A Family Affair: Tense Times at the WSOP

The final half-level of the night was just about to begin. A man was barking across the room for another bloody mary. Phil Ivey was staring. Mike Matusow was talking. Chips were clacking. In short, the same things were happening that ha been happening for the past several days.

Across the room, I spotted FPP qualifier Bernard "Dogger9" Lee. He was easing up to his table and preparing to sit down for his umpteenth hour of poker. As he sat down, he picked up a small folio of pictures, turned each page, and kissed them.

Though I was not allowed to be behind the rail, I couldn't help but sneak over the velvet ropes as the dealer was shuffling his cards. I had to see the inspiration behind the chips. It was as I suspected and as Lee would later tell me. They were pictures of Lee's two children and wife. The marketing man had survived an entire day on a relatively short stack, twice folding huge pocket pairs pre-flop because he knew--or in his words, "he felt"-- his opponents were holding bigger pairs. Both times, his opponents showed their cards. Both times, Lee was right. Somehow, his familial inspiration helped him survive into another day.

Though the room was full of ire, anger, despair, and occasionally violence, PokerStars' players were resting heavily on their families' support. For more than 13 hours, families sat on the rail, sweating every hand, living the triumph and tragedy that surrounded every flip of the cards.

I happened upon an older couple that had been standing for hours. They were wearing PokerStars shirts and Rio Carnival beads. Their eyes were full of pride. Their son, Larry Prugh, a retired military man, was battling with every ounce of his soul. It was enough to make his mother smile, even when things were at their worst. As the evening drew to a close, the worst moment happened. Prugh got all of his million chips in with a pair of kings against AK. An ace on the turn reduced Prugh's stack to $250,000. He ended the night even shorter. Nonetheless, his parents looked on, excited by Prugh's tenacity.

Larry Prugh

I found the same pride in the eyes of Brad Kondracki's mother. The second-year Penn law student got moved all over the floor today, form one side to the other, to the featured table and off. He battled the pros today and came out with more than a million chips. His mom, Louise, told me he was the type of kid to give here heart attacks, an adventurous, mountain-climbing roustabout with a penchant for seeking out extra adrenaline. His eyes, when he was away from the table, gave that part of him away. He seemed to hate the break times. He seemed to want to be back in the middle of it. His mom simply said, "I'm proud."

Brad Kondracki

And no family report would be complete without the constant support of Greg Raymer's wife, who sat on the rail almost all day long, offering quick kisses to the World Champion when he needed them. Raymer, who began the day as the chip leader, fought an up an down battle all day. Just when it seemed like he might run away with the contest, he lost nearly half his stack at the end of the night when his KQ was outkicked by AQ.

As Day 4 ends, 58 players remain in the big event. Eleven of those fighters qualified on PokerStars.

1. Raymi "DingDingDing" Thoorn $1,288,000 ($160 Double Shootout)
2. Daniel "berka" Bergsdorf $1,144,000 ($33 Rebuy)
3. Brad "bogey54" Kondracki $1,136,000 ($160 Double Shootout)
4. Steve "smarx" Marx $1,042,000 $160 (Double Shootout)
5. Greg "FossilMan" Raymer $766,000 (Team PokerStars)
6. Radu "rbutan" Butan $762,000 $160 (Double Shootout)
7. Kevin "ShuMoney" Kaikko $571,000 ($650 Satellite)
8. Bernard "Dogger9" Lee $379,000 (1000 FPPs)
9. Derek "Bob&TomShow" Dix $202,000 ($33 Rebuy)
10. Larry "TheKid1948" Prugh $166,000 ($160 Double Shootout)
11. Jarl "virus1975" Lindholt $101,000 (4000 FPPS)

More than 90 other PokerStars qualifiers have cashed in the main event. Click here to see how much money they've brought in.

Good luck to all our players in Day 5. Be sure to come back here for updates all day long.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker