Interview with Event 14 Winner Eric Brooks

Eric Brooks
Eric Brooks wins Event 14 at the 2008 WSOP

Who is Eric Brooks? That was probably the question on many people's minds after the 48-year-old business owner from Pennsylvania won the high-profile $10,000 Seven-Card Stud event at the 2008 WSOP.

Brooks waded through a field absolutely jam-packed with professional poker players like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey and then outlasted an aggressive Alexander Kostritsyn at the final table to take down $415,856 for first place.

Then Brooks announced he was giving it all to charity. Talk about making a name for yourself in a short amount of time. grabbed the interesting individual for a quick interview just moments after he won his bracelet.

First of all, Eric, a great deal of our readers probably don't know much about you. Where are you from and how long have you been playing poker?

I'm from Bryn Mawr, Pa., and I've been playing poker since I was about 11 years old.

Have you played in the WSOP before?

I've played more of the side games than the actual tournaments but I've played a few events since about 1979.

Was it always Stud? Is that your best game?

Yeah, Stud is probably the game I've played the most.

This was a high-profile event with a big buy-in and a lot of great players. What inspired you to play in it?

Probably exactly what you just said. [laughs] It's a $10,000 event with a lot of great players and it's certainly challenging and just a lot of fun to play.

With players like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey, were there any players you were particularly worried about?

You're certainly concerned about all the players that have been there before and have won bracelets but in the end, the reality is, there is an awful lot of luck involved. Somebody that doesn't play as well and doesn't make as good decisions can get lucky. It's part of the reason that poker is such an appealing game. Basically anybody can win at any time.

Hopefully I made good decisions. I really tried but no matter what I certainly got a good outcome so I'm very pleased with what happened.

We've heard that you're donating 100% of your winnings to charity. Can tell us a bit about the charity?

Yeah sure, it's called the Decision Education Foundation and it's based in Palo Alto. I'm on the board of directors - actually Annie Duke is also on the board - and essentially what we do is work with schools and teachers instructing the science of decision making, which is something that has been taught since the early 1960s and 1970s at the university level.

We think that kids, ages kindergarten through Grade 12, should also be afforded the opportunity to learn about it. We're working with schools integrating the science of decision making and decision analytics so kids can grow up to be really good decision makers whether they are playing poker or deciding what they want to do with their life. Things like whether they would drop out of school or use drugs.

I would encourage everybody to learn more about it at

Could you describe your pivotal hand with Alexander Kostritsyn where you made a full house?

Yeah. He had the best hand at first. I had hidden kings and queens and I believe he had three hidden nines.

We both hit on fifth street and I definitely had the worst of it for sure but on sixth street I made the full house. I didn't realize he had the three nines and could have filled up. I check-raised on the end, thinking that if I bet out I wouldn't get raised. Because after I had put that many bets and pairing my door card it might have looked like I might be full [since] it looked like he was drawing to a straight or a flush.

It seemed like it would have been suspicious if I'd bet out. In fact, I probably could have gotten out three bets - if I had bet he might have raised me. Instead I chose to check-raise him.

What did you think of Alex as a player?

I think he's a very good player. He plays very fast and very aggressive. If you're not catching cards it can be very difficult to play against someone like that. I also think he's an incredible nice guy.

Finally, Eric, we just wanted to ask you if you'll play any more events this year ...

No, I don't have any plans to play any other events. I'm heading to Oregon for my father's 85th birthday and looking forward to that.

Thanks very much for your time.

No problem.

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Who said poker never did anything for anybody? The friendly Eric Brooks grabbed a seat at the prestigious $10,000 Seven-Card Stud event, won it, donated all the money to charity and then disappeared like an international man of mystery. We salute Brooks' philanthropic efforts and congratulate him on his first WSOP bracelet.

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