WSOP Main Event: The power of Chen
Bill Chen always looks like his brain is working so feverishly and with such power that if he were to fall asleep at the table the clocks would spin backwards and the lights would go out. To match Chen's mathematical power you have to carry extra brain around in a wheelbarrow and one day scientists will split whatever it is Chen has up there and cause a huge explosion.
Since 2006 Chen has been the fidgeting threat at any World Series table. Back then the Friend of PokerStars won two bracelets in less than two weeks, dazzling the socks off rivals in limit and short-handed hold'em. Another final table followed that same year adding to a World Series cash record of 17 which, combined with other results around the world, adds up to a smooth million bucks in prize money.
Three of those cashes have come this summer, again in unflashy limit and short-handed performances. It's a prowess that flies under the radar to some and can at times be invinsible. But sitting with eight guys you've never seen before danger, the kind that can render useless any natural talent, is never far away.
Getting stuck in to a few early hands Chen called from the small blind and four saw the 6♠A♠K♠ flop. Someone pointed out the slight bend in the ace, something Chen could have bent back into shape with mind power alone had he not been in the hand, but play went on. Chen checked, along with the others for an A♣ turn. Seat one made it 500. Chen called but was forced out by a big bet on the 8♠ river. Danger everywhere.
But the Chen brain was still whirring. Another hand, taken uncontested, brought the boom man and camera guy over, although it could have been via some kind of magnetic force. He folded the next one but the TV people remain fast, unable to move. Bill, being a Gent, smiled graciously but you could see in his eyes was urging them to get the hell out of there. While some players actively seek out the TV people, and one player yet to arrive will demand nothing less than their complete devotion, for Chen it just acts as a reminder that he forgot to straighten his hair this morning.
They move on though, possibly sensing more photogenic action elsewhere and leaving Chen to make it 250 pre-flop from mid position, getting three callers including the blinds. [10s]4♥Q♣ and it's checked to Chen who makes it 600. The seat five player re-raised to 1,500. The blinds folded and the danger seemed to be back.
But not so fast. Chen threw 4,000 into the middle, prompting the fold, straightening the cards and speeding up the clocks. Chen up a few grand at the break.
RULE COMMENTARY OF THE HOUR
After receiving a penalty for excessive celebration, a player wondered aloud, "Excessive celebration rule? What about the guy on TV who went ooh-ah-ooh-ohh-ah?"
Another player quipped, "That's why they made the rule."
INTERESTING FASHION OF THE HOUR
PokerStars qualifier in the blue section wearing: nicely pressed blue shirt, blue slacks, poker tie, bushman's hat, and hiking boots.
JOE GIRON'S PHOTO HOUR
Rich Merritt of Arlington, TX, waits patientaly for the doors to the tournament room to open for Day 1C.
VIDEO BLOG OF THE HOUR
Watch WSOP 2009: Jonathan Lewis an online qualifier on PokerStars.tv