the age of 23 Scott Fischman became the youngest
player in the history of the World Series of Poker
(WSOP) to win two championships (Hold'em and HORSE).
In addition, he had two more in the money finishes
at the WSOP this year. And for anyone that thinks
this young player is just a flash in the pan,
he's had another 18 in the money finishes since
the WSOP and 3 final tables already in 2005. PokerLizard
sat down to discuss how this prodigy learned the
game and what future projects he has in the works.
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PL: How did you first get interested in poker?
How long have you been playing serious poker?
SF: I got interested through a school friend
of mine named Jordan, who kinda grew up with a
poker background. I've been playing for about
five years, but professionally for two.
PL: When you say “professionally”
are we talking full-time?
SF: Yes, full-time to make a living.
PL: This past year, you became the youngest player
in the history of the WSOP
to win two bracelets. Was winning those bracelets
beyond your wildest dreams?
SF: I try not to set goals for myself that are
unattainable and will be too much of a let down
if I don't achieve them, and I've always had the
dream to win ONE bracelet in my lifetime, which
was basically my goal. Winning two in a row at
the beginning of my career was definitely something
I'm in awe of. It's still unbelievable to me -
there really aren't words that can explain it.
PL: What are some of your goals for this year?
SF: My goals for this year are to remain a successful
player and to end up in the top 10 of Cardplayer
magazine's Player of the Year standings again
(scott finished #7 in 2004), and of course to
win a bunch of money. I haven't even set a goal
of winning another bracelet this year because
it is so hard to do. Other goals for this year
including getting my poker site, thefishtank.com
(coming early April), up and running.
PL: Let's talk about the ESPN
broadcasts. Specifically, how they portrayed you
versus Doyle, the Crew, and then about Norman
Chad. Have you met him?
SF: Yes, I have met him.
PL: How did you feel about that whole broadcast
and how they portrayed you and the Crew?
SF: I thought it was great! ESPN has the power
and can portray people anyway they want. Some
of the guys got a little bit of negative coverage
and our coverage was a little weird, but I liked
it and didn't really see anything bad. I think
they did a great job.
PL: How about the Crew - is it still together
and do you still play in the same capacity like
you did while you guys were getting ready for
SF: We've had somewhat of a break for the past
few months where everyone took a little time off
from when we were at the World Series, since we
were playing for about four months straight before
the WSOP. But with thefishtank.com coming out,
we will all be traveling and playing in some of
the bigger buy-in tournaments. I hope to get everyone
involved, so it should be really good.
PL: Can you give us some more detail about thefishtank.com?
SF: Thefishtank.com is going to be part of the
Doyle Brunson Network, which was formerly known
as the Platinum Poker Network and I'm really excited
about having my own site and working on promoting
it...should be a lot of fun. (Update TheFishTank.com
is now part of the Interpoker
PL: When will thefishtank.com be online?
SF: It should be up and running by the end or
March or early in April of this year.
PL: You and some other young players have taken
a bit of a beating on the internet for celebrating
your wins. Is there anything you wish you would
have done differently after getting caught up
in the moment?
SF: No. I try not to get caught up in what people
write online, since it's pretty much gossip and
hard to believe anyhow. For example, a few months
ago somebody reported that Dutch (Boyd) died in
a surfing accident. It's kind of tabloid in nature
and unrealistic. As far as celebrating, that is
something that I would never take back. People
that complain about the celebrations have obviously
never been in that situation. On the other hand,
that Swedish guy (Mattias Andersen - the infamous
JAAAAAA guy) who was screaming after every hand,
that's different - I was watching that thinking,
"give me a break."
As far as what I did (falling backward on the
table), and anyone who knows me or has ever played
against me knows that was the only time in my
entire life that I've reacted like that to a hand,
whether it was the worst beat of my life or the
best thing that ever happened to me. It was a
total out of body experience, I think - the reaction
I gave was totally spontaneous. I never planned
on reacting like that and was just very excited
and I don't think people should be faulted for
letting the joy overcome them.
