David Williams Interview (Part 1)
This is an interview with David Williams from when he was last in Amsterdam in September 2007.
Nice to have you in Amsterdam. What brings you here?
Noah asked me to come when we were at the EPT in Barcelona together. The WSOPE in London is around the corner, and it seemed like a good idea to spend some days in Amsterdam. There was a nice party in Bloemendaal where we had to go. So we flew to Amsterdam from Barcelona in this little shitty airplane. My luggage got lost and they still haven't found it. We went to the party and it was cold and wet. It wasn't a great party, we stayed for about 30 minutes and on the way home I left my phone in the cab. Great idea, haha.
Did everything turn out OK?
Yeah I got my phone back, no problem. And Amsterdam is fantastic, I've been here so many times before to visit Noah, also during our "Magic"-time. We played Magic again this time and I met a couple of old friends, so that was good.
So how are you? You play live tournaments, but do you still play online once in a while?
Not often. I'm being sponsored by Bodog, and the highest limits there are 3-6NL. I play that once in a while because it is expected of me. I have my own table there and I play for the atmosphere and to practice. It's not that I want to win a lot of money at that table. And I'm more of a live player anyways when it comes to high stakes.
Where do you play live?
We have a good game at the Venetian one or two times a week. We mainly play between $50/$100 and $200/$400 NL. It can get pretty heavy at times and you can easily lose a couple of hundred thousand in one night. I once lost $90k in one night, but then again I also won $230k in one night. It's been going really good lately, I won the last 8 sessions. That's the game of Gabe Thaler where Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis played as well.
In an interview with Playboy Magazine a couple of years ago you said " Maybe I'm supposed to live alone." You were living with your girlfriend at that time. How is that now?
We actually separated and I'm actually living by myself now. I bought a nice apartment on the Strip and I love "being the boss" over my own home. I'm very precise, and I want things to stand in certain places. If something doesn't stand in its place I already start to panic. In that respect im a control-freak.
You are academically educated and have studied at Princeton, one of the best universities in America. Did you eventually complete your degree?
No i still have to study for about 1 year. Look, after becoming second in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in 2004 the plan was to just return to university, but then I signed a contract with Bodog, which involved me playing the tourney circuit. When I do something I want to be able to give it 100%. If I would be studying and playing poker at the same time nothing would come of it. I always used to get A's, and I would hate to get a lower grade. That is why I chose poker. I can always return to school, even when I'm 40 or 50 years old. But I do miss studying.
When you think back to the time when you were 18 or 19, what were your ambitions back then? Personal, professional, maybe even political ambitions?
I've never really had specific goals. When I was young I wanted to be an astronaut, I remember that. After that I wanted to be a comedian, then a doctor, then a lawyer. At the university I was studying computer science, after that electrical engineering, then law, then economics. I asked my professor what I could actually do with my economics degree. He said: "Well, we teach economics." I never really thought that, as an economist, you would go work for a large company. I was one of those boys who thought about studying until they're 40 and get numerous diplomas in various subjects. One doctor PHD here, one there.
What I did know is that I wanted to be famous. That's what I told all my friends. It didn't matter what for, as long as I would be famous. My friends then used to say: "You don't sing, you don't dance, you don't act, you're not an athlete, you're not a basketball player, how are you going to do this?" Then I would say: "I don't know, but it's going to happen."
It worked, with poker.
Yes, although it is more of a mini-fame. But still, I have a lifestyle that fits to famous people. I have money, I travel a lot, so in some sense it worked.
What if poker wouldn't be part of your life?
Then I'd go back to university. Not because it would help me get a job, but because I enjoy it. I basically have enough money now to do "nothing", but then Id get bored too fast. One of my goals is to start a company. The only problem is I don't know what type of company to start up, otherwise it would've happened already. I think about it constantly, for example when I exit a tourney, if I have time. What hole in the world needs to be filled? As soon as I know that, it's going to happen.
Do you have enough time to think about it?
Yes. I'm not a hardcore poker player like the pro's that also play online. So if there isn't a big tournament being played somewhere, I have enough time. In times like those I like to relax and who knows, maybe the idea will just come by itself.
Some time ago I interviewed Patrick Antonious. His lifestyle can be compared to that of a top athlete. He is in top condition and his hotel room is filled with vitamins, minerals and other "healthy stuff". How do you approach the game?
Haha, I'm pretty much the opposite. In my room you'd find the Burger King wrappers and pizza cartons. We went partying today, that's pretty much as sporty as it gets. I actually want to be more sporty, maybe it's even necessary, but on the other hand: I don't really need it. My natural metabolism makes sure that I don't get fat and stay in shape. It would probably be better for me if I did get fat, then I'd definitely go to the gym. But it doesn't really suit me. I'm often away from home and have this strange life-style. Maybe I'll think about it differently when I'm home for a long period of time.
Patrick says that the new generation of top poker player are athletes.
I don't disagree with him, but apart form him i know nobody that lives like that, haha.
You are now 27. Can you imagine yourself as a 40 year old?
I can, but I'm not sure what I'm going to be like then. What I do know is that I don't want to be living the life-style I do now. It's a lot of fun, poker and the related life-style, but it doesn't give you a feeling of fulfillment. It's often just a repetition. From poker tournament to poker tournament, from cash game to cash game, always with the same people with the same bad beat stories. Repetition, repetition. When I'm 40 I don't want to look back and say: "Man, all I did was play tournaments and cash games."
Part 2 will follow tomorrow.