It was the dinner break on Day 1C and George Danzer had pulled a real pro’s move. A few minutes earlier the Team PokerStars Pro had been sitting in the biggest single-day field in WSOP Main Event history, one man among 4,240.
But Danzer shot away from the throngs when the dinner bell sounded, scooted across the road to the Gold Coast and was at the front of the queue for the Chinese restaurant before any of the other 1,000 had even crossed Valley View Blvd. He would be cracking open his fortune cookie and learning next week’s lotto numbers while hundreds of others still drummed chopsticks on the counter waiting for a seat.
Experience pays dividends in many ways at the World Series of Poker. And stealing a march on the rush to a nearby restaurant demonstrates a man on top of his game. Danzer is, after all, a former World Series Player of the Year and this year won the fourth bracelet of his career. Not that he would be getting carried away.
“I think I pretty much exactly hit the expectation: one bracelet, one third place,” he said this morning, preparing for Day 2 of the Main Event. “That’s pretty much exactly what I wanted.”
Danzer has come a long way in the past decade. Earlier this week, the presence in the Main Event field of a certain Dmitri Nobles sent us to YouTube and a reunion with a very young George Danzer, pre-bracelets, pre-Mohawk, pre-Team PokerStars Pro. In case you have never heard the story of Danzer v Nobles, it’s worth watching the clip to see how cruel poker can be sometimes, and how disciplined the highest-level players need to be to keep themselves from permanent insanity.
Danzer can already be seen regrouping towards the end of that clip, and he has since proved his mettle against the toughest fields in the game. Even so, he confessed this morning that he still feels the buzz from playing at the Rio, and this tournament in particular.
“Every day on the Main Event, something big can happen and you can go deep and make the November Nine,” he said. “So I still have a little nervousness in the morning when it’s the Main Event. Sadly they have it at the end of the series when I’m already exhausted and my brain is a little fried. It’s not as quick anymore as it was at the beginning of the Series. But still, you come here every day and you’re excited to play again, if I have 20,000 or 200,000 chips.”
Today for Danzer it’s the latter. His overnight stack was meagre, 29,400 to be precise, but he saw no reason to panic. When we met on Day 1C at the Chinese restaurant, Danzer had described his opening exchanges in terms of a football match. Starting with 50,000, his stack was trimmed to 11,000 before a resurgence to 34,000. He said it felt like going two goals down before half-time, but pulling one back just before the break.
Asked to extend the metaphor to Day 2, returning with even fewer chips, Danzer said: “It was the 65th minute and I thought I’d scored another goal, when I tried to overbet bluff on the river when I thought an opponent was a little thin. But he rivered trips, and that was unfortunate. So I conceded again.
“And now…there’s still a long way. The Main Event is not only 90 minutes. It’s like a football game, where you play the best of five 90 minutes. And now it’s going to be the second one.”
As for his old nemesis, Dmitri Nobles was knocked out on Day 1–news that didn’t exactly surprise Danzer. “He busted? Oh, how did that happen?” he said.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.