2008 PCA: Off the mound with David Wells
David Wells is, for the moment, not a baseball player.
His cap sports a PokerStars logo and is turned backward on his head. His sunglasses are turned backward and hanging off the back of his thick neck. His chair is turned backward, its back straining against the weight of Wells' leisure.
Wells is, without question, the biggest star at Table 1. What's more, he has the biggest stack, not just at his table, but seemingly in the entire room. The closest anyone in the vicinity comes to such celebrity is the man in the four seat at Table 2.
Wells looks that way and stands. "Uh-oh! Chris must be in. He's got his shades on!"
The Chris in question is, as you might guess, a Mr. Moneymaker. Wells can't continue his heckling for long, though. He has a chip lead to protect.
I am trying not to chat with Wells, both because it seems he has more important things to do, and because I likely couldn't get in a word edgewise. A railbird has actually pulled up a chair and engaged Wells in a conversation about, of all things, baseball. The railbird wonders aloud whether Wells will be on the mound this season.
"Not unless I get a phone call," Wells says.
The player to Wells' left can't help but wonder what a pro baseball pitcher would do without baseball to fill his days. Wells answers quickly enough, as if its something he thinks about every day.
"Hunt," he says, peaking at rag cards in his hands, "and spend time with my kids."
Now living in San Diego, Wells took this opportunity to play some cards, in part, because he could bring his children with him. One is 15, the other eight years old.
"Are they baseball players?" somebody asks.
"One is," Wells muses. "The other is a drummer." He pulls out an imaginary pair of drum sticks and silently rolls on the table. "The kid just shreds!"
The rail accepts this. Harder to figure out, though, is Wells' assertion that he's a rank amateur at poker. He tells his new friend on the rail that the PCA is his first big tourney ever. Looking at his stack, one has to wonder about ye olde beginner's luck.
"Are you just outplaying everybody?" asks the railbird.
Wells scoffs at the idea. "I'm not outplaying anybody."
"So, people just think you don't know what you're doing?"
"Thing is," Wells says with a smile, "I don't."
It is, in fact, hard to believe. Wells is not playing every hand. Not even playing a lot. Maybe earlier in the day people thought they could shell him into submission. Seven hours into the event, however, he's brushing back more than a few comers. His stack sits around 90,000.
As I walk away, Wells stands, put his hands in the air and says, "Whew! I'm hot."
And, he's actually talking about the temperature.
That's David Wells today. All laughs, completely relaxed, and sitting on a stack as big as a pitcher's mound.
Photo © Neil Stoddart