PL: For that kind of money, I would've probably
stripped my clothes off and ran around the room
SF: I can't believe that anyone is really upset,
irritated, or even cares about it.
PL: Other poker pros have commented on the electricty
present at the WSOP, and most people cannot imagine
what it's like to win an event...
SF: Definitely! Before I won that tournament,
I had never reacted so strongly. I would hope
that anyone who won their first title like that
would show some emotion.
PL: Did ESPN ever come around and try and make
you guys talk more and try and spice up their
SF: No, nothing like that. The guys would come
around after and say things like, “That
was great, we're glad you won" and how much
of a great show it was, that some of the others
were kind of drab. I've seen the production crew
at some of the other projects and they are always
rooting for me. That's about it. They never did
PL: The reason we're asking is others have told
us the WPT
encourages the players to talk more...
SF: I've played on the World Poker Tour a couple
times and they have never prompted us to do anything
more than we would normally do.
PL: Why do you think ESPN
decided not to show your HORSE victory? (for those
that have never heard of HORSE, it involves playing
different types of poker on a rotating basis throughout
the course of the tournament. The games are: H
old'em, O maha , R azz, S tud and Stud E ight
SF: No, they had a set schedule from the beginning,
of the 32 tournaments. I think they showed about
9 of them and HORSE was never included. They came
down and shot the very ending for the highlights
but that was it.
PL: Do you think they left HORSE off because
it would confuse the heck out of the average viewer?
SF: No, I think they planned on a limited number
of tourneys, since it was the first year to show
anything other than the Main Event and they weren't
sure how it would go over (with the public). They
wanted mostly the No-Limit events and Hold'em,
so HORSE was left off the list.
PL: Which do you enjoy more, cash games or tournaments?
SF: I play cash games here and there, but I definitely
prefer tournaments and online poker. I play cash
games as a break if I get bored.
PL: How often do you play online?
SF: I play online very often, pretty much every
day for at least a couple hours.
PL: I remember seeing you play on that big monitor
during the WSOP show, how big is that monitor?
SF: That monitor is 21 inches and I couldn't
live without it. It allows me to play four full-sized
tables without overlapping, so I don't have to
switch back and forth between tables.
PL: Overlapping tables is a pain - you end up
flipping back and forth, clicking the wrong button...ugh!
PL: You seem to actually enjoy playing online
more than in brick-and-mortar casinos...why is
SF: I enjoy the variety most...as being champ
of HORSE may clue you in, I like to play all type
of games. Online gives me the opportunity to pick
and choose from a wide variety of games and limits.
I play SOOO much that I need this type of variety
to keep me on my toes and stay sharp!
PL: In your Cardplayer
columns, you mention working as a dealer for awhile.
Why did you become a dealer?
SF: I started dealing because I knew it would
be exciting and that I would be seeing and doing
something different every single day, and I wouldn't
be stuck behind a desk. The main reason I liked
dealing was for the amount of knowledge. I got
to learn all the games and watch the good players
as well as the bad players, and learn why the
good players were good. I learned countless tools
from being a dealer: table image, etiquette, etc.
Anything you need to know about being a good poker
player, I learned from being a dealer.
PL: How about dealing with irate players, what
was that like?
SF: It makes you realize what an ass a person
can be, and makes you see how you don't want to
act at the tables.
PL: So you'd say you learned a lot more dealing
than reading poker books or having a mentor?
SF: Yes, definitely. I've never read a poker
book. Most of my knowledge has come from dealing
and has been self-taught. Even in school I was
never a big reader. I was a good student, but
didn't read for the sake of reading. Being a dealer
is definitely the best for learning about poker.
PL: If someone wanted to follow in your footsteps
and become a pro player, do you have any advice
or pitfalls to avoid?
