Bill was all smiles last year as he and his wife celebrated his Main Event cash. It was a real treat to share his success with someone special.
The Little Rock owner of a legal publisher returned to the adulation of all his buddies. "My fame preceded me before I got back to Little Rock," he said. "The started calling me Million-Dollar Bill, but I wasn't even the top finisher from Little Rock." Mark Garner finished 25th ($494,797), but the top 200 finish was a terrific accomplishment for the father of two twin daughters (Anabelle and Molly) and a step-son (Michael).
"The girls had a great freshman year. Annabelle is at Westminster in Missouri, and Molly is at Sarah Lawrence. Michael is a senior in high school, so we'll be along soon."
Bill uses poker as a release, one that he enjoys in local home games as well as local tournaments. "We have a $2/5 NLH game that I enjoy a lot. It is a good level for us as it keeps things nice and loose. I never had a losing night from November until last week."
When he's not beating his friends in their home game, he has dipped his toes in the tournament waters. "I just play small events, like this $1.5k. I've played in Tunica and New Orleans. I keep my bankroll aside from my personal funds. I cashed in a small $300 tourney, but I really haven't done very well in tournaments. I think I'm a better cash game player."
I asked him if cashing changed him, as many players chase their one-time success right into ruin. "I still have a job; poker is just an avocation for me. I have a great partner in our business who lets me take off a week to play in the World Series of Poker," he said.
For a player heading to his or her first WSOP event, he had some good advice. "I liked Steve Danneman's list, so I came up with my own list last year.
- Pay attention
- Have fun
- Be brave
- Don't be foolish
- Stop and think
- Give it up if you're beat
I tend to act quickly sometimes, so stop and think is very important for me." The first four bullets were typed, but the last two he'd written in some time.
"The thing about poker is there are no flights like you might see in a golf tournament. Anyone could be sitting at your table during the World Series," said Bill. "Last year, Freddy Deeb moved to our table when were on the Main Event cash bubble. He was short-stacked, and he was pretty upset until he busted."
"The 9s was open for awhile, and we thought maybe Phil Hellmuth would sit down. It was Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. He's been reading his book, but he's been a lot of fun. He doubled up a few times with speculative hands that hit, but he's mainly playing good poker."
As always, Bill smiled as he sat down after the first break. "The great thing about the World Series is you just never know what will happen. You could even have Chris Ferguson sit down to your left."