Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hungry for Chips

$500 +60 NL Deep Stack Final

No Food in the Poker Room,
Unless it's Gone in 60 Seconds

If you're invited to a Goldstein family reunion, don't be late or the food could be gone. Dave Goldstein (Vorhees, NJ) has been known to eat 22 slices of pizza in 10 minutes, 138 chicken wings in 30 minutes and 5 lbs. of crawfish in 12 minutes.

Goldstein's now looking to devour chips, poker chips, as he competes in the final day of the $560 Deep Stack tournament at the Borgata Summer Poker Open.

"I've always been a really fast eater, everyone always told me to slow down," says the New Jersey mailman. "I also eat high quantities of food, so I gave it a shot and found out I could do both at the same time in world class speed."

After years of zipping through the buffet line, Goldstein's friends convinced him to enter eating contests. And after only four years of competition, he's currently ranked 21st in the world by Major League Eating (not a joke) and the International Federation of Competitive Eating (IFOCE).

"I'm in it for the thrill of it, like poker, for the competitiveness," he says. "I can't do sports anymore, weak knees, strong stomach."

And yes, Goldstein considers competitive eating a sport, one that requires training for big events. Two weeks before a contest, he downs a gallon-and-a half of water a day in 4 to 5 minutes to help stretch his stomach, and it doesn't stop there.

"While I'm delivering mail, I'll chew a pack of gum for about an hour," he says. "We have muscles in our jaw that you don't even know about it. In some of these contests if you don't have a strong jaw you'll cramp up."

The training paid off in last year when Goldstein set the crawfish record by finishing 4.99 lbs of crustaceans in 12 minutes. It was an upset over nationally known Sondra "Black Widow" Thomas, who now owns the title after Goldstein was unable to defend his record this year in New Orleans.

Crawfish is considered technical eating, where hand coordination and speed are just as important as consumption. The more recognizable competitions are in the capacity eating category, foods like hot dogs and pizza.

"You not only have to eat fast, but you have to eat a lot," says Goldstein who's competed in the wildly popular Wing Bowl in Philadelphia. You can see his qualifying stunt of eating four pounds of Sloppy Joe's in four minutes at this site.

Goldstein's friends think the competitions are great, while his wife Susan worries about his health. "She's my biggest fan," he says as at a healthy 240 pounds, "but to make her happy I get a physical every year."

As a 42 year old, Goldstein doesn't have aspirations of becoming famous like Joey Chestnut or Kobayashi because, "it's a young person's sport." But he doesn't mind trying to make a few prop bets involving food while he's playing cards.

"Usually I left them off the hook," says Goldstein, "nobody likes to see someone eating at the table anyway."

As for the chips, Goldstein's fresh out after losing a coin flip with pocket 6s to AJ. But it's still a good payday worth $1,304 or 250 lbs of crawfish, something Goldstein could eat in about an hour.

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