2010 WSOP Main Event – Reflection Part 7 (The Lee Childs Venetian Deepstacks story)
After the WSOP Media event on the only down day of the WSOP, I headed back to the house I was staying at with Bob and Nicole and had some dinner. They’d just returned from their 5 day trip to San Francisco, and it was the first time that I’d seen them despite having stayed at their house for the duration of my stay.
The WSOP makes you take very bizarre and long hours. I was generally in the media center at the Rio by 10am, which meant waking at around 9am to shower, shave, and get ready. Then I drove 20 minutes to the strip each day. Play would begin at noon, and not end until near midnight. From then, it was writing an article for anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour, and then home again. Lather, rinse, and repeat. But on the down day, I was able to get in by 5pm, and finally spend some time with my friends and their new 10 month old. It was good to see my buddies and I’m glad that I had the opportunity.
Not all of the poker tournaments in Las Vegas are based around the World Series of Poker. In fact, during the summer series, there are a number of events that spring up to offer other opportunities for players to play within their bankroll when the action at the Rio is a little too much. The WPT announced a tournament stop which began during Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event. And throughout a good portion of the WSOP, the Venetian offered a Deepstacks Series which ran in conjunction with the WSOP events, but had much lower buy ins. Many players elected to play a $1k or a $2k event on days when the WSOP had $10k or $25k buy-ins. The Venetian events always turned out a solid number of pro’s and offered a home to those that were conserving their bankrolls, or had just gone bust at the Rio, making this series an excellent 2nd chance event.
After dinner with Bob and Nicole, I decided to head back over to the Venetian to jump on the rail for Lee Childs. Lee had used his big stack en route to becoming one of the chip leaders with just 2 tables remaining by the time that I arrived. I met up with Bill Childs and Pat Ricci to get the scoop on Lee. Pat was staying with Lee and Bill at the house they’d rented in Henderson, NV, which is just a short drive away from the strip. They made for an awesome poker playing trio, as Pat and Bill nursed 140k and 80k stacks respectively in the main event at the Rio, and were ready for action on day 3. But tonight was all about Lee. You could sense, he was going to be here a long while, as there was only really one other player in the field that we were interested in. A main event champ from Lee’s final table past, Jerry Yang.
In 2007, Lee Childs had made two moves at the main event final table that received a ton of TV time, and a lot of criticism. The largest hand for debate was easily a lay down that Lee made when he was miles ahead. The second was a call that he made when he was worlds ahead again, but a 3-outer would be his undoing. In both cases, the villain in this hand was 2007 Main Event champion, Jerry Yang. Jerry had begun the 07′ main event as one of the shorter stacks, before he decided to play just about every hand early and take a bunch of chips away from chip leader Phillip HIlm, en route to busting him in one of the craziest First to out stories in Main Event Final Table history. Things change quickly in No Limit Hold’em.
Jerry was still in the field at the Venetian Deepstacks $1k despite his a confrontation with Lee earlier in the event where he was a 70% favorite to go broke. Lee had opened up a pot to 2.5x, and Jerry 3-bet shoved his whole stack. Lee made a quick call and tabled A-Kos to Jerry’s K-Tos. But poker gods love main event champions as the flop produced J-9-x, and the turn card was a Q to make Jerry a straight, and miraculously keep the champ in the tournament. When he got moved from Lee’s table, he’d go on a tear against the other players in the field, and chip up respectably.
The $1k Venetian Deepstacks event had 477 players, with first prize taking home about $108k. It was a nice coup for those that had their WSOP come to an end. There was only the $10k WPT Event and the $5k Venetian Main Event left as far as big action, as well as another event at Caesars. So with this tournament in action, there were a number of pro’s that stopped on by to check on Lee’s progress throughout the final couple of tables including his friend Jason Young (who was much more sober after having drowned his sorrows of his Main Event bust the night before), Nick “NickyNumbers” Brancoto, Jenna Delk, and a few others that I didn’t recognize. There was also a player whose name I didn’t catch, but insisted that I call him “Cuz” as that was the name that he gave everyone else.
