WSOP Main Event: Checking up on Some Sentimental Favorites

by Wil Wheaton

I have become emotionally invested in three players in the Main Event of the 2006 World Series of Poker. I'm not supposed to, of course, but after getting to know a little bit about these guys, meeting their families and telling you their stories, I can't help but want them to go very deep (and win the damn thing, of course.)

One of those players is my friend Ryan, (who played his heart out, and was eventually eliminated 410th today.) The other two who are still in action are PokerStars qualifiers Michael "Mr.Wrong" Hogbom, and Rob "Boilingfish" Berryman. I just had to get out into the tournament area and find them.

Yeah. About that. It's a lot easier said than done.

The good news is that PokerStars qualifiers still make up a significant percentage of the field here on day four, so they are everywhere. The bad news is, we have no idea where they all are.

Every morning, we get a seating chart that lets us know where players are, and how many chips they have. We here on Team Blog kick our crack commando research staff (CJ) and the crack commando intern (me[¹]) into action, and spend the day walking the tournament floor, counting out stacks, and keeping tabs on players when their tables break.

Unfortunately for us, the seating chart we got today had very little in common with reality. And by "very little" I mean "nothing at all."

To compound the obvious difficulties inherent in not knowing where any of our players are, tables broke very quickly this morning, introducing a certain amount of entropy into the room.

And today, the Rio decided that media will be . . . what's the word I'm looking for here . . . uh . . . oh! I know: handcuffed and put in a box.

With those restrictions in mind, here are a few observations I picked up when I was in the Amazon room earlier today:

Mr. Wrong took a huge hit early on, when his pocket queens were rivered by the other guy's A8o. It doubled up the other guy, at the cost of about half of Mr. Wrong's stack. When I walked up to his table, he was all-in on the turn of a J-high board, and the other guy was in the tank.

He looked up at me when I got there, and I instantly knew he that he had it. I began sending thought waves to the other guy: Yoooouuuuu wwwaaannnttt toooo caaaaalllllll . . . No dice. He folded.

Mr. Wrong stacked his chips, and waved me close. "I have about 165K right now," he said. "I lost half my chips early with queens against ace eight off-suit when he rivered an ace against me."

"Oh [expletive deleted]," I said.

"Yeah," he said, "but it's okay, I've been building my stack back up since then."

He spoke with quiet confidence, and I felt reassured, not that how I feel really matters in the grand scheme of things.

"I'll check back on you as much as I can, but I'll be rooting for you where ever I am, sir." I said.

"Thank you," he said, and he sat back into his seat.

The Main Event, which we once divided into four quadrants, has been consolidated down to just one area, so it would seem like it's easier to find individual players. Over the next fifteen minutes, I learned first hand how far away from "easy" that actually is.

Finally, I ran into Amanda from Pokerwire and asked her if she could help me find Boilingfish. She got on her walkie talkie, and asked Jay from Cardplayer if he knew where he was.

"There's a Steven Berryman," she said.

"Yeah, that's him. He goes by 'Rob,'" I said.

"He started at table 167, but that broke a long time ago," she said.

"Yeah, I knew that," I said.

"What does he look like?" She said.

"He's young, with straight hair that's kind of emo," I said, "sandy blond, and he usually wears dark glasses when he plays."

Amanda is like a little sister to me, so I added, "You know, Amanda, he's very good looking."

"Good looking guy with sandy blond hair and a PokerStars shirt," she said as she surveyed the room. "Is that him over there?"

She pointed to table 152, directly at Rob.

"Yes!" I said. "You are a goddess. I owe you one." I moved as quickly as I could to his table, excited to know that he was still in the action.

I looked up and saw his dad sweating him from the rail. I'm sure Harrah's didn't do it on purpose, but I was grateful that they put him at a seat by the rail, so his dad could watch him.

We talked briefly. He told me that he folded early when he raised with queens, and a tight player called him, and bet out at a flop with an ace and a king on it.

"I don't know if that was a good fold or not," he said, "but I think he had it. He wouldn't bet, otherwise."

"For what it's worth," I said, "I think that's a good, smart move."

I didn't tell him how I had to lay down queens in my disastrous "effort" in the Main Event when an ace and a king came on the flop. I folded face up, and the other guy showed me a king.

"Did he show his hand?" I said.

"No," he said, "but I didn't feel very good about my hand there so . . ." He kind of looked at me for advice or something. Rather than remind him of how badly I played, I decided to reinforce his smart, tough laydown, and not mess with his game.

"I think you did exactly the right thing and you should keep playing your game," I said. "So how's the rest of your day?"

"Good. I doubled up early with pocket nines against ace queen, and now I'm back to about 140K."

"Good deal, man," I said. "I'll get out of your way and check in on you later."

I crossed under the rail and talked to his dad.

"How is he feeling today?" I said. "Did he sleep well last night?"

"He's doing much better," he said, "and he slept great last night."

"That's great news," I said. I forgot to ask him how he was doing, but I'll do that the next time I check in on them.

[1] Actually, it's not me. Craig Cunningham, Mad Harper, and Dr. Pauly do all the heavy lifting on bringing you updated chip counts and player statistics. But it's a funny call back if I say "me," isn't it?

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker