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Greg Fossilman Raymer

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Greg Raymer FossilmanGreg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker champion. His nickname "Fossilman" comes from the fossils he uses as card protectors at the table. Like his final opponent (and second place finisher) David Williams, and 2003 winner Chris Moneymaker, Gregory Raymer won his entry to the Main Event on PokerStars. He has a well-deserved reputation as a nice guy and a solid player. (Check out Greg's trip report about playing a No Limit Hold'em event at Foxwoods.)

Greg defeated a field of 2576 players. He won five million dollars for his first place finish which was the single largest cash prize for a poker tournament to that date. He commented that he played the best poker he has ever played and he also got lucky. When I contacted him, Greg gave me some great information about the tournament and the road to his victory.

(I initially wrote this profile soon after Greg won in 2004. He followed up the next year by almost doing the impossible (repeating as Main Event champion with drastically increasing fields); when he finished in 25th place, out of a field of over 5600, in the 2005 WSOP Main Event.)

I asked Greg if there was a particular hand where he made a great play that helped him gain a lot of chips. He replied, "I made a fair number of bluffs, and got away with quite a few more than merely break-even. My most creative play was a hand on the TV table where I raised with T8 offsuit to steal the blinds, and got reraised by John Murphy in the big blind. I felt that he had a hand he thought was the best (and it almost certainly was), but also a hand weak enough where he simply wanted to win it right there. He had been pushing me around a bit, and I wanted to back him off. So, I reraised all-in. He looked unhappy, but folded relatively quickly. I showed him the hand. Don't know if it made a difference of any significance in future hands or not, but that was my intent."

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There was one hand during the early part of the final table against Mike McClain where Raymer got lucky with TT vs. AA and flopped a ten, and another where he took AT against AK and rivered a queen high straight. Greg stated that there were a few hands where he was in really bad shape and caught a miracle card, but never in a hand that would have made a big dent in his stack. The two previous hands were the only bad beats he remembers inflicting on anybody. He defined a bad beat as when he was way behind when the money went in and he got lucky. He admitted that there were plenty of hands where he got lucky and THEN most of the money went in.

After the World Series of Poker, there was a tournament at the Union Plaza in Las Vegas that only had 68 players, but the majority of them were the best players in the world. I wondered whether it is more difficult to beat a field of 2500+ players with a lot of dead money or a field of 100 of the best players. Greg brought up a very valid point regarding this: He said, "Both are very difficult. But since the field of 2500+ includes the 100 best players and then some, it should be tougher to win against the mega-field. Also, there is a lot less dead money than many people seem to think."

I also brought up the difficulty in playing a solid game for a week straight. He said, "Normally, it would be difficult to play your best for a solid week. However, for some unknown reason, I was very calm and very focused all week long, and made very few plays that I thought were mistakes at the time the decision was made. I wish I knew why I kept my mental processes so even, so I could ensure to repeat it every tournament."

For years, Greg Raymer was an active participant on the rec.gambling.poker (RGP) newsgroup. I asked if the fact that he is an "RGPer" helped to achieve the skill level needed to win such a major event. He replied, "Of course. It is one more educational tool amongst many that are available." His active participation in the poker forums on “twoplustwo” has also been extremely helpful.

Greg's poker experience began when he was in college. "I started in my college fraternity, playing nickel-dime poker. I then didn't really play again until I was working my first job as a lawyer in Chicago. I had been a blackjack card-counter in the Indian Casinos in Minnesota during grad school and law school to make extra money. When I moved to Chicago, there were no blackjack games available that were beatable for any worthwhile amount of money, but while searching for one I stumbled across a charity poker game (3-6 Holdem or Omaha8). I liked it, and decided to become a winning poker player for extra money. I bought a bunch of poker books, found RGP, and went from there, moving up from 3-6 to 20-40 and eventually 150-300 here in Connecticut."

Gregory RaymerAlthough he won his seat by playing online, he was planning on playing the event regardless. 2004 was Raymer’s third consecutive year playing in the Main Event. "In 2002, I did very well until I got all my money in preflop with AsQs and lost to Tony D's T4o. I finished about 80th. [In 2003] I played fine for 3 hours, and then played a hand like a moron against Alan Goehring, and went broke early. [In 2004] things went well right from day 1, and I moved my chip count up everyday." No kidding. He moved his chip count up to the tune of $5 MILLION DOLLARS!

In 2007, Greg defeated a field of 772 players in the $320 Pot Limit Omaha w/ Rebuys event of the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP). His first place finish earned him $168,362.

Greg Raymer: English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Portuguese, Danish

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