Name: Phil Collins
Age: 26
Hometown:  Las Vegas, NV
Seat: 4
Chip Count:  23,875,000 (ranks 4th)
Profession:  Professional Poker Player
Years Attended WSOP:  3

The afternoon after the November Nine was reached, each player sat for an interview with the WSOP’s Nolan Dalla.  Below are excerpts from those conversations:

Question:  So far, you seem to be having the most fun of anyone in the November Nine.  Is that true?
Collins:  I’m definitely taking this very seriously.  I’m staying as focused as I can and not be too relaxed and get off my game plan.  But at the same time, this is one of the best experiences that anyone could ever have as a poker player and I want to enjoy it.  Like, I had a couple of beers when we were at ten-handed.  I mean, that’s an awesome experience and even though there was a ton of pressure, I felt very relaxed.  I was so happy to be in that moment.  What’s the worst case scenario that could happen?  That I get tenth place and get $600,000?  That’s still pretty nice and I’m trying to enjoy it.

Question:  What about times during the tournament when things may not have gone as well? Talk about that.
Collins:  Honestly, I never really had a tough day or a tough spot in the tournament.  I ended where I wanted to every single day in chips.  I chipped up, I almost doubled my stack every day.  I was never low.  I’ve never been all-in this entire tournament.  I played a couple of big pots that I had to win.  But only one of those did I actually not have the best hand.  I got in around 700,000 of my 1.2 million with ace-king against pocket kings.  I would have still been in the tournament.  I would have been significantly below average.  And that was a pot I definitely had to win and it propelled me to this spot. 

Question:  What about the other days?
Collins:  I ended Day One with 70,000, Day Two with 230,000, the next day 430,000, then one million, then four million, then 7, 14 and 23.  Hopefully I’ll have 180 million going into heads-up (laughing).  It’s 206 million to win the whole thing.  Slow and steady.  You can’t get 206 million until November.  So, I try to put myself in a good spot each day -- to have a good spot the next day.  I didn’t get too far ahead of myself.  I had a good Day One.  I got up to 70 thousand.  Then, I moved tables for the last level to a tough table and I already had the 70 thousand that I wanted.  And, I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot.  So, I played kind of tight for that last level.  Moved to Day Two and had a soft table again.  So, I started playing more aggressive and accumulated chips.  That's pretty much how I got here.

Question:  You had the largest cheering section, or at least the loudest.  Did that help you late in the tournament, do you think?
Collins:  I had the biggest rail because I live in Las Vegas and all of my friends are poker professionals who have been playing all summer.  And now, they have nothing to do except drink and come down and watch me in the Main Event (laughing).  Which is great.  Seriously, it can be distracting.  But for me, it wasn’t distracting at all.  I think it was motivating, it was inspirational.  A couple of the players even said it was a little bit of a home field advantage for me.  People don’t want to lose pots versus me.  If you lose a big pot against me, the rail is going to go nuts.  I kind of liked it.  It helped a lot.

Question:  You have been very revealing about your relationship with your wife during your career as a poker pro.  Talk more about her support.
Collins:  Katie has been so incredibly supportive of me.  We met in college before I really even played poker.  I intended on going to law school.  But I turned that down to play poker professionally.  And she supported that decision and never doubted me.  She knows that I’m a smart guy and I know what I’m doing and that I want to do what’s best for her as well.  Whenever I decided to move to Las Vegas, that was another big decision that she supported.  We were not even engaged yet.  But she supported that decision and never questioned me.  This whole Main Event run wouldn't be possible without the support she has given me.  It's extremely motivating to have someone in your corner and someone that you want to win for.  I want to win for her almost more than I want to win for myself.  She deserves it for how great she's been. 

Question:  You clearly have a passion for poker and for your family and friends.  What else are you passionate about?
Collins:  I'm glad that I did not go to law school.  I have always been very argumentative.  I have always been sharp-witted.  I think I would have been a very successful trial lawyer because that is what I initially wanted to do.  But I also like to relax.  More important, I like to have the freedom to do what I want.  I do not like people telling me what to do.  As a professional poker player it's nice knowing that I can get up and then do whatever I want.  But really, my biggest passion is just my friends and family.  Really, the only thing I care about other than my poker success is my friends and family -- and know how they are doing. I'm preparing to have a family later in life.  So, my poker success is not only for me and Katie (Collins), it's for my kids someday.  I want them to have a great life, as well.  And if I work hard, I can help them to be successful in their life, as well.  That's what I'm playing for.
Question:  You have only been with the rest of the November Nine players for a day or two.  Talk about the bonding experience of being amongst such an elite group of players.
Collins:  It's is kind of weird how we all want to bust each other, and we go after each other's throats.  But at the same time, it really is a bonding experience.  There is so much pressure on us, but we are all in this together.  The deeper you go, you start to realize how cool this all is.  So, you start to make friends around the table.  I think the nine of us have quickly become pals.  We are going to battle for $8.7 million -- that's for sure.  But they are all my new friends. 
Question:  Of the eight players you will face, which one is the player you respect and perhaps fear the most?
Collins:  Well, when we were still at two tables, I was wishing my good friend Bryan Devonshire would have made it here.  He is a great guy and I was talking to him before and saying how awesome it would be to make the November Nine.  But now I would say I respect Ben Lamb the most.  I think he plays poker at a very elite level and has more experience under the lights than I have.  So, he is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Question:  How many WSOP events did you play this year?
Collins:  I lost track.  I played in too many, and didn't cash enough (laughing).  I think it was more than 25.  I'll say this, mine didn't go as good as Ben Lamb's (laughing).

Question:  If you have to chose just one statement as being true, which would it be – ‘Poker is fun’ or ‘Poker is business?’
Collins:  Poker is fun.  I started playing for fun.  I was always told when I was growing up and in business school to find out what you love to do, and then figure out how to get paid for it.  I love to play games and I love to compete....the making money part is great.  But if I wasn't having fun, I would not be doing this.

Question:  If you could hypothetically accept a deal where you were guaranteed second-place, but would not win -- would you accept the deal?
Collins:  Absolutely.  I am not a favorite to get to play heads up.  So, I would take the deal.