WSOP 2012: Champions in a corner
There's a special treatment area in the Amazon Room, three tables set up to be watched by a bank of spectators, with flop cameras and plenty of space to see everything. For their viewing pleasure, each of these tables features a former World Champion, three of several among the field today.
At the first is a two time main event winner, Johnny Chan. The 1987 and 1988 champion looks healthy and energetic. When not playing a hand he paces the area around his table, his bare feet in flip-flops, his face covered by sunglasses and what appears to be a green leopard skin baseball cap. A wooden pendant hangs around his neck.
He walks up to the other tables periodically to check in on them, headphones pump music into his head so that when he asks the waiter for "Real hot mint tea," he says it louder than he needs to.
On the next table along he'll find the 2010 champion Joe Cada, in that white baseball cap turned backwards, whose stack of around 50,000 is the highest of the three former winners on show.
At the third table is Duhamel, complete with the replacement bracelet he was presented with earlier today. That seems a long time ago now however, and he looks like a man fighting his corner with a short stack. He shoved once for around 9,000 but got no takers, but looks increasingly at risk.
All three are trying to do what few barring Moss, Brunson, Ungar and of course Chan have been able to do - win a second main event title. A third for Chan would match Ungar.
Champions have always faced scrutiny one their return, from the press and of course opponents looking to knock them out for a story.
Most champions return to defend their title, knowing that the odds of a successful defence are slim. In recent history 2004 winner Greg Raymer returned a year later, busting in 25th in what was an equally impressive campaign. That year's winner Joe Hachem attempted the same the following year, documented in the documentary That's Poker, cashing and going deep as he attempted to do what in the modern age is practically impossible.
If vindication is what champions seek Hachem got it, winning a WPT title in 2006. For the three champions just mentioned, Duhamel set the poker world on fire in January, reaching four high stakes final tables at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, while Joe Cada won a $2k PCA hold'em event and finished second this year in Event #31.
Duhamel on the ropes
Alas, for Duhamel though, any chance of a repeat will not come this year. His world series is over, undone by another bracelet winner Anthony Harb. Still, at least he got a bracelet.
TEAM POKERSTARS PRO UPDATE OF THE HOUR
Former champion Chris Moneymaker (2003) is out of the main event.
Chris Moneymaker departs the main event
OUT OF CONTEXT ADVICE OF THE HOUR
"It's just better to let her have her way. Certain battles with your wife, you shouldn't choose." --Very, VERY wise anonymous player in the tan section of the Amazon Room.
RAGE OF THE HOUR
Lex Veldhuis: "Got 2 outted by same guy as previous tweets. Have 14k left. Not gonna lie. There is a storm raging in my head."
SUCKOUT OF THE HOUR
Team Online's Randy Lew got six bets in with pocket kings against ace king pre-flop. An ace hit the turn. He's down to 60,000 after once being up over 100,000.