Name: Steve Gee
Age: 57 (Oldest player remaining)
Hometown: Sacramento, California (Born in China)
Chip Count: 16,860,000 (5th overall)
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
(Formerly a Manager of Software Projects for CalPERS (the California Public Employees Retirement System)
College: California State University at Sacramento, Degree in Business Administration, concentration in Accounting
Marital Status: Divorced
Children: 1 Daughter Tiffany (recent graduate UC Berkley, now applying to medical school
Poker Experience: 45 years
WSOP Earnings: $480,822
WSOP Cashes: 4 (Won a WSOP Gold Bracelet in 2010)
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 1st place – 2010 WSOP, Event #13, $1000 No-Limit Hold’em
Main Event Results: None
2012 WSOP Events Entered: 5 Events Cashed: 1
Gee was interviewed the day after reaching the final table (July 17). Here is the transcript of that interview:
WSOP: Can you tell us about your background?
GEE: I’m from Sacramento, California, but originally from China. I was a professional poker player in the 1970’s, back when I was in my 20’s playing draw lowball. At 22, I was playing the biggest games around. At that time, I was the only young guy at the table. Poker was not popular back in those days like it is today. Being a poker player was a lot like being a pool hustler. We played at the Oaks card club, $60/$120 limit. I was the only 20-something year-old there. There were some guys in their 30’s, some in their 40’s. Everybody else was in their 50’s. But the world’s changed now. Look at a poker room in a casino today and the whole lineup is in their 20’s. I went back and got my college degree, got married, worked a corporate job, you know 8 to 5. Then, in 2008 I quit my job to play poker full time. Poker was so popular at the time, I wanted to win a WSOP bracelet and I wanted to do it now. I didn’t want to wait until I was 70.
WSOP: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
GEE: I enjoy playing poker but my favorite pastime is tennis. I’m an avid tennis player. I actually love playing tennis more than poker, but they’re not very compatible activities. If I’m playing poker all night long, I can’t get up in the morning to play tennis at 10 am. The other thing is that no one pays you any money to play tennis.
WSOP: Being the oldest player at the table, do you feel that you’re at a disadvantage in any way?
GEE: I don’t think there’s any advantage or disadvantage, I am an older guy, but I’m just as quick as the young guns.
WSOP: How did you first get into poker?
GEE: I’ve been playing since I was 12. You know, nickels, dimes, and quarters. When I first dropped out of college, one of my friends showed me poker at a local casino. So we played in the $2 game and I got hooked. Back then, I put in 50-60 hours a week to learn the game.
WSOP: You won a WSOP gold bracelet back in 2010. How does that compare with making the Main Event final table?
GEE: You can’t really compare the two. In 2010, that was the ultimate for me. That was the greatest summer of my life and my biggest poker accomplishment and I thought that nothing could ever surpass that. But this summer has been better than that. You can’t compare it. The Main Event is the greatest tournament out there. It’s the only tournament there is that can literally change your life.
WSOP: How long have you been playing the Main Event?
GEE: I’ve played the Main Event the last four years. This is the first year that I’ve cashed.
WSOP: What’s different about this year compared to the previous years you played in the Main?
GEE: I’ll be honest with you. In 2009, 2010, 2011. I was really happy with the way I played. I played as perfect poker as you could play. But I just got bad beat every year. Pair over pair, I’d get sucked out on. One year I got all the money in on the turn with top set and they made a flush on the river. This summer, I don’t think I played as well as I did in the past, but I just got more lucky breaks.
WSOP: Was there a particular point in the tournament where you began to think that you had a real shot at getting here?
GEE: Every single day, I never thought I’d make it to the next day. I had some friends who came out to support me who were here from Day 1. On Day 6 they had to fly back and I told them to go ahead, I don’t have very many chips. Every day I finished with 20-25 BB’s. I was on CPR. Everyday I was like, ‘if I’m still in I’ll play, but if not we’ll go out for dinner.’ The turning point for me was Day 7. We were down to around 20 players and I was short stacked down to about 4 million in chips. I pushed all in with pocket 8’s and the guy on my left called with pocket 10’s and the small blind called with Ace-King. Once the hands were turned up, I picked up my bag, getting ready to head out the door. But the flop came 5-6-7 giving me an open-ended straight draw. The river was a four, and I tripled up and from then on I kept chipping up.
WSOP: What are your plans between now and October?
GEE: I’m going to go home and spend some time with my friends and family for a couple of weeks and then I’m going to head to Los Angeles to play. I’ll also add a lot of tournaments to my schedule. I don’t have a broad tournament resume because I play mostly cash games, but I will be playing more in the future.