Greg Raymer is the 2004
World Series of Poker
champion. He is a married
patent attorney whose
nickname "Fossilman" comes
from the fossils he uses as
card protectors at the table.
Gregory Raymer won his entry
on Pokerstars.
Greg Raymer Fossil Man WSOP Gallery of Champions
Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker champion. He is a married
patent attorney whose nickname "Fossilman" comes from the fossils he uses
as card protectors at the table. Like second place finisher David Williams, and
2003 winner Chris Moneymaker, Gregory Raymer won his entry on
Pokerstars. Greg has well-deserved reputation as a nice guy and as a solid
player (mostly at Foxwoods, near his home in Connecticut).

Greg defeated a field of 2576 players. He won five million dollars for his first
place finish which was the single largest cash prize for a poker tournament to
that date. He commented that he played the best poker he has ever played
and he got lucky. When I contacted him, Greg gave me some great info about
the tournament and the road to his victory.

(While I wrote this profile soon after Greg won in 2004, he followed up in
2005 by almost doing the impossible, when he came in 25th, out of a field of
over 5600, in the 2005 WSOP Main Event.)

I asked Greg if there was a particular hand where he made a great play that
helped him gain a lot of chips. He replied, "I made a fair number of bluffs, and
got away with quite a few more than merely break-even. My most creative
play was a hand on the TV table where I raised with T8o to steal the blinds,
and got reraised by John Murphy in the big blind. I felt that he had a hand he
thought was the best (and it almost certainly was), but also a hand weak
enough where he simply wanted to win it right there. He had been pushing
me around a bit, and I wanted to back him off. So, I reraised all-in. He looked
unhappy, but folded relatively quickly. I showed him the hand. Don't know if it
made a difference of any significance in future hands or not, but that was my

There was one hand during the early part of the final table against Mike
McClain where he got lucky with TT vs. AA and flopped a ten, and another
where he took AT against AK and rivered a queen high straight. Greg stated
that there were a few hands where he was in really bad shape and caught a
miracle card, but never in a hand that would have made a big dent in his
stack. The two previous hands were the only bad beats he remembers
inflicting on anybody. He defined a bad beat as when he was way behind
when the money went in and the got lucky. He admitted that there were
plenty of hands where he got lucky and THEN most of the money went in.

After the World Series of Poker, there was a tournament at the Union Plaza
in Las Vegas that only had 68 players, but the majority of them were the
best players in the world. I wondered whether it is more difficult to beat a
field of 2500+ players with a lot of dead money in it or a field of 100 of the
best players. Greg brought a very valid point regarding this. He said, "Both
are very difficult. But since the field of 2500+ includes the 100 best players
and then some, it should be tougher to win against the mega-field. Also,
there is a lot less dead money than many people seem to think."

I also brought up the difficulty in playing a solid game for a week straight
week. He said, "Normally, it would be difficult to play your best for a solid
week. However, for some unknown reason, I was very calm and very focused
all week long, and made very few plays that I thought were mistakes at the
time the decision was made. I wish I knew why I kept my mental processes
so even, so I could ensure to repeat it every tournament."

Greg Raymer is an active participant on the (RGP)
newsgroup. I asked if the fact that he is an rgper help with achieving the skill
level needed to win such a major event. He replied, "Of course. It is one more
educational tool amongst many that are available." His active participation in
the poker forums on twoplustwo has also been extremely helpful.

Greg's poker experience began when he was in college. "I started in my
college fraternity, playing nickel-dime poker. I then didn't really play again
until I was working my first job as a lawyer in Chicago. I had been a blackjack
card-counter in the Indian Casinos in Minnesota during grad school and law
school to make extra money. When I moved to Chicago, there were no
blackjack games available that were beatable for any worthwhile amount of
money, but while searching for one I stumbled across a charity poker game
(3-6 Holdem or Omaha8). I liked it, and decided to become a winning poker
player for extra money. I bought a bunch of poker books, found rgp, and
went from there, moving up from 3-6 to 20-40 and eventually 150-300 here
in Connecticut."

Although he won his seat by playing online, he was planning on playing in
the event regardless. This was his third year in a row that he played in the
main event. "In 2002, I did very well until I got all my money in preflop with
AsQs and lost to Tony D's T4o. I finished about 80th. Last year I played fine
for 3 hours, and then played a hand like a moron against Alan Goehring, and
went broke early. This year things went well right from day 1, and I moved
my chip count up everyday." No kidding. He moved his chip count up to the
tune of $5 MILLION DOLLARS! Congratulations, Fossilman!
wsop gallery of champions greg raymer
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