Bill Chen is many things: mathematics whizz, double WSOP bracelet winner, author and long-time Friend of PokerStars. But did you hear the one about Bill Chen, Wedding Planner?
No, thought not.
Yesterday, Chen showed up for day three of the $3,000 HORSE tournament at the World Series in a pristine black suit, blue tie, white shirt and white flower on his left lapel. He looked for all the world as if he should have been at a wedding, and there was good reason for that. He just had been.
Chen's friends Liz and Brad were married yesterday in Las Vegas and as the HORSE tournament reconvened on three tables in the corner of the Pavilion Ballroom, Chen was scheduled to be at the wedding reception. I have yet to confirm details of this with the man himself, but there were rumours that Chen was the wedding planner, who was a no-show at the festivities he had arranged.
As the day panned out, I'm sure even the happy couple would have forgiven Chen for his absence. The starting field of 24 was trimmed slowly down to its final table and Chen had surged up the leaderboard. When they were down to those last eight, Chen was in the chip lead and took his place alongside the Team PokerStars Pro Chad Brown, as well as John Juanda, Ken Aldridge, Jeffrey Lisandro, Dave Baker, Albert Hahn and Phil Ivey in what was undoubtedly one of the most formidable line-ups of the Series so far.
Chen started the final table as he meant to go on. He eliminated Brown in eighth - proving yet again that although these PokerStars players are friends and team-mates, they play tough against one another when the time comes. In a hold 'em hand, Brown got it all in on the turn with the board showing 5♣T♥4♠2♥. Chen was the solitary caller.
Brown had a couple of draws with his J♥9♥, while Chen was also drawing with his 7♠6♣. You're never too far behind in poker, though, and the 6♦ river missed all the draws but gave Chen a decisive pair. It was bye-bye Brown, who took $29,406 in what was his fourth cash of this year's Series and 31st in-the-money finish of his career.
Chen was on a charge and as the other wedding guests partied elsewhere, he continued to build a stack as Baker, Lissandro, Aldridge and Juanda all departed, leaving Chen with more than a three-to-one chip lead over Ivey, heads up.
Ivey was angling for his eighth bracelet; Chen his third. And the two giants went at it for close to two hours before a winner was decided. Ivey managed to steadily eat into Chen's advantage before the decisive hand came during a razz round.
With five of the seven cards dealt, Chen had a super-strong A-5/2-7-6 but even that was already behind Ivey's 3-5/A-6-2. All the money was in at this point, and Chen needed a three to chop the pot. It didn't come and Ivey drew a four on seventh street to make a wheel, the nuts in razz. With that, Chen's charge drew to a halt.
That, then, gave Ivey his bracelet and left Chen with the consolation check of $203,802, which should buy a pretty swish wedding gift. Chen this time was the bridesmaid, but it was an immense showing once again from the man from Lafayette Hill, PA, who is coming into some of his 2006 form at just the right time.
TABLE OF THE DAY
Although that HORSE final table will take some beating, day two of the $10,000 pot limit hold 'em event was also stacked. Really stacked. Even by the standards of the super-sized High Roller events at places like the EPT Grand Final or the PCA, there was an extraordinary table during the early stages, featuring stars from all of poker's main arenas.
Representing Team PokerStars Pro and the EPT was Arnaud Mattern in seat eight. But even after Andy Bloch busted from the seat to his left, Mattern still had to glance across the table to seats two, three, four and five, which contained in order Shaun "shaundeeb" Deeb, Dan "Danny98765" Smith (aka KingDan), Jim "Mr_BigQueso" Collopy, and then Eric "basebaldy" Baldwin. Those are four of the online tables' biggest sharks, each with some spectacular live tournament form too.
But that's not it. The seat to Mattern's right was empty. And then it was occupied. And then it was empty again. For the likes of Collopy and Deeb, the idea of multi-tabling online tournaments is second nature, but it's still a peculiar sight in live poker. But who was this flitting enigma, scampering from the final two tables of the $3,000 HORSE to the $10,000 PLHE event? We already heard about Phil Ivey.
HAND OF THE DAY
As Jim Collopy was busy filling in this reporter on some of the major events from the past few weeks, his two friends (who are also good friends of one another) Shaun Deeb and Dan Smith were tangling.
