Moving day is always a taxing day. Packing up boxes and uprooting from the place you previously called home is an emotionally and physically draining experience. Even the process of buying a home can wear a person out.
Making the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table is a whole different set of stresses and emotions. There are the highs of knowing how far you come and the lows that come with worrying you will come up short of the bracelet. After seven stressful days in July, there is a break to recover, but even that comes with media requests, intense preparation, and an unrivaled sense of anticipation.
If the October Nine experience wasn’t overwhelming enough, Steve Gee decided to throw in a big move to make his life even more complicated. It is a decision he has been mulling over for more than a year, granted, not a sudden impulse. The 57 year-old previously called Sacramento home, but making the final table of the Main Event was the push he needed to uproot and relocate to Las Vegas. In fact, Gee takes possession of his house this Wednesday—less than two weeks before he is expected at the Rio to play for millions of dollars and a gold bracelet.
Before you get too worried that Gee is overexerting himself, let him explain:
“To be a professional poker player, you really have to be in Las Vegas. That is where the action is,” Gee said during an interview at this month’s World Series of Poker Europe event. “I’ll be moving in before the final table. I’m moving in, but I’m not really doing anything. I take possession of the house October 17th, but I probably won’t do anything until after the final table.”
In fact, Gee says he probably wont finish moving in until Thanksgiving, but he did admit a Main Event victory would be a great excuse to throw one of the biggest and best housewarming parties Sin City has ever seen. His guests won’t have far to travel either. Quite the crowd is expected to be on hand to rail Gee when he takes his seat at the table come October 29th.
“I’m at the full 85 tickets [the WSOP allotted us],” Gee said with a laugh. The gigantic group of supporters is quite a change of pace from the last time Gee tasted WSOP victory. One of two bracelet winners at the table, Gee defeated a field of more than 3,000 players in a 2010 No Limit Hold’em event. The payday was an impressive $470,000, but he said the experience pales in comparison to being part of the October Nine.
“The Main Event is such a huge, huge tournament. It is the one event that will change your life and, in fact, that is what it did for me. I won the bracelet in 2010 and it didn’t generate this kind of excitement and media attention.”
His friends and family are certainly excited for him, but they are a little uncertain about whether or not the retired Software Manager is pulling their leg about actually making it to the final table. You see, Gee hasn’t been featured much in the ESPN coverage leading up to the live finale, which has led to some fun ribbing from his supporters.
“I have been watching the coverage, but all my friends and family have said, ‘Steve are you lying to us? Did you make the final table?’ Every single Tuesday they say, ‘Steve we haven’t even seen you yet.’”
Now that action is down to the final 22, Gee plays a larger part of the coverage, especially in tonight’s episodes, but he couldn’t help but notice his absence during the early days of action. In fact, he was initially a little resentful that some of his younger competitors were getting more screen time than him.
Gee used the phrase, “lack of respect” to describe his intial thoughts on the coverage. However, once he gave it a little more thought, this perceived slight turned into something he thinks of as a competitive advantage. “Now that I am at the final table, I am glad I’m not there, because it is an advantage for me,” he explained. “Now my opponents don’t have a lot of tape to watch of me.”
In the meantime, the extent of Gee’s preparation has been watching the coverage of his opponents and taking notes on their approach to the game. While he is prepared to make some minor adjustments, having been in the game a couple of decades, Gee believes he won’t be overhauling the strategy that has brought him so much poker success already.
Gee’s experience at the cash game tables is what got him where he is, but going forward he plans to shift his attention to tournaments. He plans on grinding the circuit for the next 12 months, playing events in Vegas, Australia, and Asia along the way. Part of the allure is the challenge. “I look at it as an exciting opportunity for me to see how well I can do on the tournament circuit,” Gee said.
However, another reason Gee is shifting gears is because sitting down and grinding out small profits at the cash game tables is a lot tougher mentally when you know there is a seven-figure payday and a whole lot of taxes to pay as a result. It is a mental frustration Ben Lamb alluded to last year and something the cash game players who have reached the final table all seem to struggle with to some degree.
“I’ll tell you, I think from this point forward I am going to have to be a tournament player. Cause after the final table, the hardest thing is going to sit down and grind.”
Considering the paydays at stake, it is a consequence Gee is willing to live with. As he explained, this event is a life-changing one and he is already in the process of changing his life accordingly.