A Hammock in Guatemala: The Ylon Schwartz Interview

One of the last 14 players in the field at the 2008 WSOP Main Event, Ylon Schwartz, has been putting the latter school of thought to the test for the last week straight. I caught up with Schwartz on the dinner break during Day 7 of the Main Event to chat with him a bit about his run through the world's most prestigious poker tournament.

Tell me about your run through this Main Event. How did you end up where you are right now?

Pretty much just picking up small pots. I think I had one huge pot and basically just waited for people to make mistakes. And you know, at the World Series you've got a lot of novices, so they're bound to overvalue what they have. That happened a lot for me, so I was able to exploit that.

It looked like you were sitting on a pretty short stack for a good portion of the last few days.

Yeah, I've been grinding like crazy and just holding on. I finally got a bunch of chips and I got to the TV table, and I freaked out a bit.

What is it that does that to you? Is it the cameras, or the crowd, or what?

Ylon Schwartz
Luckily, TV-table shell shock didn't cost Schwartz.

It's the cameras, and it's my first TV table, and getting miked up - you know, I've been gambling for 25 years, and it's just very strange.

At the TV table, a guy open-raised from middle position and I had ace-queen in the small blind. He made it $350,000, and I made it $1.6 million. With ace-queen - I've never done that before in my life!

I went a little nuts. I just snapped there for a second. So I have to regroup. I'm glad the dinner break is here.

You've probably played with just about everyone left in the field at this point, right?

Yeah, that's why I decided to call one kid when he moved in for $2.8 million, because I played with him all day the other day and he was shipping it with small pairs all the time. It was a little bit of a dubious call because the early-position raiser had me covered, so it was taking a risk, but I just did it anyway.

Who impressed you the most throughout this tournament?

Well, the Chino [David Rheem] is good. He's a bit loose. If he was a little tighter he'd probably have a better shot, I think, but he could end up with $20 million in chips - or go broke; that's his style.

Mike Matusow played great, and he got very unlucky. He was grinding for a long time.

I don't know a lot of these guys' names, but there are still some good players left.

You said you've been gambling for 25 years.

Yeah, I started playing chess on the street when I was 13 years old, in Manhattan. I gradually went on to pool, darts, backgammon, golf - whatever.

Ylon Schwartz
Waiter! Tequila! Now!

Most people, after 20 years they retire. If I do well here, I'm going to get a hammock and a bottle of tequila and that'll be that.

I remember seeing where you wrote that if you were to win the Main Event, the first thing you would do is go somewhere far away where no one could ever find you.

Yeah, that's where I'll go. The phone's been ringing off the hook, and people have been calling me that I haven't heard from in 10 years. So I think Guatemala sounds good.

So when you first started off in this tournament, did you even think about making it this far? Or do you mostly take it one day at a time?

Day by day. I've just been waking up, swimming, and just playing it like it's a PokerStars Sunday Million. That's about it.

It probably feels about like a Sunday Million too, doesn't it?

Yeah, except the Stars Million is probably a little tougher when you go deep.

Thanks a lot, Ylon, and good luck to you.


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There is of course no telling at this point who will make the final table of the Main Event - it's No-Limit Hold'em and anything can happen. If Ylon Schwartz does make the final nine, his easygoing ways and gambling experience could be the right combination of qualities to make him a champion - but good luck finding him after he wins.

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Audrey 2008-09-06 17:46:00

Lovely article.

Our money is on Ylon to win of course.

He's just opened his official site at:


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