At the 2015 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this past summer, the UK's Stephen Chidwick made two final tables.
These were the eighth and ninth WSOP final tables of his career and included a heartbreaking runner-up finish in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Championship — marking the closest he's ever come to winning World Series gold.
With a total of 36 WSOP cashes lifetime, the man who once qualified for over 100 seats in the WSOP Main Event in a single year playing steps tournaments online, has quickly developed a reputation as one of the best players on the planet without a WSOP bracelet. But it's not a distinction he's necessarily proud of.
"That's really not a good ranking to be at the top of, is it?" he asked PokerNews with a smile.
Thankfully, on Saturday in Berlin, Germany, he'll have yet another chance to rid himself of that title as he will come in third in chips at the final table of the 2015 World Series of Poker Europe's Event #1: €2,200 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em, trailing chip leader and 2015 WSOP bracelet winner Paul Michaelis.
"I feel great," he said moments after booking his seat in the final six Friday. "Every time I've been at a final table I've felt like I had a good shot, so I'll just try and play the best I can and whatever happens, happens.
"I'm in great shape. I had kind of a swingy day, but I'm definitely happy with where I ended up, right around average with six left. It's a good place to be."
Winning a WSOP bracelet is definitely something that stands at or near the top of Chidwick's personal bucket list.
"I think anyone who knows me well will know the answer to that question," he said. "When I go to Vegas, I play almost every single event — maybe 40 or 50 a year. I usually go to the World Series in Europe and Australia. It has definitely been something that's been in my sights for years. To take one down would mean a lot for sure."
At this point, it's really all about not letting his desire and emotions get in the way of his focus.
"You always want, as a poker player, to be devoid of emotion and just kind of calculate, think about hands, and play the best you can," he said. "But definitely the closer you get to the bracelet the harder it gets to kind of keep what you're going to say in the winner interview, and all those things, out of your mind. I just try and focus on the cards and each hand as it comes until I've got all the chips."
Chidwick understands the ups and downs of tournament poker and says the lack of gold on his wrist has been more about that than anything else.
"Historically I've taken a few bad beats at final tables," he explained. "It's really just poker tournament variance. The variance of playing really only a handful of final tables at the World Series has really overcome everything else. But as long as I keep putting myself in the right position, I'm sure one of these times things will work out and the cards will run my way in the right spots."
Saturday, as he makes his 10th WSOP final table appearance, Chidwick is relishing the opportunity to finally get over the hump.
"It would mean a lot," he said of finally winning a WSOP bracelet. "But I don't want to win one tournament and then hang up my coat and retire. After I win my first one there will definitely be more in my sights.
"Having that first one though, especially having given myself so many shots, so many times, it would be nice to kind of get the monkey off my back and use that as momentum to try and keep winning more."
Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews from now until Oct. 24 as we continue to provide coverage from the 2015 WSOP Europe.