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Poker Stories Podcast with Darren Elias

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Sep 25, 2019


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

To listen, visit or download it directly to your device from any number of mobile apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify. Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, Joe Cada, Layne Flack, Freddy Deeb, and many more.

Age: 32
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Live Tournament Earnings: $7.25 Million

Top Live Tournament Scores

Sept. 2014 WPT Borgata Poker Open 1st $843,744
March 2019 WPT L.A. Poker Classic 3rd $473,280
May 2018 WPT Tournament of Champions 1st $387,580
Feb. 2017 WPT Fallsview Poker Classic 1st $335,436
Aug. 2015 WPT Choctaw 3rd $303,593
June 2016 CPPT Venetian 3rd $298,362
Nov. 2017 Borgata Fall Poker Open 1st $293,062
Sept. 2011 WPT Borgata Poker Open 5th $230,610
July 2010 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza 2nd $195,335
Jan. 2019 Gardens Poker Championship High Roller 1st $192,500

Darren Elias is just 32 years old, but he’s already established himself as the end boss of the World Poker Tour. The New Jersey resident not only holds the Tour record with four titles, but he’s also the tour leader in cashes with 35, and final tables with 13. His first WPT title came at the 2014 Borgata Poker Open, where he won $843,000. His second title came immediately after that at the WPT Caribbean stop. Elias’ third win came in Canada at the 2017 Fallsview Poker Classic, and his latest victory was at Aria in the 2018 Bobby Baldwin Classic.

This year, Elias has already won a $25,000 high roller at the Gardens Poker Championship, and he nearly won his fifth WPT title, the LA Poker Classic, ultimately falling just short in third place for just under half a million dollars. At the 2019 WSOP, Elias finished third in the $10,000 no-limit 2-7 lowball event for another $109,738. In total, Elias has cashed for more than $7.25 million dollars during his live career, along with another $4 million won online.

Highlights from this interview include off days in Vegas, living all over with a football coach dad, a love for watersports, the dorm room fan club, the growing pains of live poker, unintentional intimidation, the one time he lost his cool at the table, $200-$400 2-7 games with Billy Baxter, running at expectation, his attitude towards the high rollers, being the top-ranked dad, revisiting a decade-old blog post, a healthy fear of mediocrity, using his internal solver, a scary situation at home, bluffing in six-figure pots, Nick Petrangelo’s beer tips, online poker on the highway, the only other job he’s ever had, a whiskey shot prop bet, big picture science, and the grinding ability of David Peters.
The Transcript Highlights

On What He Was Playing Before Becoming WPT King

Julio Rodriguez: You played in Billy Baxter’s $200-$400 game for a while.
Darren Elias: Yeah. I used to love that game. That was 2-7 no-limit, and for a couple of summers, we’d play almost every day.
JR: I mean, at that time, you must have been the youngest person in the game.
DE: Yeah, definitely. Prahlad [Friedman] would play sometimes…
JR: Yeah, but the line up back then. Nowadays, everyone plays deuce, but back then…
DE: There were some senior citizens in there, and some of the guys from Bobby’s Room. But those were great times, playing live, mixed cash games with guys like Billy and Doyle [Brunson], who have stories. I get to hear stuff first hand that [I’d never hear otherwise]. Billy is a great game builder.
Nowadays, they play that game in more of a mix, so I would have to learn the other games to [jump in]. The game doesn’t exist any more in that format.
JR: Was it a conscious decision to become more tournament focused, or did you have aspirations of being the guy in Bobby’s Room one day.
DE: I think I play more cash games than people think. I’m not the guy playing the biggest game in Vegas, and nowadays it’s mostly privatized to where I couldn’t even get in, but I never had aspirations of play the big mixed games in Bobby’s Room. I do play cash games. I’ll take a drive down to DC or Borgata and play $25-$50 for a weekend, and I enjoy that. But tournaments are still the main focus on my poker these days.
JR: Biggest pot you’ve ever won or lost?
DE: I’d say, probably between $150,000 and $200,000 in those deuce games. I had a couple of those.
JR: And did they go your way?
DE: One of them, I was bluffing and lost. I remember that. I was pat, and Freddy Bonyadi was pat behind me. I knew he had a better hand than I did, so I had to try and bluff him off of it, but he knew that too I guess and he called. It was a hero call. He had a nine and made a [good call.]
JR: How does that feel, playing those pots?
DE: Good. It gets your blood pumping.
JR: So, you still feel the adrenaline when you are playing at the table?
DE: Yeah, in big cash game pots.
JR: What about deep in tournaments? Or is it automatic at this point?
DE: I mean, the playing is automatic, but I definitely feel the excitement. When you are at a big final table and wake up in the morning, that’s an exciting feeling that you get to play for a lot of money.
JR: Do you sleep well the night before a final table?
DE: I do sleep pretty well, but I usually don’t each much. The LAPC was like a six-day tournament and I think I lost ten pounds.
JR: The poker player diet. People ask how to lose weight… go play a cash game for 13 hours and you’ll just forget to eat.
DE: I run deep in a multi-day tournament, and I just don’t get hungry. I’ll go four or five days with just one small meal. ♠

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.