Michael Graves, winner of the last No-Limit Hold'em event before the Main Event, doesn't have to worry about med student bills for a while.
Graves took the bracelet in one of the wildest final tables you never saw. The webcast shroud fairly shook with elimination after elimination - and when the action stopped, only Graves survived. PokerListings.com caught up with Graves to find out if he could make any sense of the carnage.
Could you walk us through the end of play from your point of view?
It was pretty fierce three-way. Both players really ramped up their game. Eveyone was playing very well. My heads-up opponent Theo Tran is incredible - very aggressive, very good in the right moments. There were a lot of good hands.
I got very lucky. There was a hand where I had it all-in with A-8 against A-9 versus Shawn Luman. I spiked the straight on the river. To take that down is a pretty good suck-out. I can't believe it happened. I'm still in shock about everything.
What were some other turning points?
There were a few huge turning points for me. Most of them were fairly standard spots. One was against Chad Batista, aces versus queens all-in pre-flop. It's a standard hand, but knocking him out and increasing my chips to a really competitive stack was a huge point.
I ran very well; and I feel like I played very well, too. I made a few very thin bets on the river against good opponents in spots where it would be likely for me to have a monster or bluff. It worked out, because they called me down fairly lightly. It was like that for the most part.
So good play and good cards. Is that how it was in the previous days?
To be honest, I've been playing this tournament fairly standard - I haven't been getting too out-of-line; which is more comfortable with my style. I guess I relate more to the older generation. I use a mix of the younger generation's aggressive style at certain moments.
I definitely did run very well for my coin flips; although I wasn't all-in that much. I was fairly surprised - except for the A-8 all-in - I was never all-in behind in the tournament.
Any thoughts on where the money might go?
Right now I'm flabbergasted - I don't know what to say. I was hoping maybe to make a little bit in Vegas - help med school, that kind of stuff. I'm in shock. It's going to take me a while to figure out what to do.
At least as a medical student you know when you're in shock.
Yeah, I know: fever and chills at the same time, shaking.
Who are you down here with?
I'm staying with a group of online players that I'm good friends with - the ShipitHolla Ballas.
It sounds like you're all pretty supportive of each other.
They're all excellent players; and they've taught me a lot about my game. Most of them aren't sponsored as of yet. Give it a year or two - I guarantee you every single one of them will have a sponsor who is happy to be there. All they need is time to have the cards run good and to prove themselves.
Did you start out playing online?
Yes, I started online in sit-and-go tournaments. Well, I started earlier playing Limit Hold'em - I ran good and cashed in one of those PartyPoker.com $200 tournaments for about $1,000 or $2,000. Before I lost all my money I learned how to play a bit better.
Then I heard about sit-and-goes being easy money; and I checked them out and it was great. I played those for a long time before moving on to cash games, where I learned that I didn't actually know how to play poker - I just knew how to play sit-and-goes.
Cash games taught me a lot of good hand-reading abilities - which really came into play in this tournament. There are a few calls I made that I could not have made without that experience.
You were in med school at the time?
It was back in college that I started playing, around junior year.
Maybe at some points.
Any big plans for tonight?
Oh, we're going out - we're going out big.
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That's what you can do with $742,121 in prize money. Or at least, we imagine it is. The most we ever won was fourteen postcards at a Bingo game in daycare. Maybe we should have gone to med school instead.
For now, we'll continue to bring you the best coverage of the greatest tournament in the history of the universe. You just sit back and enjoy it.