WSOP Main Event Day 2A: Battling demons the Thorson way


The Royal Tower bar at the Atlantis Resort in the latter stages of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. Ready to call it a night and bid farewell to the bar tender, a group of us were heading back to our rooms when the figure of William Thorson, and entourage, came into view, heading the way we'd just came.

Thorson had won a side event at the PCA, the Pot-Limit Omaha championship, and was in the mood for a drink. After promises of champagne and the full story, we were back in the mood too.

Thorson's had dominated the latest Omaha event of the year, winning $72,465 what was just a few months after winning the EPT London equivalent, worth $83,418. It seemed that if there was an Omaha title be won last season it was waiting for Thorson to take possession.

2010 WSOP_Main Event_Day 2B_Joe Giron_JGP8612 - Copy.jpg
William Thorson

Thorson style of play certainly works in Omaha. But deep down a hold'em title is top of Thorson's wish list, ever since a little run in with Jamie Gold in the 2006 World Series Main Event, a moment that to Thorson still stings and one that Thorson recalls in vivid detail.

"It took me basically two years to get over it," said Thorson. "I had hard time sleeping for basically two years. I just regret the last hand over and over and over again."

Thorson had raised with jacks. Gold, who would go on to win the Main Event, re-raised. What happened next would haunt Thorson for years.

"He was playing every hand so he re-raised and I moved all-in. He called me with two kings."

The kings held, as did a lot of hands for Gold that year, and Thorson, who at that time had been seventh in chips among thirteen players, was out. Despite a pay day of $907,128 Thorson wore a look of utter devastation as he walked from the stage, a fact not missed by Daniel Negreanu commentating at the time, who pointed out that the best players want the title, not the money.

"My play there was so bad," continued Thorson. "I still had a lot of chips, I had like maybe fifty big blinds or something and with the 13 left I was maybe number 7 in chips.

"It's not like it was walking around 24/7 killing myself," said Thorson. "But you know when you sleep, when you're alone you start to think a lot. I mean the first year was really bad. I had nightmares and I was just dreaming about getting back to the situation where I was folding the hands and end up winning the tournament.

You wonder why anyone would try it again. Could he handle the same thing happening again?

"It's not about getting close. I could have busted at number 30 and been happy about it if I made a correct play, let's say I move all-in with ace-king and two queens call me. I know I couldn't regret my play because that's a normal play there.

"This is a different hand because this time I really should have folded. I mean if I could play the hand a thousand times I should have folded all the thousand.

"I'm always playing to win the tournament but that year was so sick with 9,000 people, every spot was like $300,000 more $500,000 more, then a million more. So when you are in the situation which is borderline it's just better to fold because as long as just two three more players bust out you win another million, and you still have a chance to win."

But this year hasn't all been about Omaha. Thorson finally did win a hold'em event, taking down the PokerStars Baltic festival last month. His winning hand - two jacks, unlikely to cause him the same nightmares this time.

Thorson - winner of the PokerStars Baltic Festival 2010

"Yeah, I always wanted to win really big ones like WSOP, EPT main event, but this Baltic one was pretty big.

"I've been waiting to win a big no limit tournament. I've been on a lot of final tables but I go these three, two, three, six, seven, nine - all these boring places where you feel you want more. Thing is sometimes you start to think am I doing bad things or doing wrong things. But I felt like all the final tables I played the best I could."

Thorson would naturally relish a deep run in the Main Event, and few would bet against the Swede putting those demons to rest.



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