Chris Wallace recently won his first WSOP gold bracelet along with $507,614 in Event #22, $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. The poker pro, coach and writer has been cashing in live tournaments since 2008, collecting more than $265,000 in winnings before besting a field of 200 to nab his first six-figure payday at the 2014 WSOP.
A former blackjack card counter and guitar builder, Wallace was introduced to poker by a friend and started playing online. He commenced to crush the competition mostly in cash games online, but ran into a roadblock along with thousands of other U.S. players when Black Friday hit in 2011.
Wallace turned much of his attention to live tournament action where he showed a proficiency in a variety of game types. Admittedly, Wallace gets bored if he plays one game too often and is able to excel best when mixing up his play among many variants.
With a background in coaching poker at sites such as Real Poker Training and Poker X Factor, Wallace has also shared his poker exploits and knowledge via a blog at foxpoker.com. His writing and coaching talents were again put to good use by writing “No Limits: The Fundamentals of No Limit Hold’em” and “The Tournament Rules” along with co-author and friend, Adam Stemple.
I was able to ask a few questions of Wallace following his WSOP victory and the newly-crowned bracelet champ admitted that he has never been more excited to aim for more gold at the WSOP.
Congratulations on winning your first WSOP title in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event! How does it feel to finally have a gold bracelet after seven or so years of live tournament action?
I think everyone wants a bracelet from the time they first learn about them, which was almost twelve years ago for me. It’s a great feeling to know that you have accomplished something and written your name in the history books, but I don’t feel like I can sit back and relax now. I want the next one so much more than I wanted the first one. I have bracelet fever now.”
Can you describe a pivotal hand or a time during the course of the tournament when you started to really believe and have confidence that 1st place was within your grasp?
I didn’t think about that at all until we got all the chips in on fifth street and I knew I had the best hand. I just wanted to play as well as I could and make sure that if I didn’t win I would at least go out knowing that I did my best.”
Other than a big pile of money, how has your life changed since becoming a WSOP champ?
Everybody wants to talk to me in the hallways of The Rio now! I’m not bothered by it at all, but everyone from Minnesota, everyone I’ve played with in the past, anyone I’ve met before, wants to congratulate me. It’s actually very nice, though keeping up with the facebook and twitter messages was a lot of work the first two days.”
At over half a million dollars, this was by far your biggest cash ever and the first time you earned a six-digit sum. You mentioned in your most recent blog post that a significant portion of your action was sold. Care to share how much was staked by others?
More than half. It was part of an investment package I put together for the summer and promoted on my website (foxpoker.com) and twitter. I came away with a nice chunk of money for myself, but it’s nice to have made about twenty other people a significant sum of money too.”
You seem to be running good by following up that WSOP H.O.R.S.E. title with a 16th place finish in the Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo event. Are players reacting to your play any differently now that you’re a WSOP bracelet winner?
I didn’t see any differences in that event. Most people just play their hand anyway, they don’t think about who they are playing against, so I don’t think it will change much in big events. In smaller buy-in stuff, especially in Minnesota, I imagine people will play a little differently, but there are so many bracelet winners at the WSoP that I don’t expect things to change much.”
Your success over the years has been in tournaments with buy-ins considerably less than the $10,000 entry fee required for your H.O.R.S.E. title. Are you looking forward to playing the larger buy-in events now that finding backers will come much easier?
I am looking forward to that. I have always searched for the best values, so I won’t play every $10k and waste money that people have invested in me playing in fields where I am not a favorite, but I will be playing a few more of the larger events now.”
You’re well-established as a poker coach and your services will likely be in greater demand. Do you enjoy and plan on continuing teaching others the game of poker or will you perhaps concentrate more on playing?
I started coaching because playing full time can be a grind, and I still feel that way. Coaching is a way to break up the monotony of the grind and it also helps my game. When you have taught something to someone else a few times you have a much better understanding of it, and coaching has helped me a lot.”
You’re a mixed game specialist, which is viewed as being extremely difficult considering the expertise required for each separate game type. Can you share any wisdom with other players who hope to learn more games to avoid the sometimes boring task of playing the same game over and over?
If you are fascinated by a game, then it’s easy to learn it. There are books that cover the basics of each game pretty well, and once you are really good at one game it makes it easier to learn the others. After you learn the basic strategies in a game, don’t be afraid to jump in a very small game and start playing. The first few weeks in a new game is so much fun!”
I understand you’re planning a well-deserved vacation to New Zealand after the WSOP. What else is on the agenda for Chris Wallace in 2014? More poker? Less poker? More buying action of other pros?
I’ll be at The Borgata in July supporting an event there for PocketFives.com, and I have lessons booked heavily for the first few weeks after I get home. I don’t have any plans after that except to throw a party and work on some long term planning. For now I’m just focused on playing well until the end of the WSoP and I’ll figure everything else out after.”