One of the most “enigmatic” players in poker, as PokerOrg’s Jeff McMillan noted earlier today, is Florida’s Maurice Hawkins. Hawkins entered today’s Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event, with the overall chip lead.
Hawkins is certainly among the best players in poker to have never won a WSOP bracelet, but he’s made a lasting mark on the WSOP record book in another way. In mid-May, at the WSOP Circuit’s most recent visit to Cherokee, North Carolina, Hawkins won the stop’s $2,200 High Roller to claim his 15th Circuit ring, snapping a tie with Wisconsin’s Josh Reichard to reclaim the solo career-rings lead.
Hawkins has run deep in the WSOP Main Event before, but winning the massive tournament is a dream come true for even the most talented players. Not that Hawkins lacks for confidence; when he’s running well, he exudes it. When asked whether it would be fabulous to win that long-sought first bracelet in the Main, Hawkins said, “I mean, I’ve got it into me, mentally, I’ve already won it my mind. So I just have to put it into action.
“And yes, it would be wonderful. But it’s just another tournament. It just happens to be the Main Event. I do this every day, just cards and more cards. But I would love this; it’s a great experience. You know, seeing your name on the leaderboard, [having] the chip lead overnight. I mean, that’s what dreams are made. That’s what we live for.”
How did Hawkins acquire his event-leading stack? It’s about reputation, Hawkins said, about other people not wanting to believe some of his aggressive bets. “They’re trying to outplay me, I think. I have an image without even talking about it, without saying anything, people just love to try to outplay me. And I think it benefits me so greatly because of that. And when you have it, they just don’t want to believe and then instead of giving me 50,000, they give me 200,000. Instead of giving me 50, they give me 300. It’s like it’s just one of those things.”
Lifetime Circuit ring battle in the news
Then talk turned to Hawkins’ recent Circuit successes. Hawkins actually enjoys when the career Circuit rings race makes the news, as it is now with Reichard (14) and Daniel Lowery (13) in close pursuit. As he explained, “They don’t talk about it unless somebody catches you, so I kind of like when people catch me because then they talk about it. I was the Circuit leader for like, two, three years and there wasn’t a peep.
“And then you know, Josh catches me and and now it’s a whole big thing. So I love it. I live for it. And I embrace it. I mean, it’s who I am. I think it’d be a great story for all time — WSOP Circuit leader to actually win the Main, it [would be] a great story for the WSOP and a great story for people like me. When I say like me, I mean, people who grind and believe that they can achieve anything.”
The stolen Denali tale
Anyone who’s ever played with or talked with Hawkins knows he’s going to share some strange tales. This time around, Hawkins offered a doozy, connected to his 15th Circuit ring. Here’s how he told it:
“What happened was, that day my friend gave me his Denali. And he gave me his ticket to go get his Denali from the from the valet. I went down there, and there was a black Denali right there. And I gave the valet lady $5. I got into the Denali and I drove off.
“So I’m driving off to the bank, and he calls me and he’s like, he thinks I might have took the wrong Denali. ‘Like, bro,’ I say, ‘I’m right down the street from the bank. I’m gonna start with the bank. And I’m going to put the money in the bank and then I’m going to come back.’
“So I get out; I put the money in the bank. And then when I get back in the car, it says ‘auto def,’ and OnStar activated a call. OnStar is like, ‘Did you steal this car?’ I say, ‘No, I did not steal this car.’ I get out. I call the valet and the first lady is kind of rude. The second lady says you did nothing wrong. The police are gonna come and everything’s gonna be okay.’
“Well, the police got a call that it was a Grand Theft Auto. So they came out they, slow- rolled by me once, real slow, rolled around me. Then one person got out with the AR-15. And they came in hot, like six cars. They’re [coming in] with guns drawn. And I’m like, ‘Not armed!’ I fall in love. finally got my hands up. They drive me back after they call the valet. They drove me back to North Carolina.
“And that same day, I thought I wasn’t frazzled. But I went to the wrong tower, the same number with the wrong tower room. I was like, ‘Okay, go lay down for two hours.’ So I late-reg, the high roller. In the high roller, I triple early, and then I ended up winning.”