Steve Gross is in the midst of his second World Series of Poker Main Event cash and heading into the final level of Day 5 he’s one of ten bracelet winners remaining. Gross has 25 career WSOP cashes and hopes to get his 26th in November.
Gross headed into the final level of the night with 1.3 million and it’s not an opportunity he’s taking lightly. “This is the Main Event, I’d be lying if I told you this feels like any other tournament because it’s not,” he said. “It’s such an awesome tournament, you get a little bit of everything.”
Gross hasn’t had an easy time getting to this point. He began the day with 973,000 and chipped up significantly at the dinner break, but then slid to around 700,000. “I played almost all small pots up until dinner and got up to around 2 million with no all in confrontations, which was nice,” he said.
“Then dinner came and I bluffed off a little bit before dinner,” he added. “I had two unfortunate run outs this level (Level 24) where I was pretty sure I had a stranglehold on the hand but he caught up – one time I saw the hand and one time I didn’t. I’ve been fighting – I got short and I’m clawing my way up.”
“You get all the best players in the world, cool dudes from other walks of life and rich wives – people that I don’t commonly play with,” said Gross. “That’s what makes this such a cool event. The money up top is something that I’ve never played for.”
Gross has had the life-changing money in the back of his mind but has done his best to isolate himself from the pressure. “I’m just thinking about one level at a time, one day at a time, one hand at a time,” he said. “I’m trying not to think too far ahead or about hands that I played in the last level – just trying to stay in the moment and play my best.”
Staying in the moment has been easier on him than other players in the field; Gross has been at the same table all day and avoided the cameras of a feature table. “Only two people have busted from my table, everybody’s pretty good here. It’s been back-and-forth. There’s no soft spots – it’s a battle at this table.”
“I’m indifferent to the feature tables, I’ve played on them before. Table draws are so big in this thing that I’m more focused on that rather than if I’m at a feature table or not,” Gross added. “The last few days I’ve had pretty bad table draws but you’ve just got to play different and formulate different game plans for each table.”
He’s managed to game plan his way steadily through each day. He bagged up 112,450 on Day 1C, ended Day 2C with 197,900 and Day 3 came to an end with him holding 240,000. He made his big move on Day 4, ending with 973,000.
Gross cashed in the 2011 Main Event in 593rd place for $21,295 – peanuts compared to $80,000 he already locked up. Gross reflected on his run four years ago,”Well, I do think I play better in these big fields now – just with experience. I don’t put myself at risk in some of the ways I used to,” he said.
“Also, just good fortune. When I cashed last time my buddy was at the same table as me on Day 4 when we’re supposed to make the money and he wrote on my Facebook wall, “Good luck today and let me get a double,” he said. “I got it in holding kings against jacks and the board ran Jx 6x 4x Kx Jx for a lot of chips. And the whole room went “Ohhh” – I was that guy. I was short going into the money and I just had to hang in there. This time I had some chips and was able to play and do my thing.”
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