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WSOP Tomorrow + Heads-Up with Mike Kleinstub


ESPN continues its WSOP Main Event coverage tomorrow night at 8 (PM, EST).  Since they didn’t air it last week, we can bet that Phil Hellmuth’s featured table should make the first hour of coverage. 

And if so, you’ll meet a new face at that table: Mike Kleinstub (seen above, far right raking chips after one of many verbal/pot bouts with Hellmuth).  Mike was briefly shown last week winning the Phil Hellmuth arrival-time prop bet.  While he was knocked out along with Hellmuth during Day 1 of WSOP ME play, Kleinstub has been a veritable ATM machine in online tournaments lately (not Thunder Keller kind of cash, but not bad). 

Wicked Chops Poker caught up with Kleinstub to discuss his WSOP ME experience...

WCP: Poker's boom has brought many new faces to the WSOP ME.  How long have you been playing poker?

MK: I have been playing poker for about 4 years...but have only become serious for about 2 years.

I grew up playing the usual Friday night games with friends.  But when Shawn Rice of Lubbock [Texas] finished 2nd at the [2004] WSOP Event #2, [my game really took off].  I was able to get in touch with him and he has pushed my game along.  Shawn has been a great source of knowledge and help in live and especially in online games.

WCP: How did you qualify for the WSOP ME?   

MK: I qualified online at PokerStars in a $160 Double Shootout.  It was wild. There were 81 players (9 tables of 9).  I won my table then won the final table. It took about 4 hours...and when we got down to two players, it lasted about 45 minutes.  Great match.  There were, however, 4 times I started to turn off the computer.  I was sure I was out and pulled the only card in the deck to help out.  For example, I have A-8 against A-K.  The flop was A-K-8…then an 8...then an 8!   I mean what a wild night.  I am starting to think about how to qualify next year already.

WCP: We saw you on winning the prop bet on Hellmuth's arrival.  What was your time and how close were you? 

MK: My prop bet was made with one other player sitting to the right of Hellmuth. My wager was that Phil would show up by 2pm.  The other guy said it would after 2pm.  Phil came in and sat down at 1:50pm.  Thus, I was the winner.

WCP: What was the experience like for you playing in the ME?  How different/close was it to your expectations?

Kleinstub_3MK: I think the only thing I can compare it to is this: I umpire high school and college baseball in Texas and New Mexico.  It would be like the getting a call by the MLB umpire association and being told I get to umpire a Major League Baseball game…then finding out it's game 7 of the World Series and I'm umping home plate.  It was a dream come true.  I have played serious poker for 2 years.  Some of the guys I play a regular game with have played 30-40 years and never sniffed a World Series event, much less the main table with Phil Hellmuth.  And let's not forget Brent Carter, who has made a large number of final tables [not to mention 40 cashes].  There were so many big players at our table that I got lost in the mix.  It actually helped that Phil was late to the table, if gave me a chance to calm down and focus on the game.  When he arrived I have already been playing so it did not change my game.  I also played the Media/Celebrity event and sat with Shannon Elizabeth and James Wood.  That was just as big a thrill…the only thing that bothers me is that I got to the Dance and didn't cash.  I am not one that says, “Wow I got to play.  I wanted to win.  But by the way, "WOW, I got to play!” (LOL)

WCP: What did you think when you found out that Hellmuth would be at your table?  And even more so, what did you think when you found out you were going to the featured table?

MK: Once I found out Hellmuth was at our table and I looked around at the other pros, I knew we would be moved.  It was just a matter of time. I did want to play conservative to ensure I would make the Featured Table, but once we got into the game I just got into my style.  I am conservative aggressive.  I have been rived one to many times to let players catch up. There was an exchange where Hellmuth would raise and I would re-raise him…it happened several times and I knew that Hellmuth is not one to put his chips at risk early unless he has the nuts.  So I’d press that with him.  He turned and told me that I was, “a nice guy but you can’t keep up that pace and still win."  I told him that if he would win a hand I would stop raising.  I moved to the Featured Table with the chip lead but got way too conservative when I got there.

WCP: What was the best and worst hand you played during the day?

