Erik Seidel started out as a backgammon player and turned to poker while trading stock for Paine Weber on Wall Street in the mid-1980s.
For years, he worked the stock market for a living while honing his poker skills at the Mayfair Club in Manhattan, until eventually those skills were strong enough that he was able to move to Las Vegas with his wife and pursue poker full-time.
Flash forward to 2006, and "The Gentle Giant" is one of the most consistent and well-respected players in the world, backing up his soft-spoken, intellectual side with seven World Series bracelets and almost $5 million in total earnings.
Erik Seidel: I Just Hope to Be Healthy Every Day
Erik talked to PokerListings.com about the new H.O.R.S.E. tournament and how he feels the 2006 WSOP is turning out.
How have you been playing in the WSOP so far?
I feel like I'm playing alright. I haven't done that much so far [two cashes - 49th in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event, and 128th in the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em event], but I'm feeling fine. I feel like I'm doing alright.
Do you have expectations for the rest of the tournament?
I just hope to be healthy every day.
Are you going to play in all the events you can?
I'm going to play pretty much every day, you know, as long as I can.
What did you think of the H.O.R.S.E. tournament?
I didn't get to catch much of the final table, which was too bad because it looked like a great table. But it was a fun tournament. A nice addition to the World Series.
Do you think it could eventually take over from the Main Event in terms of prestige?
I think there's a good chance it could, yeah. People were talking about the H.O.R.S.E. tournament, saying it's the real World Series, and I think there's something to that, except that, you know, there is a big advantage to the people who play those games every single day.
There aren't a whole lot of people who play those games every day - a very small number of people do, so it gives them an advantage. I would like to see a tournament like that with more Pot-Limit and No-Limit games thrown in. But it was a fun event and I expect to be playing in it every year.
Is there anything else you'd like to see improved upon for next year's H.O.R.S.E. tournament?
I'd like to see it all Pot-Limit and No-Limit; that would be a true test of skill. [laughs] But I like what they did with it. I think it's a good event.
I guess next year, they'll have to add an extra day to it and maybe start it before the tournaments, you know, give us some time to play it when we're not playing other events.
I don't know. But I think it's definitely a cool event, and I think everybody enjoys playing in it.
What do you think about the 2006 World Series as a whole?
I think it's a lot smoother than last year. I think they need to take down the quarter/quarter ante at the beginning of the tournaments, especially the Limit ones. But aside from that I think things are good. I think a lot of it, you know, the only difficult thing is when you walk into a room and there's a thousand players.
That can be a little difficult because it's just overwhelming - the noise and the people, and when you want to go to the bathroom you've got to fight through people, stuff like that - but it's much better this year because they've added things like the bathrooms.
Will we see you at the Main Event?
I hope so. [laughs] You'd better get there early.
Awesome. Thanks very much, Erik.