Some generations are defined by popular slogans. "The Greatest Generation" referred to young people raised during the 1940s who made tremendous sacrifices. "Make Love, Not War" came to define the 1960s and a cultural revolution. "Greed is Good" typified the prevailing attitude during the ultra-materialistic 1980s.
If there’s a slogan today’s youth, and more specifically a new generation of poker players, it is without doubt, "No Fear."
There is quite simply a new breed of poker player that has trampled on tradition, ignored conventional thinking, and disregarded the poker establishment. At the poker table, these daring swarms of neophytes have absolutely no fear. Shouts of, "How could you call with that hand?" or "I can’t believe the bad beat I just took" or "That’s the worst play I’ve ever seen" fill modern cardrooms and poker tournaments like music inside a symphony hall.
The screams of disbelief are often punctuated by some colorful expletive intended to humiliate the so-called "bad" player.
Brian Wilson doesn’t care. He has no fear.
"I had some players (in this tournament) tell me I’m a bad player," Wilson said immediately after winning $370,685 and his first gold bracelet in the $5,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em championship. "They had no idea what I was thinking or why I did what I did. Now, I’m sitting here and this is the greatest feeling in the world."
In a post tournament interview, Wilson was asked about arriving at the final table and facing a formidable list of poker foes. Of the nine finalists, he was the player with the least amount of experience at this level. So some degree of trepidation might have been expected. But not according to Wilson.
"With all due respect to these great players, I wasn’t thinking about them at all," Wilson said. "It didn’t matter to me who I was playing against. I just played my game and had no fear about anything. That’s they way you have to play if you want to win. If you come in afraid or scared, you have no chance to win."
Wilson’s fearless attitude was the difference in a nine-hour final table that had a number of lead changes and exciting moments. The total prize pool in Event No. 20 amounted to $825,700. The final table included two former gold bracelet winners — Allen Cunningham (with three wins) and Cyndy Violette (with one win).
In fact, this was Cunningham’s second final table appearance (he won Event No. 2) so far this year. This was Violette’s fourth time to cash and second final table, as well (she finished second in Event No. 9).
On day three, Atlantic City-based poker pro Violette arrived as the chip leader. Wilson was close behind in third place. Chip counts at the final table were as follows:
Seat 1: John Sebok, 159,000
Seat 2: Cyndy Violette, 206,000
Seat 3: Steven Liu, 193,500
Seat 4: Brian Wilson, 193,000
Seat 5: Derek Leforte, 36,500
Seat 6: Allen Cunningham, 131,500
Seat 7: John Gale, 64,500
Seat 8: Tony Cousineau, 99,500
Seat 9: Burt Boutin, 116,000
When heads-up play began, Englishman John Gale enjoyed a marginal chip lead over Brian Wilson — $695,000 to $505,000. The key hand of the poker duel took place when Gale had 10-10 versus Wilson’s 4-4. A four flopped and that put Wilson into the chip lead.
About an hour later, Wilson had A-Q versus Gale’s K-J and the outcome of the tournament rested on who hit the flop. Neither player managed to hit a pair, which meant the ace-high was the best hand. Brian Wilson took the victory. John Gale was forced to settle for second.
A relative newcomer, Gale won a major event held at the Atlantis Resort (Bahamas) in January. He has since turned pro and is doing quite well in poker tournaments. Gale’s cut of the prize money amounted to $204,440.
Brian Wilson, is a 37-year-old real estate agent originally from Rockford, Illinois. He now lives in Ft. Meyers, Florida. He has a fiancé, who has been very supportive of his poker playing. She can now share Wilson’s glory and the $370,685 in prize money.
Wilson insisted that British pro David Colclough be acknowledged as a major influence on his improvement as a poker player. He played in some tournaments in Europe earlier this year and came to develop an appreciation for Colclough’s poker talent.
Most interesting is how it all started for Wilson. "I came out to Las Vegas last year to attend a bachelor’s party," Wilson said. "I stumbled into the Horseshoe, and I won a $10,000 seat into the main event. I ended up playing last year and that really made me more determined to get more into poker and to improve my game."
Have no fear, poker has not seen nor heard the last of Brian Wilson. Perhaps it is Wilson’s opponents who should fear the worst.