At the 800-1,600 level, they'd got a bunch of chips in the middle pre-flop, with Deeb on the button and Smith in the small blind. They went to a flop of J♠4♥4♣. Smith bet 6,900, Deeb called, and the 7♣ turned. Smith showed no initial interest, which prompted Deeb to shove for his last 35,000 approx. Smith took an internet dwell (about 11 seconds) before calling with pocket nines. Deeb's Q♠K♣ did not hit on the river, and out he went, sending Smith towards the top of the chip charts.
He would need all those chips to compete at such a brutal table, but by the end of the day he too was on the rail. Mattern also couldn't survive through to the final day, and yesterday's big stack John Duthie also perished.
Collopy endured and is into the final 26, as are the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Noah Boeken and Sandra Naujoks. Each of those has an EPT title to their name, and are already in the money in this event. They're outside the top 10, but have the pedigree to press on towards a final table.
AROUND THE ROOMS
The $1,500 no limit shootout attracted 1,400 players on 140 tables of ten. The beauty (and the difficulty) of the shootout format means that 90% of the field is eliminated at once: only the table winners progress to round two, where all players are all in the money.
Big names fell, but big names also progressed. Victor Ramdin remained on his heater, slicing through his table in double-quick time and booking a spot in round two. The Team PokerStars Pro from Hungary, Richard Toth, also progressed (although took a little longer to polish off his nine) and later still, the PokerStars SportsStar Fatima Moreira De Melo continued her fine transformation from hockey star to poker star and prevailed from her table.
With the likes of Ylon Schwartz, Annette Obrestad, Jeff Sarwer, Terrence Chan, JC Tran, Isabelle Mercier, Dustin Dirksen, Michael Binger and Robert Mizrachi also progressing, it's going to be a fascinating second round.
Event #40 is also now under way, and among the 160 players (from a field of 365) heading into day two are three former World Champions - Joe Hachem, Tom McEvoy and Greg Raymer - plus a wealth of European quality in the form of Katja Thater, Dario Minieri, Alex Kravchenko and Johannes Steindl.
Team PokerStars Pro Canada also has three representatives heading into day two: Daniel Negreanu, Darus Suharto and Pat Pezzin (yet again) return.
Look out for Thater in particular. She won a bracelet in the $1,500 razz event in 2006 and has form in this variant of the game.
REFRESHMENT COUNTER REVIEW CORNER
There are hundreds of options for food and drink at the Rio. In the first of a selfless series, PokerStars Blog samples some of the delights and brings you a daily snack review from the shelves of the poker kitchen and beyond.
Day #1 - The Odwalla "Mango Tango" All Natural Smoothie
Available: Starbucks (opposite Penn and Teller theater)
The Odwalla "Mango Tango" All Natural Smoothie gleefully promises that it is "nourishing the body whole" with antioxidant vitamins A, C & E. On first swig, I didn't notice any of my body's holes being particularly nourished, but this review went to press before it made its second pass through any of them.
The Odwalla is an 86% juice/puree blend and, as with most smoothies, has the texture of the shower gel from a Motel 6 but less of the tang. Containing 1g protein ("Not a significant source of protein", according to the label), it is nonetheless a healthy-ish fruit avatar that will cleanse the polluted conscience of the junk-food addled poker player, if not the palate.
TWEETS OF THE DAY
@billchenpoker on Murphy's law of poker:
"I knew this would happen i'd make day 3 on Liz and Brad's wedding day."
@billchenpoker on multi-tasking:
"Awesome wedding congrats Liz and Brad didn't miss a hand at the Rio."
@NoahBoeken on escapology:
"On the bubble, just escaped had aq and raised not planning to fold but then it went allin allin behind me(ak and kk!) down to 90k blinds 5-10"
Mercier: "Crushing this razz event early. Up to 13.3k from 7500."
Four hours later: "And busto again w a few mins left in the day. Punished all night brutal."
Previous WSOP Diary entries
WSOP Diary Day 25: Cutting through the throngs
WSOP Diary Day 24: Last chance to join us in Las Vegas
WSOP Diary Day 23: Anh Van Nguyen, remember the name
WSOP Diary Day 22: Love to hate Phil Hellmuth? You gotta see this
WSOP Diary Day 21: Classic rub down for Daniel Negreanu
WSOP Diary Day 20: Maria Mayrinck, something in the water
WSOP Diary Day 19: Who needs a rest anyway?
WSOP Diary Day 18: An apology
WSOP Diary Day 17: George Danzer just misses first bracelet for PokerStars
WSOP Diary Day 16: Negreanu, Danzer eye $10K Lowball bracelet