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Interview: Poker Player Rob Salaburu’s Quest for $8.5 Million Dollars

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The World Series Of Poker Main Event is down to the final nine players who will be competing and finishing the tournament on October 29th at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and I was lucky enough to interview one of the players, Rob Salaburu.

Salaburu, 27, and the other eight players are already guaranteed $754,798 in prize money, and will be playing for up to 8.5 million dollars for first place.  ESPN has done a great job covering the event over the past few months and Salaburu has been generating some buzz.

“They know what they are doing for TV, that’s for sure” said Salaburu, who has been featured on a few of the ESPN broadcasts.

The coverage that Salaburu has received has left many to think of him as brash, wild, and absurdly aggressive but in reality, it’s just his style, matched with a small sample size of hands that have been shown.  Below is a hand where Salaburu delivered a double knockout on day five of the tournament, giving him the chip lead at the time.  When the stakes are this high, few players can remain as relaxed as Salaburu, but at least he said “good game sir” after he flushed Tran out of the tournament on the river.

“I’m just having a good time, enjoying the moment” said the Texas native.

Rob has grown up a San Antonio Spurs fan and states “I love the Spurs, Tim Duncan is probably my favorite, but Ginobili is a beast too”

Interesting because Rob’s game, in comparison to Duncan’s game is quite different.  Whereas Duncan relies on fundamentals, Rob is unique with his approach.  Rob acts quickly, Timmy moves slow.  Rob likes to smack talk, Timmy doesn’t.

Many professional poker players have dedicated years of their lives to the game, as there is an infinite amount of learning that can be done.  Rob himself has been playing the game for a decade.

“I played primarily cash games at the beginning of my career, then I played online tournaments for two years, then back to cash games after Black Friday. (Black Friday, April 15th, 2011, was the day online poker shutdown in the United States.)

I asked Salaburu if he has a strategy going into the final table and if he has been working with friends or other players to improve his game and he said “I’m going to see what the table gives me, I am not one to go in with a direct game plan.”

Poker is a game of information.  The more information you know, the better your decision making will be and Rob, being a seasoned veteran, surely knows this.

“I have a lot of friends who are top-tier players so I have been bouncing ideas off them, talking about certain hands and hearing different strategies” said Salaburu.

“What are you going to do with the loot?” I asked.

“I like to travel a lot. I’m going to take a year, take my time, make the right decisions, and just take it slowly.”

Thousands of players every year make obnoxious amounts of money playing poker, and it’s tough not to gamble away chunks of it for many players.  A good amount of players have habits that can lead to going broke but not Rob.

“I used to have a bunch of vices, but only in moderation.  I used to love craps but never broke my roll that way.  I have a bunch of buddies who sports bet and play blackjack and you can’t do that.  You will never make it” advised Salaburu.

The WSOP Main Event started with 6598 players and now nine remain.  Salaburu has 15,155,000 chips, which is 50 big blinds.  Surely enough ammo to make a run at the title.

The goal of every poker player?  Make profit.  The dream of every poker player?  Win the main event.

Play good, but run better Sir Salaburu.


Paul Bentley is a contributor to Rant Sports.  Follow Bentley on Twitter at @KKingBentley and read more of his work right here!