WSOP 2014: Where's that guy from the first EPT Grand Final? Right here.
Nine years and a few billion hands ago, Scott Bush played in the very first EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. He ran deep, finishing among the top 20 players. He cashed in his chips, took his stack of euros, and disappeared into the ether.
This is how I remember him.
Actually, that's not 100% true. I remember him another way, because back in those days, there weren't nearly as many people playing poker. The events were more intimate, to the point when it came time for a dinner break, it wasn't uncommon for players, media, and staff to just go have dinner together. We were all part of a traveling circus, and when you're on the road, you take friendly conversation and good people however you find them.
That's actually how I ended up knowing Bush. We had dinner together in the latter days of the EPT Grand Final. It turned out we had a mutual friend and stuff to talk about other than poker. We were both younger men with young children. We got on well. Still, I never saw him again. Until this morning. We agreed, it had been a while.
"It's a whole different game now," Bush said in the hallway outside the Brasilia Room. "There's so many better players."
I'd looked up Bush's tournament record since that 2005 event and found it curiously empty. I don't know why it surprised me so much, but I guess there was a part of my poker-addled brain that thought all the guys I met back then were probably still grinding or had given up the game for good. It seems I'd forgotten--at least for a moment--that there are still a lot of people who still play poker for one reason: fun.
"I could never be a pro. I would not be able to have fun doing that," Bush said. "I have fun playing once a month with the guys, going out and playing a big tournament once in a while. That's what makes the game fun for me."
Since that day back in the spring of 2005, Bush has added twins to his family. He has three boys he's slowly introducing to the game just like his parents did for him when he was 12 years old. A full-time financial planner, Bush only has time for recreational poker. Not only is that just how he wants it, it also has paid off. How?
He's playing the $10,000 WSOP Main Event today with a shot at the $10 million first prize.
How he came to be here is a story that goes back nearly two years. When Bush isn't being a good dad or making money in his day job, he plays poker once a month with a group of 15 guys. Over the course of 20 months, they keep track of their points, and whoever has the most at the end gets the golden ticket to the WSOP. Bush is that guy.
So now, he's here in Vegas with ten of his friends/opponents along for the ride. They all have a small piece of his action.
"It puts on a lot of pressure," he said. "It definitely puts a whole new perspective on it."
Pressure aside, this isn't a grind. This is a vacation. This is a dream. This is a bunch of buddies working together with one mission: have a whole lot of fun. If it ends up making them some money, all the better.
"They are all really supportive," Bush said. "They're like 'play your game, Scott. We're behind you whatever happens. But don't mess up.'"
Bush is like most of us. He's a guy who has an undying love for poker, but he has no desire to go pro. Just like the guys who play golf every weekend who don't plan on making the PGA, just like the dude who plays guitar on his porch but doesn't need to cut an album, or, really, just like most of us, Bush plays poker because it's fun. Simple as that.
Today, it's just a little more fun than usual.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging