With over $4 million in Poker Winnings, David Williams has become the fastest rising poker star in the world. Proving he wasn’t just lucky in the World Series of Poker, he followed up his second place finish with a second at the WPT-Borgata and won his first major tournament at the 5 Diamond World Poker Classic.
David sat down with PokerLizard to discuss his evolution as a player.
PokerLizard: How did you first become interested in Poker? When did you first become serious about playing?
David Williams: I played Magic The Gathering on the Professional Tour. One day I saw some of my friends playing Hold’em. I didn’t know anything about the game but wanted to learn. We played a little tournament, (limit Hold’em) and I won. I was hooked. I went home, found the underground games, and began going immediately.
PokerLizard: In the 2004 WSOP, you finished in 2nd place, winning $3.5 million. How has your life changed since the WSOP?
David Williams: I answer this question a lot. Besides the money and the small fame, it really hasn’t changed that much at all. I have less worries about my future, I was able to take care of my family and I know everyone will be ok financially. I still do the same thing each day. I sleep late, stay up all night and play poker every day.
PokerLizard: The ESPN broadcast played up your friendship with Marcel Luske, how did you two become friends? How has Marcel helped your poker?
David Williams: I met Marcel a few weeks before the main event last year through my friend Noah Boeken. I know him from playing on the Magic tour. Noah lives with Marcel, they met at the Holland Casino in Amsterdam, where they live. Noah introduced us, and I saw what a great player and person he was. I was fortunate enough to sit at his table on 4 different occasions at last years WSOP and after a hand, I would ask him what he had and why he did what he did in the hand. He is such a kind person, that he answered and that alone gave me lots of insight into a great player and ultimately helped me get to the finals.
PokerLizard: You followed up your success at the WSOP with a 2nd Place Finish at the WPT Borgata Open in Atlantic City and won the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic. How satisfying was it to prove to the poker community and public that you have skills and weren’t just lucky at the WSOP?
David Williams: It was very satisfying. The Borgata runner up finish wasn’t quite enough in my eyes. I was proud, but felt that I still didn’t get far enough. I really felt that I played the best heads up, and made one mistake. Winning the Limit event at the Bellagio actually felt the best. I was so happy to finally have a 1st place. Nothing compares to being the last man standing in a tournament, no matter how small.
PokerLizard: Are you going to pursue Poker as your career or do you see it mostly as a hobby? What career do you think you would have pursued if not for your instant wealth?
David Williams: Poker is definitely my career. I wanted to eventually open my own business of some sort, and still do, but I have no idea what kind. I had been playing poker for a living for a few years already, and would have continued it even when I finished school.
PokerLizard: Which is your favorite Poker game to play and why (Tourney vs Cash Game/Hold’em vs Omaha etc…)?
David Williams: I really prefer tournaments over cash games. You can’t “win” a cash game. There is no ending to it, you just play until you are ready to stop. Because of this , I never stop which is bad for my results. There is an ultimate goal in tournaments, which is what I prefer. I know what I am shooting for exactly. My favorite tournament game is NL Hold’em, but for cash games, I love Stud Hi/lo. I am not sure why, I just have so much fun playing it.
PokerLizard: You qualified for the WSOP through an online tourney on Pokerstars.com, How difficult was it to qualify online? As a starving college student, did you ever consider selling your seat?
David Williams: It was very hard for me to win my seat online last year. I kept getting close, like one spot away, and “dropping the ball”. I think I was putting too much pressure on me. I was never a “starving” college student. I was going to pay the 10k last year and play whether I won a seat online or not.
PokerLizard: How often do you play online? Does your style of play vary significantly from your live action play? What do you like about the online game?
David Williams: With the WSOP going on currently, I don’t have much time at all to play online. When it is not going on, I play on http://www.bodog.com daily. I never seem to win online though, accept in tournaments. I think my brain doesn’t treat the money like it’s real, and I just give it away. I have to work on tightening up online.
PokerLizard: Which Poker Books/Software have you found to be the most beneficial?
David Williams: I am not a big fan/supporter of traditional poker books and software. Although I highly recommend Barry Greenstein’s new book Ace On The River. It is one of the best poker books I’ve seen.
