Jeff Madsen (Cont.)
Posted: Wednesday July 26, 2006 10:31AM; Updated: Wednesday July 26, 2006 6:07PM
Still, it's not like Madsen had a long resume to base his confidence on. His biggest wins before his $1.4-million score at the WSOP were a couple of $2,000 checks from Sunday tournaments at the Chumash Indian Casino (which allows 18-year-olds to gamble) in Santa Ynez, Calif. Somehow, though, he knew he was ready for the big time. He'd read just about every book ever written on the game, studied every pro on TV and played enough hours at Chumash to feel like he could read other players' hands better than they could read their own.
Madsen admitted to a few butterflies when he saw poker legend Doyle Brunson strut across the room on the first day. But pretty soon, he was getting chummy with one of the game's best.
"Chris Ferguson sat next to me at the first tournament,'' Madsen said. "I wasn't intimidated or anything because I've watched him on TV a lot, so I know how he plays and he doesn't know how I play.''
Instead of talking poker, Madsen asked Ferguson -- better known as "Jesus'' in the poker world (for his looks and style of play) -- about high school. "I knew he was from Pacific Palisades (Calif.) so I asked him if he went to Palisades High, like me, and he did,'' Madsen said.
At one point, another player at the table told Madsen that he'd better watch out for Ferguson -- as if the kid didn't know who he was. Ferguson laughed and told the guy that he'd better watch out for the kid, who was rapidly amassing a huge chip stack. "That was cool of him,'' Madsen said. ``It showed he respected me as a player.''
By the end of his second tournament victory on Saturday, Madsen was coolly facing one of poker's stare-down kings, Erick Lindgren, in the $5,000 short-handed no-limit Hold'em event final. After his first bracelet win -- in the $2,000 No-Limit Hold'em Event on July 17 -- there was plenty of room for the skeptics out there to call Madsen a fluke. Poker involves a fair amount of luck. The WSOP is a different beast. An amateur can get on a rush and make a final table once. It's been happening with greater frequency in recent years as the sport grew in popularity. But with a field as big as the WSOP, and a talent pool as deep, it's fair to say that two victories in less than a week is more than a rush.
Madsen insists it won't change him ... much. Unlike many of the young guns who've scored big at the WSOP, Madsen plans on returning to UCSB in the fall to complete his degree in film studies. He's planning on being the same old Jeff, too. Nice guy, a film major with a lot of night classes, who likes to go out in downtown Santa Barbara with his buddies on a Friday night.
``I know he went out and bought some Lacoste shirts after he won. But he's still wearing skater shoes,'' Poldberg said. ``Next year, he might wear some nicer clothes more often, but as far as his priorities, I don't think he'll change much.''
Nicer clothes aside, the biggest difference to Madsen's daily life will probably come on weekends. Instead of driving a half-hour to Chumash, he might jet to Aruba for a World Poker Tour event.
`"One-point-four million: It's so ridiculous I don't know what to say," he said. "It's like, `I guess I have a lot of money now and I can buy stuff.' ... But I'm just trying to focus on winning bracelets and playing good poker.''
One thing he's got to work on, though, is putting those gold bracelets to work.
After winning his second bracelet on Saturday, Madsen was invited to party at the hot nightclub Pure. He was still wearing the same outfit from earlier in the day, and the bouncer wasn't going to let him in with skater shoes.
"He wasn't like, `Dude, do you know who I am?' '' Poldberg said. "He was like, 'Whatever, let's go someplace we can all hang out.' That's just the kind of guy Jeff is."