Interview: Eric Baldwin
Online Screenname: basebaldy
Hometown: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Currently Resides: Las Vegas, Nevada
Best Known For: Currently being ranked #1 on the Card Player Player of the Year standings
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Coming down the home stretch in his bid to become the 2009 Player of the Year, Eric 'basebaldy' Baldwin set aside a few minutes to answer some questions about his fantastic year and what winning POY would mean to him.
PokerTips.org: You're currently ranked #1 on the Card Player Player of the Year standings. Has it been your goal all along to win POY or did you just sort of happen to wake up one morning realize you're in first place?
Baldwin: My close friends and I talked at the beginning of the year about how fun it would be to chase after the POY title if we had a good start to the year. After the WSOP I found myself in the top 3 and decided to go all out in pursuit of the title.
PokerTips.org: How much would it mean to you to win Player of the Year?
Baldwin: It would mean a ton. It would be something nobody could ever take away and an accomplishment to be proud of.
PokerTips.org: Recently, you finished 4th place in the Aruba Poker Classic to re-take the lead for POY from Yevgeniy Timoshenko. With currently 6,058 points, do you think that will be enough to win the honor, or do you anticipate needing at least one more good result in order to win?
Baldwin: It all comes down to the competition. If the guys that are in striking distance right now have a poor 5-diamond series, I might have enough points to hold them off. I doubt these players will have a poor December, so I'm playing every day trying to maximize my chances of gaining ground. The past couple champions have ended around 6500 points I believe.
PokerTips.org: You had a fantastic summer at the WSOP. After winning a $1,500 no-limit hold'em event, you found yourself playing three-handed for the $10,000 pot-limit hold'em world championship just a few days later. What was going through your mind during that stretch?
Baldwin: I was trying really hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Thinking about results or outcomes in the future does nothing to help you with your decisions on the current hand. That being said, when I had the chiplead 3-handed in the $10k PLH, I was confident I was going to win another one.
PokerTips.org: How many years have you been playing tournaments professionally or semi-professionally?
Baldwin: I started playing professionally in 2006.
PokerTips.org: So you've been in the game for a while now. In past years, while always well-regarded for your play online as 'basebaldy', you were never exactly putting up results like you have this year. What do you attribute that to? Have you made any adjustments that have helped put you over the top?
Baldwin: I owe a ton of my success to my poker playing friends. I've learned the importance of stack size adjustments from my MTT buddies. I've learded a lot about deep stacked, multi-street play from my cash game friends. We all have different styles and learn from each other when we are discussing hands. Couple that with the increased experience I've gained at the tables, and I'm just feeling really confident at the table and in my game.
PokerTips.org: What can you tell us about your experience at Phil Hellmuth's table in Aruba? PokerNews reported that he said you could be one of the best players in the world if you played all the time like you did in Aruba. What do you make of that?
Baldwin: I've had the chance to play with Phil several times in 2009. It's always an experience and I always learn something new to incorporate into my game. I see other people at the table treating it like a circus or focusing on his personality. I've always just observed his play and learned a lot from it. He gets players to give him so much information by reacting to his antics. I think the PokerNews quote might have been slightly misreported, but it's an honor to be highly thought of by one of the game's greats.
PokerTips.org: When not playing poker, what are some of your interests?
Baldwin: I like to watch sports and hang out with friends. I also enjoy having friends and family come out to visit Las Vegas.
PokerTips.org: What tournaments are you planning on playing the remainder of the year?
Baldwin: At this point it's basically down to the Venetian $2500 main event and then the Five-diamond series at Bellagio. It should be a fun and exciting finish!
PokerTips.org: Aside from any Vegas-based tournaments since that is your home, what has been your favorite poker-venue so far in 2009?
Baldwin: I really enjoy the Aruba Classic trip. The island is beautiful, the atmosphere is laid back, and the tournament is very well run.
PokerTips.org: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges you face following the live tournament trail?
Baldwin: It's difficult being away from friends, family, and my girlfriend. I have three awesome nephews that live in the Chicago area and I'd love to be able to spend more time with them. It's also easy to fall into the trap of being a lazy degenerate because you're surrounded by so many of them all the time. It's key to balance in some 'real life' experiences.
PokerTips.org: You've been seen sporting a pretty sick mustache from time to time. What's that all about?
Baldwin: Haha. The mustache is an annual tradition. Every year my college buddies and I go on a fishing trip in Canada. We don't shave for the entire trip, and then we carve out a stache or something ridiculous for the trip home. The night we get back we all go out to our old college bars and laugh at all the strange looks we get. Every year I've kept it longer and longer just because it's too much fun. This year I'm pretty sure my girlfriend was about to shave it in my sleep or pack up and move. I can't wait for next years version.
PokerTips.org: Finally, where is the party if you win POY, and can I come?
Baldwin: The party if I win POY is at Morry's Bar in beautiful downtown Beaver Dam, WI and you are more than welcome to make the trip. There's nothing like a good midwestern bar.