Nice Guy Finishes First: Edler Wins WPT GCPC!

Wild Bill!
Bill Edler wins the Gulf Coast Poker Championship on Season 6 of the WPT

While the stereotype of the shrewd and devious poker hustler is being broken down on a daily basis, no one does more for this deconstruction than Bill Edler. Simply mentioning his name lightens the mood of tournament regulars and it's a rare day that doesn't see Bill with a smile on his face and a mountain of chips on the felt in front of him.

Edler has had an unbelievable year, taking down his first WSOP bracelet, winning the $10,000 buy-in heads-up event at the Crystal Park Casino where he defeated Barry Greenstein in the final, making a WPT final table last season and now earning a WPT title.

Edler's road to the final table in this event was nothing short of miraculous. At one point on Day 3 he was down to just $2,000 in chips, less than the price of one small blind. A few quadruple and double-ups later and he was back in the thick of things. Once back on his feet he set his sights on the win and never looked back.

The Final Hand
The final hand.

After steamrolling David Robbins during heads-up play, Edler sat down with to give us his side of the story.

You've had a great run in the last year or so, numerous titles and final tables and now a win on the World Poker Tour. Tell us how you're feeling.

I feel fantastic. Winning a WPT is something so many of my close friends have done so it's nice to join that little fraternity. This was a good one to win; it was a tough field. They really play well in the south. I believe they play better here than most regions in America. And boy, that guy I had to play heads-up, he claims he's only being playing for a year and he was fantastic and a great guy. I was impressed so that made it even sweeter to somehow top him.

WSOP victory.

Having a few titles under your belt already, where does the WPT rank in terms of prestige for you?

Well, to me the Main Event of the World Series stands above all else and then there are two or three that are on the next rung, including the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. and the $25,000 WPT Championship. And then I would say that any WPT event like this would be on the next rung along with most, if not all, of the WSOP bracelet events.

The bracelet I won this year was in the $5K six-handed event and there were seven or eight hundred people. That was a really tough field so I am more proud of that than I am of this, particularly because to win this one I really had to be so blessed. But this title means a lot to me; it's in that third-tier category and I don't mean that in a pejorative way.

The reason I play tournament poker is because I love the competition and I love to play to win. If I finished second I would have been crushed. It's illogical to walk away with $400,000 and feel bad about it, it's stupid, but I would have.

Bill Edler
I'm asking you nicely: Ship it!

So that being the way I play I really thought I had the advantage when it got to three-handed because I felt the other two players would be more concerned with moving up in the money. In the real world $200,000 is a lot of money.

It sure didn't seem that way from the way they were playing.

No, it really didn't. David had the biggest balls. There's no way he had hands every time he moved those chips but I sure didn't know when he did and when he didn't.

Going deep in tournaments, let alone winning them, always means winning some races and dodging a lot of beats along the way and your tournament here was an extreme example of that, having been so low at one point. Is it daunting to think about that when playing in these events?

When it comes to how many races you have to win it's really not as many as most people think. A good player, playing well, can conceivably win without ever having to risk their entire stack. In the early stages of the tournament there are opportunities to get your money in so good, maybe even literally with the nuts, which can allow you to gain a chip lead over the rest of the field.

So it's definitely possible to play without ever having been all-in. If you have every player at your table covered than you never have to win a hand in order to stay alive. That doesn't mean there aren't key hands. For instance today I was all-in with pocket sevens against overcards and won that when I had to. But then I was in another race when it was three-handed for more than $3 million chips and lost.

The great Erick Lindgren once said that the one thing to avoid in a poker tournament is being the one who's all-in. And what he means by that is that you have to have already won chips. So if you have more chips than the other people they can't put you all-in. Then when you're in a race situation and lose, as we saw in this tournament, you'll still have a chip and a chair.

It seemed like that was something you were able to do really well in the heads-up match. You started with a chip deficit but pulled even very quickly. What approach do you take to picking up enough chips to be able to afford those race or 60-40 situations?

Bill Edler
Billy the kid.

I was the aggressor. In poker you always want to be the bettor rather than the caller. He had about a 3.3 to 1.9 chip advantage on me so with the blinds where they were I was going to pick up $70,000 a hand doing that.

Do you think his inexperience showed a bit in that area? Him letting you push a lot before the flop?

No. There's nothing you can do. There's really no defense against an aggressive player except just closing your eyes and making the call. It's pretty darn difficult when you're playing for this kind of money and the title to call with like K-5. But I think this man was capable of doing it. And when I say it's a difficult thing to do I don't just mean physically difficult. It's also questionable whether it's advisable or not.

Well thanks a lot Bill and congratulations again.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It's always great to see someone who truly deserves success take down a big tournament like this and there are none more deserving than Bill Edler. Edler can be found at every major big buy-in tournament across the country plying his trade with great success and brightening the days of all with whom he interacts. would once again like to congratulate him on his win here tonight.

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