WSOP Main Event Day 2A: A glimpse at David Williams' crazy world
What do one mother, one mother's friend eating a sandwich, one cameraman, one sound guy, one producer, two chip counters, two dealers on break, eight poker players (seated), three or four poker players (standing) and this reporter have in common?
Ordinarily, not a great deal. But for about 15 minutes towards the end of the first level of play today, we were all captivated by David Williams.
The odd thing was, he wasn't even doing anything. He was simply sitting in seat seven at table 115 in the Pavilion Room, occasionally stroking some chips, frequently staring intently at other players, sometimes peeking at some cards, usually throwing them away.
And yet the camera was fixed in his face, the microphone hovered above his head, the dealers paused on their way to another table assignment, the chip-counters ran their eyes up and down his chips, the players edged over from other tables and the mother jumped up and down from her chair to peer over her son's shoulder, whether he had cards or not. Only this reporter and the mother's friend with a sandwich kept their distance - to report and to eat a sandwich, respectively.
"It's been crazy," said Williams when asked about the increased level of attention that has followed him at this World Series, especially since he joined Team PokerStars Pro. "It's hard to fight the temptation to do something crazy for the cameras, but if I'm sitting there being boring, then that's a bad beat for them."
If you talk to sports journalists about their meetings with the top, top performers (the Michael Jordans, the David Beckhams of this world) they'll often describe a unique aura that the megastars emit. It sucks people in like a tractor beam. You end up stopping, staring, losing the ability of speech.
Watching Williams feels a little like that. He's got it, whatever it is. His etiquette, of course, is impeccable and he is as charming an individual as you could hope to meet. But even when he's doing nothing special whatsoever, he's bossing things. We are just visitors into his orbit.
During this 15-minute vigil, there were two hands of note on his table. In the first, the short-stacked Gustavo Vazquez was knocked out by Richard Morgan, when the latter rivered a straight. The camera stayed focused on Williams, who had folded pre-flop, even as Vazquez shook a couple of hands and departed the room.
Moments later, Dionne Glen raised from under-the-gun, Williams called in the cut off and Taha Maruf called in the big blind. The camera fixed on Williams and the microphone slid into place. The flop came [10s]7♦5♥ and the camera stayed fixed on Williams.
Maruf checked, the camera stayed fixed on Williams, Glen bet 2,350, the camera stayed fixed on Williams, Williams called. Mrs Williams stood up and appeared sprite-like behind her son's shoulder. The camera stayed fixed on Williams.
The turn was Q♣. The camera stayed fixed on Williams. Glen checked, Williams checked, the camera stayed fixed on Williams. The river was 8♠ and Glen checked. The camera stayed fixed on Williams. Williams checked, Glen turned over 9♥[10h]. Williams mucked, Glen stacked up the small pot, while the camera stayed fixed on Williams.
The cameraman then swept round to the other side of the table, went down on one knee and offered what will doubtless become a Williams-eye view of the table. Even when he's not in the shot, he's the centre of it.
"It helps that since the Main Event started, I've had chips," Williams said. "But yeah, it's been crazy."
Right now, Williams has about 140,000 chips, so the craziness seems likely to continue for another good long while.
FAILED PICK UP OF THE HOUR
Time taken for a girl in the line at Starbucks, to use the expression "my boyfriend" to a poker player trying to talk to her: six and a half seconds.
OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"I'm a vegan. Why would I want that?"
DOUBLE DOUBLE OF THE HOUR
Dennis Phillips, winning a race with ace-king, then winning with aces to move his stack up to 45,000. In his words, "Day is lookin' up."
ELIMINATION OF THE HOUR
Veronica Dabul, missing and presumed eliminated.
PRICE OF PARTS OF THE HOUR
Neck and shoulder massage: $20
+ Back: $30
+ Arms and Hands: $40
+ Legs and Feet: $50
(Price of hallway massage in Rio convention center)
QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"I will enter my 30s with no bracelet." --Terrence Chan, who just busted from the 2010 Main Event.
JOE GIRON'S PHOTO HOUR