WSOP Main Event Day 2B: Gabe Walls, Wee Dragonauts, and the World Series of Poker
Stand close to Gabe Walls and try to figure how he's climbed his way to the chip lead. Lean over if you need to. Try to steal a peek at his cards.
Oh, sure it's not ethical, but there has to be a reason the PokerStars player keeps popping up in WSOP events with the words "chip leader" attached. As early as 2005, the young man from Indiana was all the buzz at the Rio as he climbed through the field and built a massive stack. He eventually finished in 87th place in what was then the biggest WSOP ever.
So, let's dig into this enigma a little bit. Let's just look at what he's holding. Just this once. Here's what Walls is playing with:
While we're not experts, that's either the nuts or Walls is cheating.
Some further research has revealed Walls has long preferred to play that mysterious card game Magic: The Gathering. What you see above are the tools of that cloistered group of strategic geniuses. Where you and I check-raise with a well disguised boar, Walls and his fellow magicians will drop a Scorched Rusalka on your head without thinking twice about it.
According to industry websites and draft reports (yes, Magic has reporting sites just like poker), after the 2005 WSOP, Walls skipped the 2006 Main Event so he could go play the U.S. Nationals Magic comp with his buddies. He has been described as brilliant and one of the most popular players on the tour.
In poker, however, Walls only has a few live results, and all of them are here at the WSOP. He has two Main Event cashes, and a deep run in this year's 2010 Limit Shootout. His live winnings aren't enough to buy a house in most parts of the country, but he's consistently putting up big chip counts that make other players salivate.
But, to listen to him talk about strategy and card games is to immediately feel like you should be living in a nursing home and fed mashed peas every day. He talks like scattering mercury and everything that comes out of his mouth sounds as confident as a man with a gun and high ground. Walls doesn't expect to lose, in Magic or in poker. If you or I don't understand the way he thinks, then our bed at Rainbows and Bedpans Assisted Living is waiting on us.
At the last break, someone stood by Wall's towers of chips and remarked, "Look like he's got about 430,000."
Walls didn't miss a beat. "No, this is 450,000," he corrected. "At least."
A stack of 450,000 is head-shakingly crazy right now. For some perspective, the chip leader at the end of Day 2A, Boulos Estafanous, finished with 340,100. Right now, Walls has that beat by more than 100,000.
That's magical by almost any standard.
SELECTED CHIP COUNTS OF THE HOUR
Marcello del Grosso - 26,000
Vanessa Rousso - 125,000
William Thorson - 115,000
Henrique Pinho - 26,000
Jason Mercier - 95,000
Johnny Lodden - 107,000
Florian Langmann - 194,000
Jan Heitmann - 82,000
Barry Greenstein - 66,000
John Duthie - 35,000
Humberto Brenes - 105,000
Anh Van Nguyen - 53,500
Eric Buchman - 98,000
Gabe Walls - 450,000
Nuno Coelho - 19,000
Bill Chen - 104,000
George Lind - 23,000
ELIMINATIONS OF THE HOUR
Gavin Griffin (top pair jacks, plus straight draw, into flopped set)
QUOTE OF THE HOUR
"Everyone has their role, and I'm C-3PO."
TWEET OF THE HOUR
None. This tweeters need to up their game.
OVERHEARD CONVERSATION OF THE HOUR
Player one (in headphone): Heh?
Player two: What?
Player one: Huh?
Player two: What?
Player one: Did you just say something?
Player two: No.
JOE GIRON PHOTO OF THE HOUR