WSOP Main Event: Before they were stars

wsop2009_thn.gifJeff Williams not only looked young. He was young. Curly-headed, skinny, and smiling like a kid on Christmas, he stood in a Monte Carlo hotel ballroom and looked around. Surrounded by some of the world's top poker pros, he was winning and beside himself with joy. People may have known his online persona, yellowsub86, but few people had seen his face. The University of Georgia student was both around the world and on top of it.

Within a day or two, his parents had taken a good-emergency flight from Atlanta and landed in Nice. An hour later, they were on the ground to watch their son win the European Poker Tour Monte Carlo Grand Final. I stood by his father as the new millionaire fielded questions from the press and swatted at the poker parasites looking for their piece of one of the newest stars.

"He'll be alright," said the elder Williams. "He's got a good head on his shoulders."

That could've been all for the kid. He could've banked it all or blown it all. Instead, he stayed in the game, got his degree from UGA, and waited to have enough birthdays such that he could play in the World Series of Poker.

Within a couple of years, that's exactly what he did. Last year, Williams came to the WSOP and won $406,330 for a runner-up finish. In a very short career as a live pro, Williams has amassed $1,676,719 to add to his untold winnings online.

This is all notable because Williams is starting Day 2A with a very respectable 77,550, enough to put him above average and in good position to abuse the eight shorter stacks at his table.

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Williams' story of EPT springboarding to WSOP cashes is not an exclusive. Just one year before Williams' success, a young man named Carl Olson won a trip to Deauville, France for the first-ever EPT stop there. He ended up heads up with one of his best buddies and FPP qualifier Brandon Schaefer for the championship. Schaefer ended up taking the title, but Olson used the $103,000 win as the start of a live career.

Since then the man known as colson10 on PokerStars has put together two dozen live cashes that total near 3/4 of a million dollars (and again, a ton of online cashes as well).

Olson, like Williams, chose to win his seat on PokerStars this year and has made it to Day 2A with 80,825 chips.

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There is still a long way to go before we can start talking about a big win here, but the young men we met on the EPT so many years ago are off to a good start today.

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Number of people named "Jeff" in the Day 2A starting field: 20

Number of people named "Carl" in the Day 2A starting field: 5

The average time between shouts of "all-in and a call" in the orange section of the Amazon room: 1 min 36 secs


"Down to 11k. New goal #1: don't go broke in next hour. New goal #2: get off of being the shortest stack at my table." -- @barrygreenstein


Heading into Level 6 with 250/500 blinds.


"You can call anyone a dog." (Add your own emphasis)


96-year-old Jack Ury's assistant.

Sample conversation:

Ury: How much?
Assistant: Eleven thousand.
Ury: How much?
Assistant: (louder) Eleven thousand.
Ury: How much?
Assistant: (louder still) Eleven thousand.
Ury: He's betting me eleven thousand?
Assistant: Yes.
Ury: I fold.
(The bettor, Jordan McMurter, shows pocket aces)
Assistant: He's showing you pocket aces.
Ury: What did he have?
Assistant: Pocket aces.
Assistant: You're on the small blind, buddy.


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