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WSOP: Bracelet Winner Q and A -- Layne Flack

Flack Talks About his Five-Year Bracelet Drought and What Brought the Focus Back to his Game


Layne FlackT.J. Cloutier - Men "The Master" Nguyen - Jay Heimowitz. Add the name Layne Flack to the list of six-time bracelet winners. Flack won his sixth bracelet last night by winning the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha w/rebuys event at the 2008 World Series of Poker. Flack had to beat a tough final table that included Ted Forrest, Dario Alioto, Tim West, and Jacobo Fernandez, but Flack's toughest opponent during his five-year journey to this bracelet has been himself. Flack won two bracelets at the 2003 WSOP, and since then he has battled a series of personal demons, which side-tracked his success on the felt. Flack has emeraged from that battle victorious and he now has the bracelet to prove it. Card Player caught up with Flack at the post final-table press conference and he spoke about the win on both levels.

Question: It’s been five long years since you won your last bracelet. Did you think you would have to wait this long to win one again?

Layne Flack: I got off track pretty good for a while, I spent the last year regrouping and getting my life back together. I want to throw out a kudos to my life coach who’s turned my life back around. Fast Eddie Felson – the world's greatest pool hustler. You know the movie “The Color of Money,” the man they wrote the movie about…Fast Eddie Felson -- Ed Walters.

Q: You have six of these now. Where are the other five?

LF: The first one was in my safe, safe for my daughter. The second one I gave to my father, the third one I gave to my brother, the fourth one I gave to my other brother, and the fifth one I left at Ted’s house and he can’t find it. And then I went to visit Phil [Hellmuth] in Palo Alto in November and somebody broke into my house and stole my safe. So I lost number one and five.

Six bracelets puts you in the top ten all time. It ties you with T.J. Cloutier, Men “The Master” Nguyen, and Jay Heimowitz....Seven would tie you with Billy Baxter and Erik Seidel lies ahead of that with eight. Are those goals more within your grasp now?

LF: These tournaments are so hard, you don’t look at the bracelet, you look at fighting every day. Every day I come in I don’t even look at the finish line, I don’t even look at how many bracelets I have, and I just battle through that day.

Q: Do you know that this is the biggest win of your career?

Actually it is right [chukcles]…that’s great. I didn’t know that…I do now.

Q: Was the rest of the tournament as easy as the final table was for you?

LF: I caught some cards today, I mean it’s not like I just outplayed everybody. I actually caught some cards…Throughout the tournament it was a little more of a battle. I had to keep my composure through day 2. Day 1 was a little easier, you know we had three hours of re-buys and then I had a pretty good chip lead all the way through that day, so I coasted through the first day, but the second day was brutal.

Q: You talked about battling through each day of the tournament. At what point at the final table did your strategy shift from that battle to bracelet or bust?

LF: When Ted got short, and I then took Dario out I felt pretty comfortable. Ted is just a powerhouse, and once he got short…not that I wished bad upon him by any means…but it lightened my load greatly. I respect Ted’s game so much, so once he was wounded I saw the light.

You purchased a lot of re-buys on day 1. Tell us a little bit about the strategy behind that?

I grew up in Montana and there we had a lot of little tournaments that were multiple rebuys. I actually taught Danny [Negreanu] that if you fire, fire, fire until you get a hold of some chips, and then you hold on to them. [Phil] Ivey came and sat to my right and he started the same play. I went from re-buying for 6,000 and I got to 30,000 and then down to zero. Back up to 30,000, back down to zero, and ended the re-buy period with 40,000. It was just in, in, in, in, and just hopefully you beat the clock by having chips. I had to take 12th to make money.

How much did you spend on buy-ins?

LF: I spent $33,000 [22 re-buys], 12th paid $36,000. Ironically when we got down to two tables I told everybody that everyone here is a winner but me.

Q: You’ve been compared to Stu Ungar at times. What do you think about that comparison?

I never met Stuey, and I think that I’ve been compared to him in more than one realm. I mean basically his personal problems and with his ability to play poker and read people. And I’ve been compared to him both ways, and I really don’t like getting compared to him the other way because I was never that extreme. And actually even my poker abilities I’m not sure, I never met him. I never played with him so I don’t know.

You have battled some personal demons in the past, do you feel part of the reason you’ve turned things around at the table is because you’ve put those things behind you now?

Yeah, that’s the toughest road to hoe. For a long time to not be rewarded for turning it around is the hardest part, and now I’m starting to see some of those rewards so now it feels like you’re doing right.

Are there any other differences over the last five years about poker and your game that have changed?

Absolutely, I wanted to be here. For a couple years I would walk in the door and I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be someplace else…I just wanted to get out of here. I never really wanted to be here and play. And now, I want to be here, I don’t want another place to go I’m here to play, and so it was easy to focus more.