Williamson Patient in Poker, Love and Life
By Aaron Todd
Something just clicked when Robert Williamson III first tasted hot sauce and beer together, and he has been trying to find the perfect combination of suds and spice to wet his whistle ever since.
"So far, Corona and Lizano Tabasco have been the perfect match for me," says Williamson, whose hot-sauce laced beer habit was recently featured on ESPN's coverage of the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP). "Not to say that there's not several that fit the bill just fine."
The search for the right fit is a theme in Williamson's life. The professional poker player says waiting until he was 35 years old to get married is his greatest achievement. While growing up in Texas, he figured he would be married by his mid-twenties and have children before he turned 30. He wasn't concerned, however, when he entered his mid-30's and had yet to find the woman he wanted to marry.
Williamson Fast Facts
Residence: Dallas, Texas/Chandler, Ariz.
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Birth date: November 7, 1970
Education: B.D.A. Finance, B.D.A. Real Estate, Angelo State University
WSOP Bracelets: 1
WPT Titles: 0
Favorite Poker Game: Pot Limit Omaha
Web Site: www.rwiii.com
But when he did meet the right one, it didn't take him long to figure it out. He and his wife Kate were married just two months after they met.
"I was patient enough to find somebody that had the same goals and same thought process as me," Williamson says. "I didn't settle anywhere along the way. I think that's why it's my greatest achievement."
Similarly, Williamson has been quite choosy in using his name to promote online poker rooms. While he signed a short-term deal with Full Tilt Poker during the 2006 WSOP, he has not inked a long-term endorsement deal.
"Even though I've had offers for over three years, I'm waiting for a perfect fit," Williamson says. "I'm like Ernest and Julio Gallo - I'll serve no wine until it's time. It's the same thing."
Bloody Beer Notes
- Corona and Lizano Tabasco (produced in Costa Rica) is Williamson's favorite combination
- Any Mexican beer with Tapatio or Cholula hot sauce is a good alternative
- One 2 oz bottle lasts Williamson for about one 12-pack
- Williamson keeps a bottle of Lizano Tabasco in his office desk drawer because "you never know when the occasion is going to crop up."
It's no wonder Williamson has been receiving offers. One of the best Pot Limit Omaha players in the world, Williamson owns one WSOP bracelet and has made seven WSOP final tables. This summer he proved he is also one of the top mixed game players in the world, placing 10th in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament, winning $205,920.
While he finished on the bubble of the final table, Williamson got to introduce all the players as the "Grand Marshall" of the tournament. Players at the final table included legends of the game such as Doyle Brunson, T.J. Cloutier and Chip Reese, along with some of the top young players like Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and Andy Bloch.
"It was a long time to play to come so close to making that final table," Williamson says. "It was definitely a bitter-sweet time, but it was one that I'll never forget, because I introduced a table full of the legends of poker. (The players at the final table were) some of the best players of all time, and a lot of them are personal friends too, so that was a real honor."
On holding off on endorsing an online poker room: "When you get enough money offered to you, a lot of people can't help to succumb to it, but I've already got my next couple years millions put away. Luckily I was a good acorn gatherer."
On being born on 11/7: "Can you believe that's my actual birth date? The funny part is when I was young I was really political. I was born on Election Day so I thought I was born to be in politics. Then the older I got I was around a lot of gambling and a lot of craps and I was like '11-7 … maybe I'm supposed to be a gambler!'"
On how his ability to 'read people' helped accelerate his relationship with his wife: "We didn't have to court for two, three, five years. We knew. We met, fell in love and got married a little over two months after we met."
Like many pros, Williamson believes the H.O.R.S.E. event is what the Main Event of the WSOP used to be: a test of who plays the best poker against the best players. While he still enjoys the Main Event, he thinks that buy-in should be raised to thin the field of so many amateurs.
"In the poker world, as far as gathering the respect of your peers, winning (the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.) tournament to me means more than winning the final event of the World Series," Williamson says.
Williamson won his WSOP bracelet in 2002, and since then, he's been on the verge of winning another several times. He finished second to Ivey and Chau Giang and third to Johnny Chan, all in Pot Limit Omaha events.
"I lost to the best players in the world," Williamson says. "So I have nothing to be ashamed of, but I have to say it's left me even more hungry. I'm maybe a little bit unfulfilled, so I use that in a real positive manner to get me up for the next year."
While Williamson probably won't get much more air time on ESPN's coverage of the 2006 WSOP (he busted out on Day Two of the Main Event), he will be playing on the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. The first episode of Season One airs this Saturday at 2 p.m. EST on CBS.