WSOP Main Event: Here we go a-Wasieling

wsop2009_thn.gifIt's 8pm and the sun hasn't gone down in Las Vegas. Gray clouds hang on the horizon, making the Brits among us feel ever-so-slightly more at home. It's a long, post-apocalyptic service alley where we find Ron Wasiel smoking a cigarette. It is the last place you'd expect to find anybody, let alone someone who has made the dinner break on Day 3 of the World Series Poker. But that's Wasiel. He shows up when you least expect him and he doesn't say much of anything. He is the postmodern Marlboro Man--tough, rugged, silent.

The house painter from suburban Chicago plays on PokerStars quite a bit. It's a lifestyle that suits his demeanor. He's friendly if you engage him, but he's bought into the whole "poker as a solitary pursuit" thing. If you hear him talk, 90% of the time, it's to say 'raise' or 'call.'

Just because Wasiel is quiet doesn't mean he avoids crowds. In fact, he actively tries to get in with the big groups. That's how we ended up meeting Wasiel in the first place. Wasiel is getting startlingly close to becoming what we like to call a "serial qualifier."

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Wasiel's first foray into the world of big live poker came on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. He won a trip on PokerStars to play in Macau. There, he didn't come out with much in the way of a result. Still, he got a taste for traveling. Despite not speaking a lick of Spanish, he happily qualified for the Latin American Poker Tour Punta del Este event in Uruguay. That's when things got interesting.

In just his second big live event, Wasiel, an admitted amateur, navigated through the crowd of pros and came out with a final table appearance. He finished fourth in Uruguay for a nice payday.,

Now, he's once again qualified for a big live event--the biggest, really. What's more, Wasiel has survived to the last level of Day 3. Of course, that will mean nothing unless he make it at least as far as tomorrow afternoon when we expect to hit the money.

In the meantime, Wasiel finishes his smoke and heads inside. What was once four days of Day 1s and two days of Day 2s is now a 3/4 full ballroom. Among the 999 players remaining is the next WSOP champion. Wasiel has a lot of work to do if he wants to make good on his third live performance. But, we've seen him make a final before.

Seen, of course, and not heard.

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STATISTICS OF THE HOUR -- ELKY SPECIAL

Approximate number of pots raised by Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier in past hour: Every. Single. One.

Number of towers of orange chips in Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier's stack: Nine (worth 100,000 each)

Players in World Series Main Event with more than one million chips: One (Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier)

Approximate chip stack of Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier: 1.2 million

NON-ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY OF THE HOUR
A matador's cape draped across the back of Spanish player Pedro Nunez de Cela's chair.


QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"Below 1,000... nine-ninety-nine" - Richard Washinsky from Las Vegas, watching the clock in level 13.

JOE GIRON PHOTO HOUR

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Attack of the clones -- Dennis Phillips faces off against one of his doppelgangers

TWEET OF THE HOUR

"2 polish guys at my table. One is named Darek & the other Yarek. They just met. I luv the WSOP. Hi mom!" -- @Maridu

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker