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David Baker Makes Fourth Final Table Of Summer, Shrugs Off 'Best All-Around Player' Goal From A Few Years Ago And Says Poker Is About The Money

Baker Had Chance At Third Career Bracelet On Tuesday In Las Vegas

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Poker pro David “Bakes” Baker is having one hell of a 2013 World Series of Poker. After a long day of play Monday in the $10,000 no-limit deuce-to-seven draw lowball, Baker was sitting at his fourth final table of the summer. He was chasing his third bracelet on Tuesday.

Baker won the same event in 2010.

During a break in action on Monday, Baker was willing to talk about the event itself, which drew an abysmal 87 players, how winning right away at the WSOP is great for playing with confidence and why he has revised his poker ambitions after a bold statement three years ago.

Brian Pempus: What do you think about the turnout here? It’s a drop-off.

David Baker: Yeah, it’s definitely small, but it’s like 14 people smaller, so I mean…I don’t have big expectations for the turnout in this event. Small variance probably kept those people out of the event this year. I just talked to two people who were deep in the pot-limit Omaha and couldn’t play. You know, it’s a game not many people play, so it’s not something I worry about, but I would love more players of course.

BP: Do you think some people are realizing that they are at a big disadvantage in this game?

DB: It could be, but there are players who are missing here that I know played the last four years. I know they play this game regularly. It could be, but it’s tough to know if you are a dog in the field if you only play it twice a year. But I know at least 10 people who have played the last couple of years and would definitely play this year, but they had something else going on. But it could be that a couple got hurt last year and didn’t want to come back out.

BP: Despite the 87 players, this would still be a cool event to win?

DB: Yeah, it’s still a bracelet for first and a fair bit of money. They kept the buy-in at $10,000, so that means it’s a little more prestigious. I would still love a victory.

BP: A handful of years ago this event was a $5,000 buy-in, but with rebuys. Do you think that’s a better format for this game?

DB: I don’t know, I never played it back then. Probably not though, because people don’t have that much money anymore. I think they should drop the buy-in actually [and not have rebuys]. The real shame is that they took out the $1,500 buy-in of this game, and that’s probably…it might have hurt the turnout the most because there’s a whole final table of people from the $1,500 who had just won $10,000 in this game. If the World Series wants people to play their $10,000 they need to have at least one $1,500; it’s really strange that they didn’t have it again.

BP: Are you pretty disappointed about this?

DB: Oh yeah, it was a fun tournament and got people interested in this game. All my friends who pick it up say they like it. I wouldn’t mind if it was played more often.

BP: If you were to give one bit of advice to a newbie in this game, what would it be?

DB: I would say don’t be afraid to get aggressive with your pat hands. Don’t be worried that someone is going to draw out on you or that they are going to bluff you off. Re-raise when you are pat and don’t just call and play it weak, because most of the time people are just going to call and not bluff you after the fact.

BP: Now how is your Series going so far?

DB: Great. I have three final tables, cashed for $180,000. Even if I brick the rest I am still up a little bit. It’s a very good Series.

BP: So you are kind of freerolling the rest of the way?

DB: Yeah, definitely.

BP: Is it good to have that freeroll feeling?

DB: Oh yeah, for sure. You run good early and you get the monkey off your back about worrying about ‘whether or not I am going to cash, or brick this entire Series and lose all my money.’ So, it feels great and lets you play with more confidence.

BP: Now, three years ago you said you wanted to be the “best all-around player” in poker. Do you feel like you are getting closer to this lofty goal as you get older?

DB: Not as close as I’d like to be, and I have been working hard on my game…that’s a good thing. Now, I’d rather win all the money. It’s hard to practice all the games when you are playing a bunch of tournaments online, for example. But I definitely have gotten better.

BP: So maybe you are more realistic now with what you can accomplish as a player?

DB: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s still on the table, but it’s such…you know, it’s not really…when I said that it wasn’t really a hard-fast goal, ‘let me be the best.’ The best, to me, is still the one who makes the most money.

BP: So people forget that that’s the most important rubric for being a poker player?

DB: Oh yeah, it’s the best one. If you are in the best games, and don’t have to beat the best, and you are making money, you are doing your job. That’s what it boils down to.