As former tight end for the NFL's Detroit Lions, Eric Stocz now spends his time coaching flag football for kids in grades 2-8 and spends a part of his summer each year here in Las Vegas participating in the World Series of Poker Main Event.
We caught up with Stocz as Day 1b players were heading to their last break of the evening. He shared how he got involved in poker, his biggest challenge at the table, and talked a little about the infamous poker games on the team plane.
PokerNews: How’s your day going?
Eric Stocz: I’m having a great day. A little up and down. This is my fourth World Series and I’m hanging in there and happy to be here.
You used to play for the Detroit Lions and then went on to work in the fitness industry, specifically with kids. Tell us a little about that.
I played for the Lions from 1996-1998 and on retirement I used to work with sports camps for kids and I did that for about eight or nine years. That was a camp that I ran, a speed and strength camp. I would have my old teammates come out.
Then I changed my emphasis towards coaching and spent my time coaching a football team at the local high school. Now I run a flag football camp through the NFL in West Bloomfield, Michigan. On top of that, I am also a personal trainer. I don’t have any kids of my own so it’s great to have them all day long and I have a lot of fun with it.
So how did you get involved in poker?
I am such a competitive person and it seems like every time I go and play a sport, I get hurt. I found that poker allows me to feed my competitive spirit without me getting hurt. And as long as I keep my head straight and I don’t go crazy with the gambling, it’s a good thing.
What do you find is your biggest challenge at the poker table?
I am a person with major ADD, it is really hard for me to sit still. I live a very active lifestyle so sitting still for so long is a challenge. You will always know where I am at in a poker room because I am always up and down.
You hear all the rumors floating around about poker games on the planes when the team is heading out of town. Is there any truth to those?
It is totally true. For a guy that was making $350,000 per year, which was a lot for me, I was playing against some guys that were making big-time money. So when I lost it was a lot of money to me. It was fun, well not the losing part. But yeah, basically we gambled on the plane all the time.
Do you play poker outside of the World Series?
No, not really. In Michigan they have local poker charity rooms and they are everywhere plus there are three casinos near by as well. So it’s tough not to play. But I come out here and play in these big events and seeing all different types of people from different countries, it’s just really to be a part of this.
So how do you prepare for the World Series if you aren’t playing regularly?
I have been playing for so long and I do a lot of reading so it feels like I just pick up where I left off. To me, a poker game is a poker game. This just happens to be for a lot of money.