Goldstein primed to win Arizona Poker Championship again

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With the biggest tournament in Arizona, the eighth annual Arizona State Championship, this month (Aug. 10-14 at Talking Stick Resort), I caught up with the 2010 champion Ted Goldstein.

Tell me a little bit about your poker career and experience? I learned poker weeks after graduating high school. It came at a time when I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and I had intended to take a year off from school to get a full-time job and try to figure out what I wanted to do. I quickly learned and became fascinated, and was making consistent results within about six months. My first full year as a “pro” I was up 11 out of 12 months; this was in 2005. I play exclusively at Casino Arizona because it’s the closest casino to me and has by far the highest game selection. There is usually a decent game available 24 hours a day.

Thinking back to 2010 when you won the Arizona State Championship, do you remember any key hands or keys to your success? A lot of the success in the 2010 state championship was capitalizing on misplayed hands, at least it felt that way from the bubble to around the final 50. After that, I won a bunch of uncontested pots, made a couple of hero calls and won about four all-in coin-flips. This put me in the chip lead with about three tables and I think I was the chipleader the rest of the way. The two final-table hands I remember was hitting a seven-outer to knock out a notable player in seventh place, and thus putting me at an overwhelming chip lead, and obviously the last hand. I had Q-8 suited and called an overbet all-in on a 7-8-10 flop. He had something like K-4 I think (no pair, no draw).

You recently played some events at the World Series. How do the Arizona players compare? I think it’s hard to argue the players are softer in Arizona, at least compared to Las Vegas. In the Arizona State Championship, for example, the majority of the thousand entrants will be from Arizona, where as a WSOP event, for example, attracts a worldwide competition of players that often play tournaments higher than the $1K buy-in (Arizona) offers. There are still quite a bit of great players that live here or learned poker in Arizona cardrooms.

The ASPC structure this year has changed based on player feedback with the payout and levels being adjusted. How would you compare this event to others you’ve played? The event is pretty standard now as far as structure and payouts. I remember the year I won, the top-two players received 50 percent or more of the prize pool, which is unheard of for a $1K-entry tournament. The tournament structure and payouts are now adjusted to be similar to other events at the entry fee. With that being said, I feel I am more positive-EV in this tournament than most tournaments of this size.

— Brian Fanzo is Ante Up’s Arizona Ambassador. Feel free to email him atanteup.fanzo@gmail.com.