WSOP Main Event: Cuong Do - on $1.1m

by Mad Harper

I love the World Series. It just continually throws up the most extraordinary scenarios. Take Cuong Do, a quiet and sensitive Canadian lad who the PokerStars blog team hadn't even spotted until just before the end of Day 4.

Cuong is quiet as a mouse and serene as a statue of Buddha. I watched this softly-spoken 24-year-old for hours today and he barely flickered. When I finally got a chance to talk to him - at the end of Day 5, sitting on $1.1 million chips and a guaranteed $247,000 in prize money - he confirmed what I thought: this was a Zen performance.

"It's true", said Cuong, whose parents come from Hanoi, North Vienam but are now settled in Toronto, Canada. "I just really focus on playing. I don't think about or hear anything else. It's odd because when I'm playing online, I watch TV, eat, loads of stuff. But other people have said it to me too - that when I'm playing live, I really don't have any facial expressions."

The truly odd thing about Cuaong's performance so far however is that he has never even played in a live tournament before. In fact, he's never left Canada before and, after winning one of the very last qualifying satellites on PokerStars, had to apply for an emergency passport to travel to the US.

He said: "I played on Day 1a, the very first day. I've played online for two years, but live - well, I've never played with more than a dozen people before. Just some home games at college. And I should have been nervous seeing a room with 2,000 people - but it's odd, I just cut it all out. Phil Ivey is like that. He's one of my favourite players and he doesn't seem to notice anything except the cards. And that's how I feel too - once the dealer deals the cards, that's it. That's all there is."

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker