WSOP Main Event Pre-Game Interview: Eric "LavaDrake" Zabek

By Dr. Pauly

I headed to the PokerStars breakfast buffet for qualifying players. Over scrambled eggs and bacon, I found myself talking to Eric "LavaDrake" Zabek. Usually players look nervous on the morning of the WSOP main event championship, but not Eric Zabek, who won his seat on PokerStars in the largest ever WSOP online satellite around two weeks ago. He had an air of confidence about him as we chatted about a few things.

Eric "LavaDrake" Zabek

Pauly: Is this your first WSOP? Have you played any other events?

Eric: This will be my first time at the WSOP and my first WSOP tournament. I won a double-shootout which got me a seat in the 150 Seat Guarantee. I placed and won my seat that way.

Pauly: Where are you from and what do you for a living?

Eric: I'm from upstate NY. I live in Utica and I'm an insurance underwriter.

Pauly: Did your boss give you any problems taking off on short notice?

Eric: he was cool with it. I told him I needed a week off and if I went deep into the main event, that would mean I wouldn't need my job anymore and I could quit.

Pauly: Ever play at Turning Stone?

Eric: Yeah, it's thirty minutes from my house. I play there frequently so I have plenty of experience playing live poker. I've done well in the tournaments up there.

Pauly: What's your biggest finish prior to wining your WSOP main event seat?

Eric: I took 4th place in one of the Sunday Guaranteed tournaments on PokerStars.

Pauly: What's your poker specialty?

Eric: SNGs and MTTs mostly. I prefer No Limit games. Limit Hold'em is brutal to stomach.

Pauly: What's your outlook for today?

Eric: I feel good. I'm going to give myself a good shot to win. My attitude is that I'm going to win. I know that I'm gonna need a lot of luck. I heard that you need to win all of your races and coinflip situations, around 10 to 15 of them if I want to go far. I'm going to have to play my best poker for two weeks. I'm ready.

Pauly: Which pro do you admire the most?

Eric: Barry Greenstein because he's an excellent player in both tournaments and cash games. He donates his tournament winnings to charity and good causes.

Pauly: Do you have a regular homegame?

Eric: I'm a pat of a monthly homegame with about 10-15 guys from work. We call it PIG which is an acronym for Poker for Insurance Guys. We play a tournament then cash games. It's a lot of fun and a way for all of us to get together especially since we all work in the same industry.

Pauly: So who's the best player n your homegame?

Eric: Well... (pauses) I guess it's me. They call me "The Shark."

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker