Erik Seidel talks about his playing style and his recent WPT win: “It was a relief because I felt like I had something missing from my resumé”

With eight WSOP bracelets and now a WPT title Erik Seidel is one of the best live players in the game

A former Wall Street trader and high stakes backgammon player, Seidel made a name for himself when he finished second to Johnny Chan in the 1988 WSOP Main Event. Eight WSOP bracelets and nearly $ 10m worth of tourney winnings later, Seidel is still at it, winning WPT Foxwoods this year and finishing second in the 2008 Aussie Millions.

You play about 50 tournaments a year so you must come up against a lot of internet kids. Do you like playing against them?

Some of them are really good players, so I don’t like that. But a lot of the kids are potheads. So you get to hear some really funny stuff coming out of their mouths.

Like what?

Three months ago I was playing in a tournament and this kid, out of nowhere, said, ‘10 more weeks.’ Of course it made no sense to anyone at the table. His friend, who was in one of the seats, asked this kid what he was talking about. The kid said, ‘Harold and Kumar – it’s out in 10 weeks.’ I thought it was hilarious that he knew the release date of the movie – two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule – and that he assumed everybody would know what he meant.

Do you find yourself changing your style of play when you’re up against the online pros?

You constantly have to change. These kids, in some cases, are hyper-aggressive, so you have to adjust for that. In some cases you end up being a little more cautious than you normally would, because they can get you involved in much bigger pots than you want to be.

Isn’t small-ball your preferred mode of play?

I was doing that during the final table at Foxwoods, keeping the pots as small as possible, so that I could have control over them. But there were three players who would, at one time or another, move all-in on a high percentage of hands. One guy moved in on half the hands that he played!

What can you do against guys like that?

You throw away hands that very likely have the guy beat. It’s very effective in that they win all these smaller hands, and then, at some point, you call them down as a small favourite – if you’re even a favourite at all. Toward the end the guy who was chip leader moved in a lot. Finally I called him down with two Jacks and we ended up gambling on a big pot. The problem for him was that there was a player at the table who had way fewer chips than either one of us. Ordinarily, you’d want to eliminate that guy first. Instead we flipped a coin, and it worked out great for me.

Considering that you have eight bracelets and a 20-year poker career, did it feel important to win a WPT event?

It did. It was a relief because I felt like I had something missing from my resumé.

Besides the opportunity to fill a spot on your CV, what does it take to induce you to play in a tournament? For a lot of top pros, they want to know that it’s going to be televised.

Actually, I’m not sure how useful it is for me to be on television. Each time I appear on TV I give out more information about how I play. And it’s questionable to me about the value of being a recognised poker player. I’m not looking for a sponsorship deal and I don’t need people bothering me. I just like living a quiet life.

That’s different from the normal desires of pros these days.

I think that a lot of people who make noise about being on TV are people who aren’t such great players and they need the extra money. For them there are two parts to the job: playing poker and marketing themselves. It’s important for some people but not necessarily for me.

Over the years you’ve backed quite a number of players. Are you still doing it?

Right now I’m only backing one player for tournaments. When you’re backing a lot of people at the same time it becomes a hassle. There can be issues of honesty, of people losing their tournament winnings in the casinos and not being able to pay off their backers. Another big problem is the size of the fields.

How do you mean?

The fields are so big now that no matter who you back, even if you’re backing great players, there will be long periods of time when they don’t do well. Then you need to question them and need to question whether or not to continue backing them.

Returning to your game of poker, when you sit down in a tournament and play against the internet kids, how do they view you? Do you think they see you as somebody who’s stood the test of time and needs to be respected? Or as somebody that they can just run over?

In most cases, they don’t have a lot of respect for us older players. I will say, though, that online, some of these kids are better than [the old-school players]. It’s what they do and they do it all day long.

So are you ready to concede to those guys? To kind of give it up and acknowledge that they are the new generation with superior skills?

Well, they can have the online space. But I’m not going to concede anything in the live tournament arena.

PokerPlayer magazine brings you great articles like this every month so grab a copy here

Pin It

Comments are closed.