For Steven Begleiter, family comes first, career second and poker a distant third. The father of three is a beacon for those who balance home and work while trying to fit in a bit of time on the felt.
An honors graduate of Haverford College, Begleiter was hired right out of school by Bear Stearns where he worked for 24 years. His position of the last nine years as head of corporate strategy at Stearns found himself in the eye of the storm that was the 2008 Wall Street fallout.
After his company was sold to JP Morgan, Begleiter was left searching for “only the second real job he’d ever had.” He reveals that the last year was very trying on him, but after using that time as an opportunity to re-position himself in the financial sector and to garner his poker skills, 2009 has proven to be stellar for Begleiter, who is now a principal for private equity group Flexpoint Ford LLC and among this year’s November Nine.
WSOP.com: What if any has been the biggest change in your life since making that final table back in July?
Begleiter: There really haven’t been any big changes only that I’m thinking about playing more poker, but I still have my job and my family obligations.
WSOP.com: Take us through a typical day for you during the break between Main Even play.
Begleiter: Well, I commute to and from the suburbs to my office, workout, spend time at home with my three kids. I coach my youngest kid’s soccer league, watch my oldest’s
football games, and spend time with my daughter. I also read a few poker books.
WSOP.com: Do you still play in local games?
Begleiter: Yes, in fact we just had our first game of our league that runs from September to June.We had a record 27 in attendance, 3 full tables! In that game, I came in fifth and the top five got paid, so I barely made the bubble.
WSOP.com: How do your opponents react to you?
Begleiter: Oh, they are always gunning for me.
WSOP.com: Was there one particular hand during the tournament in July that was instrumental in your becoming a November Niner? Could you describe how it played out?
Begleiter: You know, I’ve been thinking about that a lot. On day one, I folded pocket kings pre-flop. This was during the third level and I was in the small blind. I hadn’t had a pocket pair all day and I finally get kings. Guy in middle position limps and I raise it up to 1,300. The big blind re-raises to 3,500 and I can’t believe it. I mean, he’d been playing pretty tight all day but come on. So I re-raise to 11,300 and he five-bets me all-in. I said you know what, he could have aces, maybe just AK or AQ. If he has 7-3, then nice bluff, so I folded showing the Kings. He was nice enough to show his Pocket aces. A couple of guys almost fell out their chair. I want the rest of the guys at the final table to know that I will fold kings pre-flop. *chuckles*
WSOP.com: Heading toward November 7th, which is it that makes your heart palpitate more, the potential to win over $8.5 million, or that you will be playing at the highest profile poker table in history, in front of millions worldwide?
Begleiter: Oh, playing in front of millions by far. I mean, I look at it this way, I can easily be the first to get knocked out, but to have the opportunity to play in this final table, in front millions, it's unbelievable.
WSOP.com: With winning the Main Event of the World Series of Poker comes the title of “Reigning World Champion of Poker.” Would you embrace the role of poker ambassador or is that something you would have a hard time with?
Begleiter: I’d embrace the role. I’m not thinking about what if I win, I’m just trying not to bust in 8th or 9th place. This is not what I do for a living. This is a hobby for me, but if there are things that come with winning (the main event), I’m okay with them as long as they don’t interfere with my family or with work.