In the height of the poker boom, Bill Gazes could be seen in some of the biggest and most prestigious poker tournaments the world had to offer, especially at the World Series of Poker. But for the man with over $2.3 million in live tournament earnings, there's a gap in live tournament results from 2011-2016, and in 2011 Gazes only recorded one live tournament result.
The game has certainly changed in the intervening years, something Gazes freely acknowledges. The players are tougher than ever, and the proliferation of strong ones flooding the tables has made his job a lot tougher.
At the same time, he sees a lot of positives in what's happened.
"The new generation — you can't call them the young players because some of them are like 35 — they're making the game so much better," he said. "The table talk is much more interesting. These guys, they're just really intelligent, well-rounded people.
"It was hard when they came in because it's these guys without leaks. They're not gambling or shooting dice or betting sports. They're so solid and studious. They control their emotions, they're really dispassionate about the swings of the game. It's like fuck to play against them because they don't tilt but they also don't curse the dealers. It's a much more relaxed environment."
It's not hard to see the downside of the situation, as a tough way to make a living got even tougher. And while there's no doubt that's the case, and players on the margins get squeezed out of their profit to the point where they can no longer win at the necessary rate, Gazes chooses to see a positive side of that as well.
"They make us all raise the level of our games," he said. "They've made the game so much more fun to play because it's challenging. You have to raise your game or get the fuck out."
Gazes has had plenty of success in tournament poker, racking up more than $2.3 million in cashes with a bevy of top-10 finishes in both WSOP and World Poker Tour events. Despite the windfall, he never has captured a title in a major tournament, but it's not something he's worried about as his main concern is and always has been the money.
That's true now more so than ever as Gazes has two young children and a wife to support.
"If the bracelet's worth $3,600 and you give me $3,625, you've got it man," he said. "I've gotta bring home the brown rice, ya know?"
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