Eddy Scharf: Stop ESPN dictatorship at World Series of Poker

Jun 7, 2011 3:00 AM

While Eddy Scharf isn’t boycotting this season’s World Series of Poker as Phil Ivey is, his beef isn’t tenderloin either.

"It’s not the same, but I still come here," said Scharf, who has won two bracelets and finished as high as 15th in the main event back in 2004. "Ten years ago you paid $10,000 and all the money went back to the players. Now they take six percent out for the house and I’m under the dictatorship of ESPN."

Scharf, 57, is a former professional airline pilot who made the journey from his home in Cologne, Germany to compete in the world’s premier poker event with no expectations other than trying to cash in some form.

"I used to be an airline pilot until 2008, but now I just play poker for fun," Scharf said. "I don’t prepare for this event any more. This is my vacation for me. I like to play in Las Vegas."

Scharf has been coming to Las Vegas to play poker since 1975 when he first played at the Golden Nugget. The height of his success was in 2004 when he played on the same table with eventual Main Event champion Greg Raymer and nearly followed him to the finals.

"I had success a few years earlier winning bracelets in 2001 and 2003, but getting $275,000 for finishing 15th in 2004 was definitely a lot of money," Scharf said. "Still, you want to go farther. I couldn’t sleep for two weeks. I kept thinking that $275,000 was not a lot of money compared to the $5 million that Raymer won."

While many would dream of a top 15 finish in a field of 2,576, Scharf added the unique perspective of someone who tasted success and was soured by it.

"In the main event, there are so many people there," he said. "You have to be lucky to get through. Even if you are in the money, you always have the feeling of being a loser unless you win it all."

In the years since 2004, Scharf has had to make adjustments both to television’s increased involvement with the WSOP along with the attitude of the new corps of competitors.

"I had to adjust to playing against younger kids," Scharf said. "They play a lot different, a very aggressive style. They know what they are doing, but just have no respect for the game. Oh well, easy come easy go as they say."

While Scharf was unaware at the time of Ivey’s decision to withdraw from the WSOP, his ideas about the sport echo Phil’s.

"We should get something back, but we don’t," Scharf said. "The reason we don’t is the players are not organized. They are selfish and came here just for themselves. I don’t give a darn about competition. If I win a lot and don’t feel like playing, I go on vacation."

While Scharf said he will continue to come to Las Vegas for the event, he preferred the way the tourney used to be run.

"It used to be I knew 30 or 40 people, but now I don’t know anybody," Scharf said. "At Binion’s they did a lot for the players. Here (the Rio) they don’t do anything. With TV coverage you would think the poker players would get something out of it. I don’t see it.

"When I won a bracelet in 2001, I had a free hotel room in 2002," Scharf added. "Now I get a food ticket for $10 if I enter a tournament for $5,000."