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Importantly, though, he doesn’t want his choice to be seen as disparaging the WSOP, a brand that he loves. He also loves the WPT and Wynn. PokerGO also offers some appealing options, especially during its PGT Mixed Game series. His true passion is for poker itself, and all of those industry leaders are a part of that for him.
The original David Baker – ODB to distinguish him from David “Bakes” Baker – has been in the game for decades in some form or another. What started in college took him to casinos and underground games alike for cash games. Nearly two decades ago, he essentially became a professional poker player.
His extensive history in tournament poker dates back to 2004 and includes wins in multiple variations, from No Limit Hold’em to Dealer’s Choice. He has titles from the L.A. Poker Classic and RunGood Poker Series, not to mention a WPT Main Event title and three WSOP gold bracelets. The long list of results across the board total more than $7.2M as 2023 comes to a close.
A closer look at his Hendon Mob page, however, shows that the vast majority of Baker’s results focused on tournaments in the Las Vegas or Los Angeles region. And most events, no matter the location, were affiliated with the WPT or WSOP. He has preferences, of course, but he also likes to stay close to home whenever possible. That home was in Arizona for many years, though he and his family now reside in Las Vegas.
It would make sense that Baker stayed in Vegas for the WPT World Championship at Wynn in December instead of trekking to the Bahamas. But there was more to his decision than location.
When the WSOP announced its first WSOP Paradise live event series, it didn’t escape Baker that much of the series would overlap with the WPT World Championship. While it would have been possible to fly to the Bahamas and then back to Vegas, that type of fast-paced title chasing is not appealing when being home with family – especially during the holiday season – is his number one priority.
That’s not to say the WSOP wasn’t appealing. Baker admitted, “I had a lot of incentive to go to the Bahamas. I was eligible for all of the extra promotion. I only needed one cash for the cash promo, one final table for the next level, and one bracelet for the big promotion.”
To clarify, players were able to use their summer WSOP results, combine them with WSOP Paradise results, and cash in on one of three promotions.
Baker was well on his way to earning some extra cash, as he had a solid summer at the WSOP. He won his third career bracelet, this one in the $1,500 Razz tournament, and he final tabled the $10K No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship, ultimately finishing third. He had 14 cashes in total, including three online WSOP bracelet events.
As for the WPT at Wynn, Baker noted the obvious benefit of living within driving distance of the casino in Las Vegas. He has always enjoyed playing at Wynn.
David Baker @audavidb won the Wynn Fall Classic $600 NLH Event on October 19th, taking home the trophy and $42,581. Congratulations David on your victory over the 438 player field! pic.twitter.com/DI5p5Z5kSe— Wynn Poker Room (@WynnPoker) October 20, 2023
David Baker @audavidb won the Wynn Fall Classic $600 NLH Event on October 19th, taking home the trophy and $42,581. Congratulations David on your victory over the 438 player field! pic.twitter.com/DI5p5Z5kSe
— Wynn Poker Room (@WynnPoker) October 20, 2023
More than that, though, he has been impressed by the WPT, especially after the 2022 WPT World Championship and its player-focused lineup. “I love what the WPT is doing for poker. And I love playing at the Wynn,” he said. “I wanted to support the property and brand.”
Baker does not hesitate to share his opinions. He expressed his displeasure with the WSOP Paradise schedule when it first appeared earlier in 2023. “The WSOP schedule consisted of huge fields or huge buy-ins, without much appealing to the mid-stakes player who is looking for a $2K or $3K or $5K No Limit Hold’em,” he said frankly. He then added, “Since the mixed game community supports the World Series so heavily during the summer, I thought it was a little disrespectful that we couldn’t even get two mixed events on the Bahamas schedule.”
With that said, Baker emphasized that he has and will continue to support Jack (Effel) and the WSOP. In this case, he simply wasn’t influenced by the schedule to make the trip away from home, especially as he is not a fan of the Bahamas for poker to begin with.
While he was glad to stay in Vegas, play the WPT events at Wynn, and monitor his football games – another passion for Baker – he hopes that the 2024 schedule for the WSOP will offer more diversity. It will at least create a tougher decision as to how to plan his December poker action.
The World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour have brands that are an integral part of poker history. They’ve both raised the bar for tournament poker, offered chances for players to shine on a global level, and done their best to give players what they want.
Baker said that there is room for constructive criticism, as it only makes the brands aim higher. It makes the game better in the long run.
“I think everyone should be doing what is best for poker,” he said. “We’re too niche to be fighting and to be divided. The more things that elevate the game and its exposure, the more we all benefit.”
Some poker players took sides in the WPT/WSOP competition in 2023. Baker believes it is best to keep in mind that both brands have incredible value.
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