Note: One of the greatest PokerStars stories to come from the World Series of Poker was that of Bernard “Dogger9” Lee, a Frequent Player Point qualifier who caught everybody’s eye as the real deal. Lee has agreed to chronicle his journey for the Official PokerStars Blog. His trip report will be published here over the next several days. Enjoy.
Part 8–Stepping into history
by Bernard Lee
Day 8: Thursday, July 14th
Before I went to bed, I walked down to the hotel’s front desk to arrange rooms for my family and friends who were flying out and put the rooms on my bill (that’s the least I can do for them). I went to sleep fairly early and awoke after about 7 hours. Although I probably should have tried to get more sleep, I was incredibly anxious– not only to play Day 8, but also to see my family and friends who were flying in.
While waiting for everyone to arrive, I called the Boston Herald to answer their interview request. “Hello Bernard. I’m not sure if you remember, but we bumped into each other on Day #1, the reporter said. “Oh, yeah that’s right. Small world, huh?” I replied. He told me that he had been following me from the beginning. As I survived day after day, he regretted not asking for my cell phone number. But, honestly, who would have ever guessed I would make it this far. We spoke for about 45 minutes about the week, how I qualified for the WSOP (PokerStars, of course!) and my family.
Just after I finished the interview, Charlie Tillett from my home town poker game called to say he was in the hotel lobby. As I helped Charlie find his room, he said “I’ve got something wild to show you,” as he handed me today’s Boston Globe. “Look at page A3.” There it was. An entire story of me at the WSOP wrapped around a picture of me at the poker table. Charlie relayed the process of how he actually found the article. “When I looked in the Sports and then the Local section and couldn’t find your article, I gave up. So, I just started reading the paper like I normally would. I read the front page. Then, I turned the page and BOOM, there you were. I nearly fell out of my seat.” How COOL! Just as I finished reading the article, Bob Howe and Sasha Papalilo (work colleagues) called to tell me they had arrived and already checked in. “Charlie, thanks for the article. I’ll call you in a little bit. See you soon.” I went to Bob’s and Sasha’s room to make sure they were all set. They told me how excited they were and how everyone back at work was rooting for me.
Next, my younger brother, Ken, called. He and my Dad were in a taxi near the hotel. I went down and met them in the lobby. As I arrived downstairs, I could see my brother and Dad walk into the lobby. I high fived Ken, then gave my Dad a huge hug. “Thanks for coming Dad. It means a lot to me.” My Dad responded, “I’m so proud of you son. But don’t worry about us. You just stay focused on your job at hand.” Thanks, Dad. (I won’t bore you with the sappy details, but, sons and fathers around the world understand — you can only imagine the emotion.) After wiping away a few tears, we traveled up to their room. I showed them the newspaper article and we talked about the day’s activities. I let them get cleaned up and told them I’d see them soon.
As I walked back to my room, I felt so happy seeing my family and friends who had journeyed all the way from Boston, NY, and Los Angeles. I did not want to let them down! And heck, we were going to Binion’s. Wait a second. Binion’s. Uh, how do I get to Binion’s? I haven’t been there in years. Oh boy. I called DooJin Kim (my college roommate) and asked him to get directions and ultimately drive us there. “No problem, Bernie. I’ll have it all set up by the time we have to leave.” I also gave him everyone’s room number and asked him to organize the whole gang for a 1:00pm departure. This gave us plenty of time before the 3:00pm start. Thank you, DooJin, for all this work you did. I really would not have been able to make it without you.
I went back to my room to make my daily routine phone calls. First, I called my wife and kids. Katie asked if I had gotten enough sleep, was I drinking enough water and eating enough vegetables? (When you are married to a doctor, you get these questions fairly regularly.) Noah told me about the little construction trucks at work in his sandbox. I can’t wait to get home to give my entire family a huge hug. But, I had to tell them again, “Daddy’s got a little more work to do. I’ll be home soon. I love you!” Katie assured me that she would follow along on the blogs and Noah told me, “I love you Daddy.”
When I called my buddy Dave, he reminded me to keep my head on straight and keep doing what I had been doing. We discussed that today was the last day I needed to make it through, because if I made the final day there would be no more tomorrows. “One more day. Let’s get out of today.” Max reported his usual detailed analysis. My 770K in chips was 22nd out of 27 players left. This position and strategy was familiar by now. I still had more than 20 times the big blind, so I wasn’t too short stacked. I needed a good break within the first few hours for me to survive. Strangely enough, it gave me confidence that I was only about 40% of the average stack again. Because I survived the last two days starting with a short stack, I truly felt I could do it again. My table draw was fairly good again since the two players I had not played with before — Mike Matusow (chip leader) and Shahram “Sean” Sheikhan (the short stack), were both to my right.
After taking a shower and getting dressed, I met my gang in the hotel lobby. DooJin had already organized the group and we all drove to Binion’s. Upon our arrival downtown, we met up with Rich Korbin, PokerStars’ Marketing Director. Yesterday, I had asked Rich if we could get just a couple of extra hats for my group. I did not want to ask for too much. Instead, Rich arrived with bags of clothes — more than I could have wished for. “I brought shirts and hats for your entire entourage.” Entourage? Hmmm…I never thought I would have an entourage. Everyone thanked Rich for the goodies and I thanked Rich for taking care of everyone. PokerStars really knows how to treat people right.
We headed upstairs to the tournament room. As we walked down the hallway, people started to recognize me and the other players. In some ways, I felt like I was entering a boxing match with my “entourage” leading the way. I was one of the first people to arrive at the room. One by one, the others entered the “ring.” But instead of an antagonistic atmosphere, it was extremely collegial, almost like a fraternity (a co-ed one with Tiffany Williamson). We were the final 27 players in the world still competing in the 2005 WSOP Main Event. I shook hands and wished good luck to practically everyone. Special handshakes and hugs went to John McGrane, Joe Hachem, Tommy Vu, Conor Tate, Steve Dannenmann and Johnny Howard. These were the players that I knew the best since I had played with them the longest. If the poker gods did not choose me to win, then at least have one of these gentlemen take the title.
As Thursday was a very long day for Bernard, we’ve broken up this section into two parts. The remainder of this day’s story will appear Monday, August 1stBack to Top