WSOP 2011: Is Lady Luck on your shoulder?

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngIt's now certain I have been in the presence of this year's WSOP Main Event champion. Every seat at every table on every starting day has been observed, and of the 6,800 or so souls who occupied them, one will be rich beyond their wildest dreams by November's end. A degree of experience, a great deal of skill, and a healthy dose of luck will have got them there.

So much has been written about poker being a game of skill. Of course it is, but Lady Luck is sitting on everyone's shoulder. If she decides to walk away at any given time, no amount of ability will carry you through a tournament like this. It takes just one moment, one card, to shatter a dream and wipe $10,000 from your bankroll.

Eugene Castro knows all about that.

He's cashed five times at the World Series this year for a total of $25,000; not a huge amount but enough to suggest he has the skill part of this game sorted. Healthy lifetime winnings of $430,000 confirm it.

Unfortunately for Castro, this afternoon Lady Luck chose to get up off his shoulder.

wsop_bracelet_2011.jpg

Someone we've seen will be wearing this

The New Yorker had been in the perfect spot. Looking down at pocket aces, he found himself in a pre-flop raising war with Brian Lindsay. Lindsay's four bet had three orange 5,000 chips and a chunk of change in yellow 1,000s. Castro made his all-in move quickly and got the call he craved. His aces, as you might expect, were up against pocket kings. While the flop and turn were of no consequence, the river, the K♦, was one of only two cards capable of stabbing him through the heart.

"Uuurgggh," the table exclaimed as one. But Castro did not need their sympathy. He jumped out of his seat, put on his backpack, and hurried out of the Amazon Room as fast as his legs could carry him. It was a bitter moment; all the history books will show was he was just another player who forked out $10,000 and lost it all.

Lindsay was left to stack a huge pot, up to near enough 60,000 now. Lady Luck had leaned across his shoulder and kissed him gently on the cheek. Could he be our winner, the player who will be last man standing from the whole party? Could he be the Jonathan Duhamel we first observed on one of four Day 1 flights last year? He'll need to be smothered in more kisses from she who must be obeyed to make it through.

Throughout all of this, Men "The Master" Nguyen was sitting quietly in the nine seat. The veteran campaigner has seen all this many times before, of course. He looked up at me... and grinned. He knows Lady Luck is a dangerous woman.

* * * *

BACKHANDED COMPLIMENT OF THE HOUR
One player to another: "You're a better looking guy than I am and it works better for me than it does for you."

ACCUSATION OF THE HOUR
Dealer to his five-seat: "You drugging everybody to make taking the pots down easier?"

HORRIFYING REALIZATION OF THE HOUR
"I'm in the Orange section. Heaven help me, I'm in the Orange section." --PokerStars Blogger Brad Willis upon realizing he had accidentally entered the domain of a player who has scared him for the past five years.

STATISTIC OF THE HOUR
Number of Porsches purchased with FPPs by one player in the Day 1B: 2 (PokerStars Supernova Elite Spencer Cossette)

OUT OF CONTEXT QUOTE OF THE HOUR
Two women talking in the bleachers: "You tell him... he's ugly."

RANDOM QUOTE OF THE HOUR TAKEN FROM THE OFFICIAL MEDIA GUIDE
At the start of this year three Johns - Cernuto, Chan and Juanda - each shared seventh spot on the All-Time WSOP Final Tables list with 26.