SF: As far as a lot of people wanting to become
a pro player, I would tell them to have a good
support system behind them and not to make the
decision on a whim. Definitely do not quit your
job to play for a living. I was pretty much playing
for a living for the entire last year I was dealing,
meaning I was making more money as a player than
as a dealer. But I still never quit dealing. A
person should take their time and make sure they
have some support behind them in case you fail.
PL: You seem to have blown away the myth that
poker dealers can't play well.
SF: I don't know where that myth came from, it's
not true! The myth probably came from the fact
that a lot of casinos will let you play when you
are on the clock or when you get off shift. I
can remember days when I'd get off shift and want
to play to just rail some guy who wasn't tipping
me. I guess when you go after someone like that,
they may get the perception that you can't play.
Most of the dealers I know are great players.
PL: Wasn't one of your final tables comprised
of several dealers?
SF: Yes, it had me, Joe (Awada), Kent Washington…Joe
is a great player, Kent worked as a dealer, all
of my friends who are dealers or ex-dealers are
all great players.
PL: Tell us a little about the imallinwear.com
deal you have going. Do you own that company?
SF: No, I don't own the company, I endorse their
product line. They make high-quality clothing,
not like the cheap stuff you can buy on the street
here. It's good gear, very nice, comfortable and
I like it a lot.
PL: You've won over $300k since the WSOP in addition
to your 4 cashes there. Do you feel vindicated
from people who claim you were just lucky during
SF: Anyone who says that obviously doesn't have
a full knowledge of what's going on. Since the
world series, I've won tournaments, made final
tables - I've already made three final tables
this year and not just in Hold'em. I've been pretty
much tearing it up every time I sit down at the
table. That was why I was so excited to win the
HORSE tournament. With the big fields at the WSOP,
it does involve a lot of luck. The HORSE tournament
on the other hand, doesn't really involve luck.
If you look at the past winners of that tournament
and talk to knowledgeable players, they will tell
you the same thing. Doyle Brunson has said that
the main event should be HORSE - that gives me
chills down my spine, knowing that I have the
talent to win a tournament like that, and that
he has so much respect for it!
PL: Has being a poker pro been all you expected
it to be?
SF: Oh...it is much, much different than I thought
it would be. It's much better than I ever thought
it would be. I figured I would be down at the
Bellagio every day playing $15/$30 or $30/$60,
and it's nothing like that. It's incredible! Different
things happen every day that I am in awe of. It's
kind of like being a movie star - it's crazy,
and I never thought it would be like this. I thought
it would be a grind. Playing cash games actually
can be a grind if you're just a regular pro poker
player, but tournaments are different. For the
average pro, the game is a grind and is not all
glamour. I've been very fortunate.
PL: Which players do you like to play against
and who are some of your toughest opponents?
SF: There are so many, and I've never even had
a chance to play with guys like Daniel. I've played
in a lot of tournaments over the past year, and
the only time I've played with Daniel was for
a little while during a 7 card stud tournament.
Guys like Phil Hellmuth, I've been at their table
once, Doyle one time, Gus...never. John Juanda,
a couple times...he's incredible. It's hard to
say, there are so many players today and there
are guys no one has really heard of - John Pham,
Jason Tran - in my opinion these are two of the
best players around, but since they haven't won
anything on TV, most poker fans don't know them.
But if you're a poker player on the circuit, you
know them. I would like to get some more time
at the table with Doyle and Daniel, Phil, Johnny
Chan, all those guys.
PL: It makes sense, with those huge fields, the
true star players are becoming few and far between.
SF: Exactly. You just don't get an opportunity
like 4 or 5 years ago when only 100 people played
and you saw the same guys at every tournament.
I think these big fields are detrimental to a
guy like TJ Cloutier who has such a great memory
and can remember how someone exactly played a
hand against him in the past, he was the best
player when the fields were smaller due to his
memory and he knew what everybody was going to
do all the time. Now that's difficult because
there are so many unknown players that it's impossible
to have a read on everybody.
PL: What characteristics do you possess or are
necessary to become a world class player?
