Getting Real With Sam Grafton

TAGs: audio interview, greg merson, Lee Davy, Phil Hellmuth, Sam Grafton, world series of poker, WSOP, wsop 2013, wsop main event

Getting Real With Sam Grafton Audio
“Alright Lee? How are things? Are you waiting for me to bust?” Asks Sam Grafton.

Getting Real With Sam GraftonHe’s partially right. Sitting on 20 big blinds is not exactly life support, but I know he is going to be flipping pretty soon. My original intention was to watch him in action, catch a few quotes and then interview him at the break. But then I notice he’s sitting to the left of Greg Merson: the champion of the world. I look at Merson, then Grafton, Merson, Grafton and then stay firm on my decision. Grafton is my man.

I have never met Greg Merson, but as I stare at the pair I can’t help but feel that Sammy Grafton is more important to poker. When tumbleweed rolled passed dust-covered saloons it was the likes of Mike ‘The Mouth’ Matusow, Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and Phil Hellmuth that the TV production companies yearned for. Nobody gave a shit if they were any good at poker. All anybody cared about was the quirks, outbursts and fantastical tales.

The strata of modern talent are missing those quirks, outbursts and fantastical tales. Instead we just get a parade of sunglasses, headphones and stony cold silences. I know that Merson has won a gazillion more dollars than Grafton; I know that Merson plays in the highest cash games in Macau while Grafton plays the $10 rebuy on Stars; I know that Merson has two patches on his chest to Grafton’s one and I doubt that Merson is stupid enough to lose his passport in a nightclub after a few too many sherbets. But I don’t care. I want to see quirks, outbursts and fantastical tales. I want something different and Sam Grafton is definitely that.

So I went to the table to find noise, and apart from the initial welcoming committe Grafton is keeping schtum. Like all great talkers, his tongue works best when hiding behind a much bigger wall. He dresses like the kid you used to steal dinner money from when you were younger. I think he knows it, but doesn’t give a toss. In fact, I think he dresses like this deliberately. He wears things that aren’t meant to conform to what is perceived to be cool, and looks cool doing it. He’s wearing a white 76ers baseball cap that’s pitched at an angle that you push too when you are pretending to be a rap star. Just below the peak lies a pair of national health glasses. The type your Mum forced you to wear when you were younger. The type that proved you lived on a council estate. He is wearing a technicolored deck-chair shirt and a bright yellow cardigan. Skinny jeans clothe the bottom part of him and he’s walking in the smelliest, dirtiest, scruffiest pair of trainers you have ever seen in your life. It must be a university thing.

A few orbits later and Grafton is out of the main event. To his credit he came into the media room to complete the interview despite his world just caving in. I ask him what happened and he tells me that Merson put him in a cage. I have no idea what he is talking about. I must be the worse poker writer in the world.

“He {Merson} limped blind on blind, I checked ace-seven and it came ace, six, four with two clubs; he bet and I called. The turn was the seven of clubs and so we have top two. He checks, I bet and he check-raises. So we have gone from having the absolute nuts to having just a bluff catcher. But I decide to call and I’m going to call pretty much all non-club rivers and it came the eight of clubs, he set me in and I don’t think I can call. Later he {Merson} opened the cutoff and I shoved with queen-eight of hearts, he had ace-jack off and it held.”

We continue our chinwag in the employee corridors at the back of the Rio. He tells me that he has lost his passport.

“This is pathetic for a grown man to lose his passport.” Said Grafton.

But in his defense, this does seem to be the only country in the world where at the age of 38 I have to produce evidence of my age to get a drink. Fortunately, Grafton has Simon Deadman, otherwise he would be well and truly screwed.

“Luckily, Simon Deadman is my twin. He gave me his passport and I thought mmm…pasty white guy with ordinary looking hair…that’ll do. It’s worked every time so I always have Simon Deadman’s passport to fall back on.”

This is Grafton’s third main event and his exit puts him at 0/3. A record I am sure he is going to put straight with time on his side. His rise from small stakes online grinder to live tournament celebrity has happened very quickly. It’s not just us Brits who love him either. Despite not understanding a single word that comes out of his mouth the Americans love him also. He’s become the new media darling; there is never a dull moment when Grafton is in town.

We chew the fat about friendships within poker, the ailing poker economy, bankroll management and a whole of other things that just came up whilst we looked like were dealing drugs in the corridor. There are a lot of poker players you can select for an interview. Greg Merson, the champion of the world, is one of them. But for me…there is nobody I like talking to more than Sam Grafton.

He makes me think, he makes me laugh and when I hear him cracking up the crowd at a British Rail he even makes me cry.


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