Now that rock band Godsmack is on hiatus for a few years, lead singer Sully Erna is getting back in the game.
Poker, that is.
About six years ago, Erna was obsessed with the game, playing in two World Series of Poker and cashing in twice. He won $17,730 in 2006 and $45,422 in 2007. He didn't stop there, winning $307,325 in the 2007 Five-Diamond World Poker Classic. He competed in a few more tournaments and then quit abruptly.
"I was finding that was I was very impatient and playing crappy hands," said the 45-year-old Erna, who formed the rock band in 1995. "I was losing patience every time I was playing. I had to take a break."
So now, Erna said he's back and ready to play the circuit with the shot to return to this summer's World Series of Poker.
"I'm making my comeback! I've studied the game. I'm getting the itch to play poker again," Erna said. "In fact, I'm in Los Angeles today and I'll be playing tonight. I need to shake the rust off. I'm ready to go deep and win a lot of money!"
Playbook had a few minutes to talk with Erna about poker and his solo tour, which begins in March.
Why are you getting back into poker now?
"With my band not touring for a couple of years, I'm refocused on getting other things accomplished including some TV and film work. I thought it was the perfect time to come back. I've been bouncing around testing out my game. That's why many of my venues for the solo shows are in casinos. I love that environment. It works to my advantage also as it's a transient audience. I can't wait."
Your solo tour starts in Atlantic City in March and hits Mohegan Sun and then a casino in Niagara Falls. What's it like being on stage by yourself instead of the band?
"It's something I've been getting more used to. The first time I went out with just me and a piano, it was crazy scary. You're naked on stage. I was very nervous. What was I going to talk about? How would I entertain these people for an hour and a half? With a band, you can talk to the audience while the music is looping. Up there by yourself, you can only tell stories. And, in fact, that made me a better musician."
What do you mean by that?
"I think music really did save my life. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Boston and thank God for music. It helped me through good times and healed me through bad times. What a great gift music has turned out to be for me."
Your band, Godsmack, had three No. 1 albums in a row and more than 20 top-10 rock hits. What does the group mean to you?
"It's hard for me to explain but the band was a vehicle for me to vent a lot of my emotions. I took out my aggressions with that band. It was like a full-contact sport. It's a big powerful machine. That's way different than my solo album, 'Avalon.' It's really like split personalities."
So you're saying you're different as a solo artist?
"I am so grateful for Godsmack but my solo album has proven to me that I'm continuing down that rabbit hole. I'm exploring a different side of music and a different side of me."