PokerLizard: At the WSOP it seemed that you made your betting decisions much more quickly than other players, it reminds me of “speed” chess players who need to have all of their opponents moves thought out ahead of time and react quickly, is that an accurate analogy? And do you think this style helps to keep your opponents off balance?
David Williams: Acting fast is just something I do. I never though about it or even noticed it until I saw myself on TV. I have tried to slow down lately, because I think I may make more mistakes that way. Most of the time, I come to the same conclusion as I initially had, but I think I may catch something I might have missed otherwise.
PokerLizard: How strange is it to be recognized out in public now? Who gets recognized from the WSOP broadcasts more, You or your mom?
David Williams: I think it’s pretty cool. I kinda always wanted to be famous, and even though it’s not full blown celebrity status, it feels good to have people recognize you. I am not sure how much my mom gets recognized, I am sure it’s a lot, but when we are together, people really notice us.
PokerLizard: Other than becoming a millionaire, What is the coolest thing you’ve done as a result of your WSOP finish?
David Williams: Surprisingly, not much. I moved to Vegas, although I haven’t found a house yet. I play tournaments every week, so I haven’t really had time to do much yet.
PokerLizard: Has winning that kind of money created any problems for you? Anyone ask you to stake them yet?
David Williams:“Mo Money, Mo Problems”. That’s what Biggie said, and yes it’s true. A lot of people have changed since the WSOP, and have started to ask or hint at needing things. It’s really sad, but you learn who the true friends are rather quickly. I get the stake request a lot, but have a policy to be fair, and say no to everyone. You do it for one person, and everyone finds out, and thinks you have something against them if you say no to them.
PokerLizard: How different is this years WSOP for you? Is there any sense of pressure to perform since you’re well known?
David Williams: The only pressure I feel is from myself. I think that is why my results haven’t been good at this years WSOP. I am in some weird “funk” and can’t get things going. I feel that I am playing well, but I am doing something wrong I am sure. There is no other explanation for my poor performance at this years WSOP.
PokerLizard: Do you enjoy playing in the made for TV events (Poker Royale etc…) or do you see them more as a marketing tool?
David Williams: Both. I enjoy them, but they are a marketing tool. I always try and have a lot of fun on those shows, and don’t really care as much about winning. As long as I come across good on TV, I am happy.
PokerLizard: Do you think the WSOP main event should stay at $10,000 or be increased to limit the field?
David Williams: I am happy either way. If not for the large field, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I like high buyin tournaments also. It doesn’t really matter to me.
PokerLizard: What advice would you give a young player interested in turning pro?
David Williams: Don’t. It’s not really something you decide to do, it just happens to you. You end up making more playing poker, than whatever else you have going on, and you phase the rest out. That’s how it happened to me.
PokerLizard: Do the online railbirds ever get on your nerves? When I played at your table on Bodog the trash talk was pretty much non-stop from people who never “sat down” at the table.
David Williams: Nah. I know how people get when they are behind a computer. I laugh at it mostly. I am pretty thankful to be where I am, and a few words can’t make me upset.
PokerLizard: You and Daniel Negreanu are “friends” or at least “friendly”, what did you think when he slow rolled those aces during the WPT Borgata? Has he apologized for “showing you up”, so to speak?
David Williams: We are definitely friends, and I don’t think he really slow rolled me, or intended to. I said it there, just to bust his chops, and he did take his time, but I think he was just being cautious, and was also surprised when he realized he was about to win. I don’t feel there is any apology necessary.
PokerLizard: Obligatory PokerLizard Question: If you were Matt Damon in “Rounders” how long would it have taken you to kick your girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
David Williams: Famke was way hotter, and seemed like she was “ready” , but I don’t know how long it would have taken me. I have a hard time dealing with problems, I just sorta let them sit there and sort themselves out. So I would probably want to kick the girlfriend to the curb, but just would slowroll myself.
Thanks for your time and we wish you continued success, see you at Bodog. You can find David playing $3/$6 No-Limit Hold’em at the David Williams table on Bodog.com. You can also check out his personal website DavidWilliamsPoker.com he has an excellent blog.
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