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WSOP: Bracelet Winner Q and A -- Grant Hinkle

Hinkle Talks About the Adrenaline Rush That Carried Him Through the Long Tournament and Advice from His Brother Blair


Grant HinkleGrant Hinkle won his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet in event No.2 last night. The $1,500 no-limit hold'em tounrnament that he won was the fourth-largest tournament of all time, and it gave him a nice payday worth $831,279. Hinkle survived a tough heads-up match with James Akenhead to grab the victory, and he did it in dramatic fashion by making quad tens on the final hand of play. Card Player caught up with Hinkle after the win and he talked about the long tournament, the big win, and the advice he received from some helpful railbirds.

Ryan Lucchesi: In the last three days, you have played your way through almost 4,000 players over the course of 40-plus hours of poker. What kind of stamina factors came into play during the course of the tournament?

Grant Hinkle: The thing is, since I don’t play a ton of live tournaments, I think the adrenaline rush helped, especially because I was really nervous every time I came to the table for the first couple of hands. It wasn't until I took a few pots down and made some continuation bets to build my confidence up that I settled down. The adrenaline rush of the World Series definitely helped me through all of those long hours.

RL: You looked relatively calm for someone at his first major final table. What limits do you normally play?

GH: For a while, I’ve played $30-$60 limit, not high stakes or anything, but medium stakes. This tournament featured a field of medium-stakes players for the most part, with the exception of the pro players.

RL: We have seen your brother Blair Hinkle out on the tournament trail the last couple of months. Who started playing poker first? Did he inspire you to come and play the WSOP? And what tips did he give you at different points of the tournament?

GH: I inspired him to play poker to start, and once he got into it, he started playing tons of tournaments, while I just played cash games, for the most part. He just turned into a monster in the tournaments. He is just so relentless, and so aggressive, he just keeps applying pressure. I’m talking to him about different situations, and it’s hard to get comfortable with some of the stuff he’s suggesting.

RL: Were you worried at any point of the heads-up match, especially when James Ankenhead shortly grabbed the chip lead?

GH: I was very worried. He was playing a great game, and he was not afraid at all when I had the chip lead; he was still coming over the top, and I wasn’t adjusting to that to where I was putting the pressure back on him. I thought that when he was three-betting early, before we took the break, I thought that with the blinds where they were, and the stacks where they were, I was just too deep to shove. But then we talked it over on the break and decided to take a stand. The next time he three-bet me I just shoved it in. I did that once, and I didn’t see what his hand was, but I had Q-2 the first time. The second time, they told me it would be even better because he wouldn’t expect you to do it a second time in a row. That time he had A-K, so of course he’s calling, and then a miracle flop — suck-out city. That credit goes back to Blair, James Mackey, and “Echo," who were back there supporting me. They were great, and they really helped me to get to where I was — I’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

RL: Were you worried about facing off with Chris “Jesus” Ferguson at the final table?

GH: Chris was great; he proclaimed himself the cockroach. Everyone tried to bust him, and no one could do it. On the second-to-last day, he said he was down to 2,500 in chips with the blinds at 4,000-8,000, and came all the way back through doubling up and tripling up all the way back to a decent-sized stack coming into the final table … and then, at the end, when we were threehanded, he was super-short again, and no one could knock him out. It was definitely a thrill, and he’s a great player, and it’s really cool to play with someone you’ve seen on TV in these huge tournaments.

RL: Are you going to play the main event now, or any of the other events this summer, for that matter?

GH: No, not yet, but before I didn’t have a huge cash like this, and that makes a big difference in all of the decision factors.