|Sexton's Corner, Vol 64, "Part 3"
"Poker's Amazing Big Game Cash Player"
Sexton’s Corner: That is very insightful, as people really want to hear what you have to say.
I’m just curious as a last thought: You spend some time playing in Las Vegas and some in LA, so I was
wondering do you have two homes or do you rent a place when you go back and forth?
David Oppenheim: I have a home in Las Vegas I bought about 3 years ago, and I’ve never seen it. I
have yet to see the house. That house is rented and I have like a management company that handles the
details. So when I come to the WSOP for a few months I always rent a house. I basically built my dream
house here in LA over the last three years. I’ve only owned two homes in LA. I bought my first house when
I was about 23 or 24 yrs. old. I bought my dream home about 3 years ago and have renovated it the past
3 years until we were able to move in a few months ago.
When you are a successful poker player of the magnitude of a David Oppenheim you can build your own
dream house and wait 3 years after renovating it until it really becomes your dream house. What a
pleasure it was interviewing David for Sexton’s Corner, where the readers will get the inside scoop from
one of the most successful big time cash game poker players in the world!
The Cab Is Parked,
ast week in Part 2 we talked about David Oppenheim teaming up with Phil Ivey and winning the
$1,000,000 1st place prize in the Day 1 format of the Doyle Brunson and Dewey Tomko Golf
Invitational on ESPN on that first high stakes golf show, comprised of famous poker players
and legendary gamblers. We highlighted the two big poker games David plays high stakes in
at the tune of $4,000/$8,000 limit: The Hustler Casino, where the famous Seven Card Stud
game is played in LA, hosted by Larry Flynt himself; and the biggest game in Las Vegas held
in Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio, where one must be great in all games to survive. David said
he usually plays in LA and maybe takes 3 months out of the year to play in Bobby’s Room at
the Bellagio. I mentioned before David might face a lineup here where there are 30 WSOP
gold bracelet winners in the lineup on one table! I know this doesn’t seem possible, but take a
look at this lineup:
Doyle Brunson – 10 WSOP bracelets (Plus a WPT title.); Phil Ivey – 5 WSOP bracelets
(Plus 1 WPT title.); Bobby Baldwin – 4 WSOP bracelets; Barry Greenstein – 3 WSOP
bracelets (Plus 3 WPT titles); Lyle Berman – 3 WSOP bracelets; Chau Giang – 3 WSOP
bracelets (Plus 15 WPT cashes); Jennifer Harman – 2 WSOP bracelets; Here is one
possible lineup of seven players that possess 30 WSOP gold bracelets between them! Wow!
Imagine David Oppenheim getting to work that night to join this game! Put yourself in his
place………how difficult would it be to avoid all the danger and land mines waiting for you
facing such a lineup?
There are plenty of other WSOP gold bracelet champions coming in and out of the lineup all
the time, like Eli Elezra, David Benjamine, and many others. Also, don’t forget about the
man who has won 3 WPT titles,
Mr. Gus Hansen who plays in the big game often in Bobby’s Room. Occasionally in Bobby’s
room an Internet young whiz kid will take a shot at the legends and the big money, or a rich
tycoon, but mostly…………when you enter that room to play for Ft. Knox, you’re going to
have to beat the best poker players in the world!
This is David Oppenheim’s world. It sounds pretty glamorous, but just how good does any one poker player really need to be to consistently win in
this arena of poker’s greatest gladiators? A general rule of thumb guideline to remember we’ll just call….. The Sexton’s Corner Golden Rule is
simply this: “If your table has 7 or more WSOP gold bracelets in the lineup….run for the door and find another game as fast as you can!” This rule
makes a lot of sense for the majority of us to follow. There are very few David Oppenheims around that can consistently win in the big cash games,
even going up against 30 WSOP gold bracelet winners sitting around one table! Almost every rule has at least one exception. Kudos and hats off
to the ever successful David Oppenheim for what he has accomplished in poker’s biggest cash games!
Here is the conclusion of my interview with David Oppenheim that gives us some insight as to his thoughts about playing poker for a living, and how
he feels about a few of the big players he faces in the big games:
Sexton’s Corner: You mentioned your wife doesn’t play poker other than at family get-togethers. They have a Christmas tournament at her
parent’s house, and that is about the extent of her playing poker. She must be amazed watching you climb the ladder of success in the world of
high stakes poker?
David Oppenheim: We’ve been married for seven years, but have been together for 13 years since I was 22 yrs. old. She not only understands
the poker game and has seen me go through it from the lower limits to $300/$600, $400/$800 all the way up to $4,000/$8,000. She really
understands the whole gig and I don’t hold anything back from her. I kind of let her know how I’m feeling all the time and explain things. She mostly
has her head wrapped around the game.
Sexton’s Corner: You mentioned before you have spent the last 5 years playing in the biggest Seven Card Stud game in LA………….Larry Flynt’
s game at the Hustler Casino. A regular player in the game is Danny Robison, who Mike and I grew up with in Dayton, Ohio. In fact we only lived
about two blocks apart growing up. Danny was one of Larry’s best customers at the Hustler long before Larry hit it big with his magazine back in the
early 70’s. They go back a long way and you must hear a lot of funny stories playing in that $4,000/$8,000 Seven Card Stud game.
David Oppenheim: Danny has an amazing gift for gab at the poker table and between him and Larry I think I’ve heard about every funny story.
