2008 World Series: Some things change, some things stay the same

When two fellow news reporters began chatting to one another during level one about David Murray and back-to-back pocket kings, I knew I knew the name from somewhere. I'd definitely seen "David Murray" on the chip counts, rising through the ranks of PokerStars qualifiers towards the top, but I also knew I knew him from somewhere else. A quick scan of the PokerStars blog World Series archives confirmed my suspicions. I'd written about him back in 2006 when, again as a PokerStars qualifier, he'd finished in 44th place, flopping a set of deuces against Jamie Gold, but ending up as just one more bug on that juggernault's windshield: Gold has flopped a set of tens.

But Murray is back. And he's back towards the top of the leaderboard. As mentioned by those two other news reporters, Murray had pocket kings in consecutive hands in the first level of the day, busting Jason Lester for a pot of about 150,000 with the first cowboys; being outdrawn by ace-king with the second. Such is poker, and as a former dealer in Dublin, Ireland, it's nothing Murray wouldn't have seen on countless occasions before. When we met back in 2006, he was quiet, reserved and focused. When I railed him today in 2008, not much of that had changed.

What had changed, however, was everything else. Sometimes you just have to give up on words, especially when you've got a couple of photographs to do all the descriptive stuff for you. Here's David Murray from two years ago. Below, is the David Murray of today. Two years is a long time in poker.

David Murray 2008

David Murray 2006

PokerStars qualifier Jeffrey Anderson entered my cross-hairs at about the midpoint of level 11 today, having also appeared in the lofty regions of the overnight chip count. I was waiting to pounce to get a brief interview, find out about his tournament to date and how he'd got himself to the elevated position. As I arrived to table 48, the turn had already been dealt on a hand featuring Anderson and one other player, and Anderson had bet 12,000. The player in seat five called, and they saw a river, completing a board of Qc-9h-5h | Qd | Kd. Now they both checked, Anderson rolled over pocket jacks and took down the pot of around about 60,000.

Jeffrey Anderson

I dived in at this point to get some quick biographical info. Anderson is a professional player, aged 27, from Mount Vernon, Washington. Then they started dealing again, and I retreated to watch the action. This time, Anderson raised again pre-flop. He's the table big stack, so why not. The small stack on the button re-raised, everyone else got out the way, and Anderson had the decision to make. Well, it wasn't much of a decision: he clamped a hand around a huge stack of orange chips, worth 5,000 and still the bully's weapon of choice at this stage, and shoved them in. The small stack had a decision for his tournament life.

He huffed and puffed, squirmed and squealed and then made a reluctant call, surely based on pot odds and the money already invested. He flipped A-9 diamonds, to Anderson's A-K clubs. The flop brought something for everyone: a nine, but also two clubs, and when a third club turned, that was that. Anderson added another bunch to his stack to take him over 300,000. The story was written. No further need for quotes.

Also challenging the leaders at this stage is PokerStars qualifier Andrew Teng, 23, from London, England. Shortly before I arrived at his table, he'd knocked out another player also, moving to "at least 400,000."

Andrew Teng

Teng was fully game-faced up, headphones and shades on, destroying all on his table. We'll keep an eye and prise out a few words as he continues to go in this one.