May 14, 2004 Gavin Griffin became the youngest
player ever to win a WSOP event at the age of
22. Proving he was no "flash in the pan"
he followed up this success earlier this month
by winning over $15k in two Hold'em events at
the Mid-America Poker Classic in Tunica, Mississippi.
PokerLizard decided to sit down with Gavin and
find out what it's really like to be an up and
coming poker pro.
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PokerLizard: Congratulations on becoming the
youngest World Series of Poker winner in history,
you won over $270k by beating over 300 players
(including many top pros)
in the $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament
recently aired on ESPN,
how has your life changed since your victory?
Gavin: I wouldn't say that my life has really
changed that much. Things have been a bit easier
and less stressful because of the money, but I
still live a very similar life. I did buy a new
car though! (an '04 Acura TL)
PokerLizard: What was it like playing that final
table? What are the people watching on tv missing
out on, any interesting behind the scenes action?
Gavin: The final table was actually pretty boring,
ESPN did a good job of making it seem exciting,
but there really weren't a huge number of big
clashes going on. There was a lot of post-flop
play early on that was interesting, but it was
mostly a raise and take it situation.
PokerLizard: How long did the tournament actually
Gavin: The tournament was really long. We played
from noon the first day until around 2:30 or so,
then we played from 2:00 on the second day until
2 in the morning again with a 1 hour break before
the final table.
PokerLizard: How do you maintain your focus over
that length of time and with all the distractions
(TV cameras etc)?
Gavin: I wasn't bothered by the cameras b/c when
it comes down to it, we're just playing poker,
no need to worry about what else is going on around
PokerLizard: What are the most memorable hands
you played during the tournament? famous players
you knocked out? bad beats etc…? How nice
was it to be able to cripple Phil Hellmuth? (I’m
sure that is a lot of players dream)
Gavin: There was one hand that was really memorable
late on day 1. The blinds were 1500/3000 and I
was the BB with about 80K in chips. TJ Cloutier
was the SB with just a few more chips than me.
It was folded around to him and he made a pot-sized
raise to 9k, I looked down at AKo and made it
27K. TJ moved in like a shot, when he did that,
I knew I was ahead b/c he had been thinking longer
with his bigger hands. When I called TJ said "I
like his hand, I have K high," and turned
over K9o. This is the hand that gave me the chip
lead that I never relinquished after that. I didn't
actually knock TJ out, but it was a crippling
blow, he was left with just over 3k.
I really don't have any hard feelings towards
Phil. Away from the table he is a really nice
guy. At the table, though, it's a different story.
He has a style that works for him, he gets under
people's skin and gets them so aggravated that
they don't know how to handle themselves. I just
decided to let his needling slide off my back
and stick to my game and it worked. He can say
whatever he wants to say, as long as I'm stacking
his chips, it's not gonna bother me :)
PokerLizard: Do you recommend any books or training
materials (software) to help someone become a
Gavin: I think the best poker strategy book I've
ever read is Theory of Poker. The best training
material I've ever had has been discussions with
my friends who are excellent poker players. Thanks
to Derek, Dustin, Raj, and Brian. D-SQUAD!!
PokerLizard:How does a speech pathology major
from Texas Christian get involved with high-stakes
poker? In other words, How did you get interested
Gavin: Well, first off, I'm no longer a speech
pathology major, I'm a general studies major now(my
last semester left my grades a little lacking
to be accepted back into that major). I started
off playing home games for small stakes, then
one year at college, I met the squad from Texas
and I took off from there, I had never played
higher than 6/12 before last March when I went
out to Arizona and got destroyed in the 20/40
game there. When I moved back to Chicago, I played
10/20 as a semi-pro while I was dealing and occasionally
took shots at the higher games like 20/40, 30/60
etc. Then, I won a seat on the PokerStars cruise,
quit my dealing job and began playing full time.
PokerLizard: Are you playing full-time now? If
so, What is the life of a poker “pro”
really like? Any tips for someone who's just starting
out and wants to go pro?
Gavin: I am playing full time now. I am starting
school again next week, but I only have class
3 days a week, so I can play a good amount. Playing
professionally is hard and is not for everyone.
You have to be able to handle the emotional swings
as well as the financial ones. I don't have a
family to support and I didn't have rent to pay
last year, so it wasn't as hard for me as it is
for some. I don't know if I'm qualified to give
tips to beginners, but the best tip I can give
anyone is to play within your bankroll, but allow
it to grow. In other words, take a shot at a higher
game when the conditions are good, but don't be
worried about always playing the biggest game
in the room. Worry about getting into the game
that gives you the best earning potential.
PokerLizard: You recently got back from Tunica,
MS any interesting stories from the trip? Did
you have much luck at the tables?
Gavin: I had a good trip, met some interesting
people. I made a final table in the $1000 limit
hold'em tournament, which was exciting b/c I don't
consider myself much of a limit HE tournament
player. I also finished 17th in the main event
and my good friend Dustin Sitar, another member
of the D-Squad, chopped first place 4-ways (a
nice little bonus for me b/c I had 5% of him).
(PokerLizard Note: Look out Crew!)
PokerLizard: It seems as though young players
were breaking through at the WSOP this year, I
read that 5 bracelets were won by people under
25? What do you attribute the “young guns”
Gavin: Practice, practice, practice. So many
of us have put in thousands and thousands of hours
online. We can build experience at an incredible
rate, which causes players to be better at a younger
age than ever before.
PokerLizard: From reading the online poker forums,
It seemed as though a lot of the younger guys
could be classified as “bad winners”
by demonstrating a little too much enthusiasm
(ie falling on the table, high-fiving the crowd
etc) when they won. Yet when you won you were
pretty sedate and just shook Gary Bush’s
do you think about the celebrations?
Gavin: I think excessive celebration is uncalled
for when you win a tournament or a hand to knock
somebody out. Someone just got knocked out of
the tournament and probably doesn't appreciate
the fact that you're celebrating right in front
PokerLizard: The traditional PokerLizard question:
If you were Matt Damon in “Rounders”
how long would it have taken you to kick your
girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
Gavin: I don't think they measure time in increments
PokerLizard: Do you ever play online? What %
live vs online?
Gavin: I've been playing mostly online lately
b/c of the convenience factor. I'd say I play
about 85% online, 15% live.
PokerLizard: If you play online, Do you have
any style differences when playing online vs live?
Gavin: I'm much more aggressive online, I value
bet more, I push small edges more.
PokerLizard: Which future tournaments are you
planning on playing?
Gavin: I'll be at the beginning of the World
Poker Open in January for sure, and I'm going
to try and make it to the Five Diamond Classic
in December. Other than that, it will be tough
to make it out because of school.
PokerLizard: Great Interview Gavin, congratulations
on your success.
Gavin: Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed
the TV show. D-SQUAD!!!!
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