WSOP Event #37: Jason "strassa2" Strasser makes final table

The dinner break was over and Jason Strasser had not seen me all day. Oh, I'd been watching, like poker's version of a nosy neighbor. Every little while, I'd peer through the throngs on the rail and confirm what I already knew: Jason Strasser had one big ol' stack.

For the past four weeks, I hovered more like an overprotective parent. I'd monitor Strasser's ever-changing chip-stack and report on it like it was the Dow Industrial. And, despite Strasser's spooky ability to go deep, things never turned out like I hoped they might.

It's been about a year and a half since I met Strasser in a hotel conference room in Vienna, Austria. The then 20-year-old Duke University student was playing in the European Poker Tour event in the Concord Casino. Though a seemingly typical kid, Strasser struck me as oddly smart. Though he can be brash at times, he's always friendly. In the dark corners of Vienna's industrial district, where the casino was smoky and the whorehouse next door echoed through the card room, Strasser was a bright American light in an otherwise very odd place.

That week, Strasser didn't final-table the event, though one of his Duke buddies did. Strasser and I would meet again a couple of times before he finally turned 21 and was old enough to play in the U.S.

Fast forward to this year's WSOP. Strasser, a frequent PokerStars player, has been proudly wearing his PokerStars shirt every day. He's played in tons of events and threatened to make a final table a few times. And somehow, I always messed it up.

Yeah, I'm a jinx. I have singlehandedly been responsible for the premature elimination of countless players who were sniffing at a major win in a major tournament. Today, I made a vow to make it the Poker Fates' fault and not mine if Strasser were to bust before the end of the day.

And so it came time for the end of the dinner break tonight. I was actually peeking in on Greg Raymer and accidentally ran into Strasser.

"I'm not here," I said.

Strasser laughed. He said his parents had already read about the Otis Jinx. He said they thought it was funny. As a parent, I bet that's not the case. In fact, if Mama Strasser were here, I bet she would beat me away from her son with the nearest blunt object.

"I'm not really superstitious," Strasser said, and then, "Did you see that last hand? The nine on the river?"

I had. It had been a lucky card for Strasser just before the dinner break. But, to be fair, Strasser hadn't had to rely on luck very much. He'd been playing good poker. Not that I was watching or anything.

Ultimately, it came down to three tables and I decided not to press my luck. I stayed far away from the kid.

It paid off. By 1am, Strasser was at the final table. By 1:30am, Strasser had made the first WSOP final table of his career.

Sure, it took Strasser nearly five weeks. Sure, it took me hiding in the shadows. Oh, yeah...and it took Strasser playing his ass off. But he's there. He will return at 2pm on Thursday to see if he can turn his short stack into a bracelet.

Seat 1-James Gorham $717,000
Seat 2-George Christian $262,000
Seat 3-Age Spets $316,000
Seat 4-Nick Ronyecz $789,000
Seat 5-Mohamad Ilyas $252,000
Seat 6- Osman Kibar $796,000
Seat 7-Jason "strassa2" Strasser $254,000
Seat 8-Miff Fagerlie $367,000
Seat 9-Peter Dalhuijsen $477,000

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker