Dan O’Brien’s made a number of deep runs in World Series of Poker events throughout the years, but a bracelet has eluded him thus far in his career. O’Brien’s built up some stacks so far at the 2015 WSOP too, including a deep run in the Colossus event, and he seems poised for big things this summer if it continues to go the same way.
BLUFF caught up with O’Brien Thursday night to find out more about his time in the Colossus event, along with his opinions on how the biggest tournament ever played out.
BLUFF: How’s your summer started off?
Dan O’Brien: It actually started off alright. So the $5K, it started off great. I was running really hot and I felt really good. I had built up a stack from 25,000 to 90[K]. I was like, “fuck yeah.” This is a $5K. Starting off strong here, feeling good. Then I found out we were playing until 3:00 a.m. I thought, “Man, that’s going to be tough for me,” because I don’t stay up that late, typically. Now I have to not only stay up that late, but play big bet poker against some of the best players in the world.
We fought hard, and then at around 2:30 in the morning, I was playing with Martin Jacobson, who is lo and behold, the best player in the world, as the Series would have you believe, and legitimately one of the best. He just absolutely embarrassed me in three straight hands and took all my chips. He had some good hands and I had some good hands, but still pretty frustrating to really have to play that high level at that hour. I was a little bit annoyed with the World Series. In addition, to being annoyed I lost my chips. That was not the best start, but then, sick running the Colossus.
BLUFF:Yeah, let’s talk about the Colossus. You’ve always been one that you seem to go the extra mile to reach across the field to bring in more people to the game. Colossus, was it a big success in your eyes of bringing people in?
Dan: Huge success. I think it was a great idea, and I think that is kind of evidenced by how many unique players they got out here. I see both sides of the debate. It’s like, okay, it’s only a $500 buy-in. Are we tainting bracelets? What if it were a $300, or a $100 bracelet? Are we really going to go that far? I don’t know because if it were a $300 event, I would have said that’s ridiculous, but $500 I would have been like, “okay, I guess we can have one.” It’s up for interpretation, but there’s a lot of first time World Series players, which is incredible. I think that the event was run better than anyone could’ve expected for getting that many. I think, what was it, 14,000 unique something like that.
22,374 total entries. Pretty impressive, to be able to run things as smoothly as they were run. The issues they were having they were unexpected. Things like payout line, which is inexcusable in my opinion, and they will defer to the computers were down. That’s not an excuse. It’s on you guys to make sure that doesn’t happen and to make sure you have people here to fix that when it does and not let something that important go on for three or four hours because for me, it doesn’t matter. To just give you an example, Jason Somerville asked if they have the Colossus again tomorrow, would I play it? The answer to me is sure because I can stay here all month and get paid out next year if I want.
If they said, “okay, you have to get paid out as soon as you bust,” I wouldn’t play because you’re just going to wait in line for four hours. If you factor that annoyance into the ROI determiner it’s like, “fuck that, I’m not doing it.” For some of these poor people that had to fly out the next day, that had no choice, you’re sitting in line like you’re waiting for a new iPhone to come out. It’s sick what they do for the iPhone, but when a company is forcing you to do it just to get your money that your entitled to. You put up the money and they took it from you and now they’re taking four hours to give it back, that’s pretty disappointing that they weren’t prepared for that. Then of course the payout structure was another huge disappointment. I think I was one of the people that was much more on the side of the World Series, in terms of it’s not inherently a bad structure. It’s just different, but it’s very different, and it was clearly unexpected.
Anyone that’s on the World Series side telling you that this is what you should’ve expected is totally out of touch with reality because there’s a lot of us and none of us expected it. If you’re going to do something that is that different from industry standard, you need to just go ahead and say it early. “Hey guys, play this tournament, the structure is going to be really flat. Top prize is going to be much less than you would think.” Okay, thanks. I’ll play, I won’t play. Fine, but you can’t just change things that wildly. Then just breeze over it as if it’s a normal thing, and not even explain it when you announce the prizes. It’s really weird, the way they went about it, and their responses to it have been really odd. Disappointing, we’ll say, in very light terms.
I tweeted that they should pay me to run the WSOP Twitter account because I’ll do it for half a million a year and I will definitely save them money because you’re going to have a lot of people pissed and never coming back. You have people that are just tweeting at World Series, but they’re not happy with the structure. The WSOP Twitter account is just blocking them. What are you doing? He didn’t say I’m going to come down there and kill you, or I’m going to fuck your uncle, weird shit, right? Twitter is full of weird shit. Block those people, fine. People are just saying, “I fucking hate this structure, this sucks. Why are you guys doing this?” Okay, you’re blocked. What? These are customers that are angry. That’s not how you run a corporate Twitter account or any sort of corporate PR. It’s been a really weird week, I think, in terms of World Series events, or decisions, and then responses to them. I have faith in some of the guys in there at least, so hopefully things get sorted out.
Enough complaining. I think that the Colossus, overall, was a great experience. My run in particular was disappointing. Again, it’s one of those things where I signed up, never thinking I would win, and it’s that lack of hope that is so great and freeing in these tournaments. Like, “Oh, I’m not going to win this thing, I’m just going to go play, do my best. Whatever. Then you look. It’s like, “Okay, there’s only 150 people left, I could actually win this thing.” Then they pull the rug out and that’s when it hurts the most. When you finally believe you can actually win, and then you don’t. It was hell of a ride. I loved it. I really enjoy the hype. I said I never thought that I could imagine getting so much support for finishing 108th in any tournament. It was a great experience and I’m sorry that I couldn’t have gone farther. It was a great time.
BLUFF: I saw you sitting over there filming a segment for VICE. Tell me, what was it about and how it came about.
Dan: I was referred to them by a mutual friend. Basically, they’re filming some sort of travel show. Where they’re going to a bunch of different places and talking some history and some ancillary topics. In this one, they’re traveling to Nevada and seeing, I don’t know if it is Area 51. I guess no one gets to see that or whatever, but they’re looking for some nuclear bomb testing sights and seeing that history of Nevada. They’re also going to Russia, etc. and talking about the Cold War, so they want to do a little segment in Vegas, to tie Vegas in via game theory in the Cold War and the game theory in poker. It was pretty laid back, a little bit of game theory, a little bit of poker, a little bit of Cold War. It’s a nice little sorbet of whatever topics were going to tie the whole episode in. I think it’s going to be a really short part of the episode, but I really don’t know. They asked me to do it. I said yes, and here I am.
BLUFF: Do you have any idea of when it is going to air?
Dan: I have no idea. I’m the worst. I’m pretty sure I’m not getting paid anything. I’m hoping it’s not for a porn, but I really have no way to tell you. It seemed like they were nice people. That’s as much as I have.
BLUFF: So we’ve got a good hunk of the summer left in front of us, what are you hoping to do?
Dan: I’m hoping to win some money, man. It’s been a while. I’m just playing these big field, no limit events for the most part. I’m going to play a few smaller field tournaments, but it is hard in these things. Most of the time, you’re going to lose because you need to finish pretty darn high to win a bunch of buy-ins. The higher the field size, the more difficult that becomes. It’s a little bit of high variance. It’s not the best way to make a living, by any means, but it’s the World Series. It’s fun. There are some other tournaments around town I’ll be playing in, and I’m just going to keep taking shots. So far, I’m probably about even on the series with the Colossus run Then all the other losses I’ve had that no one gets to hear about. Like you said, a long time ago, already having fun, and the Millionaire Maker’s tomorrow so I’ll be playing that.
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