WSOP Event #34 No-Limit Hold'Em with Rebuys: Swimming with Sharks

by Wil Wheaton

I walked into the PokerStars hospitality suite just after today's $1000 No-Limit Hold'Em with rebuys event went on its first break.

The suite was swarming with Team PokerStars players, friends of PokerStars, and a few hapless tourists who got caught up in the storm.

Chris Moneymaker was curled up on one of our couches, munching on a Kit Kat and drinking a Pepsi.

"Ah, the breakfast -- oh, wait, it's nearly 2:30. Make that the lunch -- of poker champions," I thought.

I saw Terrence Chan talking with Bill Chen, so I made my way through the crowd to see how they were doing.

"Hey Wil," Bill said, "are you playing today?"

"Oh no," I said, the sting of my suckage in event 31 still fresh in my mind, "I suck at poker right now. How are you doing?"

"I'm in for nine thousand," he said.

"Yeah, because he was pushing in all his chips with crazy, unreasonable hands," Terrence said.

"Yeah," Bill said, "really crazy hands like pocket kings -- twice."

"You should really know better than to risk all your chips on crazy stupid hands like that, man," I said. "Aren't you supposed to be some sort of poker genius?"

They both laughed, and Bill said, "the first time, I got called by aces, and the second time I got called by ace queen."

"They played that crap?" I said. "Freakin' donkeys, man."

I turned to Terrence and asked him how he was doing, but he was uncharacteristically cagey. I imagine that he's in for a lot, and plans to make it deep.

Jerrod Ankenman and Vanessa Rousso came in one after the other, and I was suddenly surrounded by a group of exceptionally talented poker players. This happens to me at least ten times a day, but I still haven't gotten used to it.

They all talked for a few minutes, while I stood by and tried to blend into the carpet during yet another moment where I realized just how much I have to learn and how much experience I need to get if I'm ever going to make it deep in one of these tourneys. They all figured out that Jerrod had the most chips with the fewest rebuys, and when someone walked by and mentioned that Negreanu had over forty thousand dollars invested in rebuys, none of them even blinked. I know I should be numb to this sort of thing, but I'm not, and I don't know if I ever will be. Forty thousand?

Suddenly, as if a silent alarm went off in all their heads simultaneously, the players began to make their way back into the tournament area. I wished them luck on their way out, and in less than a minute, the suite was empty and quiet again.

"How does someone turn a $1000 tourney into a $40,000 tourney?" I thought, as I pulled my laptop out of my backpack and sat down to work. I don't know the answer, because I don't have that thing that makes someone a big game player. I think that I'm okay with that, but I have to admit that I really like most of these people, and it would be really cool to live in their world, if only for a week, just to see what it's like.

The Main Event starts in five days. If I can get my game back together by then, I may have a chance to find out.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker