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Oct 25, 2012

RakeTheRake's Interview with WSOP Finalist Russell Thomas

By RTR Dennis

Russell Thomas Rake The Rake

RakeTheRake managed to grab Russell Thomas - one of the WSOP October Nine - for a quick chat just ahead of the biggest poker event of his life...

RTR: Russell, congratulations on making it into the October Nine – How big of a deal was this for you?

R. Thomas: This was a huge deal. Saved my poker career. I hadn’t played much poker post black friday so I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. RTR: You’re fourth on the chip leader board - how confident are you going into the final?

R. Thomas: Very confident, but as you know there is a lot of variance at final tables. I feel confident I will make the right decisions. RTR: Do you think this marks your biggest achievement in poker to date?

R. Thomas: Of course. Not close. My second biggest achievement was a 5th place finish in a 1500 6 max event for $84K. RTR: How does an Actuary find his way into high stakes live tourney poker? And do you think you’re background in that better equips you for the poker table? Being able to calculate probability etc?

R. Thomas: I’m not so different from most young poker players. I played a lot online in college and was successful. I had also been pursuing a career that I spent my years and college and my summers working towards as well. I thought I would be able to do both. RTR: Would you ever leave your day to day job (currently with ObamaCare - right?) to play poker full time?

R. Thomas: Yes I would. I was working at a health insurance company doing health care reform projects. RTR: Was it a conscious decision to play poker at the level you currently are, or has this just naturally evolved from something you only ever regarded as a hobby or a bit of fun?

R. Thomas: I definitely worked very hard to become skilled at poker. I’ve watched countless videos from training sites, talked thousands of hands with friends, written five thousand strategy posts on 2p2, and played over a million hands of poker. RTR: How much of an impact did Black Friday have on any consideration to pursue poker as a potential career?

R. Thomas: It torpedoed it. Not only did it cut off my poker income, it cost me 25% of my net worth at the time. RTR: If you get the big win at the end of October, how much would that prize money change your life?

R. Thomas: It would be fantastic. I don’t really think money can buy your happiness, but it certainly can free your time to pursue things that might make you happy. RTR: Players get nearly 3 months to prepare for the final – could you tell us about what you’ve been doing by way of getting ready?

R. Thomas: I could tell you.. or you could just watch! RTR: Do you feel that you’re at a bit of a crossroads at the moment – that what happens at the end of this month will dictate to a large extent where your go next, or do you have a fixed plan for life and work that you won’t let poker results cause you to deviate from, no matter how significant?

R. Thomas: My future plans are completely wide open. My finish at the final table and the opportunities that open up for me are unknown at this point. I will go from there. RTR: Thanks for your time, Russell – and best of luck for the 29th.

R. Thomas: Thank you!