"To be honest, I do feel a bit more prepared than last time, because you grow from experience, right?"
Those were the first words from Anton Morgenstern, as he casually strolled to the exit of the Amazon Room with a smile on one of the breaks.
The story of Morgenstern is one of a missed chance of a lifetime, but two years later he's got a great shot at redemption.
Late on Day 5 of the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event, the relatively unknown German pro became one of the chip leaders. Little did he know that his epic run would end in 20th place after being the runaway chip leader with 23 players remaining.
Where his journey will end this year will be determined in the next two days, but a more even-keeled and prepared Morgenstern promises to not make the same mistake again.
"In 2013, right after I busted, I didn't feel anything," he said. "But a few months later when things weren't going so well, I had some bad feelings about it."
The well-spoken pro will have all eyes on him as the will try to overcome one of the biggest blowups in poker history, but he's in firm belief that he won't make the same mistakes again.
"I've been just been trying to focus and stay off things like Facebook and not get too distracted," he said. "That was a big mistake I made the last time. Two years ago, I was really on top of my game until the last day. Right now, I don't feel any better or worse, so if I make it to the last day it's going to come down to that — seeing if I can handle it better than that."
Back in 2013, Morgenstern had 29.3 million with 23 players remaining. Three eliminations later, it was he who had to collect his payout slip. To put in perspective how big his chip lead was, eventual champion Ryan Riess had 2.8 million in chips at the time of Morgenstern's biggest lead and if Morgenstern had kept the exact same stack he would've been third going into the November Nine.
As we all know now, everything turned out to be different, no November Nine and no seven-figure score for the man with dual American-German citizenship. Morgenstern took home $285,408 for his 20th-place finish, but not until much later did he realize the chance he'd squandered.
"Maybe I was a bit too cocky," Morgenstern said.
After a pause he continued about this year and said, "I'm going to play nitty now and try to get through the day. If I find some nice spots, I'll take them, but I'm not going to try to get into huge pots.
"I'm feeling more relaxed now. I just checked on my cell phone and saw that I am number one again, but I won't be worrying about that sh*t yet."
On the question of how he's going to rewrite the story of the man who didn't get there, Morgenstern answered with a big smile.
"I'm going to try to be the guy who gets there."