PCA 2014: Super High Rollin' Scott Seiver
Scott Seiver may not be the biggest name in the poker world - you won't see his face on the side of beer cans or fronting global ad campaigns - but there's little doubt that he's one of the game's best players. Since bursting onto the poker scene with a WSOP bracelet win in 2008 for $755,891, Seiver has never been far from the top of the game and, as if a stamp of approval or cherry on top was needed, he last year won the $100,000 Super High Roller here at the PCA, beating one of the toughest tournament fields ever assembled in doing so.
This year's line-up is similarly tough with the glitterati of the poker world and high roller community in attendance. Irish comedian Spike Milligan once said, "Money can't buy you friends, but you do get a better class of enemy." While it seems particularly apt for an event such as this, it's a statement that Seiver may well contest: it seems that ponying up $100,000 a few times a year can get you nice bunch of friends after all.
"In this tournament there's 40 to 45 people and I'm friends with 25 of them, and very close with about 15. It's just a great atmosphere because it's a really good group of people who play these tournaments, amateur and pro alike. You spend so much time together at all these locales that friendships just grow," said Seiver. "The High Roller events are just fun. There's a better atmosphere, everyone is friendly at the table. They're just an enjoyable experience. I really enjoy them that much more than the grind of the smaller tournaments."
The reality of playing a $100,000 tournament, no matter what percentage you have of yourself, is that most of us would freeze or crumble, if not instantly develop an embolism. Not so for the Super High Rollers. At Seiver's table from seat one through eight is: Tobias Reinkemeier, Seiver, Paul Newey, Antonio Esfandiari, Dan Shak, Tom Marchese, Team PokerStars Online's Isaac Haxton, and JC Alvarado. Topics of conversation included; broken legs in UFC, the position of the play-off game on TV, how to defend yourself from germs at the poker table, and whether vitamin tablets are actually beneficial. That was all just in the last 15 minutes of level 2.
It may seem counter-intuitive but Super High Rollers are the most friendly, laidback, chatty tournaments you could ever play (of course, this all depends if you don't freeze/crumble/collapse).
"Anyone who's playing a $100k event, they know what they're getting into. No one's unprepared, we've all been here before and that helps a lot. You're playing with the same people every tournament. I see the same faces everywhere. It's important to try to play solid and not go out of your way to do anything too ridiculous, because everyone here has a good memory and you're playing with them constantly. It's really important to be as sharp as you can."
Seiver's been pretty sharp. It had looked like 2011 would be a hard year to top thanks to a $1.6m win in the WPT Championship and a final table in the $50k WSOP Poker Players Championship, but Seiver knocked it out the park last year. In fact, he managed it in a week with that $2,003,480 win in the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller. That tournament started again today and you'd need some horrible odds not to back Seiver making another deep run.
He went on to final table three other $100k+ events and booked more than $4m come the end of the year. Only Ryan Reiss, Anthony Gregg, Jay Farber, Philipp Gruissem and Nicklas Heinecker won more than he did.
Scott Seiver's annual live tournament winnings
(& spot on that year's all-time money list)
2013: $4,085,453 (6th)
2012: $802,523 (95th)
2011: $1,979,155 (18th)
2010: $907,869 (70th)
2009: $389,199 (233rd)
2008: $843,604 (85th)
Total live tournaments winnings: $9,068,705
Position on the all-time money list: 25th
Seiver took his 250,000 starting stack up to 450,000 after two levels of play despite having a tough starting table.
"It (having a good or bad seat draw) doesn't really affect how I play, what does is the knowledge base I have with all the players. It's not whether they're quote-unquote good or bad, it's more how they play, where I'm at, what's going on. Any of the factors that happen in poker. You just have more information on players in these High Rollers and utilising all the information is what poker's all about," said Seiver.
While some players, Daniel Negreanu for instance, are keen on setting themselves aims and objectives for the year it's not an approach that Seiver backs.
"I think that putting my goals and my baselines on achievements is somewhat foolish because my goal is to try to play as well as I can, try to keep the best mental state that I can: things I can control. How I do in the tournament, honestly, I can't fully control so I don't want to use that as a metric to gauge how I'm doing. There are tournaments that I've won that I've been upset about afterwards because I thought I played horrible, and there's tournaments that I've busted out in an hour-and-a-half but I left feeling amazing because I thought I'd played brilliantly. That's really what I use to gauge my play. I guess that's easier to say because I've had the results, but I still subscribe to that theory."
If there's one bit of advice you should take from Seiver it's not about how to play sets on a flushed board or ace-queen on a dry ace-high turn, it's that's honest self-analysis. If you can view your play without being results orientated truly then your game is bound to improve.
Click through to live updates, features and interviews from the $100,000 Super High Roller.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.