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Cliff Josephy is better known in the poker world by the alias JohnnyBax. That's because he's backed more poker professionals than probably anyone else, ever. He backed Joe Cada when he won the WSOP Main Event in 2009 and rumor has it he was backing Annette Obrestad when she won the World Series of Poker Europe in 2007. Josephy also co-founded the poker training site PokerXFactor.com and is a regular at the World Series of Poker. He's won twoWSOP bracelets, in 2005 and 2013, but making the final table of the Main Event is far and away his biggest score to date. He's guaranteed $1 million for making it this far but has a chance at up to $8 million and the title of world champion of poker when he returns to Las Vegas at the end of October. Definitely the fan-favorite of this year's November Nine, Josephy brings a lot of experience with him to the final table. For much of 2005 and 2006 he held the #1 spot on the worldwide online poker rankings. Check out the video interview with cliff Josephy and follow his progress in the 2016 WSOP Main Event on PokerListings.com.
Matt Showell: I think I speak for a lot of people in the poker world when I say we're really happy to see you here at this final table. How does it feel?
Cliff Josephy: It's amazing. I mean, I don't think it's set in yet. The last few days leading up to it we've gotten closer and closer and I've gotten little to no sleep each night. My phone has been blowing up more and more each day. It's heartwarming. It really is. There's a lot of love out there. It feels great. It gives you this boost, you know? It's fantastic.
Matt Showell: You've been in the poker world a long time and you've played a really central role in so many different ways. You've been table-side at some big world championship wins that you've had a personal investment in, not only financially but in a support role. I get the feeling you've been a big support to a lot of people and helped them come up so what it's like to be on the other side of the Main Event now?
Cliff Josephy: This is the dream. The dream isn't to make the money, by that I mean investing in someone else. Did I get a thrill from watching some of these guys get to the final nine and in one case win it? It was a huge thrill. But I can only imagine the thrill of being there myself.
Matt Showell: Knowing that no matter how good a poker player you are, in this kind of event a lot of things have to come together for this to happen. Do you see it as kind of a freeroll in that way? Something to enjoy as opposed to getting really stressed out about it?
Cliff Josephy: I'm not going to get stressed out about it. I'm playing a game okay? I chose to play a game so how could I get stressed out about it?
Matt Showell: Let's backtrack a bit. We talked about the mentor role you've taken in different people's careers. How many interesting people have you met in poker and how much do you value the experiences? People who aren't inside this world might not know the truth about it and it's pretty special.
Cliff Josephy: There's a bunch of unique characters. You have all different kinds. You have the intellectual, nerdy kinds. You have the degenerate kinds. You have people all over the spectrum in between. It's pretty cool, learning about all these people and hanging out with them. Seeing what everyone's about. What their likes and dislikes are. How social or antisocial they are. You've got it all.
Matt Showell: Safe to say we'll see some of those people on your rail at the final table?
Cliff Josephy: You'll see some people. I hardly had a rail yesterday. It was pretty embarrassing. My people were out doing other things. I've gotten a lot of requests from New York already. Maybe more than we can even manage. So we'll do our best to get as many people out as possible.
Matt Showell: This November Nine concept, the break, happens for a lot of reasons but one of the reasons is to give the players the chance to promote the game. I think you're in a unique position. You're extremely well spoken, you're not a 22-year-old kid like we see so much so you have a lot of experience to draw from. What's going to be your attitude during the break?
Cliff Josephy: I love the game. I want to promote the game. I will do whatever I can to help the growth or spur the growth of the game. Would I have liked the final table to play out right now when I have all the momentum in the world and the cards were all falling my way? Of course. But I also understand the reason for the November Nine is to promote the game and I think it was a genius move by the guys behind it. I will do everything I can to support it.
Matt Showell: So come October, what's going to be your mindset going into the final table and how are you going to approach such a big opportunity?
Cliff Josephy: I haven't given it any thought. Right now I'm just dealing with answering a bunch of congratulatory emails and phone calls.
Matt Showell: Personally and professionally what would it mean for you to perhaps win this tournament?
Cliff Josephy: It's everybody's goal. It's been my goal since day one. And when I say day one I mean day one of my poker career, not Day 1 of the Main Event. This is what you come out here for. When I found out that my nephew's getting married, and I'm very happy for them, that it's very likely to conflict with next year's Main Event event, I felt a little pain.
Matt Showell: What, pain for your nephew because you're not going to be at his wedding?
Cliff Josephy: Well I don't know how that's going to work out yet. So we're going to have to see. There's going to be some negotiations.
Matt Showell: I guess at least you'll be able to get him a nice present based on how this year went.
Cliff Josephy: We'll see. I think he's understanding. But if my wife wants me there then I'll be at the wedding.
Matt Showell: We're looking forward to November. Thanks very much and good luck.