“It basically derailed my poker career at the time because I was so despondent after the fact.” — Paul Snead on the bad beat he suffered at the 2008 WSOP.
If you were to compile a list of the top five bad beats suffered at the World Series of Poker over the last ten years, Paul Snead’s name would likely be on it. Not only did was Snead two-outed on the river by Scott Montgomery at a crucial point in the tournament, but Snead also had to suffer the indignity of having the clock called by Tiffany Michelle.
Had Snead won that hand, he would have been second in chips with 20 players remaining. Instead, the man from Kingspark, New York, finished in 21st place for $257,334. Without the bad beat, his life may have been drastically different.
Since then, Snead has had only three tournaments cashes — one in each of the last three years. His most notable, and perhaps one that will reignite his career, was in the recent WSOP Circuit Foxwoods Main Event where he finished in fourth place for $65,096. Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul ended up winning that tournament for $194,178 and his first Circuit ring.
Snead doesn’t play many tournaments these days, but PokerNews caught up with him during his run at Foxwoods last weekend. He was kind enough to talk a little about the hand that changed his life.
But before we get into the interview, let's take a look at the hand itself:
PokerNews: Can you talk a little about that now-infamous hand and the effect it had on your psyche?
Snead: It basically derailed my poker career at the time because I was so despondent after the fact. When it happened in real time, I was OK with it, but the more I thought about it in the months that followed, the November Nine were getting promoted, and it was just heartbreaking.
Obviously, I wasn’t showcasing — I had an important decision to make. I had a pretty good feel on Scott Montgomery at the time. He tried to make a move and was successful by hitting the ace on the river. It is what it is. Like I said, a couple of months went by, I didn’t play another tournament until Foxwoods that November. Ironically, I bubbled that, the $10K WPT.
I just lost interest then. It just wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t a good feeling, so I wound up buying a company with my brother. We’ve been doing that for the last four years. That’s full time all the time. I’ve got two kids now that are in high school, they’re multi-sport varsity athletes, so I’m pretty busy with that. What I do now is I take a day or two off and come up to Foxwoods or go to the Borgata maybe two or three times a year tops. I’m enjoying it, and it’s not a lot of pressure, not a lot of stress. Life is good.
Had you won that hand, do you feel you could have won it all?
I would have been second in chips with 20 players left in the tournament. The way the action was at the time, it was very tight, very predictable. I would have went to the final table I believe very easily, but instead I was crippled and you know the rest.
How did you feel about Tiffany Michelle calling the clock on you? We’re you annoyed by that?
The short answer is yes. She had absolutely no business calling the clock. She wasn’t in the hand. I think part of it was her trying to get even with me. You didn’t see it on the broadcast, but a short while before that I was involved with her in a pretty big pot where she folded on the flop and I got in her head a little bit. She was annoyed at the time so I felt like it was kind of revenge for that a little bit.
You actually made a good call in that you got your money in as a favorite. Are you content with the decision you made in that hand?
There was still a part of me that thought, “How could he not have me beat?” based upon what he did. It was actually a brilliant play on his part if he was thinking it through, but there was still a part of me that felt like he was empty and that the jacks were good. That clearly pushed me over the edge.
I felt like I had a very good read on Scott at the time. His game was pretty limited at the time, he’s since evolved, I think, into a pretty good player, but at the time his game was somewhat limited. The move that he made a lot was to three-bet preflop and then make a giant bet on the flop. He would usually take down the pot and get away with it. I had seen that after playing with him for a couple of days at that point. I didn’t play a lot with him, but I had seen enough that I was able to get that read on him, and that’s why I made the call preflop. I had the button, he was in the blind.
The thing I would have done different looking back, 110%, was I should have just shoved instead of min-raising on the flop. If I shove, he’s gone and then who knows what happens after that for me. Making that very, very thin raise by just min-raising obviously turned out to cost me my tournament, but I felt really strong when I made that, that my jacks were good. I said to myself that there’s this little inkling of doubt [that he could have a better hand], so let me give myself a chance to fold if he’s going to tell me he has my jacks beat. He told the story by shoving — he’s definitely telling me a story because he should know that I can’t fold, so he has to have my jacks beat.
That’s why I did take quite a bit of time. You can’t appreciate on television how much time I took. On TV it looks like three or four minutes. We were probably into about nine minutes at the time I would say. So it wasn’t like she called the clock after three minutes like a lot of people think, in her defense. It was just stupid on her part to say she was short stacked with 50 big blinds.
She really paid a price for that after the fact. I think she might have had a very good career in poker if she had endeared herself more to the public throughout the broadcast, and that hand was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. She really hurt her image, and I think she cost herself a lot of money.
Have you been back to the WSOP since busting the Main Event in 2008?
I played in 2009, but that was the last time I played.
Do you have any desire to play again in the future?
Yes. As I said, I’m four years into my business that I own. At some point, we’ll sell the company in the next few years and you’ll probably see me back playing full time. It’ll be better now because my wife will be with me, my kids will be in college, so my wife can travel with me, and it’ll be a whole different set of circumstances.