Las Vegas, NV (June 14, 2012) -- Brian Meinders certainly knows his limitations. Hold’em limitations, that is. More precisely, Limit Hold’em.
Meinders pulled off poker’s equivalent of a triple play over the past three days, winning a steady progression of increasingly-more difficult sit n' go-type matches en route to an ultimate victory that resulted in a World Series of Poker championship, manifested in his first-ever gold bracelet.
Mienders won the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold'em Shootout tournament (Event #25), which took place on the Pavilion grand stage at the Rio in Las Vegas. The central New Jersey-based poker player enjoyed his highest profile victory ever, following two previous deep runs in previous WSOP events.
Meinders' first WSOP cash was three years ago when he took eighth in an event, which was good for a $55,000 payout. Then, he finished second in another event held in 2010, good for another $145,000. This year, he has only one cash (so far) -- and this was it. Tack on another $116,118 in prize money to a poker nest egg that now has more than $300,000 in just three deposits. The bottom line is -- Meinders makes his cashes really count.
The cumulative succession of three cashes and three final table appearances -- posting 8th, 2nd, and 1st -- unquestionably represents an uptick in results that may indicate Meinders has his best days still ahead.
Aside from poker, Meinders has a serious love of languages. He studied for a few years at Rutgers University in New Jersey and became proficient enough in Latin that he now teaches the subject at a private school. However, Meinders is just as passionate about poker and now tends to call one of the biggest poker rooms in Atlantic City his "office."
The top 63 finishers in this event collected prize money. The final table included at least two notable faces -- including two-time gold bracelet winner Brock Parker (5th) as well as tournament journeyman Victor Ramdin (4th). In fact, this was Ramdin's 13th time in the money since the start of last year's WSOP -- which ties him with Shawn Buchanan for most cashes over the past last two years. Coincidentally, Buchanan cashed in this event as well.
The tournament began on Tuesday with 366 entrants. Among the former gold bracelet winners who cashed were Matt Matros, Greg Mueller, and Tex Barch.
MEET THE LATEST WSOP CHAMPION – BRIAN MEINDERS
Childhood: New Jersey
Education: Attended Rutgers University (studied political science)
Additional Education: Learned to speak Latin (language)
Current Residence: Jackson, New Jersey (USA)
Profession: Teacher / Professional Poker Player
Number of WSOP Cashes: 3
Number of WSOP final table appearances: 3
Number of WSOP gold bracelet victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP finish: 2nd (2010)
Total WSOP Earnings: $315,545
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNER
Question: Would you mind giving us a little bit of a background, a bio aside from poker? What do you do, where did you grow up, you know anything more about you as a person?
Meinders: I grew up in Lakewood, New Jersey. I attended Rutgers University for a few years before dropping out to play poker. I did that, then I taught Latin for a few years. I came back to playing poker, and now I coach chess part-time on the side.
Question: You taught Latin? Give us more. How do you learn Latin….how do you teach Latin….what is the market for that?
Meinders: I learned it in high school, and a little bit in college, you know both from my teachers and independently. I wound up going back to teach where I had gone to middle school, actually. I was there for two years. Then, I came back to this.
Question: Do you have a love for languages? Would that be correct to say?
Question: Would you call yourself a professional player? A teacher? What would be your occupation?
Meinders: I guess poker is my primary source of income, so I would say this is my profession for the time being.
Question: What were you studying at Rutgers?
Meinders: Political Science and Psychology.
Question: You have three deep runs and no min-cashes. Do you play just to go deep? You don’t care just about finishing in the money?
Meinders: Obviously you care. But the prize structure tends to be very top heavy. So, you want to aim your play in such a way that you can finish towards the top if at all possible.
Question: Touching on that, it seems like when you got to the final table you just kind of never really slowed down. You never really had a problem at the final table. Can you talk about your run of cards? Did you just outplay everyone or did you just card rack it?
Meinders: I like to think about it’s both, but the truth is probably closer to the latter. I think I played alright and I think I did very well. And I’m happy with how things turned out.
Question: How much Limit Hold’em do you actually play? Because your other real deep run at the WSOP was Six-Max No-Limit game and usually those two aren’t synonymous.
Meinders: Well, I actually finished second two years ago in a Limit Hold’em tournament. As to how much, I think I play entirely too much.
Question: Where do you play mostly? In Atlantic City?
Meinders: The Borgata mostly (Atlantic City(, and the Parx periodically (Philadelphia). Anywhere on the East Coast, and then I come out here once a year.
Question: Can you discuss the challenge of a Shootout tournament versus say playing in a field of 2,500 players?
Meinders: I’d say that the format necessitates a more complete skill set here, because if you’re playing a regular tournament you only need to play short-handed at the very end of it. You only need to play heads-up at the very end of it. In order to win a shootout, you need to win three tables. Which means you need to play full ring for a while, then you need to play short-handed, and then finally you need to play heads-up successfully. It makes it a lot harder to get lucky at the one part of the game where maybe you’re weaker.
Question: The last thing, obviously is the gold bracelet -- the ultimate symbol in poker. Is this the ultimate symbol in poker for you?
Meinders: Well, I’m really happy to have one. I didn’t realize how much I wanted one until last time, when I came up this short. And I’m happy to have it this time around.
Question: Talk about that second-place finish. Was it bittersweet? Was it painful? What went through your mind?
Meinders: It was probably the saddest I’ve been to win over one-hundred thousand dollars (laughing).
Question: Can you explain?
Meinders: One thing in poker -- money comes and goes. Success are the things that stay with you though and that’s why it means a lot.
The official report of this tournament, with much more news and official data, will be posted soon to WSOP.com.
-- by Nolan Dalla