Poker is a game of ups and downs. Erick Lindgren has experienced both.In fact, few poker players have enjoyed the heights or endured the depths to which Lindgren has been exposed over the course of a career that has spanned more than a decade. He's roller-coasted his way along the tournament trail for many years, both celebrating and suffering the extremes that this fickle game deals out.On June 20th however, Lindgren may have enjoyed his greatest moment. It was certainly the most personally fulfilling, despite the fact he'd won a gold bracelet before and even managed to collect more prize money on other occasions here in Las Vegas.This victory was indeed special because it marked the comeback of a man that was once one of the game's most beloved players. Even though Lindgren would be the first to admit he's made mistakes in his life, he knew very well that this was the ultimate platform to announce to the world that he was back in the game again. Lindgren made that statement loud and clear by winning the $5,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em tournament along with a second bracelet and a $606,317 payday. This was less about a payday more about a comeback, and what for him will hopefully be a healthy recovery towards being the Erick Lindgren who was such popular figure in the game among his fellow players and fans alike.MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – ERICK LINDGREN
Name: Erick Lindgren
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Birthplace: Burney, CA (USA)
Marital Status: Married
Children: One (son)
Profession: Professional Poker Player
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 36
First WSOP Cash (year): 2003
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 11
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 2
WSOP Career Earnings: $2,971,025
Note: 2008 WSOP Player of the Year
INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: You have encountered some tough times recently, which were out in the public. What does this win mean in light of those challenges?
Lindgren: It makes it a little extra sweet. I was at the top of the game once and took some things for granted. I had to rebuild from the bottom. It was that kind of hard work – like playing in small games or smaller tournaments. I just worked as hard as I could. I got my game back to where it needed to be and that's why I am here today.
WSOP: Talk about the money versus the comeback – which is more important?
Lindgren: I don't know. Whatever helps my family. All my goals revolve around my family.
WSOP: Do you think there was a certain destiny to this moment, meaning this as a comeback?
Lindgren: I think I am playing my best right now. I truly feel I deserved it....it's been a long tough ride and this made me feel really good.
WSOP: What's different now in your life?
Lindgren: I went from being a very selfish person to a less selfish person. I'm now a loving family man who is very committed....I've been scrounging around a bit hoping to play in some events to now playing every day. My goal is to win WSOP Player of the Year every year. I want to win that. Now, this puts me in a position to do that.
WSOP: How might this win change things for you?
Lindgren: Maybe every time now that I play in a cash game, it won't feel like a tournament (laughing). Maybe that's why I've been playing a bit tougher. It's been a long tough road. I couldn't have done it without Erica (Schoenberg) at my side. She's been my rock and the best partner of life I could have.
WSOP: What's the lesson of the Erick Lindgren story?
Lindgren: I think the lesson is -- when things go wrong, start at the bottom. Don't have pride. I had to go to the bottom and play games that at one point I would have been embarrassed to play. That's what it took to get my game back on track and to pay the bills. You just do whatever you do -- do whatever it takes. That's the motto. And that's what I did.
WSOP: Can you discuss playing heads-up against Lee Markholt?
Lindgren: I don't think people understand how great a player Lee is, and how much respect I have for his game. He's one of my poker heroes. So, to beat him was....everybody respects Lee. He will get his (gold bracelet). And I'll be on the rail to sweat that victory.
WSOP: You find out who your friends are in tougher times. Anyone in particular you want to call out right now?
Lindgren: There's guys like Gavin Smith. Phil Ivey is one of the best people in poker. People don't see what a tender side he has and how loving he is to his friends. Amongst many others, but those friends stick out.