At one point, he was the short stack. A few hours later, he was poised to move into second place with eight players remaining. And then it all came crashing down.Kevin Schaffel had as much of a roller-coaster ride as any player did at last year’s main-event final table. After slipping into ninth place, he found pocket aces not once, but twice at the final table, and was able to get it all in on both occasions. But on his final hand, pocket aces weren’t enough as Eric Buchman’s pocket kings improved to quads to send the Florida pro packing .Schaffel says he was overcome with emotion in the minutes immediately after his elimination.“I don’t know where it came from within, but I needed about two minutes right afterwards. They wanted to take me to an interview in front of like 30 reporters,” Schaffel remembers. “I just needed like two minutes off-stage. Then it set in what happened, and there’s just nothing you can do about it.”Even in his post-bustout interview, Schaffel sported a smile on his face and let out a few laughs while reflecting on his spectacular run. Despite the bad beat, he knew it would do no good to harp on it.“I could choose to be upset over it and say, ‘Oh my god, what a bad beat,’ but I’ve never said that,” said Schaffel. “But it’s just poker. I wish it was different. It would’ve been nice to have 35 million in chips and be in second and see what would’ve happened.”Instead, Schaffel was eliminated in eighth place as Joe Cada survived a plethora of all-ins to become the 2009 champion.It was quite a stretch for Schaffel last year. After final tabling the WSOP main event, he came in second place at WPT Legends, and then nearly final tabled his third consecutive big buy-in event at the EPT .But last year’s good run might finally be catching up to him. Schaffel says in his first three events at the WSOP this year, he hasn’t even lasted “one round” in two of them. He doesn’t mean one day or even one level. He means one orbit of the blinds. He’s busted in the first hand of a tournament and the sixth hand of another tournament in what he considered fairly unavoidable circumstances.This year, PokerStars is paying Schaffel’s way into a number of WSOP events. That is one nice side effect from final-tabling the main event, but other than that, Schaffel says there isn’t a whole lot that is different about his life.“My life really hasn’t changed that much. I bought a house, and the rest of it went to the government,” he said, laughing.Schaffel waited a few weeks before coming out to the World Series this year, not wanting to get burnt out before the main event — the one tournament he values above all others.“If I play in one tournament for the rest of my life, obviously the main event is what I’m going to play in,” said Schaffel. “It’s second to none, and there’s no second tournament that’s even close. By a million, there’s no close second.”As cheers erupt at a small buy-in final table nearby in the Amazon room, Schaffel gazes somewhat wistfully in its direction and smiles.“A bracelet is what everyone plays for,” said Schaffel. “I made a nice amount of money last year, but I’m not so self-sufficient that I can’t afford to win another million or two.”Kevin Schaffel plays on PokerStars. Start up your account today with Card Player’s exclusive deposit bonus.
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