2007 World Series: The Stack That Hal Built

by Simon Young

There is little escape here from the dreaded bad beat. I don't mean just for the players, but for everyone else in earshot. If it's not someone hollering down their mobile phone telling a loved one back home about a terrible misfortune at the table, it's another collaring you in the food queue or, worse still, in the lavatory. Last year Hal England, from Florida, was a victim of a brutal bad beat after eight hours of Day 1, but he took it well, vowing to come back and improve another time.

And he has done just that after qualifying for the WSOP on PokerStars for the second year running. The construction worker has built himself a nice stack of more than 70,000 and looks set to ease into Day 2 well above average in chips. His progress today, he says, has been slow and steady, but he did claim a prize scalp when his pocket aces busted Everybody Loves Raymond actor Ray Romano.

Hal seconds after he busted Ray Romano

"I'm here for just $63," he said. "I entered the PokerStars $33 rebuy satellite and just bought the add-on, so I got here pretty cheap. I've already done better than last year, so I'm pleased with how it is going." He's not sitting at a soft table, however, as I watched him raise, then call a re-raise pre-flop, before having to give way to big bet on the 8-2-9 board.

Like his day job on the building sites, poker tournament success needs solid foundations, and Hal has dug them deep and true here. Let's hope they are strong enough to endure the pressure to come.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in