Hollywood’s Fred Goldberg Has Third Career WPT Final Table in Sight
If you watched televised poker during the post-2003 boom era, youve almost certainly seen a lot of Fred Goldbergs face.
In what was the largest World Series of Poker Main Event of all time until this year, Goldberg ran deep in the 2006 WSOP Main Event and made it down to the unofficial final table of 10. The following year, arguably the most impressive of his career, he won a WSOP gold bracelet and made his first career World Poker Tour final table, at the 2007 WPT Foxwoods Poker Classic.
There have been more major final table appearances along the way, including a second WPT Main Tour appearance at the 2011 Borgata Poker Open, but for the better part of the last decade, Goldberg has taken his foot off the gas compared to the pedal-to-the-floor pace he kept in the mid-2000s.
Baseball with my son – that’s it, Goldberg said of his day-to-day life in 2023. I just spend more time with the family hanging out, said Goldberg. I was just playing a lot back then, [about 15] years ago, so Ive just chilled out a lot.
He hasnt walked away from tournament poker entirely, though. And with just three tables left in the 2023 WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open, Goldberg was still in the thick of the mix with over $750,000 awaiting the champion.
I just play these tournaments here when they come into town, usually just the main event and I might play a couple of little side events. I only go to Vegas during the summertime, and the Wynn.
Its as easy a daily trip to Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood for Goldberg as it could possibly be, as hes a longtime Hollywood, Florida resident dating back to before the days when this region had a bustling live poker scene. Even over the last 10 years, Goldberg has been on hand to see a lot change.
I’m just very comfortable here, said Goldberg. It’s a lot easier, because I get to go home every night. I know a lot of people, and there’s a lot of new faces, too. A lot of people who are gone. We have a lot of great players out here in South Florida. Some of them from back then are still around, but weve [always] had some really good players.
Before there was tournament poker in Florida, or even No Limit Holdem spread in the casinos here, Goldberg found himself in the brightest spotlight that poker had to offer. In the biggest moment of his career, Goldberg found himself in a coinflip with Michael Binger, holding pocket 10s to Bingers during 10-handed play in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.
Winning that hand wouldve locked up a spot among the final nine, and an extra slice of history. But an on the turn stifled that in a hurry. A failed blind steal by Goldberg ran headfirst into pocket kings, and Goldberg instead settled for 10th place.
I was crushed, don’t get me wrong, said Goldberg. I made a horrible play. [But] you know, you have to learn from your mistakes and keep on moving on. I had some success after that, and then chilled out a lot, not grinding like I used to.
Goldberg still cashed for $1.15 million, and hit the pavement hard in the year that followed. There was an 11th place finish at the WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic in December 2006, and then fourth at Borgata the following March. In June 2007, Goldberg earned his biggest career victory and the WSOP bracelet in a $1,500 Limit/No Limit Holdem mix tournament.
Goldberg consistently hung tough with the best players in the world and contends that he never felt out of place in those big spots.
I think I was on another level back then, and people caught up to the level that I was at, said Goldberg. I still play the same way, pretty much.
Whatever Goldbergs doing right now, its working. Hes once again back in the mix for a WPT title, having fought through 98.5% of the field in the 2023 WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open. The challenges arent the same as they were 15-plus years ago, but different certainly doesnt mean easier.
It’s a lot more difficult, I would have to say, but there’s still a lot of luck factors, said Goldberg. Guys that are great. But you know, they buy in a million times, [too] – back then, you couldn’t buy in a bunch. It’s like musical chairs sometimes. I’m part of the musical chairs sometimes too, so I don’t want to sleep on that.
But it was different then – one bullet and you’re done.
Theres still two key steps left for Goldberg to make before a third career WPT final table becomes a reality. First, he has to outlast five more players once dinner break on Day 3 is over. If he can do that, itll be about surviving from 16 players down to 6 on Tuesday.
Even this deep into his poker career, though, Goldberg is keenly aware of how rare these kinds of opportunities can be and how special it would be for the work to once again pay off.
Itd mean a lot for sure.
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