Mike Watson is having an exceptional World Series of Poker this summer. So far, he’s cashed in four events, including a final table in Event #36: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em. He's now reached his second final table of the summer and is in excellent shape to win his first WSOP bracelet.
Unfortunately, the last two years of the WSOP were not nearly as rewarding. Watson holds the record for most consecutive tournaments played in WSOP Las Vegas without finishing in the money (54). His long drought finally came to an end this June when he took 87th in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event, cashing for $5,023. A few days later, he continued his run by taking 10th in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em Mixed Max event, adding $18,657 to his bankroll. A week later, he landed his first final table of the summer bagging $50,774 for sixth place in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout. Less than a week later, he made a run at another final table, but ultimately finished eighth in the $2,500 Limit Hold’em Six-Handed tournament for $19,430.
During the break, we chatted with Watson about his cashing drought, his run this summer, and his strategy to come out on top in this tournament.
Was there any point where you felt discouraged to continue playing poker professionally?
The series was definitely not fun for me the last two years. There was a time where I felt like I was a bit lazier and didn’t keep my game as sharp as I should have. At the same time, there was never a point where I seriously considered doing anything else. It was often frustrating but I won’t say that I ever once considered quitting the game.
How did you overcome that drought?
I studied quite a bit. Over the last couple of years I think I’ve adjusted some of my leaks and sharpened my game. I guess more than all I’ve been running pretty well this summer. Even for a really bad player it’s hard to not cash in that many tournaments in a row. So not getting completely killed by the deck has helped.
When you made your first cash this summer, what do you think turned it around for you?
I don’t think there’s been any one thing. I’ve been playing well these past couple of years but just not at the WSOP. Coming into the summer I did think I would do well and it’s holding up to be true. I have cashed in various tournaments across the world; it’s just been the WSOP where I’ve struggled most. I’m happy to see it be over.
Now you’re sitting at five WSOP cashes this summer and two final tables. Where is your confidence level at now?
I feel good. Getting the monkey off my back has been great. I’ve been doing well everywhere else so I wouldn’t quite say it’s been a huge change for me. I’m still very confident in myself and am happy with how I’ve been playing all summer. I’m not saying that because I’ve actually cashed but because I truly believe that.
Do you think you could ever fall into that dead streak again?
It’s always possible. You can make every good judgment call, make the right folds, and play your best and still not run deep in a tournament. There’s nothing you can really do about it, unfortunately. I wouldn’t say another long streak is entirely impossible but very, very unlikely.
How is it seeing a female on the final table?
I think it’s great. It doesn’t make a difference to me. I see her as another player. Obviously it’s great for the game and I hope to see more women not only enter more events, but make deep runs. If having her on the final table helps with this regard, then I support it entirely.
What future goals do you have for yourself with poker?
I honestly can say I don’t think I have an answer for that. I’m pretty happy with what I am doing and take things one day at a time. If I end up with a big score then that would be great. Or maybe earning player of the year would also be an achievement. I don’t know how it’s calculated but I’m keeping my eye on it to see where I stand. As long as I keep playing well, continue to make money, and being happy with myself, then that’s what matters.
With seven players remaining, what’s your plan to finish out on top?
I’ll just continue to play good poker and hope the cards fall my way.