“I just remember thinking that normally I don’t sweat all-ins at all but there, it’s like ‘Goddamn, this is a lot of f***ing money.’”
Dan Smith is competing for the most money of his life today at the final table of the Big One for One Drop. The high roller extraordinaire is unquestioned in his legendary status but a few holes remain in his poker resume. A bracelet remains unchecked on his list of accomplishments.
Earlier this summer, Smith placed third in the Poker Players Championship. The result was his fifth career bronze medal at the WSOP.
To win a bracelet means plenty to Smith but the jewelry pales in comparison to the eight-figure first-place prize.
“A bracelet would be nice but the money is so big that it just doesn’t even compare.”
Smith says he is blocking out the money in the macro sense but in major moments, the rush comes to him. When he eliminated Steffen Sontheimer on Day 2, Smith says the equity involved in the hand was impossible to ignore.
“I think I do a very good job in general of ignoring the stakes,” Smith observed. “When it gets this big, it becomes a little bit harder. I think I do a pretty good job of not letting the money get to me but to say it’s just another day, it’s just not true.”
Relaxation comes to Smith through his wardrobe. The trademarked cowboy hat certified from the Doyle Brunson collection along with a blue blazer is Smith’s attire for the largest event of the year.
Smith is always one to engage in conversation at the table and his body language reflects the confidence he puts forward with a casual smile always on his face.
“It’s not that I’m more relaxed in this event than other events, but my main goal coming into this summer was to have as much fun as I could,” Smith said. “It’s fun to dress up like a cowboy. Some people look as tense as they can playing poker. It’s not for me. I like to be as loose as possible and just play. I think it allows me to play my best. Tensing up all the time doesn’t seem good long-term.”
Before the final table, Smith was careful to pick his words in summing up what this moment means to him. A grin of enjoying the experience combined with the uneasiness today’s unknown journey.
Money won via at least a clinched third-place finish for Smith will not define him. A win vaults him to at least fifth-place on poker’s money list but his Hall of Fame plaque is already written.
Tragedy at the Super High Roller Bowl in 2016 framed Smith’s perspective on the highest of equity spots.
“When I bubbled the Super High Roller Bowl a few years ago, I had the thought that even if I had won the tournament, my life really wouldn’t have changed. I would have more money but at this point, money isn’t a limiting factor for me. I’m playing poker mostly because I love it. Playing high buy-in tournaments is super thrilling. At the end of the day, if I go out in sixth or win, I have a wonderful life. That said, I’m going to try as hard as I can to win.”
Smith already has locked up $4 million and his best career score by reaching the tournament podium. The competitive drive that led Smith to this place in life is in fifth gear on ESPN2.
Money can buy love for the game and expect to see Cowboy Dan wait a little longer to formally ride into the sunset.
Final table coverage is scheduled to start at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN2 until a One Drop champion is crowned. Find all World Series of Poker final tables from 2018 by subscribing to PokerGO today. PokerGO coverage is available in non-ESPN and non-ESPN affiliated regions.