Name: Robert Salaburu
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas (Born in San Benito, TX)
Chip Count: 15,155,000 (7th overall)
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Marital Status: Single
Poker Experience: 6 years
WSOP Earnings: $0
WSOP Cashes: 0
Best Previous WSOP Finish: None
Main Event Results: No previous cashes
2012 Events Entered: 4 Events Cashed: 1
Salaburu was interviewed two weeks after the October Nine was set (July 30). Here is the transcript of that phone interview:
WSOP: You’ve been a poker pro for a while. When did you start making a living off of the game and how have you grown as a poker player?
SALABURU: I guess I’ve made my living off the game since the beginning or I wouldn’t be doing it. The difference is that I got used to the upswings and the downswings and being able to deal with them. I have been broke plenty of times along the way, but always figured out a way to run it back up, get back and play, and build my own roll again. I never had the best bankroll management, mostly just took a lot of shots my whole career.
It is nice to have a chance to win some serious money and get out of the game. I’ve been in this the whole time to hit a big one and build some capital to relax and make life a little easier. I am just not somebody who is going to report to somebody and work every single day. The highs and lows have been brutal and I think just getting here is part of the challenge and I am just happy to be here and have a chance to do it.
WSOP: How many years have you been playing professionally?
SALABURU: I guess about seven.
WSOP: So you started when you were, what, twenty years old?
SALABURU: Between 18 and 20 I was going back and forth between poker and school and I was never really full time on either. Then, finally, I just quit registering for classes and only played poker. I would register for classes every semester and end up dropping them or not showing up. I wasn’t the best at school. I just wasn’t very driven and had no motivation to go, so I finally just stopped paying for classes when I was around 20.
WSOP: Where were you in school?
SALABURU: I went to school the first semester after I left high school. I moved in with a buddy in Miami and went to Miami-Dade, which is a community college. He was going there and I decided to move up there and meet him. I signed up for classes and just ended up playing a bunch of cash games the whole time. I ran it up pretty substantially and then busted myself in a 64-hour time span (laughs). I ended up trucking back to Texas to try to rebuild and signed up for classes there. I always wondered what my life would’ve been like if I never played poker because I may have stayed in school and ended up in a more stable lifestyle. I guess, at this point, I am glad I stuck with it.
WSOP: Who first got you interested in poker?
SALABURU: When I was 16 or 17 we had a buddy in high school and we would play in his garage. Stupid games like Baseball and Chicago and all kinds of weird, fun games. We’d have a good time and I enjoyed it a lot. That was right around when PartyPoker was getting big and I got some money online and I was hooked.
WSOP: When did you first start playing at the World Series of Poker?
SALABURU: I guess my first WSOP was when I was 22 or 23. I was mostly a cash game player at the time, so I was playing cash. The last three years, I have been playing more and more events. I played the Main Event the last three years.
WSOP: How many events did you play this summer?
SALABURU: I think I played around five. I was out there for a month prior to the Main Event. I played the first three or four events and played cash on the side for three weeks. I was stuck a little bit on the trip and came back home and relaxed a little bit. Then I came back for the Main Event.
WSOP: At what point during the Main Event did you start thinking to yourself that you had a legitimate shot of making the October Nine?
SALABURU: Probably with about 100 players left. I continued to hold the chip lead for about two days. Whenever I get a chip lead in a tournament, I am pretty hyper-aggressive. I tend to just go for it and try to maintain. When you have chips late in a tournament like that and you see them breaking to ten tables, then nine tables, then eight tables, then fifty people then 25. Right around there, I knew I had a legitimate shot of
getting there and making a good run at it.
WSOP: You’re a guy who has been in the poker world a while and you had some notable pros on your rail. Did any of them give you advice late in the tournament or were you just playing your own game?
SALABURU: I mean, my own game got me there, so I wasn’t looking to take any advice. Obviously the best advice they could give me was to just keep on trucking. I was doing something right. At that point when you’re in the zone and dialed in and you get to a point where everybody knows how to play the game and you just have to run good and the cards will lay where they lay. I was having fun with the Main Event the whole time and had the attitude that the cards will lay where they lay, because whenever I tend to put too much pressure on myself, it tends to not make the game fun. And that is why I started to play the game and got into this, because it is fun. After a certain point, when you beat your head into the wall so many times, it stops being fun. So I just made it fun and went with it. It is nice going home and being able to talk hand histories with some of the best minds in the game. This summer, if I had a question on a couple of hands, they could give me a different route or give me their theory on it.
WSOP: Is there any person in particular that you sought advice from or plan to talk with during your downtime?
SALABURU: My buddy Bobby Lane and David Emmons are both big online players. Also Stephen Chidwick. They are a lot of epic heroes who have been crushing the game a long time. They are a good core group of friends and it is good to be able to talk strategy with them.
WSOP: Do you have any plans for the downtime before the final table?
SALABURU: I plan to play some tournaments in the South, mostly the Main Events. Then maybe I’ll go down to Mexico to go hang out and relax on the beach for a bit because I have a bunch of friends who live in Cabo [San Lucas]. I will probably go to WSOP Europe and see what happens. I haven’t been to Europe since I was 13, so it will be a vacation in and of itself. Europe is awesome. I love to travel, I’ve always loved to travel and I think that is what kind of kept me in this for so long. Even though downswings are brutal, being able to go to a new place and enjoy it is always better than being at home. I am not one to be in one place, I always like to float around.
WSOP: Sounds like poker is a good profession for you then.
SALABURU: Yeah, like I said, I have never been good at reporting to people and taking orders from people, so I had to figure out something in a hurry. I guess I just kind of stuck with what I knew.