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Bill EdlerA top pro who will remain anonymous declared Bill Edler as “One of the best tournament players you don’t know.” I spoke to Bill following his winning the 2007 Poker Netcast Heads Up Challenge besting 63 competitors in a single elimination bracket. He earned $215,000 after beating Barry Greenstein 2-0 in a best of three final match. Bill Edler is a confident and modest person all at the same time. He is personable, respectful, and fully enjoys his life. Here’s a glimpse into the champion Bill Edler:

Bugsy: Congrats on the Heads Up win! How do you like Heads Up poker?

Bill: I love playing Heads Up poker. It becomes less about playing the cards and more about playing the player. Some people may disagree but I think it allows you to play more creatively. You get to play so many hands against a single player—it necessitates that you change and adapt quickly. I thought the structure was very good especially when they increased the rounds to 20 minutes. The final match was the best of three and I believe both Barry and I were appreciating that (Bill did win 2-0 and there was no 3rd match –Bugsy’s Note).

Bugsy: Did you have a strategy going into the Heads Up event?

Bill: My only goal was to play as well as I can and adapt to each opponent. In heads up play you can not decide to play aggressively or play a certain style until you understand the style of your opponent. I would say that in most (not all) of my matches I played small ball and cautiously at the beginning as were most of the players. In one of my matches I had an opponent who was much too tight preflop so I turned up the heat early.

Bugsy: Who was your toughest opponent?

Bill: That’s a difficult question. All of my opponents were top players. In my match with Yukon Brad Booth, we discussed that we both made our share of mistakes during that match. It was tough competition throughout the match.

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Bugsy: Erick Lindgren was doing commentary on the Netcast during a couple of your matches. He mentioned that you gave him his first job. Is that correct?

Bill: I can only hope he was kind to me. I did give him a job once. For a short time I was a Poker Room Manager at Casino San Pablo. I hired Erick as a low limit prop player and I really hoped, at that time, that he could make it. I guess we can both agree that he survived in pretty good shape.

Bugsy: The one nice thing about winning is that you don’t feel compelled to tell a bad beat story. Right?

Bill: No bad beat story from me. I do recall a time in the 90’s when a former WSOP Champion was playing a satellite to get into the $10K Main Event. He was involved heads up in a pot when all the money went in preflop. The flop was J-10-X. The champ had two pair with his J-10 and his opponent flopped a gutshot to the nuts with an A-K. Well, the Queen came on the turn and our Champ whined about his bad beat. He didn’t want to admit that when the money went in he was 2:1 dog. He just whined about his bad beat one street after the money went in. I know it wasn’t a bad beat but I also know you won’t hear me complaining about any of my bad beats.

Bugsy: You’re considered a cash game player who just started playing tournaments. Do you consider yourself a tournament player?

Bill: I much prefer tournaments. They are so dynamic that you must always be adapting to new players, new tables, escalating blinds and very diverse chipstacks. One thing I like best about a tournament is the definitive conclusion where they declare a winner. I always like the fact that I know if I won or lost. In a cash game, each session is just a piece of a big lifelong game. You can win a hand or a session but it never concludes and the absence of the endpoint just doesn’t give me the closure that a tournament provides.

Bugsy: You played in a dozen WSOP events last year. Do you plan on playing at least that many this year?

Bill: I will play as many as my schedule allows. I will probably play in the H.O.R.S.E. event this year and I will definitely play any of the mixed game events. I really enjoy playing tournaments where I can go home afterwards and spend time with my family. The WSOP allows for that since I live in Vegas and I can drive home after the tournament.

Bugsy: You mentioned that after the Heads Up tournament you were driving home from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to be with your wife. Is it safe to say family is important to you?

Bill: That’s accurate and an understatement. I always declare myself “The Happiest Married Man in Poker”!! I met my wife, Carolina, when I was in Columbia, South America. We got married last June. I am so fortunate to have such a great wife and daughter. This is what success is all about.

Bugsy: How did you get your start in poker?

Bill: I was in the Bay area working for PAC Bell and I ended up having dinner with a few people, one of whom is Lee Jones (player, author, instructor, etc.). It was my birthday and my close friends took me out. I met Lee and he was talking about playing poker and that there are legal card rooms in the Bay area. By the end of the night we were at the cardroom playing poker and I have never stopped. I even got a law degree but never stopped to take the Bar exam or practice law.

Bugsy: Do you want to dedicate this win to anyone?

Bill: I would like to dedicate this win to my grandmother, Jeanette Edler, who just turned 100. When I was young she taught me card games and we played for hours at a time. I think it was this experience that gave me passion I have for the game of poker.

He told me he has been playing a lot of live action lately and is concentrating on his live No Limit game. He lives in New York and said there are some fantastic games there. He said, "I think there will be a new breed of New York players that will rival the stars of the golden age of New York poker (Lederer, Seidel, Zolotow, Lester, et al.)." Although he has been playing a lot of live action, he still plans on playing a bunch of the World Poker Tour events. (He won his first WPT title at the Gulf Coast Poker Championship in 2007).

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