held in Vegas doesn't mean that it's limited to that. If you're going to say that any of the preliminary events are real bracelets than why wouldn't you say this is a real bracelet. It used to be that there was just the Main Event in Vegas and less than a dozen preliminary events. The preliminary events have been growing every year. Given that, I don't see why this isn't a natural extension of that growth.

In other words you could argue that one of the WSOPE bracelets is just as good as, or maybe better than, the numerous $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em events throughout the series.

Exactly. You've got identical events, except for their date, and to say these bracelets don't count is kind of ridiculous. It's not like Harrah's is running a World Series of Poker event every Saturday at the Rio. It hasn't gotten that extreme yet. If this turns into 50 events over the process of two months in London it's a little different.

Even if they had 30 events spread around the world it would just get hard to keep up with it all and compete. I mean it costs $15,000 to rent a house for the whole summer it Vegas while it costs about that much to rent a house for a week in London.

Greg Raymer

What's been your highlight so far in London?

Set over set on Day 1. [Laughs] Nah, I've had a great time here. I spent one day at the British Museum, which I always like to go to. I'm a big fan of antiquities. I don't really like paintings and all that. I would rather see the Greek and Roman pottery. Egyptian stonework and stuff like that. That's the kind of thing I enjoy and am interested in.

What do you think of the poker scene here?

I like London. Really the only issue is the price. I even like the weather. I think it's a great city in every respect.

What's the next big event you're going to play in, Greg?

I don't remember. Well actually I know the answer to that because I don't have to travel for it. It's the World Championship of Online Poker. It starts just a couple days from now. My flight is actually booked for tomorrow but I might have to change that if I still have chips at the end of today. My plan is to have a big chip stack and call up American Airlines and switch the flight.

Well thanks very much for the interview and good luck!

* * * * * * * * * * *
Sadly, that blasted Gus Hansen finally got the best of Raymer about an hour after he sat back down at the TV table. On the bright side he won't have to change his flight plans. Raymer is one of the true ambassadors of poker and it's nice to chat with someone who has very little ego regarding the game. We wish Raymer, one of the true nice guys of the game, all the best in his future poker endeavors.

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