WSOP 2011: There's a lot of money at this table

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngThe players sitting next to each other on a table in the Pavilion have won a combined $8,150,000. If you added in my winnings it would send that figure soaring to $8,150,005. One of them is turned out immaculately, with perfectly manicured hands; red nail varnish glinting under the table spotlight. The other has a closely-cropped beard, with a "cuddly" frame that hangs ever-so-slightly over the waist. This is Vanessa Rousso and Dennis Phillips, and I'll leave you to guess which is which.

Both the Team PokerStars Pros started today needing to get busy: 44,800 for Phillips and 41,000 for Rousso, but as they approached the extended two-hour dinner break, it was Rousso who had found her stride, up to 212,000. Phillips was up, too, but to a more modest 58,000.

They sit in seats one and two, Rousso having been there all day while Phillips, who came third in the 2008 WSOP for $5.5 million, joined only recently when his own table broke. With their respective stacks, it's no surprise to see Rousso being the more active of the two. With blinds at 1,200-2,400, the man from Illinois has to be more selective.


Vanessa Rousso before Dennis Phillips joined the table

Watching the table for an orbit saw Rousso raise twice, winning both. First her opening raise of 6,600 from the cut-off picked up the blinds and antes unchallenged, and then two hands later the same bet was met with a call from Zachary Fahmie in the big blind, a player who cashed three times at the WSOP last year. The flop was Q♦K♦4♥ and both players checked. On the 9♠ turn, Fahmie checked then folded when Rousso picked up 9,500 and tossed it in the middle. More chips to add to her stack, now comprising four large, neat towers.

The table was quiet, with only a brief discussion about why 30 minutes had been added to the dinner break. "Television is screwing the schedule up," Phillips said, a reference to the ESPN cameras streaming the feature table live. Then, everyone woke up with a start as a player on the neighboring table howled in disbelief as a three-outer broke his heart on the river. He banged the table, and from the size of his muscles, no one was going to tell him to quieten down.

"He's got muscles the size of my head," a passing friend told Phillips. "I wouldn't want to be in the parking lot and meet him after that." With that, everyone got back to business again.

While Phillips has tasted the WSOP big time, Rousso has had to settle for 13 smaller cashes in the series. I say that in context, of course: one of those was for $62,000 in the 2006 $5,000 short-handed no limit hold'em event; another for $72,000 in the $40K 40th Anniversary event in 2009 and last year she pocketed $95,000 in the $10,000 heads-up event.

While they got on quietly with the game, I thought it best to stop watching the table. I did not want the pair of them becoming disheartened by my impressive tournament record.

* * * *

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