Richard Seymour is most known for being a three-time Super Bowl champion, but something very significant could get added to that bio in Las Vegas this week. The seven-time Pro Bowler is in contention in the World Series of Poker Main Event, and unlike many former and current athletes and celebrities, Seymour knows what he’s doing.
With two minutes remaining on the clock before the start of another break in the tournament, we asked Seymour whether he’d be available for a quick interview, and he broke concentration for a brief moment during which he smiled, nodded and agreed to do it. Seymour doesn’t take poker lightly, and as I waited with only one hand left to be played before the break, he raked in some more chips to his growing stack.
“I’m trying to stay out of big hands unless I have it,” Seymour said when asked about his day so far. “I’m just cruising really, trying to stay out of trouble and so far so good. I’m taking it like I played on Day 1. Today has been a little volatile, and I’ve had had the second best hand a lot, or you guys are hitting a set when you hit top-top. So, I’m not trying to play super huge pots and go for three streets of value; I’ll settle for two streets. I think it’s more important to still be in the tournament than to try and get extra value in a hand.”
When listening to Seymour talk poker, it almost seems as though he’s played this game professionally for the last 12 years – the length of NFL career.
Seymour played at the ESPN and PokerGO featured table on Day 1A – which you can re-watch here – during which he accumulated 114,000 chips, well over the tournament average. As a 12-year NFL vet, Seymour has been through the ringer when it comes to performing under pressure, and so far he’s proven that the biggest stage in poker is a place he feels very comfortable in.
“It’s definitely magical,” Seymour said about the Main Event, “You can feel the intensity. As an athlete, I know that coaches want to say that ‘all games are the same’ but we know that they’re not. You try to prepare as though they are the same, but some of them just happen to have a bit of extra special meaning.”
Seymour puts the 7,221-player tournament, where every participant puts up $10,000, into perspective; comparing it to his career as a football player. Here is in taking Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb down in Super Bowl XXIX.
“Obviously, the final table would be like the Super Bowl. That’s, of course, a long way away, and a lot of poker is still needed to be played between now and then. The main thing to do is not even to think about this one day at a time, but one hand at a time. If you lose a pot, regroup.”
Seymour’s taking poker as serious as he used to do his career as a football player, and he’s quick to emphasize the similarities between playing poker and being an NFL player.
“When you play against really top talent, you pick up on a lot. Throughout my playing days, I’ve always played against elite talent, so I have no choice and get better. I’m always like a sponge, trying to get as much information as I can from top players. There are a lot of different playing styles out there, and you got to find a game that you are comfortable with, that fits your personality. I think I’m settling in there, but I still have a long way to go.”
Currently, Seymour sits on a big stack worth 77,000 chips, and he’s got a long road ahead to make it into the money, and ultimate the final table.