Torrence California's Ryan Young, 23, came in to the final table of the 2007 WSOP Event 35 No-Limit Hold'em with a big chip lead, but he didn't play the heavy. Instead Ryan chose to wait for the right opportunity to trounce his opponents on the way to winning World Series of Poker gold.
PokerListings.com sat down with Ryan just minutes after the big win to find out how this Young Gun managed to win using the style and patience of a seasoned pro.
Ryan, you came in to the final table with the chip lead and played it pretty safe at first; was that your strategy today?
In the beginning I didn't want to risk my chips. Maybe I would try to build my stack little by little, but I wasn't going to make moves on people and risk losing my stack. I was just going to try to keep it.
So you don't think the big stack should play the bully?
When it was two tables short-handed (on Day 2), that's when playing the bully can be more effective because people are waiting to pick up hands, but when you play a 10-handed game with all these short stacks, it's not smart playing the bully. You raise, they move all in and you're stuck. In a 10-handed game it's more likely someone will pick up a hand.
Sounds like you've got some experience at this, but not a lot of people know you out there. Your career live tournament earnings to date was around $100,000, but do you play a lot online?
Used to play a lot online, but not anymore because it kind of died out. There are less players out there. In the big tournaments up until today, I really haven't done much, but I always felt like I played well enough to do well. It's just the cards. In this event, every time I had the best hand it held up.
So it was a smooth ride all the way?
It was mostly a steady build. I started off with a big stack, but up until the final 15, I was just trying to hang around with an average stack. I didn't really get too hot or anything, but when there was like 15 people left I picked up a lot of hands. I doubled up once and then it seemed like I always had the best hand and I didn't really put my chips in play unless I did.
There were 2,541 people in this event at the start, don't you find a field that size intimidating?
I just try to stay with the average stack. I don't really look at the number of players. If you do that you'll be thinking there's no way you can get through them all. But I think I like the bigger fields better because there is a few more weak players out there. In the bigger buy-in events there is not as many weak players.
Is it all about the money for you Ryan or did you really want that WSOP Gold?
I feel bad for a lot of these really good players who make final tables but haven't won a bracelet. I realize now how much it means. It means a lot. For me between the money and the bracelet, it's probably even right now, but f I had a lot of money it would definitely be all about the bracelet. That's how people are judged in these events these days. That's how we judge how good of a tournament player you are - by the number of bracelets.
So is this the first of hopefully many in a poker career or just one glorious moment?
It's kind of been a career for me, but I have had my doubts about it. Theres' been some ups and downs, but this is a pretty big upside.
I'm going to keep fighting. It went great for me in this and I'm sure there's going to be a lot of rough roads back, but it's worth it. I feel like it's worth it now that I've won.
What about tonight, are you ready to party?
I'll probably party it up tonight. Maybe take a couple of days and I'll be back playing. I'll be back for the Main Event for sure.
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Good luck Ryan and you can bet PokerListings.com will be watching for you there. Winning a bracelet can put quite the bullseye on a young pro's head, but Ryan seems like the kind of guy who can handle the pressure. One thing is for sure, he'll be fun to watch!