The 2006 second-place finisher in the
WSOP Main Event has just proven he's no fluke
with a 12th place cash in the 2007 Aussie Millions.
In fact, he's racked up 6 cashes in major poker
tournaments since taking the game seriously just
three years ago. So how has life been for the
young phenom, Paul Wasicka? And what exactly does
he think of the Main Event champ, Jamie Gold?
We caught up with him to find out exactly that.
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PL: It sounds like you have
a big schedule coming up.
Paul: Yeah. There is
definitely a few tournaments in the upcoming couple
months that I'm planning on going to so I'm excited
PL:So you're going to the L.A.
That one and then back here for the Wynn Poker
Classic and then I think the Shooting Stars. I
haven't really decided on that one yet.
PL: Are they trying to get you
as a Shooting Star?
Paul: No. I don't think
PL: They'll be picking you off
for five grand?
Paul: No. I'll be picking
other people off hopefully.
PL:There you go. And you haven't
decided on that one just based on the scheduling
and how tired you might be?
Paul: Yeah. I mean
I'll probably go but more because I've a bunch
of friends up there in San Jose . So I'm not really
that excited about the tournament. It's just not
a great structure and I don't know. It's only
gonna be like a three-day tournament or something
like that I think. And most major events are five
day so I would mostly go up there just for my
PL:Speaking of that, you must
have a pretty big entourage these days after all
your big wins.
I mean my troupe of friends has grown a little
bit but I mean honestly usually I hang out with
like a small group of close friends. So I mean
I have gotten the occasional phone call from people
that I used to know like way back when but not
as much as you'd think.
PL:That's cool. And you have
some people helping you screen some of those calls?
Paul: Yeah. Sherman
does a great job. He's my best friend and I hired
him on as my manager so he's doing a great job
right now. A very good person to have in my corner.
PL:Did you become any better
looking once you got $6 million? I mean I've always
wondered if you won like a ton of money –
Paul: Actually it's
kind of funny because yeah. He wanted me to start
dressing a little better because I'm the type
that will wear pajamas and stuff when I go out
in public and he's like no more of that.
PL:Do you get stopped in public?
Do people recognize you from ESPN very much?
Paul:Every now and
then. I wouldn't say it's a regular occurrence
but maybe like, I don't know – once a week or
something like that. Which is kind of ideal for
me because I don't really want that much publicity
so it worked out pretty good I think.
PL:It sounds like I've read
some interviews where you're pretty much happy
with the way the World Series turned out as far
as the publicity factor and I mean $6 million
is enough to work, so it's kind of a double-edged
sword. You didn't win, but now you don't have
to have all that public scrutiny that Jamie Gold
is obviously going through.
Paul:Yeah. But in all
honesty I think that he likes kind of being in
the public eye as much as possible so I think
it worked out best for both of us because I wanted
to have my name out there but I also wanted my
privacy still. And he is just the type that really
likes to be the guy that's talked about and stuff
like that so I think it worked out the way it
PL:Have you kept up with Jamie
very much recently? It's been a few months now.
Paul:Yeah. We're actually
pretty good friends. We talk on the phone probably,
I don't know, once every other week and we were
hanging out at Sundance Film Festival together.
He invited me there so I went and joined up with
him. And we've had dinner a few times so I've
gotten to know him pretty well and he's a really
PL:Sundance. Now that's a cool
Paul:Yeah. We had a
good time there. We were invited there by ESPN
and we kind of sat around teaching people how
to play and then going to parties and stuff. It
PL:So does he actually eat blueberries
all the time? Or is that just kind of like his
No. I haven't seen him eat blueberries since the
final table but that was kind of funny though.
PL:He's had them on High Stakes
Poker though I noticed.
Yeah. He had them on High Stakes. I only played
with him for probably an hour and a half, two
hours but we had a good time there.
PL:Were you nervous playing
with those big time players like Doyle Brunson
and Daniel Negreanu?
really. More just like really cautious. Like I
played pretty tight poker. I don't know if you
guys saw the episode or not but I was playing
pretty tight that first hour. A combination of
not getting many hands and wanting to kind of
feel out the table. All those guys had been sitting
together for a good three or four hours so they
kind of knew the dynamic whereas I was the newcomer.
