WSOP 2012: The smile graveyard

wsop-130x100.pngPius Heinz is a poker world champion. No...he's the reigning poker world champion. He's a multi-millionaire. He's young. He doesn't have gray hair. He's thin and can probably eat as many carbohydrates as he wants without putting on a pound. And he looks miserable.

He opens the betting in early position and everybody folds. Another hand gets started and he mucks. The hand gets pretty involved, and one player tanks for a long time before folding. When the cards go in the muck, the action moves to another guy who takes his turn to go in the tank. Heinz's head pops up like it was attached to a spring.

"Come on, man!" he says through a German accent. "You've had five minutes to think about it."

The rejoinder works and the guy finally mucks. Next hand, Heinz opens again and gets called by the big blind. By the time the hand is over, the world champion's open raise is in the big blind's stack.

Yep. Pius Heinz, young, good looking multi-millionaire Team PokerStars Pro, looks patently miserable.


Three hundred yards away in another room sits Martin Staszko, the man who lost heads-up to Heinz in last year's Main Event. His chip stack--around 60,000--looks almost identical to Heinz's. And so does his face. Staszko (who admittedly isn't famous for smiling) looks like he's sitting in the chair at the dentist's and has just been denied the gas and his complimentary toothbrush. There are people in the same room with 300,000--nay! 400,000 chips--and he has 60,000. It's frozen fish sticks for dinner when everybody else is eating lobster pot pie at Michael Mina.

It's a hard knock life when you don't a lot of chips in the Main Event...a phrase I expect some of Heinz's and Staszko's fellow Team Pros would happily write down on a piece of paper, then set the paper on fire, and use it to set the Rio ablaze.

For, as bad as it might be for Heinz and Staszko, they actually still have chips. Fellow Team Pro Marcin Horecki? Well, he disappeared for a while, only to return and remark, "Busted long long time ago with 72% equity." That kind of thing stings like a hot rash on a cold day.

And then there was Chad Brown. In the last level before the dinner break, he lost to three rivered flushes in one level and then got his aces cracked by ace-ten. A little bit earlier he had 90,000 chips. Now, his 2012 World Series of Poker is done, too.

They all have to look at people like Vanessa Selbst, Daniel, Negreanu, and Toni Judet who are absolutely crushing today. They've all suffered the bad beats and coolers, but they had enough chips to survive and rebuild. Unless something very weird happens, they're all on their way to Day 3.

Indeed, this is a tough time at the WSOP. Everyone has to finish the day, but they all do it knowing they have to take a day off, and then play two more days before they will even make the money--something that matters precious little to people with millions of dollars in winnings. The bracelet--the only thing that really matters--is a long, long way away.

And so, we say to the likes of Heinz and Staszko, Liv Boeree and Salvatore Bonavena...chin up, campers. You may not be the chip leaders right now, but at least you might have plans on Day 3. There's a lot of people who have to do something distasteful like going on vacation. Just as Marcin and Chad. They know all too well how much it sucks to have this weekend free.




Barry Greenstein and Joe Sebok: "My son Joe claims he's lucky for me. I won the first to pots he railed me then folded to a raise and reraise to me with Q♦[10d]. Flop J♦9♦8♦. If there was no three bet I would have dbled up my current 61k against the nut flush."

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker