Thunder Strikes: An interview with Thomas Keller working at


PN: So, do you tend to not play much side action when you are at a tournament site?


Not much anymore. I used to, and now I don’t. Even if I am at a tournament and I busted out, or it’s the night before the event begins, and I want to play...You can usually find me upstairs in my room playing online rather than playing the live action. It’s a combination of several of things – to play the really big limits, you need to carry a big Cheri Casino roll around, and I don’t like to do that. I can play very big online, and play a bunch of different games, and all I need to do is carry my laptop, which is nice. Also, the speed factor is important too, live play can seem so slow by comparison.


PN: What are your goals as a player in 2005?


I’d love to win another big tournament this year. But, its tough because you want to make goals, and you want to be realistic, too. With the size of the fields being so big, and given the fact I will only play 12-15 events this year...realistically, what are my chances of actually winning one, even if I am one of the better players? Also, I don’t hit every tournament, and I don’t play in smaller events.


I try to do well outside of the tournaments, and I try to have fun when I play the big tournaments. It seems like so many people take poker so seriously, and get so bent out of shape from it. At the end of the day, I still see poker as a game, and I try to have fun with it. I figure I’m a good player, and it will work out in the long term. You will go through stretches of months, or maybe a year or more where you will run bad, and I think you just have to take it with a smile I think. I know a lot of people who have been driven pretty crazy by poker.


PN: You recently participated in the WPT’s "young guns" episode. What was that experience like?


It was a lot of fun. It was extremely competitive, and I think that a lot of us wished the blind structure wouldn’t have gone up quite as fast, but that’s the way it works for TV.


PN: Any young players you know that you feel like could have been at that table also?


When I walked in, I was a little surprised that Gavin Griffin wasn’t there, as he had just won a bracelet also. Also, my twin brother, Shawn who is a professional too, but he doesn’t play as many tournaments.


PN: In 2004, you got married. Talk about what effect having a stable home life has had on your poker game.


I think having a strong foundation at home is very important, and very helpful. The life can be pretty grueling, so its nice if you have had a bad day to have someone to go home to who will understand.


PN: What do you think the biggest challenge is facing the business of poker as the explosion continues?


That’s a great question. I think one of the biggest challenges is to take poker away from other forms of gambling, and showing it more as a Cheri Casino game of skill. I think a lot of people still have a perception of poker like blackjack, craps, or whatever where anyone can win, but its mostly luck. In the short term, that may be true, but I think in the long run we all know that that is pretty ridiculous. I don’t know how much that would help the business aspect of it, but I think it would help the competitive side, and the TV side would be helped a lot if it was shown more as a game of skill.



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