Meet poker pro Daniel Strelitz; Huster’s Grand Slam results

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Daniel Strelitz was the Los Angeles area’s deepest finisher in the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event. The 22-year-old pro, who grew up and still lives in Torrance, took home $294,601 for his 24th-place finish. I recently had a chance to chat with him about his career.

How did you get your start in poker? I started playing $5-$10 home-game SNGs with friends in high school. Then one other friend from the home game and I started playing online and we just enjoyed it. We used to play video games together and applied video games to online poker.

Are you playing poker for a living now? I was playing online full-time. After Black Friday, I chose not to move and have been playing live a little bit and just relaxing a little bit. I’m actually going back to school in the fall. I’m going back to community college first then somewhere else like probably Long Beach State. I went to UCI for a year-and-a-half.

Before the WSOP, I noticed you had only a few live cashes. Are you pretty much a cash-game pro? No, I haven’t had a lot of success in live tournaments. I run pretty terribly in live tournaments.

It sounds like you lived in one of the “poker houses” for the World Series. In one of your tweets toward the end, I think I saw where you said everyone in your house was profitable for the WSOP. Are they names the average poker fan would know? Pius Heinz, last year’s champion. I lived with him last year, too. I lived with Pratyush Buddiga. He final-tabled an EPT this year, and Bryan Piccioli. He’s a well-known online guy. Niall Ferrell, who also did pretty well this year. I think that’s it.

Getting to the main event, it looked like Day 4 was a huge day for you. You went from 268 of 720 left to start the day and finished 26 of 282 to end the day. Were you just chipping up, or did you have some big hands? The biggest pot, I got it in for 300K at 3K-6K with Q-Q vs. A-K against a friend. I won another four-bet pot with A-K against K-K and flopped an ace. Other than that, just chipping up. I don’t even remember any other significant pots.
Day 6 was another big day. You started 38 of 97 and ended second in chips, playing for a seat at the final table with 27 left. Day 6 was enormous. I got down to 20 big blinds. I think it was 880K at 20K-40K. In 30 minutes, I went from 80K to 9 million. … just an enormous heater.

Having busted 24th and getting so close, are you feeling like someone who was up big in a cash game and ended up even to finish the session? I’m feeling like that more now then when I busted. When I busted, I was like, “Whatever, I’m happy. It’s still a ton of money.” Now, recently, it’s like had I played a few hands differently or got a little more lucky, I could have made poker history and made the final table.

I noticed you’re a coach at premierppokercoaching.com. Tell me about that. It’s mainly a group of tournament coaches. You just choose a time zone and a coach. It connects coach and student. It’s personalized coaching, no videos or anything. We have a lot of good coaches. Another is Dave D’Alesandro, who got 50th in this year’s main event.

Did you consider leaving the country to play like others have? I was going to go to Canada for a month or two before the World Series. I went there and met up with a friend and had a bunch of issues. The bank wouldn’t let me open an account. The room I was supposed to rent was too small. There wasn’t even room for a computer and monitor. I just flew back the next day. It was pretty disappointing.

What were your parents’ thoughts when you decided to leave college after a year-and-a-half to play poker full-time? They were nervous at first, but now my dad is my biggest fan. He’s really happy with what’s going on. He’d support me doing anything.

— Dave Palm is Ante Up’s Los Angeles Ambassador. Email him at LA.AnteUp@gmail.com.

Grand Slam of Poker, Hustler Casino, L.A., July 14-28

Gregg Shanberg captured $50K and the title at Event 6, which drew a remarkable 1,170 players for nearly $188K. Here are the winners from the other events of the Larry Flynt Grand Slam of Poker:

Event 1 • $150 NLHE
Entries: 1,338 • Pool: $233,625
Kwinsee Tran, $58,500
Event 2 • $175 NLHE
Entries: 66 • Pool: $9,570
Bryan Collins, $3,400
Event 3 • $250 NLHE
Entries: 180 • Pool: $30,600
Steve Reitzfeld, $4,355
Event 4 • $150 NLHE
Entries: 1,117 • Pool: $105,805
Phillip Tran, $30K
Event 5 • $175 NLHE
Entries: 66 • Pool: $9,570
Svetlana Baranovsky, $3,400
Event 6 • $200 NLHE
Entries: 1,170 • Pool: $187,260
Gregg Shanberg, $50K