This wasn’t the positive World Series of Poker experience that Tom Schneider had in mind. After a stellar WSOP in 2007, with three final tables – two of which were bracelet victories – and the Player of the Year title, he had high hopes for a follow-up year. It didn’t turn out as planned.
In the eyes of most, Tom’s Series was a good one. He had five cashes, including one final table that ended in a fifth place finish and two that resulted in 12th place finishes. He cashed for over $160K total. However, by his own account, between his WSOP event buy-ins and high-stakes cash games losses, this was not a successful summer in Las Vegas. And in the end, after going into the 2008 main event well-rested and with an optimistic attitude, he was eliminated before the dinner break on Day 1D.
While there will undoubtedly be some time for reflection upon his return to Arizona, it is unclear how often the poker community will see Tom on the tournament circuit over the short run. The disappointment he felt toward the end of the WSOP has caused him to rethink the frequency at which he will continue to play, as well as the possibility of reentering the corporate business world because of numerous opportunities that have presented themselves to him of late.
The following short interview was conducted on the morning of July 6th, just before he took his seat to play in the main event at the 2008 WSOP.
JN: Considering you have not been happy with your overall World Series performance thus far, how do you feel going into the main event?
TS: I took a nice break and went home. I had been here [at the Rio in Vegas] for about 30 days, and I probably blew it because I should have gone home a couple times, taken a break, and gotten some personal stuff done that was piling up. I’m very particular about that kind of stuff, but I just felt like I needed to stay up here and play in most of the events. I think I did myself more harm than good by doing that, so the break of going home for a few days was really good, and I feel good. It’s a different day, different tournament.
JN: Any plans going into this event, or will you just play your regular strategy?
TS: The only thing I’m going to try to do is get to know the people at my table more than I normally do because I think that there are so many different reasons for people to be playing this event. Those are the holes that they might have, and getting to know their reasons for being here can be helpful. Sometimes, if they have a wife or not can be useful information because, for example, I have a couple of friends – Karridy and Steven – who came out here and didn’t want to have to call their wives and tell them that they busted in the first level. They had to try to explain that to their wives, who don’t play poker, and that’s difficult. There are different motivations for people to be here, and if you find out, I think you can take advantage of that.
JN: You might have a difficult table with pros who wanted to play on Day 1D, or you might have satellite winners who just won their seats in the last day or so.
TS: I think every table will be good on the first day. Every table will probably have the guy who’s just coming out here to try his hand at the World Series main event, and it’s likely that there might be three or four of them at my table. I’m not worried about it.
JN: Do you want to talk about your plans to cut back on poker after this, depending on how the main event goes?
TS: I have a couple of possibilities of things I might be doing, more business-oriented. I believe that high-stakes poker is getting tougher and tougher, and there are fewer games to find. And as you find a game, it’s tougher. Making a living at poker, the way I’d like to make a living, is slowly dying, and that makes it harder. Also, traveling for tournaments is something that I don’t want to do. I get very frustrated traveling for tournaments and having to come home in two hours because I busted out, even if I didn’t play bad. It takes a special person to follow the tournament trail and to be happy with it, and I’m not that special person. I’m really not. I will probably continue to play some of the tournaments in California and Vegas because neither of those places is difficult to travel to. I’ll probably always come back and play several events at the World Series, and if I start off really well one year, I might play a lot of events, but I think next year, my WSOP plan is to play just those events where I really feel like I have a good shot and a big edge against most people.
JN: So you feel like you have an edge today?
TS: I actually do. There are just so many players in here that really shouldn’t be here. It’s not that they shouldn’t be here, but they really don’t have the skills. There’s probably more dead money in this event than any event in poker. Sure, every good player is here, but they’re so scattered in general, that this is probably the biggest dead money tournament around.
JN: Your plan is to be in the final nine in November?
TS: That’s the plan. You know, everybody’s got high hopes coming into this event, but realistically, against 6700 or more players, just making it through the first day is my goal. Not to the extent that I’m going to do stupid stuff just so I can say I made it through the first day, but survival is really key in no-limit tournaments because things can change quickly. Obviously, everybody wants to win, but I think goals need to be set a little smaller than that and more reachable.