I was the last person to join that table and so
I wanted to be pretty cautious and make sure I
knew what everyone was doing.
But also I mean for that first two hours I wasn't
getting many hands so it was pretty frustrating.
But in this next episode, I'll be playing a lot
PL:I noticed Mike Matusow was
obviously giving you the needle.
Paul: Yeah. I expected
that going in though so it didn't really bother
PL:Did he give you the needle
and then beg you for some money?
Paul: Yeah. My buddy
was like dude, you should let me sit at the table
and I'll do your shit talking for you. Like I
should have come up with so many good responses
and like shut him up or put him on tilt. Probably
a good lesson.
PL: A little bit different when
you're sitting at the table as opposed to sitting
in back watching the cards.
Paul: Yeah. I mean
it's really fun. I've been wanting to play on
High Stakes Poker for quite a while and so to
be able to sit down there was a dream come true
so I was really happy that I was given that opportunity.
PL:You said though that you're
not really looking to become a regular in the
big game. You just kind of like the 10/20 no-limit
level? That's your sweet spot I guess?
Paul: Yeah. Just to
have fun. Just stress-free poker. Just jawing
and talking with my friends. All my friends play
and so I like talking about different players
with my friends and talking about different hands
and stuff like that. I don't know. It's just real
stress-free poker. Plus I'm a no-limit player
and most of the time the big game is limit and
so I don't really have any interest in limit poker.
But whenever there's a big no-limit cash game
going on, sometimes I'll go down there.
PL:I guess as a segue off of
that, are you strictly into no-limit hold 'em
right now? Or are you trying to learn some of
the other games and maybe become a horse player?
Paul: I don't know.
That's a good question. For right now I'm not
really interested that much in kind of becoming
an expert at all the different games. I think
most people do that because they get bored of
hold ‘em but I don't really get bored of hold
‘em so I probably don't play as much as other
people now. I'm trying to get more into other
stuff like I really want to get outside more and
do activities and stuff, so I've been running
a lot and playing golf. I've been getting pretty
big into golf. In fact I'm gonna go play a round
after we're done here.
PL: Nice. Hopefully
you're not playing with Doyle Brunson and the
Paul: No. I'm actually
fairly new but I'd like to get into it a lot more
so I don't know if I'll be gambling $50,000.00
a hole or whatever those guys were doing though.
PL:So making the move from Dallas
to Colorado was good for you since you love the
Paul: Oh, yeah. Colorado
is beautiful and I've actually really missed it
a lot. I haven't been skiing in forever. All my
friends and family are there. So moving out to
Vegas was pretty tough when I made that decision
a while ago but I don't think I'll be out here
for too, too much longer. Maybe a year. Maybe
two. Ultimately I think I'm happier back in Colorado
or maybe somewhere else but just somewhere where
it's more of an outdoorsy type atmosphere.
PL:Yeah. Outdoors in Vegas in
the summertime doesn't really compute.
Paul: Kind of like
PL:Last year's World Series
of Poker, it was so freaking hot it was unbelievable.
Paul: Yeah. I was driving
to the WSOP every day in my Ford Focus with no
A/C so I know all about that.
PL:Boy, that's classic. So how
did you stay focused during the World Series of
Poker? Or even stay awake?
Paul: I don't know.
It's definitely hard and it's not a question of
making mistakes. I think everyone during that
tournament made a couple mistakes every now and
then. But it's how big they are and at what time
are you gonna make them. Because playing that
many hours I don't think it's possible really
to play flawless poker for 14 days straight.
Or whatever it was. But it's just capitalizing
on other people's mistakes and trying to limit
But, yeah, I mean keeping your focus for that
long is really hard. Fortunately for the first
three days we were allowed to listen to iPods.
