LAS VEGAS -- Things are starting to get serious at the Main Event.
As play wound down on Day 2C Wednesday, the pressure began to mount. Day 3 is tomorrow, and the entire field of remaining players will join as one unit. The money bubble could hit at any time Thursday.
With a $10 million first-place prize on the line, I thought it would be fun to lighten the mood at the Rio All-Suite Casino & Hotel. I caught up with John Juanda, Haralabos Voulgaris, Rick Raisman (father of Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman), Byron Kaverman, Nick Schulman and Jonathan Aguiar and asked them a series of seven random questions to get a better idea of their personalities outside the game.
Here's what they had to say:
Question 1: How did you get your start in poker?
Juanda: "Just as a hobby, when I was in college."
Voulgaris: "I saw a World Poker Tour tournament on TV that was being played in Costa Rica and I thought that was cool, so I started playing online."
Raisman: "I think I just started playing in high school with some friends, and then I just kept playing. We have a good group of guys right now so it's fun."
Kaverman: "I started playing with friends at a lake house the summer of my senior year (in high school) and just kind of took off from there."
Schulman: "Playing in the back of a pool room when I was 16 in Philadelphia."
Aguiar: "I was playing with a bunch of aged-out junior Canadian hockey players in college. I was in a freshman dorm but they were all 21 and had been gambling in Canada their whole life.
Question 2: What is your favorite meal? If you could only eat that meal for the rest of your life or never eat that meal again, which would you choose?
Juanda: "Sushi -- every day."
Voulgaris: "My favorite meal is grass-fed or grass-finished bison or beef. I'd eat it every single meal -- I pretty much eat it every single meal, anyway."
Raisman: "I guess lobster -- every meal."
Kaverman: "Lasagna -- never eat it again. I need some diversity."
Schulman: "Gotta be a good slice of pizza. Gotta do never have pizza again on that one, though."
Aguiar: "Sushi -- probably never again."
Question 3: Who or what has had the biggest impact on your poker career?
Juanda: "Erik Seidel."
Voulgaris: "Probably playing online, I would say that back in 2005, playing the $25/50 game on UB (Ultimate Bet) and trying to beat the good players and the cheaters. You've gotta really bring your A-game when you're playing against guys who can see your hole cards."
Raisman: "Probably the group of guys I've played with, because they're all real good so I've learned a lot from them."
Kaverman: "I started off playing a lot and talking a lot of hands with David Peters, and we've been good friends for a long time."
Schulman: "John Hennigan (laughs). No, but seriously he is.
Aguiar: "Probably Shaun Deeb for convincing me to move from cash games, where I was winning a lot of money, to tournaments, which have ruined my life."
Question 4: What's a TV show you're embarrassed to admit is on your DVR?
Juanda: "'The Bachelor.'"
Voulgaris: "I don't really watch any TV shows now, but the TV show I'm embarrassed to say I watch when it's on is that terrible 'Vanderpump Rules' show."
Raisman: "I've got a lot of those. I watch 'American Idol,' 'America's Got Talent,' 'X Factor.' I watch all those crazy shows."
Kaverman: "I don't watch a whole lot of TV, mostly just some of the Showtime series."
Schulman: "'Sex in the City.'"
Aguiar: "I don't get embarrassed really easily. I don't know, I guess 'Big Bang Theory.'"
Question 5: What were you like in high school?
Juanda: "I was a good student and an even better athlete. I was a runner."
Voulgaris: "I played every sport pretty much but hockey. So I played badminton, volleyball, basketball, soccer, football. I was kind of a jock."
Raisman: "Just quiet, normal, not that crazy."
Kaverman: "Kind of quiet, I guess. I played a lot of sports and spent a lot of time traveling and playing soccer."
Schulman: "I didn't go to high school. I dropped out when I was a freshman, but I was awkward."
Aguiar: "I was very introverted. I was a band geek."
Question 6: What's the coolest thing you've ever done?
Juanda: "I don't have to work. I can travel to wherever I want. I think that's pretty cool."
Voulgaris: "Probably safari in Africa, and doing that for a week."
Raisman: "Watching my daughter win three medals at the Olympics."
Kaverman: "A couple weeks ago, I was in Brazil for the World Cup, and that was an awesome experience. I saw Spain-Chile with a few of my friends and then Belgium-Russia as well. Rio was amazing and just experiencing that was pretty cool."
Schulman: "Poker related, probably winning the same World Series tournament twice."
Aguiar: "(Long pause.) God, is my life that boring?
Question 7: What's the first thing you would buy with the $10 million if you won the Main Event?
Juanda: "I don't know if there's anything I want to buy that I don't already have." Me: You could buy into a bigger cash game. "Oh yeah, that's a good one."
Voulgaris: "I probably won't buy anything. I'll just put it with the rest of it."
Raisman: "Maybe a nice car."
Kaverman: "I'll go with some gifts and a house."
Schulman: "If I win this $10 million, that's it; there's no looking back for me, financially. I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I'm gonna make some smart moves. I'll buy an apartment in Manhattan."
Aguiar: "More preferred stock in DraftKings."
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011. Follow him on Twitter @danpodheiser.