Danny’s road hasn’t been easy, but the wonderful thing about Danny is the way he handles things with his faith in God. It doesn’t matter if it is a
great situation or a tough one………He handles it all with class!
David Oppenheim: I was fortunate to play in a lot of big games
with Chip Reese. We used to talk a lot about how much more
productive it was to play in a $4,000/$8,000 limit cash game versus
entering a $1500 Buy-in tournament somewhere. The amount of
money or earning power in the cash game far exceeds what one
can earn in most all the tournaments. It’s weird ever since Chip did
pass away his loss has affected the game. It’s like there used to
be more laughing and joking among the players but now it is more
conservative. Chip had such an infectious laugh and personality
that his loss has made our game more conservative as far as
Sexton’s Corner: You certainly are right about Chip. He is missed by all who knew him. Chip was the essence of class and composure, but
always put everyone at ease when they were around him. You will enjoy reading my tribute to Chip Reese in Vol. if you have not seen it yet. In the
big Seven Card Stud game at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino what can you share with us about Larry Flynt himself?
Sexton’s Corner: You are right about Danny. Check out Vol.28
Danny will tell you it was the best story ever written on him, and the
entire Golddust Twins in Vol. 24-Vol 29 captures Danny and Chip
Reese’s story in their early years in Las Vegas when they first hit
Las Vegas as a team around 1973. I know you played a lot with
Chip Reese in the big cash games before he passed away
recently. Is there anything you can share with us about Chip?
David Oppenheim: Larry likes to play Seven Card Stud and his game is almost always $4,000/$8,000 limit. Larry is a very good story teller and
tells very interesting stories. He is really a down to earth, honest, really good guy. I really like Larry a lot compared to what some other people
might think or notion as to what kind of a person he is. He is a classy guy.
Sexton’s Corner: We touched a little on a few of the players that are regulars in Larry’s game, but could you tell us who plays in the game on a
David Oppenheim: Danny Robison, myself, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, Ted Forest, John Hennigan, Steve Wolf, and Larry Flynt of course pretty
much makes up the regular lineup. Most of the regulars are high profile great poker players. Steve is a super successful businessman and a very
formidable Seven Card Stud player himself, just as Larry Flynt is. Steve comes down to Las Vegas and even plays in Bobby’s Room. He is a really
good guy and poker player as well.
Sexton’s Corner: I looked up your tournament record and it looks like you have won about $600,000 in various tournaments, but I know you
haven’t played that many tournaments. If you did, I’m sure you would be like some of these guys we read about all the time. Playing in the big cash
games is sort of like playing under the radar. Can you highlight a few of your thoughts about your philosophy on what works for you and why?
David Oppenheim: I pretty much don’t play a lot of tournaments………..the ones I have played my results have been less than stellar. For me
poker was always about making money, and my bread and butter is the cash games. I feel very fortunate to be in the position that I’m really in. I
never could have imagined looking back as a 22 year old kid that I would ever reach this point. Sometimes I feel I should pinch myself. Maybe
someday when I want to kick back and just play tournaments I can give it a try. Right now I want to spend a lot of time with my family, and I’ve got it
pretty good in the cash games.
Sexton’s Corner: Being a family man and making a good living in the cash games seems to be a pretty smart path to take, as it really does give
you almost a normal life, keeping your priorities in focus as your three kids are growing up. To take time off to attend activities the kids are involved
in isn’t easy to do with most other jobs. This very philosophy was followed by Chip Reese, as it is well documented he was known for always taking
time off from the cash game to attend a ballgame or school activity his children were involved in. These things are what life is truly about!
David Oppenheim: Right…….if I was single with no responsibilities it would probably be fun traveling all around to Europe and playing all these
tournaments around the United States on TV. I’m sure this would be a great thing and a wonderful life for a guy who is single, etc. I don’t have that
luxury with my responsibilities, plus I don’t think I could make the money I can in the cash games.
Sexton’s Corner: David, you are definitely one of the most interesting people I’ve talked to, because of your success in the high stakes cash
games. You seem to be level headed and your ego isn’t commanding your direction. You think about your family and what works best for them in
the long run. I’ll just finish with this: I know there is a big difference between cash games and tournaments, and I would just be curious to hear your
explanation of what you think about the two different styles between tournaments and cash games. You do both, but so excel in the cash games,
what words of wisdom can you leave us with on this topic?
David Oppenheim: I think part of tournament success is that you are really playing with a lot of players who are not top notch professionals or
world class players. Of course thats not to say they arnt't good tournament players, because there certaintly are. When you are playing in a large
field with 500 or more players you are playing with a lot of players who are inexperienced. I think the great tournament players have to first of all
have to have a great feel for how these players play. Case in point is a pro like Phil Hellmuth, who plays bad players probably better than
anypone. It is a tough transition for many of the guys who play in the high cash games, who are used to playing with the top poker players in the
world. How you play against them is a totally different thing. In tournament play there is so much more mathematics and position, and keeping track
of the short stacks and large stacks………it really becomes more tactical in nature when it comes to the bubble, etc. In cash games a lot of it is
skill, and you can tell when your opponent becomes scared of you. You kind of run over them and get on top of them, and feel also when to kind of
pull back. Of course, there is some of this in tournaments too, but even more in cash games. A lot of it is technical and a lot of it is playing against
different types of players more than you face in the cash games.