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WSOP Q and A -- David Bach

Bach Talks About Winning his First Bracelet and Figuring out the Motives of his Opponent


David BachIn an amazing show of consistency at the World Series of Poker, David Bach had appeared at a WSOP final table in each of the four years leading up to the 40th annual WSOP. The morning of July 1, 2009, he made his fifth WSOP final table in as many years the most memorable, and realized a personal dream by winning his first gold bracelet. The joy was apparent on Bach’s face as he grabbed his first bracelet and began to put it on. He paused for a moment, said, “I never wanted to touch one until I earned it,” and then continued to place it on his wrist while grinning from ear-to-ear.

Bach won the 2009 H.O.R.S.E. world championship to take home the top prize, his first gold bracelet, and $1,276,802 in prize money. In the tradition of great sport trophies like the Stanley Cup his name will now be added to the legacy of the Chip Reese memorial trophy thanks to his huge win. Card Player caught up with Bach at the post-final table press conference in the Amazon Room.

Card Player: It was a very long journey for you to get here, you have been playing on the circuit for years, and not only did you have to wait so long, but once you got here you had to make it through the second longest final table in history. Does that make it all the more sweet for you?

David Bach: I almost had him John Hanson beat and then he came all the way back to even, and I just had to remind myself to just keep fighting and play well. I could live with losing if I played my best, but of course I wanted to win.

CP: But now you don’t have to live with losing, you can enjoy the win. What does this mean to you?

DB: It hasn’t even sunk in yet, especially with this tournament. It being Chip Reese’s tournament and it being what I think is the best tournament of the year, it just means the world…This is great, I have so many people to thank and so much to be thankful for…This really goes to my father more than anyone else, we’re so close, he has had a lot of health struggles, and I’m just happy he is still around to be a part of this.

CP: When you guys were three-handed there was a certain point where both of your opponents were well over 6 million in chips and you were down to less than 1 million. What were you thinking at that point?

DB: I would have been happy to get second; it’s a big money difference. I was at the point where whatever hand I played I needed to win. So I wanted to get my money in good with that last hand and I had a flush in five cards. In seven-card stud that’s a pretty good spot.

CP: This is your fifth WSOP final table. Was it frustrating to come so close before and not win that first bracelet? How do you feel about finally breaking trough at one of the most prestigious events of the year?

DB: I’ve made one each of the past five years…I have a lot of people that are part of my sponsorship team, and a lot friends and family, and I write emails to them when I get done every night. And two nights ago I said this is really the bracelet that I should win. It’s the game that I’m best at; it’s the tournament that I want to win the most. If I was going to break through and win one this was the right one.

CP: You were really able to get a lot of momentum going against John Hanson during the Omaha eight-or-better rounds, would you consider that your best game in H.O.R.S.E.?

DB: No, not at all, stud is my best game, but he really wanted to play a lot of Omaha. I think he considered it one of his best games. With the blind structure you’re kind of compelled to play almost every hand. You’ll throw away the junk, but you’re already halfway in the pot and I probably caught better cards than he did in the game. I also had a pretty good feel for the type of cards he was playing.

CP: You mentioned that near the end the blinds we’re getting high, especially for heads-up play in a limit event. Did that factor force you to rush any of your action near the end?

DB: No, not at all, the way the match went to me is that he wanted to play big pots with big hands. He was content to let me chip away a little bit here and a little bit there. When I played a pot with him I usually had the worst hand, but I was kind of free-rolling off of all of those little pots that I won.

CP: There were six lead changes during heads-up play, during which you kept an upbeat demeanor that is evident now as well. How did you keep your focus through all of those swings during heads-up play with so much on the line?

DB: I just said to myself, be a professional. I kept looking at Chip Reese’s name on that trophy, and that’s what he would do.

CP: We’re you thinking back to the marathon heads-up match at the inaugural H.O.R.S.E. event between Chip Reese and Andy Bloch for inspiration?

DB: Yeah, I watched that on the internet, and I remember what a battle that was.

CP: How do you play for that long at such at a high level?

DB: I used to play long home games when I was younger I played a 64-hour session once, and I would regularly play 30 and 40-hour sessions. It’s been a while but I do have some experience with that.

CP: You used to play on the pro bowling tour. Can you compare the two and talk about how this is similar to some of the things you did in bowling?

DB: What bowling did for me is that it prepared me for pressure, even though this is so much more prestigious than any bowling tournament. In bowling you have to be able to control your body and your mind at the same time, and in poker, you only have to control your mind. So all of that training of controlling both my mind and body, it really makes dealing with the pressure of poker that much more easy.

CP: You made a very solid call against John heads-up where all you held was ace-high to his king-high during a limit hold’em hand. Was that the point where you realized your reads on him were dead-on considering how long you had been playing against one another?

DB: We played the whole first day together, and as a matter of fact four people [also included Chau Giang and Vitaly Lunkin] from our first table made this final table, we had a very tough first table. I played with him a lot yesterday also; I have played a lot of poker with him. I knew where his mindset was because he had a bunch of side bets going, and how that might be affecting him. A lot of poker is…If you can figure out someone else’s motivation you’re well on your way to figuring out their hand.