WSOP Main Event: The Featured Table's Best Feature

by C.J. Hoyt

The ESPN television table was supposed to feature noted poker brat Phil Hellmuth today, but, as usual, he didn't show up for a few hours. And when he finally did, he was gone before the next break. That left sometimes poker pro Randy Jensen as the "feature" of the featured table. He lasted just a little longer before his QQ went down to AQ. A look at the table now finds faces few fans would be able to pick out of a lineup.

One stands out, however. Steph "windough" Klempner.

She's a long way from her Manhattan home, and her NYC home games, but she's had little trouble settling in. Five cameras and a microphone might push some players towards tilt, but Steph is loving it.

"I'm having a great time!" she tells me.

I haven't had much time to talk to her myself, but that hasn't stopped me from gathering a lot of information.

Steph is a vegetarian who raises money for animal charities and fosters dogs. She's VP of marketing and business development for an educational company that helps restock libraries in inner-city schools. When she's not playing poker, she's training for a triathalon, or doing her favorite activity: Yoga. Her card-capper is a little Buddha statue. She listens to Velvet Underground and Jack Johnson on her iPod when she's playing. And apparently, one of her nicknames might be "The Slicer."

If you're wondering how I got all this information without talking to her, it's easy. She's got the biggest gallery of fans of anyone at the TV table. Her parents, Bernie and Barbara Greenspan, are in from Cleveland. Her sister, Becky Nessel, is here from San Francisco. And about a half dozen more friends are here from her home games in New York.

She's not just a pretty face, either. Steph won her seat with a $60 shootout to the $650 qualifier. She's just started playing tourneys in the New York area after doing pretty well at the NL tables.

"She's a really, really good tournament player, really patient," friend Edward Liu tells me. Her mom agrees, telling me she's been excelling at games of all kinds since she was 5-years old (like Atari, her sister chimes in).

Her skills have shown early on. Just a few hands in, she picked up a nice pot when she flopped a set of 4's against her opponent's flopped two pair. Only a four-card straight on the board kept her from winning more there. Another time, her A8 turned Aces full of 8's against her opponents 8's full of Aces.

It's been a grind. At 4:30, she looked over to her friends and family and mouthed, "I'm bored." She was sitting at 15,000 chips at the time, so it couldn't be that bad. That's been her high water mark for the day.

After giving a little bit back, she found a big hand to cripple poker pro Randy Jensen. He raised preflop and Steph called from the SB. The flop came down A77. Steph lead out enough to put Randy all-in, and he went in the tank. He eventually mucked pocket Kings face up, and busted shortly thereafter. That was the second pro she outlasted.

Unfortunately, she's back down to just under 12,000 now at the dinner break. She made a couple of calls preflop after raises, but apparently missed. When they get back from dinner, the level will be 100/200/25, giving her plenty of chips to play with.

When she won her seat on PokerStars back in May, she immediately called all her friends and they celebrated with a night out on the town. Just imagine what might happen if she makes a deep run in the Main Event!

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker