WSOP Event #3: Rizen takes third place


By noon, the Rio Amazon Ballroom and the ESPN media offices were buzzing about Eric "Rizen" Lynch. In a world of poker players--some with questionable backgrounds and attitudes--Lynch was a fresh face. In a world of young up-and-comers with egos to match their new-money bankrolls, Lynch was a successful and humble alternative. In short, in the midst of all things poker, we had found a young and talented family man. To be sure, there are others like him, but this one had just made it to the final table on his first trip to the World Series of Poker. What's more, he had his family with him.

Eric "Rizen" Lynch and his family

Rizen was a name that few of the veteran pros would recognize. The name was, as people have taken to saying, "internet famous." It had just been a few weeks since Rizen had won the PokerStars Sunday Million. If Eric Lynch wasn't "internet famous" before that moment, his fame was cemented when he took down the biggest weekly online event. Now, he was chip-leader in Event #3 ($1,500 Pot-Limit Hold'em) holding nearly 1/3 of the chips in play.

Anyone watching from a distance might have thought Rizen was tenative in his play. As players busted out, one after another, Rizen sat quietly, studying each opponent, and picking up small pots where he could. Still, Rizen held the chip lead after two players had busted. Everything seemed to be in place. People who knew Rizen knew that their man was just waiting for his moment to pounce.

Copyright Rob Gracie - IMPDI

Copyright Rob Gracie - IMPDI

Copyright Rob Gracie - IMPDI

Copyright Rob Gracie - IMPDI

Still, more players busted, and as I watched, I could only think of the 1980s horror movies in which a character would offer the oh-so-blatant foreshadowing line: "It's quiet...too quiet."

The line in the movie was almost always followed by a monster, or a bear, or an alien exploding from the bushes. In this case, the monster was in the dealer's hand.

Burt Boutin moved in from the button. Rocky Enciso and Rizen called from the blinds. When the flop came down K74...the monster woke up. Every bit of the money went in. Rizen had 74 for bottom two. Rocky had K7 for top two. It looked like it would be over right there for Rizen. Instead, the monster turned and chewed up Burt Boutin and most of Enciso.

A four spiked on the river to give Rizen the two-outer and the monster pot.

Copyright Rob Gracie - IMPDI

The face of a man who just hit a two outer

From there, it seemed the luck would jump from player to player. George Bronstein turned a set against Rizen's overpair. Then, Rizen crippled Bronstein with AK vs. TT.

Rizen had the chip lead at the dinner break and I felt confident he would get heads up with Rafe Furst. Then, the monster struck again. Furst, having lost a series of pots, jammed from the small blind after Rizen button-raised. Rizen insta-called and showed Furst AK. Furst was almost dead in the water with his A8. Instead the board paired twice to split the pot.

And from there, everything seemed to fall apart for the online hero. A series of losses and missed flops ate into Rizen's stack. Ultimately, after facing a button-raise from Rocky, Rizen moved all-in with A7. He might have been good, but Furst woke up with AK and Rocky called with KQ. Rocky ended up making two pair and Rizen departed in third place, cashing for $104,544.

Copyright IMPDI

Poker is a rough game. You look back at it and Rizen was lucky to have survived when he hit his two-outer earlier. Then, Rafe got lucky to chop the pot with Rizen in the AK vs A8 hand. Of course, the same thing could've been said for Furst's luck. As one person put it, what are the chances Rizen wakes up with AK on the button. Six of one, half dozen of the other. That's poker, as they say. Still, if Rizen had won that pot, chances are he would've quickly dispatched Rocky and taken home the bracelet. In the end, Rafe Furst ended up winning the Event #3 title.

The good thing is, Rizen isn't a very emotional guy. He's used to winning and he knows how to lose. I'm not one to make big predictions, but I'd feel safe betting we'll see Rizen fighting for another bracelet soon.

Congratulations to Eric "Rizen" Lynch for his outstanding performance.