SF: Discipline, patience, memory are definitely
things that are common characteristics in all
of the best players. Instinct, control, and some
other things are also huge.
PL: If I had to guess, I'd say you are more of
a “feel” type player than a “math”
by the book type player, is that the case?
SF: I generally don't pay attention to the math
of the game. In tournaments, winning has a lot
more to do with your stack and your position in
the tournament versus the odds that the pot is
laying you. It doesn't matter how much the pot
is if you have to call all-in on a draw, it's
generally not a smart thing to do. So I generally
don't care about the math - you can feel when
it's right or wrong to call, you don't have to
know the math to be successful.
PL: You recently played in the WPT Invitational
out in LA. Didn't I see you sitting next to Mimi
SF: Yes I was, and she's actually a pretty good
player. She was still playing when I was knocked
out in 18th place.
PL: Was it distracting at all, sitting next to
SF: (laughs) a little, I really didn't want to
beat her since she was so nice, she was the only
one at the table that I didn't want to knock out,
which was sort of weird. Usually, I don't care
if you're my best friend I'll try and bust you.
PL: Did you play with any other celebs?
SF: The celebrities were everywhere, and the
weird thing was, they were treating us like the
celebrities, asking us questions...they are very
intrigued by our business.
PL: What do you do away from the table during
your down time?
SF: My time away from the table is spent playing
online. I don't really do anything else. I've
been so consumed with the game and the learning
process involved and trying to get better and
better that there's not much room for other things.
I'll go out on occasion with my friends, have
a few drinks, maybe hit a strip club, but most
of the time it's poker...poker...poker!
PL: You seem to do well in tournament Hi/Lo split
pot games what do you like best about them?
SF: I like them because there are a lot of players
that believe there is only one way to play hi/lo
games, but I've found a different way to play
that is very successful versus those types of
players. It's also more of a black and white type
game - there is almost no grey area involved so
you can take greater advantage of other people's
PL: Do you prefer them over Hold'em?
SF: A lot of people ask me which game is my favorite,
it's really hard to say since I enjoy playing
all of them.
PL: Whichever game you're dominating is your
favorite I guess?
SF: (laughs) Exactly.
PL: Do you think poker can keep growing like
it has been, or do you think the buzz will die
SF: I think it will keep growing, you can't go
back to what it was, it's acceptable to play now,
in the past it was forbidden and taboo, now grandmas
are playing it, everyone is happy to say they're
a player. It's not hidden anymore like the guy
who would tell his wife he had to work late and
sneak off to play.
Obligatory 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?
SF: (laughs) I probably wouldn't have had a girlfriend
in the first place because it just doesn't work
with this lifestyle. It reminds me of last night:
one of the young guys had his girlfriend sitting
behind him and someone asked him, “how long
have you two been together", the guy looked
at his watch... It usually doesn't result in a
happy relationship. Unless you're married or have
already been together and know what to expect
there is too much travel and too much time required
for most relationships to be successful. As far
as Matt Damon's character in Rounders, she would
have been out right away.
PL: Any strategy for this years WSOP due to the
SF: Everyone talks about how the day you bust
out of the main event is the worst and most depressing
day of the year and yada yada yada, but for me
it's going to be the exact opposite. With 6,000
players, it's a crapshoot, the best player isn't
going to win. It's going to be a total fiasco.
I'm going to go in and play my game, and if I
get beat, I get beat. There are other tournaments
that I'm looking forward to.
A long time ago a doctor wrote that if you were
dealt pocket Aces over and over and go allin each
time and get called, after 4 or 5 times you actually
not the favorite to survive. I think of that and
I think of the huge amount of luck it's going
to take to win the big one.
PL: Are you planning on playing any of the WSOP
circuit events? New Orleans etc...
SF: Yes, I'm actually headed down to San Diego
to play in one. My goal is to qualify for that
$2million freeroll - if I qualify early, I probably
won't head to the others.
PL: Thanks a lot Scott, keep up the good work
in CardPlayer and good luck.
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