With eight cashes at the 2017 World Series of Poker through Tuesday, which was slightly under the halfway mark for the series, Aron Dermer quickly established himself as one of the players to watch this summer. Dermer, who hails from Miami Beach, only had three WSOP cashes lifetime prior to this summer.
He has gone deep in the Colossus, and nearly made final tables in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Eight-or-Better Championship and the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship.
Dermer is a lifelong gambler who recently committed himself to learning tournament poker. He once came out to the WSOP just to cheer on the Mizrachi brothers, who he has known for about 20 years. But this year Dermer is trying to make a name for himself in the poker world.
With a record 74 bracelet events on the schedule, Dermer has a solid chance of being in contention for breaking the cashes record for a single summer. Last year, Roland Israelashvilirecorded an all-time high 13. In addition to the WSOP having more bracelet events than ever before, 15 percent of the fields make the money these days, up from 10 percent in the past.
Card Player had a chance to speak to Dermer about his hot start to the summer and why, despite having so many scores, not winning bracelet would put a damper on the summer.
Brian Pempus: Eight cashes so far is really good. How have you been feeling at the tables?
Aron Dermer: I’ve been coming to the WSOP for the last five or six years, and about two years ago I started playing tournaments. Prior to that, I was railing my friends Michael and Robert Mizrachi. I’d just rail them and gamble. Two years ago they told me I should play a tournament, and I wound up getting 10th place. Since I did that, I got the tournament juices flowing. Once I survived past the dinner break on day 1, I realized how exciting it is.
BP: Do you find going deep in an event to be more exciting that playing in a cash game?
AD: Yeah, I mostly gamble, baccarat and play cash games, but there is no better rush than going deep in a tournament. When you bust it hurts. If you get 10th you’re unhappy you didn’t make the final table, if you finish second you’re upset you didn’t finish first, and if you get first you’re upset that the tournament wasn’t big enough. You’re never happy (laughs).
BP: What prevented you from playing tournaments earlier?
AD: I guess I wasn’t mature enough to play. I came out here for six weeks and all I cared about what partying and gambling. I was reckless. This year I’m taking it more seriously. I haven’t gone out at all. I quit smoking right before the WSOP, and that’s going pretty well. I’m really focused, and it’s a real honor to sit down in the $10,000 events with Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier and the other top players. I’m getting an education and learning every day from them. I’m trying to play every tournament I can now.
BP: Would you say tournaments are deceiving in terms of the amount of energy it takes to play an entire day? A lot of people try to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible to better handle the grind.
AD: The Rio doesn’t make it easy. There are some tournaments that start at 11 a.m., and if you bust by four or five you can jump in the 3 p.m. tournament, whatever it is. And you can be playing until 2 a.m. after getting there at around 10:30 a.m. That’s 14.5 hours. All-American Dave is great but how many times can you eat it? I probably hold the WSOP record for most cookies and Italian sandwiches eaten. I eat them twice a day every day. Closing the Hash House down at 2 p.m. doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it’s very hard to stay healthy. After the WSOP is over I’ll get healthy again. I want a bracelet, but if I don’t get a final table all this is basically worthless to me.
BP: Does setting the record for cashes in a single summer mean anything to you? It would be a remarkable feat given that you only had three going into 2017.
AD: It would mean a lot because it is a record. Obviously records are made to be broken. If I got 14 or 15 I’m sure someone would later smash it. My friends are in these WSOP fantasy games, and no one picked me, obviously (laughs). I really want to get deep and win a bracelet. There were a couple tournaments where I had chips and could have cashed, but ended up busting [before the money]. I could have 10 cashes already. I was originally against the idea of paying 15 percent of the field, but now I’m a fan of it. The WSOP is going in a different direction now.
BP: What’s your cash game background?
AD: I met the Mizrachi brothers back in 1998, and we started playing $10-$20. I’ve traveled around the world and played in a lot of games, but I wouldn’t say I’ve played the nosebleed stakes. If I play limit hold’em I’ll play $80-$160, and for no-limit I’ll play $5-$10 or $10-$20, nothing too crazy. I do like baccarat. My host at Bellagio is going to be unhappy because I’ve made every day 2 at the WSOP (laughs). I haven’t put in much time gambling. It’s all about tournaments this year. I’m thinking about playing the $50,000 and I don’t know how to play all the games. I’ll Google it real quick.
BP: Where do you live and play poker?
AD: I live in the Philippines. I’ve spent about a year over there. I have a marketing company overseas. I am big into poker now. The games over in Manila are really good. You can play online poker over there, but I don’t very often because I’m a fish online. The games there and in Macau are good. I’d really recommend the Philippines, Thailand and Macau. The action is really good. There aren’t a lot of pros there. People are playing more for entertainment. In Asia it’s only no-limit and PLO. They wouldn’t know what H.O.R.S.E means. It’s like 80 percent no-limit and 20 percent PLO.
BP: Do you ever feel like you are gambling in a poker tournament? Obviously poker is skill, but there’s a lot of luck in one single tournament. Whenever you are forced to take a coin flip for a lot of chips does it ever feel like basically baccarat or blackjack?
AD: Yeah, there are coolers in poker, especially in the hi-low games. That river can totally counterfeit you and you can get scooped. That’s the variance, that’s the game. However, if there wasn’t variance there would only be three or four people playing. Variance gives everyone a shot. I love that you can play like 60 tournaments at the WSOP; it’s like a machine gun of tournaments in seven or eight weeks.
For more coverage from the summer series, visit the 2017 WSOP landing page complete with a full schedule, news, player interviews and event recaps.