Esa you just took down the latest installment of the Mega Millions. How do you feel?
“Surreal. I don’t even know. I’m at a loss for words. It’s something I wanted bad for so long. It’s amazing.
You were the chip leader coming into the day. What was your strategy today?
“I was adamant last night about taking it down right there. I would have paid more for the banner. In that moment, knowing that everything can change in one orbit, so to go from almost having $200,000 locked up to now playing it out. I wasn’t scared but fearful that if it didn’t go my way suddenly I have just $45,000. It’s all the more special now. When we made the deal four-handed I lost the next hand and was the short stack. I texted my brothers saying “It’s going to make the win all that more special when I come back.”
You said a couple of times how much you wanted the banner even more than the money.
“I’ve been playing here for so long, to be in that room, to win this tournament, you can win one for more money, but this banner lasts forever. You can’t take that from me. It feels good to me of course to win but to be able to show my grandfather, my mother, my father, your knuckle-headed son did it. He knew what he was talking about with poker!
How does this money change both your personal life and poker life?
It’s a lot of money of course, over a quarter of a million dollars. I don’t think it’s gonna substantially change how I live on a day-to-day level, but now having a deeper bankroll to take some shots in bigger tournaments, that’s great because I have all of myself I don’t sell action. It’s hard to say how much it will change my life right now. My biggest score before this was $8,000, and I’ve told friends who play cash games one day I’m gonna win one of these. I don’t know when, I don’t know how many buy-ins it will take, but I’m gonna do it. In 2010 was the closest I ever got for first, it was a $150 buy-in event for $3,000. I was so close and I’ve been chasing that since.
I assume you’ll be back to defend your title in August at Legends?
Yeah of course, can’t wait to be back!