The Big Dance with Dogger9 (Part 4)

Note: One of the greatest PokerStars stories to come from the World Series of Poker was that of Bernard "Dogger9" Lee, a Frequent Player Point qualifier who caught everybody's eye as the real deal. Lee has agreed to chronicle his journey for the Official PokerStars Blog. His trip report will be published here over the next several days. Enjoy.

Part 1--Before the Storm
Part 2--Goal Keeping
Part 3--Shuffle Up and Deal

Part 4--A picture is worth 105,800 chips
by Bernard Lee

Day 3: Saturday, July 9th
I had fallen asleep around 5am. At noon on Saturday, I woke to the buzz of my phone (I had it on vibrate for most of the week). I had 5 messages -- all from friends who were following me on the internet. Most were telling me how happy they were that I was off to such a good start and to keep it going. I would try my best! $67,150! What a start! I had a fairly relaxing day -- went for a quick run, had lunch with DooJin and his friends, went back to my room to review my notes, had dinner with some friends from Boston (Jeff and Dana Cohen) and then went to bed early for another long day.

Day 4: Sunday, July 10th
On Sunday, I awoke around 8:30am, again to the buzz of my phone -- it was two guys from my weekly poker game. Dave Brisson who would become my sounding board and personal motivational coach for the week and Max Marks who would become my analyst man. Max would analyze my table assignment with the names of the players and their chip stacks. Max told me that I would start out the day 107 out of 1884. Not bad for a nobody huh? Boy, is it a lot easier to play with a big stack than short stack. I figured that my goal for the day was around 120,000. I would be happy with 100,000 and ecstatic with 180,000.

Mark and I met for breakfast again. After my regular eggs, toast and orange juice, we drove off toward the Rio. The games started around 12:30pm. I drew another great table -- no famous pros at my table. One of the guys was bummed that we were not the TV table. I had the complete opposite viewpoint. I didn't want to be on the TV table. I didn't want the added pressure of dealing with the TV cameras and the "eyes" on the table that show your hands. It is not about getting on TV; it's all about playing good poker and surviving one day at a time because if you do not get out of today, you can't play tomorrow. Remember, you can't win the tournament until the last day, so make sure that you get out of each day. Focus on the day! Not the Final Day! This became my mantra. And besides, if I make the final day, I will have to be on the TV table and then I'm okay with that.

As they called out "Shuffle up and deal!", I kissed my family pictures and hoped that my day would be as good as yesterday. And my start definitely was! In the first 3 rounds, I wouldn't lose a major hand. AA, AK, KT (BB) and flop KT3. 99, 55. AQ in mid-late position (I raised and button and both blinds called). Flop Q52. I bet 12K to go and everyone folded. And ended with 102,900 after 3 rounds which led to dinner break. I met Mark and he broke the bad news that he had been eliminated on a set vs flush after the flop. He was very disappointed, but I told him that he should be proud of himself. In his first major tournament, he outlasted 4000 out of the 5619. I'm sure he will be back next year.

After dinner, I called my family to tell them I was doing great. My wife asked me to take care of myself and my son told me he loved me again. This was the inspiration I needed to finish the day with a flourish. However, the poker gods decided that I had had enough of an easy time and that's when the roller coaster ride began. I started well with AQ in the SB, raised and BB folded. But that's where it ended for almost 3 hrs. I limped with KQ and ATs and both times was re-raised and had to muck. The last two hands I played until Round 12 (the last round of the night). I was down to 89,300. I started Round 12 losing 4 of my first 5 hands. And was down to around 70,000 in chips. I was fairly depressed but at least I was ahead of yesterday. I drew on previous tournament experience that this dip has happened in every tournament and you have to put it into perspective. If I told you that you would be still around Day 4 with 70,000 in chips (average was about 80,000), I would have been ecstatic. And besides, my 2 kids were staring at me in the photo -- smiling and saying that they loved me, so life couldn't be all that bad!

And just as quickly as I was down, that's how fast I turned it around. I won a fairly good pot when I caught 2 pair on the river and went on a little run. I got AK, KQs and TT and ended the day with 105,800 in chips to end the day around 200th out of 566. More importantly, I was 6 out of the money. I thought, no way I was not going to make the money. Almost completed Goal #2.

A closing note -- I played all day with an incredibly solid player and found out he was a professional named "Tuan Tommy" Vu. After the grueling day was complete, I went up to Tommy and introduced myself and asked for any advice. His biggest advice was "to not risk your tournament early with average hands. If you need to lay down a hand, remember that you are still in the tourney." Tommy was a huge help that night as we chatted for about 15 minutes about some hands and he encouraged me to continue playing well the next day and the rest of the week. Tommy was to me as Marcel Luske was to David Williams last year. Tommy, I can't thank you enough for all your help and advice. I went back to the hotel, but couldn't fall asleep until 4:00am. I kissed my family pictures good night and looked forward to the next morning.