In 2005, I walked into the PCA here at Atlantis. One of the first people I saw was David "Gunslinger3" Bach. He was hard to miss.
With his trademark hat and sunglasses, Bach looked the role of an old school gambler. At that time--before many of today's big players had reached puberty--Bach had been a professional for seven years. He's been around ever since, and he won't miss the PCA.
"Then it was just kind of a cool thing to get together at a tournament so close to the U.S. Now, for a professional poker player, it's a must-play," he said.
Bach isn't playing the Main Event until tomorrow, because today he's eying the $2,200 Open-Face Chinese side event.
Bach is a southern man who most people know as coming from Athens, Georgia in the United States. For the past few years, however, he's spent his time in Panama and Colombia, chiefly because of the woman who will become his wife sometime in the next year.
Bach took a little time to sit down with me yesterday to chat about his time south of the border, his love for mixed games, and his evolution in the raucous world of Open-Face Chinese Poker.
What's it like for a Georgia boy going down to live in Central and South America?
It's hard getting used to not getting things done, the slow pace of the way the countries are. But the women are gorgeous, obviously, and people are nicer in a lot of ways--not nicer than Georgia, but nicer than New Jersey or Las Vegas. I like the feeling of family and community, especially being around my fiancee's family. I kind of like the way they approach the attitude toward religion. It's kind of a controversial topic, but I've found myself embracing religion and God a lot more being in Latin America. It's more of a family and personal thing rather than these huge mega-churches and all the money and finances involved in the States.
Did you grow up in a church?
No, I'm actually Jewish, but I'm pretty open-minded about religion. My fiancee is Catholic.
Have you started embracing Catholicism or just the culture overall?
Just being closer to God through seeing how it affects her life and how it's dealt with in South America in a better way than it is the U.S. It's about your connection with God more than it is what the church says to do.
You haven't played much live poker in the past few months, but you've had a pretty good run online.
Yeah, I've done really well in the Sunday mixed tournaments. I didn't play them at first because they were small fields, and I was focusing on the Sunday Million, and Hernan Salazar mentioned the $200 HORSE tournament on Sundays and I'm like, "I kind of have to play that." I started just putting it into my regular Sunday line-up, and I've gotten better at multi-tabling having played more. I've got a good computer set-up down there. I have an extra monitor and everything, so now I'm playing pretty much every $200 mixed tournament on Sunday--eight mixed tournaments and four or five no-limits.
What's your experience with Open-Face Chinese been like?
I was first introduced to it--like a lot of people--by Shaun Deeb at the World Series. I could see how popular it was going to be. At the time, it was without Fantasy Land, and I learned the rules. I saw some of it here (in 2013), and I played some here for $100 a point, and I got killed because I didn't know what I was doing with Fantasy Land. So I was like, "I guess I better learn what I'm doing." So, I started playing with Barry Greenstein for like $25 a point in Los Angeles, and I got killed. He beat me by like 600 points. Then I got better and better and better at it, and by the time the World Series rolled around I was starting to play a lot of people.
You've been around a long time, but for the people who have only come into poker recently, how do you want people to see you?
The first thing I always want to be is a class act at the poker table. Online (poker) has not been the greatest influence on how people interact with each other. I'm not saying you have to go out of your way to talk to somebody, but I definitely don't like hearing people talk bad about somebody else's play. When I came up--it wasn't that long ago, but I've been a professional for 17 years--that was just a no-no. To me, people are entitled to play their cards however they want and have a good time. That's what the game should be about, especially for recreational players. One thing I'm not a fan of is how the game has become so technological online. I don't know if there is any way to put the cat back in the bag, but I've gotten to see what the HUDs can do and how impressive they are. Somebody who really knows how to use those tools, they don't really have to play poker anymore. It's interpreting statistics. There is definitely skill in that, but I don't know that that's what poker should be. It's a totally different game.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging