The Big Dance with Dogger9 (continuing Part 8 )

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
Part 2--Goal Keeping
Part 3--Shuffle Up and Deal
Part 4--A picture is worth 105,800 chips
Part 5--In the money
Part 6--The biggest laydowns
Part 7--Making it to Binion's
Part 8--Stepping into history (first half)

Part 8--Stepping into history (continued)
by Bernard Lee

As play was about to begin, I went over to my "entourage" for one last round of high fives and fist pounds. I also noticed that my "lucky" cameraman was at my table -- Adam from ESPN. We had become friends over the week and I was thankful to have friendly face nearby. Thanks Adam for the "lucky" fist pounds and pieces of gum. I truly appreciated your support during the week. Finally, as I prepared to sit down, my genie lamp/good luck charm appeared -- ESPN's Norm Chad. After posing in a quick picture with him, I rubbed his jacket for good luck. Let the day begin.

Blinds were 20K and 40K, ante 5K. As play began, I caught a few cards early. I re-raised with JJ (he folded) and took the blinds with AK. That was all I got during the first level. The large blinds and antes were eating away at my stack. I ended that level with exactly the same number of chips I had started the day with -- 770K. We had lost only 2 people so far and I thought this was going to be a long night. However, as the next level got underway (blinds were 30K and 60K, ante 5K), all of a sudden, people were departing much more rapidly. First, Greg Raymer, the 2004 World Champion was eliminated at 25th place -- an impressive repeat performance by Greg after his big win in 2004, to pass nearly 5600 people for 25th in 2005. Please give a warm round of applause for "Fossilman." My mentor, Tuan "Tommy" Vu was eliminated in 22nd and Phil Ivey (the odds makers favorite going into today) left at 20th. While these high profile exits were happening, I caught a couple of small hands (AQ and QQ) before the hand that set the stage for a classic showdown between Shahram "Sean" Sheikhan and myself. First, let's give Sean a lot of credit because he started the day as the shortest stack at 210K and built his chip stack to over 2 million. In this fateful hand, Sean raised to about 250K in early position. When I looked down, I saw the dream hand -- AA. After a moment, I announced "All-In," pushing all of my 825K chips in front of me. Everyone folded around and the showdown began. Sean asked me if I wanted him to call or fold and kept calling out my name. For almost two to three minutes, he tried to get a tell on me, whether or not to call. During the entire time, I just kept staring straight ahead and at the picture of my kids, which is what I always do. Although you would think I would be very nervous, I was very serene. I thought if I lose with the best hand possible, I can go home to my family in peace and not second guess myself. After what seemed like an eternity, Sean announced the words that I was hoping for -- "I call." Ecstatically, I jumped out of my seat, flipped over my Aces, as he begrudgingly showed his Queens. I picked up my pictures, began to rub them for good luck and said to myself, "No Queen! No Queen!" The flop brought J J 9. So far, so good. "No Queen! No Queen!" The Turn...3. "No Queen! No Queen!" The River...2. YES!! I jumped high in excitement as I had doubled up and my chip stack was near 2 million. Once again, I had doubled up early in the day, which was similar to the last two days. I was determined to make it through the day. After stacking my chips, I ran over to my "entourage" for hugs and high fives. The round ended shortly thereafter and I went to dinner break with 1,790K in chips and only 18 players remaining.

I felt a bit restless at dinner. Then, we all returned to the room and re-drew for seats at the final two tables. Once again, I avoided the TV table. From the beginning of the week, I told everyone, "I don't want to be on the TV table until I have to be there. And that would be the final day." This round started with the blinds at 25K and 50K and the antes were 10K. I picked up a 10K chip in my hand and showed everyone at the table. "This is what we started our first day with - pretty cool huh?"

This put the whole week in perspective. At this point, I knew it would be a long night, but just like the past two days, I had my mission -- focus on each level, survive the day and move on. At least I drew a friendly table. Joe Hachem was on my right, Conor Tate was on my left and John McGrane was across from me. Unfortunately, John was the first to go. I was one of the first to greet him after he lost. I congratulated him on a fabulous tournament. I told him, "Remember yesterday. You were fighting just to get to 36th and $274,090. Today, you made it to 18th and $350,000." Congratulations to brilliant fellow that I hope I can call a friend. John, I hope to see you again soon. Johnny Howard was eliminated in 16th -- another person I was sad to see go. Johnny, you were a solid player and, more importantly, a very sincere person. I look forward to seeing and playing against you again.

