If you know poker, you probably know Maurice Hawkins. You know his face. You know his smile. You know his banter. He’s fun. He’s hyper-confident. He is what my Grandma would’ve called “a character.”
But how well do you know Maurice Hawkins? How long have you known him? Do you think he’d be the kind of guy to abandon his stack on the bubble of a tournament?
Well, he was ten years ago at this time.
One of my starkest memories from the 2005 PCA featured Hawkins himself, then ten years younger and a lot more afraid of the bubble. This is what I wrote back at Atlantis’ first PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event.
Just before 8:15pm, in a quick series of all-in bets and bust outs, the big projection screen in the middle of the room changed ever so slightly. Only one number had changed, but the difference meant $11,600 to every player in the room.
It was simultaneously a place so far away from the big money and a precarious edge between something and nothing.
At 8:15, Tournament Director Mike Ward told the room they would be playing one hand at a time. At 8:16 the room fell into some odd realm of complete chaos and complete control.
At 8:17 I noticed Maurice Hawkins’ seat was empty. Curiously empty. I’d been watching Hawkins primarily because, as nice as he is, he’s rarely not talking and when he’s talking, you can usually hear it across the room. Now, though, his seat was open. His small stack of chips was there, but he was gone, baby, gone.
I found him sitting near the rail.
“Not playing, Maurice?” I said.
“Nope. Aces aren’t going to cost me $11,000,” he said plainly.
Today, Hawkins is among the final 55 players in the $10,000 PCA Main Event. He’s already guaranteed $27,700. I asked him how much he remembered from his first PCA.
“I remember getting owned by by Nenad Medic. I remember leaving because I didn’t want to get cracked by aces,” he said. “And I remember how much of a green person I was, as in the knowledge I did not know.”
His sit-out strategy back in the day wasn’t an act. It was the real Hawkins at the time.
“I remember I was very happy to be in, and if I could min-cash, it could propel by bankroll to go a little bit higher,” he said.
Since that time, Hawkins realized that taking a bubble break probably wasn’t the best strategy. In the decade that passed, he had an epiphany.
“I remember thinking I was the best in the world, and I realized eight years later that I was probably the worst,” he said.
Since then, Hawkins has developed a reputation in poker rooms all over America and put up dozens and dozens of big results worth $1.5 million.
“I studied my weaknesses,” he said. “I had a lot of people who helped me in different spots. I reached out to those people. I would call them and ask for 30 seconds of their time. I would do anything it took. I would follow groups of people around, listen, and try to pick up anything.”
And so today, as he sat down to play Day 4, I wondered how much he had really changed. I asked him if he would ever sit out on a bubble.
“Most of the time I have so many chips that I’m going to cash no matter what,” he said.
Yes, that’s the Maurice Hawkins we know.
Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on PokerStars Blog. Everything from the Main Event is on the Main Event page, High Roller live updates are here, and the live stream is on this PCA Live webcast.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging