Adam Gerber came into the final table of the 2007 United States Poker Championship and simply did what he had to do. The chip leader by a vast margin, Gerber avoided major confrontations and thus any major meltdown, despite by his own admission not playing his best poker at every moment of the day.
The Philadelphia-based amateur, who last month took second in a $5,000 NLHE event at the Borgata for $248,500, maintained his chip advantage and outlasted a table that included Victor Ramdin, Matt Glantz and the enigmatic Svetlana Gromenkova before defeating Louis Lee heads-up for the $606,095 first prize, the gold bracelet, the Rolex watch and the exclusive PokerListings.com interview.
A Chance to Control His Own Destiny
We caught up with Gerber shortly after his thrilling victory.
Adam, you're the 2007 USPC champ. How are you feeling?
I feel good. I'm tired, my throat hurts a little, I haven't slept much and I haven't eaten much, but I feel good.
Was there a moment during this final table when you knew the tournament was yours?
Well, when Louis looked at me and said he had ace-five, I knew he was going to call. It's too hard for him to get away from that hand. He played great, but when you flop a full house, and with the stack that he had, he had to call. I don't blame him for calling and at that point I knew, yeah, he was drawing dead.
Can you talk about how the final table played out from your standpoint?
Yeah, I came in with a certain game plan, which was that I figured there was going to be a flurry for the first few hours of pushing all-in. I wanted to avoid any of that and then I wanted to play my game. I wasn't going to be scared of anybody, although Louis had the most chips and I sort of wanted to avoid him.
Gerber, minutes before impact.
I just wanted to kind of play my game. I got tired and I made some bad plays, but I never went below what I started with, or too much below. So I felt real good. I didn't feel like I was going to win it until the hand when I got the quad sixes. I felt like my chip lead on Lee was too superior and I was going to fold everything until I got a big hand.
Day 4 was a huge day for you. How did you accumulate all of your chips?
Oh, it was unbelievable. It was amazing. The last hand, obviously, you talked about it online, knocking out Gavin Smith, who is just an absolutely phenomenal player and a nice guy, that was an amazing hand. And I went to bed last night - well, I tried to go to bed last night - with two million in chips.
So you're feeling good. I felt like, not only am I going to get top four, with two million in chips it would be hard for me to not get top three. Once I got into the top three I was sort of satisfied with whatever happened.
When it got down to eighteen players left yesterday you must have had the toughest seat draw in the tournament with Gavin Smith and Victor Ramdin on your immediate left.
It was unbelievable. Believe it or not, and this is hard to say and I know I'm going to get in trouble for this, but I had a good feel on those guys. I knew they play a lot of pots and they're great players and they know that you can't win by calling or checking. They raise, and that's what they do. And a lot of times when you come back over the top, they're good enough to let it go.
And not only did I do that, but I had cards. I mean, I didn't do it with just anything; I ran into some good cards. And when I got good cards I felt like I played them and I got maximum value out of them.
At one point during play yesterday Victor came over to us and told us he just couldn't get a read on you because of your unorthodox style.
Yeah, well that's the good thing about being new at this game, and that's why I don't have any grand aspirations of being the next Daniel Negreanu, because I know I'm not that. But obviously I feel like I can play some poker.
You have won almost a million dollars in the last month or so. If you're not the next Daniel Negreanu, to what to you attribute your success?
Winnar and not-Winnar.
Hard work and dedication. I'm an avid golfer and I've tried out for the U.S. Open a couple times, and when I was really working at golf I just became obsessed with it and now my obsession is poker. But I don't play online and I don't play cash games.
I like to gamble, but being good at poker has been the best thing in my life, gambling-wise, because I have an appreciation for the skill in poker, so I no longer want to bet a football game where the guy fumbles the ball and I lose the money and I don't have any control over it.
Now I can come here, I can put my money in and I can decide my own fate. Now of course you're going to get bad beats and you're going to lose, but if you play well you're probably going to get into the money most of the time.
How did you get into playing poker?
That's a good question. I know I was really bad when I started, I know that. I'd flop two pair with a pair on the board and I'd think I had the nuts.
But I don't know. I was a blackjack player, I was a craps player, and I've probably lost a lot of money in my life gambling. Not a lot - I don't want to make it sound that bad - but I'd probably go to the casino and lose three or four thousand a night on blackjack and craps, and I just got into poker and I felt like I had a chance to control my own destiny.
What do you do when you're not playing poker?
What it all came down to.
I'm the ultimate family man. I love my kids, my brother and my parents. My brother's got kids and I try to do everything I can with my family. I like to work out and I love to work. We run a very good business; my brother and I work very hard. We've got great employees and a great customer base. So I love to work, I love to travel and I love to be with my family.
Speaking of family, you had quite the cheering section with you today. Who made the trip?
Well, my mom and dad and my wife, obviously. My cousin, my old golf partner and some very good friends. Just some good people.
Do you have any big plans for the money? Any impulse buys?
Nothing. Well, that's not true. I was going to do it definitely with the money I won, but I'm going to do a little work on the house, maybe redo the back yard, the deck or something. You know what? Winning money - after I won the money at the WPT I went to the mall and I thought, "I'm going to buy this, I'm going to buy that..."
I wound up buying nothing. And you know why? Because I don't need anything. I was going to buy all these toys for the kids, but the kids don't need toys. I have an appreciation for money and I'm not just going to blow it when I know there are better things I can do with it.
The Family Man.
One thing I'm definitely going to do is look up Victor Ramdin's charity [Guyana Watch] and I'm going to make a nice donation. That's 100% a fact.
Well that's the best thing you can do with the money. Congratulations, Adam and I'm sure Victor will be thrilled to hear from you.
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Mr. Gerber first introduced himself to the PokerListings.com staff on Day 2 of the event when he was, to our eyes, just another face in the crowd. On Day 3 he returned to the media desk and harangued us for not giving him any publicity. By Day 4, the stack of chips around his seat at the table had grown so large (and his haranguing so insistent) that we couldn't help but print his picture and his name. And now we are more or less obligated to give Adam all the publicity he desires.
Jokes aside, PokerListings.com is thrilled to have met Mr. Gerber and to be able to congratulate him on his victory. Throughout the tournament the man was a class act and a ferocious opponent, and although he doesn't plan to throw away his business in favor of a professional poker career just yet, if he's ever starved for money (or publicity), Adam can now be sure to find both at whatever patch of felt he chooses.