– Today Daniel Weinman is my guest. Or should you be called Winmain now? Who came up with this nickname?
– One of my friends. This is the first thing he sent me immediately after the victory. I really liked it, and I decided it would be stupid not to change the name on Twitter.
– A few days have passed, have you realized what you have achieved?
– Still no. I don't even know how long it will take. There have been several moments over the past few days when a flood of emotions suddenly came crashing down on me. For example, yesterday Toby [Lewis] and I played golf, I started to remember the final table, and my legs almost gave out. I think I will fully realize when I get back home, and life will return to normal.
– Until this year, you had disastrous results in the Main Event of the World Series, you yourself joked about it on Twitter. How do you explain it yourself?
– I just frankly did not like this tournament. It takes place at the end of the series, when you no longer have any strength or emotions left. And it also has 2-hour levels. Breaks, as in other tournaments, are also every two hours, but in the Main, it somehow had a particularly hard effect on me. You look at the clock, you see that there are another 1.5 hours until the end of the level, and the mood immediately deteriorates. Because of this, I started doing complete nonsense and giving away chips. I think I myself have deprived myself of six or seven opportunities to go far in the main. I just subconsciously wanted to bust out as soon as possible.
– This year you dropped everything and flew home for a whole month. That helped?
– Very much. I think this is one of the main reasons for the victory. In past years, I have played the WSOP from start to finish, seven days a week. And now I spent a whole month with my family, friends, and girlfriend, I went to work every day (edit – Dan has recently been developing software in the near-poker start-up RF Poker, which develops equipment for streaming ). All this helped me completely forget about poker, reboot and start from scratch.
– Everyone has already seen the hand with jacks. But there were several large pots before that. Once you shoved with AKs against Debbie Lee's aces, the flop came with an ace, but you got a runner-runner flush. Then you flopped trips with AKs against jacks and queens. After those hands, did you think that this is your tournament?
– Yes, definitely. The hand against Debbie turned out to be very interesting. It would seem that this is an ordinary cooler, and it would have been so in any other tournament. I don't even remember what the blinds were, but we went in for 60-70bb. In the Main Event, you usually try to avoid collisions in such depth, but she played too aggressively. Her fiancé Ryan Brown also went far (ed. – 114th place). I played him the previous days and saw him light 4-bet a few times, so I 3-bet his raises a lot. 10 minutes before our hand, I saw them together at a break. I think he might have advised her to 4-bet me light early on. Would I have 5-bet if I hadn't noticed them in that break? I don't know myself. In addition, she managed to give an interview to Jeff Platt, it was clear that I would not lose this all-in. In general, a series of strange accidents led to the fact that I shoved and won.
And the hand with jacks against queens and kings, most likely, will become the most famous in my career. When the jack came, I was standing next to the fans, and Shaun Deeb immediately said – that's it, this is your tournament.
– Is this the most memorable moment of the entire tournament? Or still, when the last card was revealed in heads-up?
– Hand with jacks, of course, is more important. Not only did I get two outs, I also knocked out a close friend. Then I didn’t even pay attention to it, but on the replay, you can clearly see the pain was reflected on his face. I myself felt uncomfortable. After the tournament, I talked with Josh several times. The price of this hand is $2-3 million, you don't want to play such hands against friends. I would like everyone to win, such is my character. Unfortunately, this is not possible.
Everyone knows how difficult it is to recover from bad beats. But there is also a positive effect. Were you able to calmly continue the tournament after such luck?
You are absolutely right, it was very difficult to concentrate. I had about 80 million chips, my heart rate rose to 250 beats per minute. Josh Arieh, who was also on my rail, helped a lot. He called me to him, said a few soothing words, and reminded me that I need to continue playing poker calmly. He helped me stay focused, and it turned out to be completely restored in two hours, already at the next level.
You mentioned Shaun and Josh, also Matt Glantz was in your group. How important is this support?
– I have always said that in poker there is nothing more important than the environment. Now, young players sit at home in solvers and play 10 times better than me. But I wouldn't have achieved anything at all without the people I've been discussing poker with over the years.
