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Yukon Brad brings his game back to B.C.
Since poker has become big business with successful players now given superstar status, there are a lot of successful players who've let their success go to their heads. So it's refreshing to find a player like Brad "Yukon" Booth who still tries to lead a relatively normal life and just enjoy the game of poker.
With several World Poker Tour cashes, including one third-place finish, plus other major tournaments under his belt, you wouldn't expect to see Brad Booth hanging out in his home town for an event with less than a $5,000 buy-in.
But he was at the River Rock Casino in British Columbia this week to play in events at the Johnny Chan Poker Classic. In between rounds of the $1,000 Pot-Limit Texas Hold'em event, Booth took time to chat with PokerListings.com.
What brings you out to the River Rock for this tournament in particular?
Johnny Chan asked me to be with him this trip. Johnny and I have become good friends, and he asked as a favor. When a friend asks a favor, you do it.
I was also supposed to film High Stakes Poker this week - the best poker show in the world. But I had said yes to Johnny a few months ago, so here I am. So it was Johnny.
And it being in my home town; this is my home court. I love being the face of West Coast poker.
Have you been playing in all the events so far?
Yeah. I've played every event. I've participated in every event. I haven't really done all that well.
What's the competition been like at this tournament?
Poker in Vancouver has always been very competitive. There's a lot of great, great poker players. A lot of players don't think they can go down to Vegas and make it, but they can.
There's so many smart poker players that come from Canada. The poker players here can be world class as well. There's a lot of professional poker players that just don't have big names that live here, lots of high-quality players.
You're becoming a pretty big name in the poker world. Do you hope to become the next big Canadian player?
No. I mean, with that kind of stuff, it's not really something I try to pursue. I didn't hire myself a publicist or an agent. I kind of had people come to me, and then I got into it. But I've never worried about that kind of stuff.
I was actually supposed to do the Regis and Kelly show, and I originally said yes, but then I said no. Just 'cause I don't mind being very, very well-known in the poker world, but I don't particularly want that kind of fame.
I don't know why that is. I'm content and I enjoy playing the game.
There aren't a lot of major tournaments in Canada besides a couple of WPT events in Niagara Falls. Would you like to see more here in Canada?
Yeah. I think on the West Coast there's no better place. They've got the facility to do it, now they just need to have it, because all the players would travel here.
If there was a tournament, I know I could get 70 of the top best players in the world. They would pay for their own travel and everything to get here. All they need is a big enough buy-in.
Nowadays there's sponsors, endorsement ads and stuff, so a lot of times our travel and stuff is covered. So we just need to put it out there. If you build it they will come. That's essentially how it works in the poker world.
Where are you headed after this?
I might do the Mandalay Bay tournament and I may do the Mirage. Or, I'm going to spend the rest of May in Canada. I'll go up to the Yukon for four or five days and go to Calgary. And I've got to build a new deck on the cabin I purchased.
Will you be at the World Series of Poker?
Yeah, I will be.
How many events are you planning to play in?
I'm still trying to decide if I want to be up here and take a couple steps back, or if I'm going to be down there and I'll play every event. I'll probably end up doing 75% down there and then 25% here, trying to have a normal life.
Since you're actually from British Columbia, how did you end up with the nickname "Yukon"?
Well, I moved to the Yukon when I was 20 years old, and I sort of honed my skills there. Even though I had done it previous - I quit school at 15 and at 20 I kinda started off my poker career - I really honed my skills in the Yukon.
Then what I would do is travel out of Alberta, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and when I walked in there, people would say "Hey that's Brad," "Who's Brad?" "Oh, he's from the Yukon." And then all of sudden it was "Who's that?" "Oh that's Yukon."
Then when I went to Las Vegas, that's what I was called. People would ask for Brad Booth, and they'd have no idea. But if they ask for Yukon Brad, they know.
What's it been like going from being the guy from the Yukon to being able to travel the world playing poker?
It's been great. I still haven't done a whole lot of world traveling, but the opportunity is there. It's nice to be able to go to certain places and have it be poker related and kinda get little perks and stuff.
I've worked so hard for this, and now it's nice to be on the appreciated side. It's been great.