As for me, I started out the level with a slightly bad break. Brad Kondracki, another PokerStars player, was the short stack and went all-in. I looked down to see AdQd. I thought that he might be trying to steal the blinds with Ace-something (lower than a Queen) and then I would be approximately a 70 to 30 favorite. After a moment to think about it, I called. Brad shook his head as he turned over T8. UGH! I would rather he had Ax. Now, I was only about a 60 to 40 favorite. Nevertheless, let's see what the flop would bring and, to my dismay, a Ten hit on the flop and it held up to double Brad up. My stack decreased to 1.2 million, but I was still in decent shape. I got caught trying to take the blinds with AT by Tiffany, but shortly thereafter, I picked up a hand with TT. I raised all-in with the TT and Tex Barch thought about it a while and finally mucked. After showing my TT, Tex announces that he mucked TT as well. WOW! I can't believe he didn't call me (he had close to 4 to 5 million chips. Thanks for the respect Tex). At the end of this level, I was around 800K -- very short stacked. But, I still believed. I had to hold on and survive.

When play resumed, I could not find a hand. For almost an hour, the cards were nowhere to be found. Then, a slight rush occurred. 55 -- I picked up the blinds. 99 -- I picked the blinds. Then, an unusual hand developed. I had Kc7h in the big blind and three large stacks limped into the pot. I checked my option. It was the first hand all day where so many people had limped into the pot. The flop came down Ks6c3d. Not bad, but I was worried that one of them had a King and a better kicker, so I checked. When the next two checked as well, Aaron Kanter pushed in 200K. I guessed Aaron was trying to steal the pot. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be," I exclaimed as I pushed all-in with my final 660k into the pot. The other two quickly folded and Aaron began to think. As he kept contemplating, I knew I had him beat after the flop. If Aaron had a King, he wouldn't have thought twice and called because the extra 460K since he was the chip leader at the time (near 7 to 8 million). Thus, I knew he had a 6 (or maybe a 3) with a decent kicker in his hand. Finally, he called and flipped over Qc6s. He had only five outs. With my family pictures in hand, I watched the turn ... Jh. I actually jumped prematurely because I originally thought it was a King. I must have upset the poker gods with that pre-jump because the river was a 6d! It was OVER. I bent over for a second, hands on knees, sad, not because of the bad beat (although what a bad beat at this stage of the tournament as I was about a 90 to 10 favorite going into the river), but because I would no longer be playing in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. I was having so much fun and I was sad that it was over. Nonetheless, I was extremely proud of my showing. I stood up to shake the hands of my fellow competitors. Conor Tate was the first to come over and give me a hug. Joe Hachem hugged me shortly after telling me, "I'm sorry mate. You played great." I told Aaron I was afraid to go against him because he had so much luck during the day. Oh well, the poker gods determined that it was my time to go. I picked up my family pictures and put away my Foxwoods card protector and sunglasses. Before I exited the area, I turned once last time to the crowd to thank them for all their support. I was somewhat embarrassed by their applause, but happy that I had made a few more friends.

During my final interview with ESPN, Matt asked me how I felt. I truly felt at peace with myself. I went in with a solid hand after the flop and I simply got "rivered." I played my heart out -- there was nothing more I could have done. I said to Matt, "I may have had better single days in my life -- my wedding, the birth of my two kids -- but this has been the week of my life." What a ride! ESPN followed me into the hallway as I called my wife to tell her the news. "Honey, I got knocked out. Tell the kids I love them and I'll be home soon." Katie told me that she loved me and how proud of me she was. She and the kids couldn't wait until I got home and would meet me at the airport. After signing the commemorative table, I received my money receipt for my winnings. I would need to go back to the Rio to pick up my winnings in either cash, check or wire transfer. When I looked down at the slip of paper, it hit me. I stared at the numbers, $400,000. WOW!

The trip back to the hotel was, of course, fairly somber. Everyone gathered in my room and we chatted about the day. I thanked everyone again for making the trip out to see me. I truly believe that I was blessed to have such a remarkable week. It was just sad that it was over.

(Coming up tomorrow...what it's like when it's over)

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker