LAS VEGAS -- When the World Series of Poker Main Event resumes here this coming Sunday with the start of final table play, the oldest player among the nine at the table will be 72-year-old Pierre Neuville of Belgium.
But Neuville isn't just the oldest player among this year's November Nine--he's the oldest November Niner ever!
With more than 50 years of experience playing poker under his belt--and over $2 million in lifetime poker tournament earnings--the retired Hasbro games company executive is hoping his vast experience will pay off with a victory in the Main Event.
Though he has previously finished in the money in 20 WSOP tournaments in his career, Neuville has never won a WSOP bracelet for actually winning a WSOP tourney.
He aims to change that, starting on Sunday at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, site of the WSOP.
Gambling 911 earlier this week caught up with the affable Belgian at the Rio and asked him, among other things, how he plans to finally break through and cop some WSOP jewelry.
Here is a transcript of that interview:
Gambling 911: What has been the reaction from friends, relatives, co-workers and others to your making the November Nine?
Pierre Neuville: Surprinsingly, it's been enormous. Everybody wanted to come. Some were figuring out with their job or family to be able to make it. The media impact of the November Nine in Belgium has been tremendous. I spend six hours a day doing interviews.
G9: What was your overall WSOP experience like this year and did you get to meet any top pros or celebrities?
PN: I have been playing with the best players in the world and occasionally have beaten them.
G9: What have you done to prepare for the WSOP Main Event final table, which resumes on Sunday?
PN: I have been working on my poker skills intensively. I practice five days a week for six hours a day.
G9: How do you see your chances of winning the title and who do you think will be your toughest opponents?
PN: I give myself a 21% chance to be first, a 19% chance to finish second and a 15% chance to finish third. And just a 2% chance to finish ninth. As for the others, I fear them equally. The eight others equally do not want to finish ninth.
G9: To prepare for the final table, did you extensively research all your opponents as to their styles of play and tendencies, or did you just concentrate on improving your own game?
PN: I have just concentrated on my own game. The others? I'll meet them all at the table. With the game they prepared.
G9: Have you signed any endorsement or sponsorship deals? If so, what?
PN: Yes. I have signed a very important agreement with the charity One Drop to be their ambassador and help them reach their fantastic goals, which are to bring clean drinking water to millions of people in the Third World. I will be very happy and proud to display the One Drop flag at the final table to millions of television viewers around the world.
G9: Have you sought advice from fellow players who made Main Event final tables in the past? Who would you like to talk to if you could speak with anyone from poker?
PN: I am practicing only with my personal sparring partner, Fabrice. I don't need any other advice.
G9: What other forms of gambling do you enjoy? Do you like to bet on sports and if so, which ones?
PN: I like sports betting when I am watching a soccer match. I play on Circus.be.
G9: What other pastimes or hobbies do you enjoy outside of gambling?
PN: I have no time left, except for love.
G9: Do you eat a special diet or do any special excercises to maintain your game?
PN: I am trying hard to recoup from a too-long business life, and progressing. I take 10 minutes a day to excercise.
G9: Is there anything you can tell us about your personal life or family?
PN: I am now 72 years old. I was born in 1943, but my mind is getting younger every year, thanks to poker.
G9: What's one thing about you that your fans don't know and you can tell us now?
PN: I am in excellent shape.
By Tom Somach
Gambling 911 Staff Writer