Tuesday, Oct. 21, Noon ET

World Series of Poker Chips Leader Dennis Phillips

(IMPDI for the 2008 WSOP)
Dennis Phillips
Poker Player
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; 12:00 PM

Dennis Phillips, a trucking company manager from St. Louis, holds the most chips, $26,420,000, at the final table in the World Series of Poker. Phillips was online Tuesday, Oct. 21 at noon ET to take your questions about playing poker, handling the pressure, what he would do with the money and more.

The transcript follows.

The World Series of Poker's will resume Nov. 9 at Harrah's in Las Vegas, as the nine remaining players compete for the WSOP Main Event bracelet and the $9,119,338 first prize. ESPN will air a preview of the final table on Nov. 4, and the final results on Nov. 11.

Phillips, who qualified for the event by winning a $200 satellite tournament, controls nearly 25 percent of the remaining chip. He has also teamed with eBay to auction a logo spot on his jersey, with the proceeds going to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


Ellicott City, Md.: Dennis, what gave you the confidence to enter the World Series of Poker? It is a big jump from poker games with friends to such a large event.

Dennis Phillips: I had no idea what to expect when I sat down on day one. About two hours into play I realized that I could play with these people just like at the casino's. Yes it is a big jump and can be quiet scary but you have to have confidence in your game.


Roseland, N.J.: What was your best laydown, and what was your worst call?

Dennis Phillips: I laid down pocket queen on day two with short stack all in and one call. Person behind me went all in and was called by the other one making it three all in preflop. When shown it was pocket aces, pocket kings, and pocket jacks. This is the first time I had seen a hand with all four of the top pairs.

My worst call was with pocket nines preflop when I raised a caller all in. He showed pocket tens. The turn gave me a nine high straight


Baltimore: Dennis. First off, congrats on being the chip leader! I read that this year's WSOP was the biggest ever, so what was it like for you trying to weave through such a large field, and having to play poker for so long?

Dennis Phillips: The 2006 event was the biggest ever. This year is the second biggest. We started at noon every day and would last into the early hours of the morning. I think one day lasted till after three and the last day was closer to four. You have to stay focused on every hand. One slip and you could be out. I


Memphis: I am a relative beginner. I have placed in the money in small tournaments but I am thinking about a bigger tournament soon. How long have you played? How many major tournaments have you entered? What is your basic card philosophy?

Dennis Phillips: Get comfortable with your game. I have only played in tournaments for the last three years. It is like everything else practice, practice, practice. My game is constantly changing hopefully for the better. One of the most common failing I see with new played is no playing your position. It can make a huge difference how you play a hand based on whether you are under the gun or in a latter position.


Midlothian, Va.: How low was your stack before you began your terrific run?

Dennis Phillips: I got down to 22,000 late on day three when the average had to be somewhere around 150,000. I was all in on three hands in just one round of dealing and won all three. From then on there was no looking back.


Fairfax, Va.: I don't usually run into too many other women at home games. Did you have many women at your tables and did you see much difference in their style of play?

Dennis Phillips: There are not to many women in the main event. I am not sure of the number. But do not underestimate them. I have played with some women who would make the average man look like a fool! One, I think her name was Lisa Parsons (hope this is right), made it down to the last 70. I played with her for several hours and have a lot of respect for her game.


Baltimore: What have you been doing these past few months to help you prepare for the Final Table?

Dennis Phillips: Everything I can. I have played in tournaments, played back in St. Louis with some of the best players in the area in sit and goes, watched videos of myself and others, you name it and I have tried it if I thought it would help my game.


Washington, D.C.: Have you spoken to any of the other finalists since July? Do you fear prearranged collusion by any of the other finalists?

Dennis Phillips: I have run into the other "November nine" players at tournaments and during interviews. Really a nice bunch of guys. We were lectured about collusion and what the results would be if there was even a hint of it by the WSOP. No, I do not think this will happen.


Montrose, N.Y.: I have only played poker a few times and I'm still one of those people that believe it's all luck and the cards you are dealt. Can you break down a few skills that are a must to be a good poker player?

Dennis Phillips: Were do I start? If the same 6,844 player sat down and started the main event again, you would probably see nine different players at the final table. But you would also see an amazing amount of the same players who cashed this year also cashing again. It takes some luck and especially no bad luck to advance deep into a tournament but a huge amount of skill. You have to maximize those few premium hands that you get and be able to lay down a monster hand to someone. this is tough. I laid down pocket aces TWICE after the flop in the tournament.


