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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | Poker Personalities

Interview With Eric Baldwin, Winner of Event #34

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Eric “Basebaldy” Baldwin has been a fixture on the live tournament circuit in addition to being a big player in the major online tournaments for quite some time now. He's had a big year thus far with wins at the WPT Bellagio in a preliminary event and the Venetian Deep Stack main event, but those wins paled in comparison to the bracelet he won last night at the World Series of Poker and the over half a million dollars that he took home.

I've known Eric for the better part of four years now. I first met him back when I was doing live updates my first summer covering the WSOP and he invited me to dinner and over the summer's we've gotten to know one another pretty well. After all the television cameras and interviewers were done with Eric, I sat down with him for a few minutes. He'd already answered all the basic questions for the other interviewers like how did he get started playing poker (like many, myself included, he saw the movie Rounders), where he got his start (online for a small buy in), how he learned the game (internet searches, experience, and talking to other players), and how he felt about his big win (it's surreal). I decided to talk to him more about other aspects of poker and how it had gotten him to this point.

Pokerworks: What would you say is the biggest thing that got you to learning about poker?

Eric Baldwin:
It was really an evolution. I started off with a simple Google search for poker tips and I found starting hand requirements and started following that. It started coming together and made sense. Then as I gained experience, I started to think things out and came up with different plays. From playing hands and seeing what successful players were doing I was able to incorporate that into my game. Really though it's been reading forums and books and experiencing what works at the tables.

Pokerworks: What poker books would you say were most instrumental in helping you?

Eric Baldwin:
The first one that really made sense was Harrington On Hold Em. That series I think did a lot for many players. That series explained a vast majority of the concepts of no limit tournament poker. Since then it's been about adjusting to people using those strategies, so I went to the forums and read about how people were changing their game to do so, things like how to counter squeeze plays and three betting.

Pokerworks: Would you say that your friendships and relationships with other well known online players has helped you?

Eric Baldwin:
Yea, a tremendous amount. I've got an unbelievable group of friends, both as poker players and as people. A lot of us have vastly different styles. It's great because I can talk about hands with someone that plays a completely different style than me and even if I think I still played it optimally they can show me different perspectives and understand how someone else is thinking in a hand. When I'm playing against an opponent that plays their style, I am able to utilize my conversations and discussions with them to my advantage.

Pokerworks: I'm sure like most people you started out online playing smaller stakes and worked your way up. Tell us about your move up the ladder and how that happened.

Eric Baldwin:
I started out just playing small limit cash games and I was browsing the tournament lobby and saw how big the prizes were. It was unbelievable to me so I started grinding sit and go's. I'd win $50 and buy into a tournament, lose that, and then go grind out some more sit and go's, lose that. Eventually I got lucky and won $4,000 in a tournament and then I just kept playing multi table tournaments because it was the most fun to me.

Pokerworks: How long did it take before you were playing the big events like the Pokerstars Sunday Million and FullTilt 750K guaranteed?

Eric Baldwin:
I'd probably play them out of my bankroll, like I'd have $2,000 in my online account and I'd occasionally play the Sunday Million. I did that a bunch of times before my bankroll was big enough to do it on a consistent basis. It probably took me two years before I was able to play a full slate of all the big online tournaments.

Pokerworks: When did you start making the transition to live play?

Eric Baldwin:
I won a satellite on Party Poker to the Canadian Poker Championships. It was like a 100 player field and $5,000 buy in and I was fortunate enough to take 3rd in that. That is where I met my good friend Shannon Shorr, he took 2nd in that event. That really sprung me into live poker because I met Shannon and he's like so networked with so many people and such a nice guy that it got me in as far as knowing a lot of the live players. Also, I cashed for like $46,000 and that was at the end of college so that gave me the bankroll to take a shot and try and play poker for a living.

Pokerworks: Do you like live play more than online?

Eric Baldwin:
Most of the time. There's pros and cons to both. I would say if I was forced to do one or the other I would do live because you get interaction with people. I enjoy interacting with people... most of the time. You get some tables where you definitely want to have your iPod handy so you don't have to listen to some idiot. Most of the time though I enjoy being at the table and it adds another element where you get to look at people and get information out of them that you can't online.

Pokerworks: The one big difference with online and live is that live you can only play one tournament at a time while online you can play multiple which allows the “long run” to not be as long. What are your thoughts on that?

Eric Baldwin:
My friends and I have been talking about that a lot lately. We were talking how all the events at the World Series is like one or two full Sundays online. Just think of how many Sundays you go 0fer or 1fer and lose a lot of money. It hurts more when you are on a downswing live because you invest more time and the buy ins are bigger than they are online. You have to be mentally tough, it's definitely not for everybody.

Pokerworks: Do you think your baseball background (Eric was a rightfielder on a Division III team that won the national title) has helped you in poker?

Eric Baldwin:
Absolutely. I learned a lot of competitive lessons that I was able to carry through to poker from my coaches and my Dad. I know it sounds cliché but the hard work does pay off. The competitiveness and facing some one that is perceived to be better than you has helped me to be able to face many challenges at the poker table.

Pokerworks: What's in the future for you? Are you going to play poker forever?

Eric Baldwin:
I'll always play poker recreationally but I'm not sure it'll be the focus of my life forever. I don't like thinking that far ahead. I just take it one day at a time and am going to continue to enjoy the ride while I can. I've never been one to be too goal oriented or focus on the future. I just try and enjoy the moment. If I feel a shift coming and I want to do something else, hopefully I'll have enough money saved up where I can go do that and do it successfully.

Pokerworks: Thanks for your time and congrats on your win!

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