The Big Dance with Dogger9 (Part 2)

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

Goal keeping
by Bernard Lee

Wednesday, July 6, 2005
My 8:15am flight from Boston was delayed and I arrived in Las Vegas 2 1/2 hours later than expected. My trip wasn't off to the best start. But, I was so excited, I didn't care. I met up with Mark (my work colleague who had also qualified through PokerStars) at the Rio and we went up to the PokerStars suite to pick up our "Goodie Bag". The staff greeted us warmly, giving us several shirts, hats, a commemorative card cover, and best of all -- a red PokerStars rolling duffel with our name embroidered on it (REAL COOL!). Wow, PokerStars really knows how to do it right! We both left the suite feeling like celebrities! As we were walking to the car to drop off our bags, another internet qualifier from another internet site (so small I didn't know it) asked us where we got our cool rolling bags. After telling him, he told us that his souvenir bag was the size of a small backpack.

Afterward, we headed for the registration desk to pick up our seat assignment for day 2 (both of us had drawn Friday Day 2). When the staffer handed me my name card and seat assignment, it felt truly "REAL". Goose bumps prickled on my neck, as I saw my name in bold capital letters: "BERNARD LEE. Event #42. Table #129. Seat #3." Woah, I really had a seat.

Mark and I decided to visit the main hall to see the tables and seats we'd be sitting at on Friday. As we entered the room, it suddenly hit us -- we saw 200 tables. There will be thousands of people playing, and thousands more watching. WOW! I had played in tournaments before, but nothing that looked like this. My hands got clammy and my heart beat faster. I hoped I would not feel this nervous on Friday. As I found my table and seat, I felt glad that my table wasn't right on the rail so that no spectators will be looking right over my shoulder. After walking around for about 30 minutes, we went back to the hotel, checked in, showered, and went out to the PokerStars Welcome Party at the Mirage.

At the Mirage, the PokerStars set-up great food, music, and drinks. It was neat to meet people from all around the US and world. We learned that a record 1116 players were sent my PokerStars -- WOW! That's almost 20% of the entire field. The PokerStars staff introduced themselves, the 2003 (Chris Moneymaker) and the 2004 (Greg Raymer) WSOP world champions. I asked my friend to take a picture of me with Chris and Greg, and told him afterward, "Who knows, maybe I'll make it 3 for 3 for Pokerstars." However, that was the last time I thought about the final table, as we said let's not get ahead of ourselves. I kept repeating my mantra: "my goal is to get out of each day." In fact, I had three distinct goals for this WSOP Main Event. First or Short-term Goal: Make it out of Day 1. Second or Mid-Term Goal: Make it into the Money. Third or Long-Term Goal: Make it to Binion's (the final 27) because this would be last year that the tournament would be held at the historic Horseshoe and it would be an honor to say that I was there. Well, I guess we'll see how far I can go.

At the party, I introduced myself to Lee Jones, thanking him for the sincere e-mail he had sent me a few days earlier. "How's your wife?" he asked. I told him she was recovering well and that I was thrilled to be able to come. I told Lee that I hoped I could make my family and PokerStars proud. After spending about an hour and a half at the Mirage, we decided to go back to the hotel and play a little poker. I sat down confidently at a 1-2 no-limit cash ring game. After all, I was going to play in the WSOP Main Event and not everyone could say that. Nevertheless, the poker gods obviously did not like my attitude and after playing for 3 hours, it was one of the worst sessions I had had in the last 12 months. I only got 3 hands all night (jacks, ace-king, and ace-queen) so I was happy to walk away from the table only down $300. My phone rang, and my college roommate, DooJin Kim, had arrived. Thank goodness; an excuse to get up from this horrendous session. We went for a drink and I told him, "I hope this takes away all my bad luck because if these cards happen the first day of the WSOP Main Event, I won't make it to the dinner break." After talking for an hour with him, I called my family and told them I loved them and that I would try to make them proud. My wife said that she was feeling better and my son said "I Love You Daddy. Come home soon." My eyes welled up as I wanted to hold my son, but I honestly did not want to come home soon. I wiped away my tears and I decided to call it a night.

Part 3--Coming Sunday