Steve Sung thought he was the best poker player in the world just a few years ago.That's a bold statement, which he confessed to believing at one time, just moments after winning his second career gold bracelet. This victory came four years after that first win, which took place in the $1K buy-in Stimulus Special, one of the opening events at the 2009 WSOP.Sung's claim wasn't without some compelling evidence. He was playing in and beating the highest-stakes cash games in the world. Sung was also hammering out cashes at the WSOP, posting 23 in-the-money showings within the past six years. Among them were 9 final table appearances (and a win).However, Sung hit a wall about three years ago, one that he built through recklessness and stupidity. Sung's trials and tribulations during that phase are somewhat well known, even public knowledge within the poker community. Yet Sung doesn't run from those past mistakes. He now embraces them, and uses them as motivation to fulfill that destiny which he put forth, to become the world's best poker player.That edict took one giant leap forward late on Sunday night at the Rio in Las Vegas when the 28-year-old poker pro won the ultra-prestigious $25,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em tournament. Sung defeated a field of 175 players and collected a stunning amount of prize money – $1,205,324, which is one of the largest payouts of this year's series.Sung was born in Seoul, South Korea. He immigrated to the U.S. As a child and grew up in Torrance, CA. He once attended the University of California at San Diego, where he majored in computer engineering and economics. Sung has been playing poker full time for about eight years.With this victory, Sung's career earnings at the WSOP exceed $2.6 million. In fact, he's racked in more than $5.7 million in overall tournament winnings.MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – STEVEN SUNG
Name: Steve Sung
Current Residence: Torrance, CA (USA)
Birthplace: Seoul (South Korea)
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 23
First WSOP Cash (year): 1997
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 9
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 2
WSOP Career Earnings: $2,677,446
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your second WSOP gold bracelet?
Sung: I just feel a lot of gratitude. I went through a lot in the past four of five years, so this is like a dream come true. It's amazing.
WSOP: You were somewhat fortunate to get into this tournament, correct?
Sung: Yes, I had a backer. He was playing in the One Drop High Roller event, but I had to wait for him to bust out first and then cash in order to get into this tournament. He busted just in time for me to get into this tournament.
WSOP: Does having a backer make you play better do you think?
Sung: It depends, but it can also work against you. Like when you have a backer, you might play too tight, and then you drain your chips. These tournaments require that you just don't care in order to win, you know. That's life.
WSOP: Is this a more prestigious event to win than normal given the high $25K buy-in and tougher level of competition?
Sung: I didn't think that way until I talked to one of my friends after the day when I was fourth in chips. He told me, "this is a pretty personal tournament." I never saw it that way. I just saw it as a No-Limit tournament. I wanted to clear my make-up. But now that I think about it, it's pretty prestigious – so yeah.
WSOP: What's the one thought you have at this moment about all else?
Sung: I feel very grateful.
WSOP: Describe the tough match you faced going against Phil Galfond heads up.
Sung: He's one of the best players in the world....Me and Phil (Galfond), we have a pretty crazy history. We go years back in PLO, No-Limit, Mixed-Games, and everything. We played some crazy pots. I believe he had no respect for my game, to be honest with you. That's how I felt from him. That's why I was playing so tight.....I had that edge because he saw me as one-sided.
WSOP: You really have been riding a roller coaster in recent years. Can you talk about that?
Sung: I've been through a lot the last couple of years. If I go ito what I have been through, it would be a crazy blockbuster movie. Before that all happened, I believed I was the best poker player in the world. I played the biggest limits and was kiling it. Then, I lost a lot of money playing blackjack. I still felt poker-wise I didn't get a chance to show what I had (back then). Mixing with drugs an all, that really messed me up. But now that I'm back, that's all that matters.
WSOP: Can you talk about how you overcame those challenges and are not back into the poker zone?
Sung: Everybody knows about it. I'll get more deeply into it next time, when I win my third bracelet.
WSOP: When will your third gold bracelet happen?
Sung: In a couple of days.