WSOP 2011: Phil Collins and the genesis of a title dream

wsop2011-thumb-blog.png"About to start Day 1C of the Main Event. Let's goooo!" This was Phil Collins tweeting about the beginning of his assault on the WSOP back on July 9. Eight days later, he has just become the first player to extend a significant chip lead in the tournament. For all previous days, the positions at the top of the leader board were close; no one seemingly able to find that crucial extra gear. Today, Collins began to do just that, and two important pots just now sent him well clear of the chasing pack.

The first victim was Joseph Cheong, who came third in the Main Event last year for $4.1 million and, with just 110 players left this, harbored dreams of back-to-back final tables. It had folded around to Collins, who made it 75,000 from the cut-off before Cheong re-raised to 200,000 from the small blind. Collins shoved and got a quick call:

Cheong: A♦Q♦
Collins: A♣A♠

The flop gave Cheong some hope, coming 3♥9♠Q♠, but the 4♣ turn and 5♠ river sent him to the rail. More significantly, it propelled Collins up to 8.7 million chips, more than three million ahead of the next man, Ben Lamb.


Joseph Cheong busts from the Main Event

Soon after, another huge pot sent Collins soaring past 10.4 million chips, Lance Steinberg becoming the fourth person he had busted on the feature table today. According to some, the sports fan is on one of the sickest heaters the WSOP has ever seen.


Phil Collins signals his chip stack to the rail, just add million

Collins had featured towards the top of the chip counts for the past few days, but his presence was noticed more for the fact that he shared his name with the other Phil Collins, he of Genesis and solo musical career fame. The poker Collins, who lives in Las Vegas, has only $113,000 in live career winnings to his name. By tonight he should have doubled that figure and he is in prime position to make it all the way to the $8.7 million first prize.

While poker Collins is beginning to make an impact on the live stage, and there is none bigger than this, he is a well known and successful online player. Using the screen name USCphildo, he has cashed for several million in online tournaments.

PokerStars has been a happy hunting ground for him. There has been a Sunday Million final table (fifth for $67,000), a WCOOP final table (fourth for $87,000) and a Sunday Warm-Up final table appearance to go with the many more significant runs.

Winning this thing and taking down the $8.7 million would make him a hero to the wider general public. And that, as musical Collins used to sing, would be Against All Odds.

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108--Tournament Director Jack Effel after having been out of the room for a while and blindly guessing how many players were left in the Main Event. The actual number: 109. That's why he's the TD.

Erick Lindgren and PokerStars Main Event Passport winner Julian Stuer

"Can you lean back for me? I can't see my opponent." --Claudia Crawford to a man getting a massage and apparently blocking her from getting a read on Team PokerStars Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg.

"On my way to Oahu North Shore" -- Team PokerStars Pro Noah Boeken in Hawaii.