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Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst are longtime friends and advocates of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Phil’s poker resume includes 15 WSOP Cashes (including 6 Final tables), and a WPT Championship, giving Phil more than $2.2 Million in live tournament poker cashes. Rafe’s 7 WSOP Cashes and a WSOP Bracelet have included nearly half a million in career tournament earnings. Together, the pair co-formed the Bad Beat on Cancer initiative to benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
In a unique interview for the Twitter Poker Tour, both Rafe and Phil sat down to answer questions for @Coolwhipflea about the upcoming Bad Beat on Cancer Charity event on November 15th.
In 2003, you guys spent a year together, traveling to see sporting events around the country in the Ultimate Sports Adventure. What sports events highlighted that trip?
Rafe: My favorite sports segment was the 10 days or so starting with the Final Four in New Orleans going through the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. Also watching the NJ Devils win the Stanley Cup with our good friends who are all huge fans was great. Being interviewed for TV on top of the Green Monster during the Red Sox’s playoff run was surreal. Phil calling in to snag us some press passes and sitting on the floor at a Hornets game and then getting to interview players in the locker room was an amazing coup as well.
Phil: For me the best 10 days of the tour were 4 days in New Orleans at the Final Four followed by five days in Augusta at the Masters.
Along the way, the Bad Beat on Cancer idea was formed. How did that all come together? And tell us about the 1% Pledge.
Rafe: Phil came up with a brilliantly simple idea (as he often does) that by making a pledge conditional on winning for an amount that seemed irrelevant to the player would be attractive to a lot of people because they could feel good about their support for the cause without negatively impacting their own finances. Obviously his instincts were correct and we ended up raising something like $35K of our $100K goal with the BBoC pledge concept alone.
Phil: When we were at the WSOP for the main event, the idea to ask for 1% from friends just seemed natural. People are always trading pieces, so why not trade a piece for charity?
Has the original mission of the BBoC changed at all from its inception? And what can we expect from BBoC in the future?
Phil: No, the mission is still the same — raise money and awareness for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. BBoC will grow and morph in the future based on the talents, interests, and motivation of our new Board of Advisors.
Rafe: It’s grown into more than just the pledge. People see it as a symbol of both the charitable nature of the poker community as a whole, and also marking a shift in the way philanthropy is being organized: not top down, but bottom up. At a practical level, the BBoC “brand” if you will has taken on a life of its own (which is perfect) and includes online initiatives like the TPT, gala poker tournaments like the one in DC each year and the one coming up in LA in February, as well as a plethora of initiatives and events run by individuals and organizations around the country, such as home games to benefit BBoC and the Beat The Ace program coming out of American Poker Invitational.
As for the future, one thing for sure is there are going to be some very creative and cool extensions that we can’t really begin to guess at, as that’s the nature of grass roots initiatives. I’d personally hope that BBoC becomes more international, and I can see the potential for the BBoC concept to be replicated and adapted to other causes besides cancer and communities besides poker.
Neither of you are strangers to Poker Tournament Final Tables. In fact, at this year’s WSOP in the Ante up for Africa Charity event, you both sat at the Final Table together, with Phil being eliminated in 6th and Rafe taking 3rd. Is this the first time that you’ve made the final table of a large tournament together? What was it like playing each other on this stage?
Phil: Definitely the first time, but hopefully not the last — Rafe is easy money.
Rafe: It was totally fun, I just wish it had lasted longer and that it was a Rafe-Phil 1-2 finish. Second best outcome would be if Phil won a televised WSOP final table but still didn’t win a bracelet!
Can you tell us what led to the nickname “Tiltboys”
Rafe: Tiltboy I think was a phrase Phil coined to describe what I did best at our home game, which is put him on tilt.
(Here’s the first trip report that referenced it: http://www.tiltboys.com/html/trip-reports/six-sigmas-out/)
Phil, Of all the celebrities you saw play poker during your time on Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, which one(s) do you think could of handled their own at a “real” poker tournament?
Rafe, in the 2003 WSOP Main Event, you were the first player eliminated, after 11 minutes. What did you do immediately afterwards?
Rafe: (laughs) Norm Chad ambushed me for an interview and asked me if I was double parked or something like that.
Phil, did you know that you have a fan site? Do you feel honored, or is it a bit freaky?
Phil: Didn’t have any idea. I still feel a bit weird when I’m asked for an autograph.
Rafe, Do you take more pride in having won the World Roshambo Championships, or placing 5th in a Ladies Only Tournament?
Rafe: It’s all about the Championships, baby!
Phil, Rumor has it that you’re a better golfer without clubs than with them. Can you confirm or deny this rumor, and tell us how it started?
Phil: I can confirm that on certain occasions, I’ve been deadly with the “hand wedge”. I once threw in a ball from 95 yards out against Phil Hellmuth for a very large sum of money — he’s still not over it.
Rafe, you hold a B.S. in Symbolic Systems. Do you ever use that degree? How?
Rafe: I often say that I majored in “101” because I liked to take all the intro classes. If I think about what classes have impacted me most 20 years later, it’s definitely the classes outside of my concentration, which was Computer Science. I think if you reflect on it, you will come to the same conclusion. What was great about Symbolic Systems is that it is interdisciplinary, drawing not only from CS but also from Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Mathematics, Philosophy of Mind and other areas. I’m a big believer in not becoming an “expert” because that’s when you stop learning and your mind closes to the possibilities. There’s really no reason to turn someone into a tradesman at the undergraduate level, that’s what trade schools are for. In fact, I advocate going back to the original definition of liberal arts as Liz Coleman advocates in her 2009 TED talk.
Phil, on ESPN’s The Poker Edge, you’ve had the opportunity to interview just about everyone in this year’s November 9. Who do you think has the best shot of becoming Poker’s next World Champion?
Phil: I have my favorites, but there is no way you can bet against Phil Ivey. Even with 5% of the chips to start the final table, he’s still the one to beat. If he can double up early, the rest of the field is in big trouble. That being said, I’m tremendously impressed with almost everyone at the final table. They are handling the “time off” well and many of them have gone on to big success in tournaments in the down time. I think it is going to be one of the best played final tables in history.
Ok, last question guys, looking at each other’s resume’s, would you rather have a WSOP Bracelet, or be ranked 200th on the all time Tournament Money list with more than $2.2 million in career earnings?
Rafe: Ah! Yes, I would rather have my bracelet than his 2.2 million, and I think he might too! That said, he does have a ton of WSOP final table appearances and a couple of WPT wins, so in terms of career success, it’s clear that Phil has me beat…so far.
Phil: If I had a WSOP bracelet, I’d have more than 2.2 in earnings. Obviously, the bracelet thing is a big deal — I’ll get mine soon enough, but I have to start playing more tournaments. I’ve only played 8 WSOP tournaments in the last 2 years, primarily because I’ve wanted to spend so much more time with my son, Xander. He was born the day before the WSOP started in 2008. I plan on playing quite a few events in 2010 and getting back on the circuit in a few years. I simply hope that the game hasn’t passed me by — the players are so much better and more aggressive than they were just a few years ago — it is going to make it very hard to win. I’m going to have to get lucky — but then again, I’m probably the luckiest guy in the world, so why not me?
Join the Twitter poker tour and the Pro’s at Full Tilt Poker by playing in the TPT Charity Tournament on Full Tilt Poker.
Place: Full Tilt Poker
Date: November 15th, 2009
Time: 6:15PM EST
Cost: $10 ($5 entry plus $5 donation to BBoC)
Tourney ID#: 113220604
Tourney PW: TPTFORBBOC