Last Saturday, Dan "djk123" Kelly won Event #36 of the 2012 PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker, becoming the first player to win four-career WCOOP bracelets. Kelly's WCOOP résumé is very impressive. Along with his four victories, this 2009 WCOOP Player of the Series has seven final-table appearances, 33 cashes, and has pocketed a total of $1,210,880.14.
Kelly was kind enough to sit down with PokerNews after his win to discuss the milestone, his career, and his taste for graphic tees.
First of all, congratulations on winning your fourth WCOOP bracelet.
Can you talk about the tournament a little bit, particularly the final table? You had some very tough players there, including Clark “snake8484” Hamagami, Adam “Roothlus” Levy, and Jim “Mr_BigQueso” Collopy.
Well, at the start of the final table, I was kind of short. And the first couple times I opened, “auercan” three-bet me instantly and I just folded. But then I opened the button with aces, he three-bet, I four-bet, he five-bet, and I just flatted. Then he bet, bet, and folded the turn when I shoved. That made me chip leader — or close to it.
Was it smooth sailing from there or did you go through some swings?
There were definitely some swings. I played a huge hand with the same player and got down to 1.3 million chips at 5,000/10,000, so I had 13 big blinds, but then I picked up kings the next hand somehow and doubled. [Laughs]
After all these battles, you and "auercan" got heads-up. Did you see this coming?
He had all of the chips four-handed, so I was just sitting back and staying away from him. I was hoping that he would just bust everyone so then I could play him heads-up. I started heads-up as a pretty big dog then grinded it back.
This is your fourth WCOOP victory, but your first in NLHE. What took you so long?
[Laughs] Well, I think based upon the numbers it’s easier to win a non-hold’em event because the fields are a lot smaller. The no-limit ones are always bigger. But it’s not like I wasn’t trying. [Laughs]
So would you say that the NLHE win was tougher than the razz, H.O.R.S.E., and 8-game wins?
Not necessarily tougher, it’s just hard to win a tournament that has over a thousand people. The H.O.R.S.E. one was a $10K so it was pretty small. I don’t know, it’s all about running good deep in the events. You have to play well to put yourself in that position, but to actually win you need some lucky breaks.
Would you say you were more satisfied winning in the other variants because you need to be more disciplined, especially in H.O.R.S.E. and 8-game?
The $10K H.O.R.S.E. was pretty satisfying because it was such a tough field and a high buy-in.
You finished fourth in the 2009 WCOOP Main Event. Would you trade these four wins for a win in that event?
For money purposes, or just to be the WCOOP Main Event champion?
Mostly because it was an extra $1 million for winning compared to fourth. But I mean, it’s worked out since then. At the time, I was pretty thrilled with fourth because I had such a good series overall.
Since Black Friday, you’ve spent time in Malta, Australia, and now Costa Rica — which spot has been your favorite?
Australia was definitely my favorite. I stayed for a month in Bondi Beach, which is a beach town right outside of Sydney. Then I went to Melbourne and stayed there for four or five months. It’s just a really cool city. The people are nice and the weather was good.
Is it safe to assume that the Melbourne move coincided with the Aussie Millions?
Yeah, that was the reason for going, but then I just decided to live there with a friend.
You’re not the only American player who’s chosen to go abroad and play online poker rather than travel the circuit and become a “live pro.” Why do you personally prefer playing online?
I guess it’s comfort. It’s a lot easier. I did do Europe last year — World Series of Poker Europe and a few EPTs — it’s just very high variance if you’re playing €5K, €10K and high rollers. It’s such a small sample size that it’s so easy to go on a massive downswing. And the traveling, too. There are so many expenses built in that people don’t even consider.
In 2010, you played at the WSOP for the first time and won an event, but it was one of the last events of the summer. How tough was it to grind so many events in a row without having much success, and how satisfying was it to go deep and then win?
I was pretty excited for my first World Series, but yeah it went pretty terribly for the most part. I bubbled a bunch of events and didn’t have any good cashes, so it was a much-needed score at the end.
So you have four WCOOP bracelets, one SCOOP watch, and a WSOP bracelet. I can tell you’re not the type of person to walk around the halls of the Rio with your bracelets on, so where do you keep them?
[Laughs] They’re just in my room. I gave my friend the SCOOP watch. I probably would’ve never worn it — he would though. [Laughs]
Speaking of fashion, you’re always rocking funny or ironic t-shirts at the WSOP. When did you pick up the style?
My friend had a few graphic tees in college and sort of got me into them. I ordered a bunch online from Woot and Busted Tees — Woot has some really good shirts — but I haven’t bought any new ones in a while.
What are your plans for the near future? I know the WCOOP Main Event is this upcoming weekend, but are you headed to WSOPE or any events after that?
I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m going to go to Cannes [France]. I think I’m going to go back to the United States for a little bit then come back to Costa Rica to play online. And then maybe in April, there’s the WSOP APAC, but I’m not sure. I’ll figure it out.
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