– Before the final table, you had a day off that you spent on the golf course. Did you do this on purpose to completely distract yourself from poker, or did you still think about the game, develop a strategy for the finals?
– For me, this day off was probably the most stressful day of the entire tournament. Thanks to golf, I managed to get distracted only for a couple of hours. But on this day, all my friends and relatives came to Vegas. The closest people understood that it was better not to reach out to me. But the rest just cut off the phone: “We have arrived. What to do? Where to go?" It's good that my girlfriend Sarah immediately took all these questions upon herself, it allowed me to relax a bit before the two most important days of my life.
– Did your opponents somehow surprise you in 3-max?
I think they both thought I was the favorite and didn't want to play big hands with me. Perhaps the coaches advised them to play more with each other in order to try to get heads up with me with the chip lead. In any case, if I were in their place, I would do just that. In one of the hands that Adam lost to me, he directly told me: "You are the last person I would like to lose chips to." It is quite understandable that with me they tried not to build up the pots. I have a reputation for getting big chips at a moment's notice and making big calls that others wouldn't.
In heads-up, this was also noticeable. I was very surprised when Steven suddenly started limping from the button. I have almost no experience in heads-up, I know the basic strategy, nothing more. And he first started raising with non-standard sizing, then switched to limping, then returned to raising again. I think he obviously consulted with someone but did not fully understand what to stop on, and tried all the tricks.
– In the final hand before pushing, he thought for a very long time. What was going on in your head at that moment?
Daniel Weinman (@notontilt09) is your 2023 @WSOP Main Event Champion.— PokerGO (@PokerGO) July 17, 2023
In the final hand, Weinman and Steven Jones both flop top pair, and when Jones moves in on the turn, Weinman calls.
Weinman walks away with $12,100,000 after conquering the largest Main Event field ever. pic.twitter.com/bxOOJaOcMH
– After the tournament, I was surprised to find out that he had been thinking for four minutes. At that moment, it seemed to me that at least 15 had passed. It seemed to me that he thought for so long, because he himself did not understand what to do. For me, this is a clear sign of a medium-strength hand – a weak jack or a medium pair. He was afraid to see a big bet on the river, so he decided to shove himself to knock out different draws. If I were him, I would call to reassess the situation on the river. An ace came up, so we would obviously check-check. But you can't blame him for pushing either. Too drawy of a board, he will often have the best hand.
– There was another curious moment. After he shoved you got up and he said he was glad he didn't snap call. Did it give you any information?
– Yes, it convinced me even more of the correctness of my conclusions. In any other tournament, I would have called in a second, but then I decided to reassess the situation, after all, we were playing for $6 million.
– There was a lot of controversy on social media whether you chopped or not. I can't help but ask you about it.
– We did not. Before the start of the 3-max, we created a group chat where we discussed the deal, but did not come to anything. Well, I will go into details, this is still a private matter of the players, everyone had equity holders. We also discussed a potential heads-up deal with Steven. Few people want to play for $6 million. I don't know how much money you need to have to comfortably play that kind of money. I definitely don't have that much. But when I knocked out Adam, I felt more confident, and I had a big chip lead. And I told him that we can return to this issue if we get closer in chips.
– You played poker professionally for many years, then you quit, now you have a regular job. How will your life change after this victory?
– I answer everyone that it won't change much. I really believe in it. I get great pleasure from working at RF Poker, and I quit playing because it stopped bringing me joy. Winning the main tournament won't change that. The last five years in poker have made me feel downright miserable. There is a wonderful expression – "poker is a great hobby, but a disgusting way to earn money." I completely agree with this. After winning $12 million, I had no desire to go high stakes or prove that I was the strongest player in the world. I will continue to do what I like.
– Next year you will play the Main Event under your banner. What do you think about that?
– This is another point that I did not fully realize. In 3-max, I had a seat that gave me a perfect view of the photos of champions of the past. A treacherous thought visited me several times: “Will my banner be there too?” I'm glad it happened, but it's still hard to believe.