WSOP Main Event Day 1D: Amanda de Cesare, Poker Star
There was an empty seat at table 49 in the Pavilion Room, which was a bummer because I wanted to talk to its supposed occupant. Amanda de Cesare was listed as starting her day right there, but it seemed for all the world as though she was out before the end of level two.
That wasn't good. De Cesare has a great story and I wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth. She came to prominence in 2009, when she won a poker-based reality television show called "The Poker Star" on Australian television. The Team PokerStars Pro and former World Series champion Joe Hachem acted as mentor to 11 contestants, who went through an arduous series of trials to determine who would make the best poker player.
Uniquely, these trials did not centre only on poker play, rather they were trials to test "reading people", "focus", "bluffing", "composure", "recall", "endurance", "courage" and "charisma" - all the skills considered by Hachem to being essential for life at the top level.
De Cesare won the "composure" and "courage" sections after building the best house of cards (while listening to loud music) and walking a plank between two buildings. Contestants were also sent to the shark tank of the Melbourne aquarium, faced a lie detector test, etc., etc.
The prize, which De Cesare won at the end of the full series, was $100,000 in cash plus entry to the PCA and the World Series (among other major events), all sponsored by PokerStars. Hachem would act as a personal mentor.
That, then, was the background. But where was De Cesare today? With such noted skills she surely couldn't be out. Could she?
No. No she couldn't.
Soon enough, she came bounding back into the Pavilion Room and took that empty seat. She had Vivek Rajkumar to her right, and a stack of about 67,000 in front of her. All was well.
"I just wanted to find out what you've been up to," I said.
"Oh. My. God," said De Cesare, he voice raising in anguish to near-squeal. "What have I been up to. Did you see that hand?"
De Cesare related how she had just bust an opponent when they got it all in on an eight-high board. That's all in during level two, each with close to their full 30,000 stacks in front of them. De Cesare had pocket jacks but her opponent had flopped a set of eights.
"I had jacks and I'd put my whole tournament on the line," De Cesare said, clutching her head and with a tone of strict self-admonishment.
There wasn't a particular trial in Poker Star to determine "ability to suck out", but De Cesare would probably have won that too. "There was a jack on the turn," she said. "I had to go out and have a cigarette."
When she had calmed down, De Cesare went through a few more impressive statistics. This is her first trip to Las Vegas and she has played three tournaments. She cashed in the first, a $2,000 deep stack event at the Venetian. And then she cashed in her second too, the $2,500 no limit hold 'em at the World Series.
The Main Event is her third. "I've seen Joe, but I haven't talked to him specifically about poker yet this trip," De Cesare said.
That's probably just as well. Hachem has just bust from the Main Event, while De Cesare goes from strength to strength.
SELECTED CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR
Jason Mercier - 68,000
Bill Chen - 54,000
Humberto Brenes - 52,000
Andre Coimbra - 43,100
Johannes Steindl - 41,000
Vanessa Selbst - 36,500
Steve Paul - 28,000
Jason Alexander - 21,000
Hevad Khan - 21,000
William Thorson - 20,500
Noah Boeken - 10,000
TWEET OF THE HOUR
@JanHeitmann: "Ich bin der Bürgermeister von Valuetown. Rauf auf 66k. ;-)"
ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
LAPT back-to-back winner Jose "Nacho" Barbero
BEST MARKETING DECISION OF THE HOUR
Huge bin of black Sharpie markers, perfect for fans seeking autographs, for sale in Rio hallway
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HOUR I
PokerStars Blogger Stephen Bartley: "I'm going to play center for the Miami Heat."
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE HOUR II
That's dinner! Back in 90 minutes.