WSOPC Chip Leader Interview: Edward Sabat

Edward Sabat
Edward Sabat on Day 2 of the 2008 WSOPC Rincon main event

Having turned 21 just a short time ago, Edward Sabat has had a significant amount of success in live tournament poker. A cash at a preliminary event at the recent WSOP Circuit event in Atlantic City and a monster chip lead going into this final table lend credence to his plans to play poker full time.

Still in university, Sabat has made time to play cash games at the Commerce Casino and credits part of his successful transition to tournaments to the instruction of his friends. Knocking off 10th-place finisher Scott Reese to solidify his chip lead, Sabat will have to deal with the likes of Gavin Smith and Lee Watkinson before he can claim this title.

After the final table had been decided Sabat spoke with PL.com.

We haven't seen you on the circuit before this. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm finishing my last year at USC right now, in accounting, and I just turned 21 so that's why I haven't been playing many live tournaments. But I play at Commerce mostly, cash games. That's how I build my roll. I did get second in an event at the WSOP Circuit in Atlantic City. It was for $30,000 but we chopped for like forty.

The Tournament Room
Big field? No problem!

Was that the main event there?

No, it was a $300 buy-in. There were like 700 entrants.

Do you play online?

I do play a bit online, at PokerStars, but I mostly just play cash games. A lot of my friends are big online tourney players though. I watch my friend "crackhAAd" a lot and we play together so that's where I learned tournaments.

This event had a pretty strong field. Were the early stages of your tournament smooth or were there some really pivotal moments?

Up until today I was always pretty stacked so I didn't get into too many big pots. I was just chipping up but today I made a mistake. I had A-8 and got re-raised on the button and re-shipped and the guy had kings. I had the A and 8 and the flop came ace with three hearts and he didn't have the K. I doubled up a few short stacks along the way but I could afford it. Other than that it was pretty smooth.

John Phan
Places to go, people to see.

At my first table I was sitting with John Phan and he was basically just donating to everyone. He had somewhere to go, I think. He was raising like three out of four hands. But I doubled up early. I raised the cut-off with J-T, blinds were still $50/$100 and I made it $225, and I got re-min-raised. This was during the break so everyone at the table had walked off.

But I knew this guy from previous tournaments here and he was pretty tight and he was min-raising. I just called and the flop came J-T-2. I just led at it because I was pretty sure he was going to raise me. I put him on a big hand at that point so I bet and he raised. I re-raised and he shoved with Q-9 off-suit. I actually thought about it but I wasn't folding there.

You've had chips for most of this event and you've played pretty aggressively. Does your strategy change now that you're the chip leader at the final table?

When I get chips in a tournament I generally try to put on a lot of pressure. Having a big stack in relation to the blind size definitely gives you an advantage. But going into the final table I'll probably relax a little. The other players probably expect me to be really aggressive. The blinds are only like $4,000/$8,000 so $12,000 isn't going to make that much of a difference. When it gets to like four- or five-handed I'll turn it up.

Which players would you choose to be eliminated first tomorrow?

Lee Watkinson
Ace-high no good.

Surprisingly I thought Lee [Watkinson] would be more aggressive but he seems pretty tight. I had a funny hand with him when I limped the small blind with 5 4 and he raised $10,000 more, at $2,500/$5,000, and I called. The flop was K-Q-4. I checked and he bet $20,000 and I called to see what he'd do on the turn.

The turn was a three. I checked and he checked. So I was going to do a little blocking bet on the river because I didn't want to have to think about a big bet from him. So I bet $30,000 and he called and my fours were good.

With the success you've had already what are your plans after you finish school?

I've got another semester to go but I can't wait until I'm done. I kind of feel like I'm finishing it for my parents' sake but everyone needs some sort of back-up plan.

Good luck tomorrow.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Studying accounting, Sabat will be able to put at least some of his schooling to work, handling his finances as a professional poker player. Tomorrow he'll be taking a shot that, if successful, could make his start in the game a whole lot easier.

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