When you are on the losing end of a set-over-set confrontation at even the smallest stakes, it hurts. When you are on the losing hand of that situation with three players left in the WSOP Main Event, it can be devastating.
Losing arguably the biggest set-over-set pot in the history of poker, Cliff Josephy has nothing but positive feelings about his first appearance on poker’s biggest stage where he took third place for $3.4 million, and amidst another run in 2018, redemption is not on his mind.
Looking back on the hand that basically sent him out the door in third place, Josephy puts things in perspective quickly.
“I loved it, I loved every part of it. It was so much fun, and yes, I lost and big hand and I ended up losing the tournament, but it’s okay. Life goes on, I’ll be fine, my wife will be fine and my kids will be fine.”
“I was surrounded by some of the greatest friends and family, that literally told me that this was one of the best weekends of their lives. How can I then selfishly give a f*** about whether I finished third, second or first in a poker tournament?”
An hour, that’s all it took for Josephy to get over the assumed soul-crushing elimination back in 2016, and now just he finds himself in another huge spot and there might be nobody else better equipped for what’s still to come.
“I didn’t get nervous the first time, and I will definitely not get nervous the second time. It’s just poker,” a wide-smiled Josephy said.
In his own words, Josephy feels as though his run this year is very similar than two years ago, realizing all too well that the chances of him getting there again are still very small.
“It’s exciting, but when it comes down to it, any hand you play is just a poker hand, and you just have to play it to the best of your ability.”
At the moment of this interview, Josephy found himself at a chatty table amidst a friendly atmosphere, and the seasoned vet emphasized how important that vibe is for his enjoyment and what the game is all about.
“This is what poker is all about and why we play the game. You don’t want to sit there with eight kids in hoodies and sunglasses who just sit there and not talk to each other, it’s boring.”
At this stage of the tournament, the pressure, excitement, and fatigue builds with every elimination and can have a crippling effect on players who either don’t have the experience or simply have not been in this spot before. In the past, those players would get more than three months to study, prepare and rest up, but this year that won’t be the case and those changes ad even more fuel to the fire for the two-time bracelet winner.
“Two years ago, a lot of players that weren’t super strong got a lot better in the break and that can’t happen now. I may have done even better two years ago if the momentum had kept up. I have no regrets though, but I think this is better.”
Just below the average stack with 124 players remaining, Josephy is ready for what’s to come and won’t miss a beat when this event carries straight through until a winner is crowned. While other might catch better cards or have a chip advantage, there’s hardly anyone left that has more confidence and experience than JohnnyBax.