It’s Shronk Daddy. It’s 15 questions. It’s all the poker knowledge you can handle

Featuring : Huck Seed

For a 7-foot-tall WSOP Main Event champion, Huck Seed sure flies under the radar. That is, to those who’ve never had to play against him. As a youngster, he made his name by taking down the 1996 World Series of Poker Main Event – his second bracelet in two years. He then earned a reputation as a Razz expert, taking down two Razz bracelets in 2000 and 2003.

Recently, he won the 2009 NBC Heads-Up Championship, upped his overall NBCHU record to 18-4 (all-time best), and is now the only player to have cashed in the event every year.

Huck is a man of few words, usually letting his wry half-smile do the talking after dragging a pot, but I decided to get a few more words out of him.

Justin Shronk: Let’s start out pretty standard – how did you get into poker?
Huck Seed: First played with my dad at the kitchen table when I was five…my dad was a shill at a small card room called the Key Club in San Jose. I didn’t start playing again till college. In college, we had these economics experiments at Caltech. To motivate students to show up, you would get paid $20 or more for a good performance at the experiment, and a bunch of us would have poker games after the experiment with the winnings.

JS: You went to school at Caltech and were excelling on multiple levels (in the classroom and on the basketball court). You left in 1989 – did you leave to play poker or was there another reason for your leave of absence?
HS: That was the only reason. I was playing so much poker during my first quarter of my sophomore year that I decided to focus on poker the rest of the year. I was a rare exception in my day, but now thousands of college kids are serious about poker. Props to all you college kids who manage to improve your game and stay in school at the same time.

JS: Are you considering ever going back to finish up at Caltech – maybe after you’ve grown weary of poker, or maybe just to say you did?
HS: I considered going back a few times, but never quite did. Certainly an amazing place to learn and you asking the question prompts me to consider going back again…

JS: As a fan of the show Numb3rs (which takes place at Caltech), I have to ask if you watch the show – ESPECIALLY since the last two weeks have been about the main characters (top notch math professors) trying to coach the basketball team to get rid of the “losing culture” at the school. (Last week’s episode also guest starred Lakers players Jordan Farmar and Pau Gasol).

HS: I don’t watch much TV. We weren’t allowed to have one as a child as my mother encouraged more creative activities. Never heard of the show. Haha, real life is never like TV. When I was at Caltech sports were discouraged. There was certainly no sports culture to be lost and if there was any there would have been a going away party for it. Be sure to check out Quantum Hoops (click here) a documentary about the Caltech basketball team if you haven’t already.

JS: Your demeanor at the table has been described as “intimidating,” “eerie,” and “spooky.” Is this a table image you cultivated, or is it just the result of you being eleven feet tall and never ever talking at the table ever…or a combination of both?
HS: I was definitely conscious of creating an intimidating table image in my formative years. Eerie and spooky seem like nice compliments to my reading ability–thank you.

JS: You’ve now cashed every year in the NBC Heads Up Championship, have a total record of 18-4, and you took down the title in the most recent event. Is there something about your style that lends itself well to this event? Are you just the best HU NL Freezeout player in the world?
HS: If you add in my 10-1 record at the Canadian Heads Up Championship in Calgary, where I came 3rd and 1st in two tries, a record of 28 -5 is an impressive start. I don’t put too much stock in results, however. Erik Seidel, for instance, is 0-5 at the NBC Heads Up Championship and, in my opinion, he is better than me at HU live NL freezeouts.

JS: With four bracelets, all your NBC HU success, and over $4 million in career tournament earnings, do you feel like you’d be more well-known to the “poker public” had your Main Event win been on TV? (Note to readers: It’s the only Main Event final table not shown on TV since 1973!!!).
HS: It’s funny, back in those days the thought of filming a poker tournament never crossed my mind. I didn’t know back then that mine was the only one not filmed–I just assumed none of them were. The phrase “poker public” certainly hadn’t been invented yet either.

JS: Who have you learned the most from in the poker world – did you have a group of peers that all talked and helped each other improve, or a single person that was kind of a mentor? Or neither?
HS: Thanks Dean, James and Konstantin (my college poker buddies) and thanks to all the great players I’ve played against over the years–it’s your competitive spirit and love for the game that’s made me the player I am. Also, thanks to the young generation of players that are so open and honest and rigorous with their information and ideas that allow me to learn in a way that I never could in my formative years.

JS: You’re also well-known for your prop betting. There are rumors around a bet with Phil Hellmuth involving the ocean – some say it was $50k to stand in the ocean up to your shoulders for 18 hours; some say it was $10k to tread water for 24 hours; some say the bet never went down; some say you took it and couldn’t finish it. Set the record straight.
HS: The bet was I would spend 24 hrs in the ocean without touching the bottom for $10k. I lost interest in the idea and paid off the bet.

JS: What are some of your other more fun prop bets (I’ve heard of specifically some fun ones with Ted Forrest) – there’s the “three club golf bet,” “the beard bet,” the one where your brother was going to run from LA to Vegas, and a 50-yard dash against Howard Lederer where you had to hop on one foot. Which, if any, of these are true and accurate, and are there any other fun ones that we don’t know about?
HS: Sorry, but it would take a book to go over all those bets and more…my brother tried to walk to Vegas from L.A. with two sleep sessions only. He walked the first 80 miles, went to sleep, and quit due to a knee injury (how do you hurt a knee walking?). They tried to get me to do it, but I didn’t feel like it, so my brother tried it instead. Sorry to bash you, Leif, but I think I would have done it easy (maybe I’m just jealous you’re such a better runner than me)..

JS: Ok, who is the best NLHE tournament player in the world right now?
HS: Silly question. I agree with Barry Greenstein’s answer in his book Ace On The River that no one is the best player in the world. Anyone can outplay anyone on any given day.

JS: Who is the best mixed-games cash player in the world right now?
HS: Who really cares who is better? As long as you enjoy playing and give your best, what else matters?

JS: Who do you respect the most in the poker world and why?
HS: I try to respect everyone I meet no matter how many coffee cups they throw at me after I win a pot.

JS: Who do you absolutely hate playing against?
HS: It’s pretty obvious after my last answer that I don’t hate playing anyone.

JS: Where is Huck Seed in ten years?
HS: I didn’t attend Caltech long enough to finish the time machine, but on a serious note…look for me at a high school track running a 5 min mile at age 50 collecting a large prop bet payment.