Silver Spring, Md.: Were there any superstitions or daily routines you kept during the tournament?

Dennis Phillips: I am not superstitious. With the unbelievable hours you spend at the table you have to use your break time to your advantage. I had someone go and have dinner ready for me so that in the 1 1/2 hour break we got I could eat and also sleep for a half hour. These naps helped.


Washington, D.C.: Dennis, have you gotten a tax lawyer yet? That is an awful lot of money you are about to come in to, regardless of the place you finish.

Dennis Phillips: One of the first things that I did. I have a inner circle of four people that covers everything. We meet about every two weeks and are daily in contact with emails about everything from tax questions to how we are going to celebrate.


Rockville, Md.: Between when you made the final table and now, what have you done? For example, have you obtained any sponsorships? Did you closely review the earlier shows of the earlier rounds in the Main Event to scout your opponents? Have you received any extra coaching from famous professionals?

Dennis Phillips: It has been a whirlwind of activity. I have had 126 interviews to date. I have tried to work with as many charities as possible during the break. This is something I have done all my life. I had two great parents who instilled in me the fact that you must share with others to truly enjoy life. I lost my mother earlier this month. But we got to share a lot in the last few weeks. She and my dad were married for 65 years. They will always be with me and influence my actions. That is how I will try to repay them for all they have done for me.


Kansas City: Dennis, will you keep your current occupation or take up playing poker professionally after the WSOP?

Dennis Phillips: I will stay at Broadway Truck Centers working. I truly enjoy working there and have made some great friends. But I will also be playing in a lot of major tournaments this next year. What a hobby to have. It is like a baseball player who gets paid to have fun.


Kensington, Md.: Hi Dennis!

Throughout the series so far, what has been your best lay down? How did you know the hand you thought was good, was in-fact, second best?

I final tabled in event No. 47 and still think about the hand I busted out with. I should have/could have laid it down but got stupid and stubborn.

Good luck!

Dennis Phillips: I laid down pocket aces after the flop. It hurt but I thought this guy was going to pass out at the table after the flop. What I did was go into the tank for about a minute and kept an eye on the person who called me preflop and then raised after the flop. Many times if you watch a person they will "tell" you what you need to do. My advice to a lot of prayers is slow down.


Arlington, Va.: I just saw how you are donating the proceeds from the logo spot on your shirt to National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Is there a reason you picked that organization? Good luck!

Dennis Phillips: My brother has battled MS for over ten years. There is no upside to the cruel affliction. He handles it like a champ but I still see the slow change that happens week after week to him and his ability to function. He will be with me at the final table. This patch is one small way in which I can try to make a difference. All of the proceeds will go to the MS foundation and I can tell you that the company or individual that purchase the patch will get my support. You can find this on eBay by searching Dennis Phillips poker. Thanks for any help you can give to find a cure for MS.


Washington, D.C.: Dennis, Is it hard to be such a good person giving to charities, and still be ruthless at the poker table?

Dennis Phillips: Wow a question that I have not been asked before. I guess it is like playing s softball game or pickup basketball game. You try hard to win during the game but after words you can slap each other on the back and talk about your "bad beats" You can't take the play personally. Also the more that I win at the tables the more that I can give to the charities.


St. Louis: Dennis,

I have played in tournaments with you a couple of times at Harrah's in St. Louis. During those tournaments you seemed to have a tight but aggressive style of play. How would you describe your style in the WSOP and have you had to change it for the WSOP?

We are all rooting for you in St. Louis. Best of luck.

Jan M.

Dennis Phillips: I have been called tight but aggressive many times and I guess it fits. But you cannot be predictable. You have to change up your game. My style in the many days of the main event did change. How am I going to play the final table? I really do not know. Hopefully I will have a long time to work on my style of play!


Washington, D.C.: Dennis,

Congratulations on making the final table and for being chip leader. How many "long lost relatives" have come out of the woodwork to "congratulate" you?

Good luck in November!

Dennis Phillips: This will be my last question. Sorry I could not get to all of them. I don't know about "long lost relatives" but everyone seems to have played with me somewhere. I don't know how many people have come up to me and said remember the hand when you and I played whatever. But I tell you what. I will have over 300 people going with me to Las Vegas in November. I have had nothing but support. It has been great. Everyone wishing me well, slapping my back, and of course giving me advice on how to play. Thanks to all.


Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company