MK: The best hand of the day was a bluff.  I held J-6.  The flop was 10-Q-6.  I bet 500 and was called.  Turn was a 7, and I bet 500…and was called again.  River was a 2.  I bet 1,000...he thought about it and folded.  It was against Alders Rosaders who finished 77th.  It was like in the movie Rounders when  Matt Damon bluffs Johnny Chan out of a pot.  For that moment I was better than the Pro.  He very well could have missed his draw, but If I checked the river, he would have bet me out of the hand.

The worst hand I played was tossing A-8 in middle position without a raise when blinds were still 200-400.  Flop was 8-8-A...kinda made me sick.  I hope they don’t show it on TV.  I wanted to throw up.  I took a huge beat with pocket Kings on button.  After I raised, the big blind re-raised me to 4,000 and I pushed all in.  He called and turned over AA.  The board ended up 6-7-2-x-x.  I don’t remember exactly.  No way to get off that hand.  I asked/wrote 10 pros and they all said I was going to bust on that hand with the flop being 7-6-2.  Only other way to get off the hand was to just call and hope an Ace comes to slow me down…but I would play it again the same way.  If you can't get your chips in pre-flop heads-up with KK, I should have stayed home.

WCP: We understand you've had some online success lately (in fact, since this interview, Kleinstub has won another big online purse).  Tell us how you've been doing poker-wise since the WSOP...

MK: I have been playing well. I don’t like to talk about dollars, but I have been winning.  My biggest win came on PokerStars.  My screen name is ChicagoSlims if you care to follow me.  I am playing in about 10 minutes in the 100-9 event, actually. I find that conservative aggressive works since almost half the online field is out within an hour.  Players overvalue A-K and are TOO aggressive.  I can't quit my day job just yet, but I would love to find a backer to give me a good shot at seeing if I can make it.  If you know a sponsor that want to take an up and comer please send them my way!  I will play for 25% of the pot.  I just want to see if I can win on a regular basis.  I really think I can.  I have been playing in fewer games around town. I do travel to Vegas and Albuquerque.  I plan on going to Tunica first of the year.  So I have been winning. I will leave it at that.

WCP: Finally, give us your dream six-person table.  People can be living, dead, or fictitious...

MK: Six players.  Wow.  Let me think:
1) Doyle Brunson - Respect his time in the game and his gentleman nature.
2) Phil Hellmuth - I just want to beat him and watch him pout about how he should have won
3) Stu Unger - When he was at his best, he was unbeatable.
4) Johnny Chan -  A true Legend....what more can you say.
5) My father, Jerry Kleinstub - Not a poker player- but always has been my best friend and while he does not always understand the poker world or that I actually may be pretty good at it.  He always supports me.
6) Shawn Rice - Shawn has always taken time to help and tutor me (editor’s note, Shawn was tutored by none other than Amarillo Slim).   Even came over to watch the WSOP last week.  A guy that has nothing to gain by helping me…but always does.

WCP:  Thanks Mike for taking the time to chat with us.  Hopefully, we'll see you tomorrow night on ESPN's continued WSOP ME coverage.  And hopefully we won't see that mucked A-8 hand...

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Alex Mager

Wholly Cow...
Kleinstub....didnt know you were a pro....Hope your doing great..sounds like it..Remember those days at Fenway Park....Curry Days....
I'll email ya soon

Zach D

Hey Stubby,
Nice win last night...another $1,000 to your tally...when you turning pro....Hope all is well in Texas....We miss ya in Chicago-Town...Go Cubs

Carols Graves

Hey Mike,
Congrats...We miss ya back in Chatt-Town...try to make Homecoming in a few years...bro..peace out

Dan  Burich

You made it to ESPN.... OK, it wasn't as a reporter, but still as a 'player'/celeb.
Good Luck!

Mike Kleinstub

Thanks Chops...
Man...they showed the verbal sparring but not even a single hand was shown..A little disappointment..but there is always next year..I did qualify for Tunica last night ...so see ya there.. on January 20th


Mike Kleinstub

Thanks Chops...
Man...they showed the verbal sparring but not even a single hand was shown..A little disappointment..but there is always next year..I did qualify for Tunica last night ...so see ya there.. on January 20th


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