2008 World Series: Humberto answers the 'what ifs'

It wasn’t easy at the time to judge whether reading a magazine article entitled “Five biggest ‘what if’s’ in poker” was good timing or bad timing for the player about to lose most of his stack to Team PokerStars Pro Humberto Brenes. He was swinging back in his chair, wearing a pressed shirt and tie for the classic look, crossed with headphones and shades for the modern look. Now that it was crunch time he’d left the magazine for a second and pondered the call...


At the start of play in the re-buy event two rooms split the field. Of the two the Brazilian Room was the quieter but had urgency to it, thanks to the efforts of tournament staff of shepherding everyone across the hall and into the same tournament area.

The process was copied for everyone. Under the command of suited tournament officials see-thru bags were distributed to players - chaotic scenes which evidently were choreographed well as a seamless migration took place - instructions of “Don’t carry the bags yourself” and “don’t seal the bags” being good advice.

One player who’d just made this trip was the newest member of Team PokerStars Pro William Thorson, now with flashes of the familiar logo on his chest and sleeve. I’ve watched William play countless tournaments and his demeanour is always the same - an expression towards his opponent that asks “why did you do that?” as if privately he’s in search of every poker answer there is.

I didn’t want to sweat William too long so moved around a little. But in the time it took for me to scout out the rest of the room William had gone. Busted. A disappointing first day results-wise but at least an easy one to blame on the wicked kind of east to west jetlag.


Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso arrived at her new table shortly afterward, hers being the latest to be airlifted into place along with a bag of chips worth 14k. I chatted with her at the break and she explained the frustrations of being out sick for a few days but is back ready to record a second cash of the Series. It’s shaping up nicely as far as re-buys are concerned...

“I had four re-buys... that’s good for me!” She said, evidently in the right kind of chipper mood that helps the fighting spirit to prosper. After all there's a prize pool in excess of $3,240,000 at stake.


Back to the “what ifs” though. Humberto got the call and showed a full house - aces over jacks - for a pot that takes him up to 20k. His opponent took it as well as he could, talking to himself - an internal monologue that may or may not have blocked the screaming noise inside his head - before he picked up his magazine. He tried reading but looked distracted, probably reading the same sentence again and again.

But for Humberto it’s a great start. No noise from him just a smile shared with team mate Noah Boeken sitting opposite.

“Humberto, if you bust out you can play the HORSE” Noah joked. “Give me your chips, you go play the HORSE.”

‘What if’, indeed.