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Steve Albini Talks World Series of Poker Win in New Interview

Last month, Steve Albini took home $106,000 and a World Series of Poker gold bracelet after winning the 2018 WSOP’s $1,500 seven-card stud event.  The Shellac frontman trounced 310 other players and wore Belgian punk band Cocaine Piss’s shirt while doing it. Not bad. In a new interview with The Ringer, Albini discussed his win and his lifelong love affair with the game

“I had never even been a chip leader, much less made a final table, much less won a bracelet,” Albini said. “It wasn’t really an ambition of mine to win a bracelet. I genuinely didn’t think it was a realistic expectation, so I never really harbored the fantasy.”

According to Albini, he was introduced to the game as a child via his great-grandmother Dora McKeever. From The Ringer:

“I think because she wanted to play poker and there was no one to play with,” Albini said. Instead of chips, he recalled using household items like cellophane-tipped cocktail toothpicks.

“We had the red ones and the blue ones and the green ones and the yellow ones and they were [worth] different amounts,” he recalled. Naturally, Albini said, “We started with some and she ended up with all the toothpicks.”

Albini started playing for more than toothpicks, and eventually the game turned into a viable source of income, although his wife Heather Whinna doesn’t exactly love his profitable hobby.

“My wife does not give a fuck about poker,” Albini told The Ringer. “What she has seen of it has been revolting. And I can’t blame her for being repulsed by it. The popular image of the macho bro-man poker contingent is pretty depressing. It does seem quite retrograde. She does know my friends who play cards. And she likes them. And I think she discerned that there was another kind of poker player, that there were people who took the game seriously as an intellectual problem and who wanted to play not as a means of asserting dominance over each other, but as a way of expanding their own experience.”

Albini said that he seeks out games when he’s on tour or off engineering a record and relishes the opportunity to use parts of his brain that go dormant when he’s working in the studio. From The Ringer:

“I don’t do a lot of calculating when I’m going through a normal day. You’re doing at least some sort of rudimentary math in every hand of poker. When you’re playing cards you have to do a lot of sort of prediction of behavior. I don’t do a lot of manipulative psychology in the rest of my life.”

As for Cocaine Piss, he’s recording another album with them “in a few weeks.”

Read the rest of the profile at The Ringer.