One of the most inspiring stories to come out of the World Series of Poker the last few years has been that of Hal Lubarsky. In 2007 Lubarsky became the first legally blind player to cash in the WSOP Main Event finishing 197th for $51,398. He requires an assistant to sit with him at while he plays and read to him the flop, turn, river and his hole cards as well as describe the action around the table.
WorldSeriesofPoker.com caught up with Lubarsky and his assistant this year Michelle Murrell to find out how 2008 was treating them both.
WSOP: Hal, how long have you been playing poker?
Lubarsky: I've been playing poker for about 30 years, 35 years.
WSOP: How did you get started?
Lubarsky: Oh, as a little kid. I liked playing even when I was young.
WSOP: Are there any players that you admire?
Lubarsky: Howard Lederer, David Grey, Erik Seidel and Doyle Brunson.
WSOP: We've see you at the Main Event, do you play any other events?
Lubarsky: This is my second year at the Main Event and I really haven't (played any others), I don't follow the tournament circuit around. We did play the Venetian Deep Stack the first day of the WSOP, we came fourth in that. And we played a couple of the WSOP bracelet events. We didn't cash in those, but we won a mega satellite.
WSOP: What do you do when you're not playing poker?
Lubarsky: I usually play poker. I play poker a lot. I play poker almost every night. But I own a carpet cleaning company. I like to go to movies, shows, and I have a lovely dog Tommy Boy and a good friend in Michelle here.
WSOP: Michelle, how long have you been assisting Hal?
Murrell: I've been assisting Hal for about four months.
WSOP: Do you play poker?
Murrell: A little bit, now that I've met Hal.
WSOP: Do you ever get nervous when Hal is playing a big hand?
Murrell: Not too much, actually. I try not to pay attention to his cards as much as what's going on, and if I can forget what his cards are, then I don't have to worry about people picking up things from me, so I try my hardest to do that.
WSOP: We know that you're not allowed to tell Hal how to play his hands, but are you allowed to say if a player's hand is shaking while he's making his bet or if a player looks really nervous?
Murrell: I don't tell him any of that stuff.
Lubarsky : She can tell me anything that she can see.
Murrell: I could but I choose not to. Acting is a big part of playing poker and a lot of people try to act certain ways. If he can't see how they act all the time, I would prefer not to tell him something like that because it could affect his play.
WSOP: Hal, do ever worry that Michelle will give off a tell during a time?
Lubarsky : No, she's very good. She's excellent. She doesn't give off anything.
Lubarsky finished Day 1b with 70,700 and will join the players from Day 1a and 1b on Tuesday at Noon as one of the top 50 chip stacks.