Interview: Daniel “RiverRats” Lazrus victorious in WSOP $3,200 high-roller event

Kat Martin
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Posted on: July 28, 2021 1:10 pm EDT

Poker.org bagged an interview with WSOP High Roller champion Daniel Lazrus today, fresh from his $200K+ win.

After nearly twelve hours of play in the WSOP.com high-roller championship event, Daniel “RiverRats” Lazrus outlasted 202 entrants to claim the $205,347 first prize and gold bracelet. The prize pool was bloated by 63 rebuys.

Lazrus has a previous best WSOP.com cash of $22,334. His recent online success includes an eighth-place finish ten days ago in the North American Open (WSOP event #18).

When the eight-handed final table was set, Lazrus sat fifth in chips. His elimination of Felix “madenspauwke” Van De Put in sixth, when his A7 turned a 7 to overcome Van De Put’s A9, vaulted Lazrus into a significant chip lead that he never relinquished.

We grabbed a quick interview with Lazrus a couple of hours after his win. He told me his decision to play the event at all was somewhat last minute. A resident of Long Island, he traveled to New Jersey at the suggestion of YouTube vlogger Ryan Depaulo, playing the tournament from the home of a mutual friend. Lazrus credits Depaulo introducing him to his current poker coach as a big part of his poker success.

Lazrus revealed that he’s almost exclusively an online player, with significant MTT cashes on BetOnline and America’s Cardroom as “DLAZ”. He also travels regularly to Canada to compete in international online MTTs, with a string of recent significant cashes leading up to today’s WSOP title.

“The money is nice, but the winning of this bracelet was all that mattered to me,” said Lazarus. “This was surreal – still is. I am hoping it’s not a dream.”

Luck and skill

While there’s no doubt that anyone who wins a poker tournament has enjoyed some good fortune during the event, the fact that some consistently reach high-profile final tables is a testament to the skill of top tournament players.

David “dpeters17” Peters has compiled one of the most impressive collections of cashes in the game, so it was no surprise to see him at the final table of the $3,200 event.

With play five-handed, Peters found himself facing a raise and a call holding pocket aces. His shove took him heads-up to the flop against Daniel “juice” Buzgon holding AQ.

Pretty lucky right? To find yourself all-in as a 93% favorite on the final table of a high-roller event?

The flop brought a queen giving Buzgon a sliver of hope, and was promptly joined by another one on the turn that sent Peters to the rail. In his current form, this is apparently what it takes to eliminate the man.

I asked Lazrus if it was a relief to see the back of in-form Peters.

“DPeters is clearly one of the best in world right now,” he said. “I never really felt any emotion though when he busted because I was too focused on the overall goal of winning.”

He also offered the following reasons for why he plays the game, in addition to the occasional six-figure pay day.

“I loved poker because I loved the idea that, as long as you were working harder than the next guy, you would be able to win and stay ahead of the curve – it’s truly an example of something that gives what you put into it. The more you work the better results you see – it’s the purest form of success.”

We closed our interview at 8:40am east coast time for a simple reason. In addition to being one of poker’s rising stars, Lazrus owns his own business, and needed to be at the office at 9am.