Eric 'basebaldy' Baldwin, 27, had a breakout poker year in 2009. He was the CardPlayer Player of the Year while winning his first WSOP bracelet in the $1500 NLHE Event #34. He also finished third in the $10,000 PLHE event. Recently, he took second place in the 2010 WPT Championships at the Bellagio for over $1 million dollars, finishing behind David Williams. He has accumulated over $3.7 million in winnings during his short career and is a sponsored Ultimate Bet pro. He is from Wisconsin, but currently lives in Las Vegas.
Welcome to Poker Curious, Eric. Tell us about how you got into poker.
I grew up in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. I got interested in poker after Rounders came out. High school friends and I would have games several nights a week and I got hooked. I wanted to be a professional baseball player until my senior year of college. I played college baseball at UW-Whitewater and was a team captain on the 2005 NCAA Division 3 National Championship team.
You've had considerable success playing the last few years. How would you describe your playing style?
My style of play varies with the type of table I am at. In general, I will do a lot of messing around in small pots, but am very conservative when it comes to my tournament life. I think my biggest edge comes from accurately assessing my opponent's playing styles and tendencies.
Which do you prefer playing: live or online poker?
In high school, it was all live games with friends. In college, I discovered online poker and played mostly there, building my bankroll and sharpening my skills. I prefer live poker most days because it's entertaining to be at a table with 8 or 9 other interesting characters.
What do you consider to be your greatest poker acomplishment so far? What are your goals for the future?
My greatest poker accomplishment is winning the 2009 CardPlayer Player of the Year award. My current goals are to get better at non-holdem games and win another bracelet or two.
What motivates you to play so much?
I actually play much less volume than most players. Last year, I played a ton when i was chasing the POY, so this year I've taken a lot more time off and enjoyed things outside of poker. When I do play, I'm motivated by my competitive nature and the desire to build an even bigger bankroll.
What do you enjoy doing when not playing poker?
I enjoy grilling out and having beers with friends. I also love watching sports and occasionally betting on them. It's really important to have hobbies away from poker. It keeps you fresh and performing better when you do play.
What advice do you give to newer players looking to improve their game?
Never stop learning. The second you think you know it all and blame your failures on bad luck, the game will pass you by.
What is the biggest mistake you see people making at the tables?
People give away way too much information with their bet sizes. Good players will pick up on this and play accordingly.
Was there any one singular moment in your poker career where suddenly everything began to click?
No. It's really been a continual process. I honestly feel like I keep slowly improving my game month by month.
What are your plans for the WSOP this summer?
My plans are to play as many tournaments as I can while remaining focused and playing my A game. The results should work themselves out.
If you could give just one piece of life advice to other young poker players looking to emulate your success, what would it be?
Practice self awareness and be honest with yourself. Too many poker players hit a wall they can't break through because they are unable to critique themselves.
Can you tell us something about Eric Baldwin that no one else knows?
I have seven toes on my left foot. Not really. I tend to be pretty open about things I don't mind people knowing and keep everything else to myself.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories you can share with us from being on the poker tour?
Exactly 1 year apart, on the same night in April, my girlfriend Mary has had a full beer accidentally dumped in her purse during celebration of a big score.
What is the best thing poker has afforded you in life?
The ability to set my own schedule and see a lot of cool places.
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Eric. Before you go, we have several fun questions we always ask our interviewees.
What is your favorite fun poker phrase/slang/acronym?
Calling pocket deuces 'Mallards'.
If the poker industry disappeared completely, what other career would you most like to attempt?
I'd love to attempt being a professional sports bettor.
If you were on death row, what would be your last meal?
About 15 Miller Lites.
When your poker career is over, what would you most like to be remembered for?
Always enjoying myself at the poker table and being trustworthy away from the table.