But once we made the money nobody was allowed
to listen to music any more. So you had to resolve
to table conversations which really wasn't really
PL:Not too stimulating. Just
some random guy breaking out in song for no reason
to get on TV and stuff?
Paul: Yeah. Exactly.
That's the thing that bothers me is that people
are acting a certain way and then once the cameras
come by they like will do whatever to get on TV.
It's – I don't know. It's kind of lame.
PL:So people say table draw
is pretty important in a big tournament. Did you
ever have a day where you just like couldn't wait
for it to be over because of your horrible table
Paul: Yeah. Not even
necessarily table draw but just sometimes you're
at a table and for whatever reason things aren't
going your way. People are re-raising you a lot.
A lot of times you're at a table that you would
think would be really, really good but because
you don't recognize any of the players or maybe
it's a bunch of satellite people or whatever,
but the way things are going maybe people picked
up hands against your hands or whatever. The flow
is off and so you're just like please let this
day end as soon as possible.
But there are definitely days like that and then
there were a couple other days where I started
to get some momentum and then the day ended. So
it goes both ways. But the table draw is huge
in a tournament. That will definitely make or
break a lot of tournaments because they have certain
people to their left especially. It just can completely
ruin your strategy.
PL:We were told to ask you how
you get ready for big tournaments too. Something
about Tuff Fish? That's not the same dude who
posts those hilarious videos on YouTube is it?
Paul: Yeah! I listen
to that usually when I start out every tournament
day just because it brings a smile to my face
and I start relaxing a little bit more and it's
kind of comic relief to a stressful environment.
PL:I swear that guy sounds just
like Robert Williamson, III .
Paul: I hadn't even
thought about that. I'll have to listen again
and see if I catch that.
PL: So what do you think was
the biggest thing that helped you become a good
poker player? Did you read a lot of books or have
Paul: That's a good
question. The biggest thing that helped me become
a strong player I would say was bouncing ideas
off of friends. I have a group of four or five
buddies that have been there the whole time throughout
the last three years telling me, “I think you
played this hand good,” or “I think you played
this hand bad,” and kind of just always giving
I have one friend who always gives me player
background info because he's obsessed with knowing
everybody on the circuit and so he'll even tell
you people you haven't even heard of. He'll be
like, “Yeah, this guy cashed like two years ago,”
and blah, blah, blah…so that really helps when
he's telling me about my starting table. Starting
out the day he's like, “This guy does this. This
guy does this.”
So that really helps but actually getting to
the point where I was at, all those friends. It
makes a huge emotional security. Like when you're
going through rough times they can help you out
and then also when you're running good they can
just keep that momentum going. So that was probably
the most valuable thing for me.
PL:I guess you've been playing
poker seriously for what – 3 ½ years now?
Paul: Yeah. I started
playing three years ago but, I'd say seriously
for about a year now.
PL:That's not a bad little ramp-up
period. Did you play a lot when you were younger
and then just kind of took a break and picked
it back up? Or did you just kind of pick it up
out of the blue and jump in headfirst?
Paul: I picked it up
kind of out of the blue. I joined one of my friends
who said he was going to a tournament in Denver
and I'd played with my parents before like maybe
once or twice, so I asked him if I could join
just because I really liked it when I played with
my parents. And so he kind of taught me some of
the basics and I got hooked ever since.
PL:So what advice would you
give somebody – a young guy that's thinking about
Paul: A lot of that
I address on my web site www.kwickfish.com.
I'll say it again because it's so important. I
really recommend keeping your job to pay the bills
and delaying turning pro as much as possible until
it doesn't make sense to go to work any more.
Just because if you're paying the bills from your
poker bankroll you're just gonna stay at a stagnant
point where you make money and then you have to
withdraw money to pay bills and then you make
money and, you know. It's the same cycle.
Whereas if you keep a job to pay the bills you're
gonna make money and then you're gonna just build
from there. And building a bankroll when you're
turning pro is really, really important. So that
would be my advice. Just to keep a job and play,
you know, maybe you can even do a part-time job
but whatever can pay the bills and then keep your
poker bankroll separate from your expenses bankroll.
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