Also joining in on the rail-birding where some Twitter Poker Tour members that had made the journey to Las Vegas. Amy (@thekeylime) and Kate (@katewrightson), best friends from Atlanta, GA had made the trip to Vegas to spend some time on the rail at the WSOP. When they’d come in a day earlier, we’d shared some beers at the Rio Sportsbook during a break for the WSOP. They’d come with me to rail Lee during his run. It was great hanging out with them. Also joining the rail was Dave (@djm182) from the TPT and his wife. It was fantastic to meet the two of them, as they were on a short layover, and they also wanted to check out the poker action.
Action moved quickly when I first arrived, and the play down from 15 to a final table of 10 took place in about 2 hours. Just before the changeover and seat redraw took place, we laughed about the prospect of Lee once again sitting next to his 2007 Main Event Table mate. Lee had commented that he hoped that Jerry was on his right this time. And when the final table draw was handed out, Lee got his wish as he drew seat 6 at the final table, and Jerry drew seat 5, to Lee’s immediate right.
The final table of 10 began with the blinds at 15k/30k and antes at 4k. The average chip stack was 715k. Lee had over 800k, and Jerry had around 500k. It was tough to view the action that took place from our vantage point as the table that they were playing on was on an elevated stage, and they didn’t allow observers on the stage. So we basically got to see results, but didn’t get a chance to really see the action or the boards.
Lee would open up the Final Table on a tear and eliminate the first 2 players in short order en route to stacking more than 1.7 million in chips (which represented about 23% of the total chips in play) with 8 players left. My favorite call was a tank call that he made with Pocket 3’s. The guy had open shoved short with Lee in the big blind, and when it came around to him, he was getting the right odds on a flip, so he called. The guy then said “I have a pair,” which made Lee groan, until he tabled that pair, and it was Dueces. Lee would actually river a 3 (not that he needed it) to eliminate that guy and everyone really stayed out of his way from then on.
6 players left for the dinner break late in the evening, and when the break ended, 5 of them returned. 20 minutes into play, the last guy finally stumbled to his seat. He’d been drinking heavily, and had actually missed 1 of the eliminations. At about 10:30pm, Jerry Yang busted a player to get to 5 left, then the 5th place finisher would exit in a crazy all in hand for about $2 million chip pot. Mr. Lucky would end up calling with A9 vs. TT, and spiking the 3-outer for the win, and become the chip leader.
4 handed action lasted 2 minutes shy of 3 hours, until fireworks went off. Pat and Bill had retired for the night, heading back to the house to get some much needed rest for their Main Event tomorrow. But in the first hand back from a break, a shorter stacked Jerry Yang moved all in from the button, producing folds from everyone. It worked so well, that Jerry tried it again the very next hand, and Lee looked down at his hole cards, and announced “I’m all in” for about 1.7 million. The drunk guy in the small blind quickly gave up his hand, and Mr. Lucky went into the tank for about a minute. After hemming and hawing, he finally folded face up, showing us A-Kos. As he did, Lee looked at me and said “You’re going to love this,” and he tabled Q-Q. It had been 3 years since he laid down Q’s against Jerry Yang, and this time it was time for redemption. Jerry Yang sheepishly tossed over a smaller pair of fives and was in a world of trouble. The board ran clean for the Q’s to the river, when the dealer peeled of a 4 that made Lee gasp for air. He’d thought that it was a 5 at first, but when he realized it was a 4, he exhaled and shook Jerry’s hand, eliminating the 2007 Main Event champion in 4th place. Jerry would take home more than $30k for the 4th place effort, and I must say how sad I was to see him go.
Jerry is a very gracious man, and in my dealings with him there at the main event, he couldn’t have been nicer. I was hoping to see he and Lee get heads up, because it was clear to me that Lee had a significant advantage on Jerry. But being able to bust Jerry with Queens was an awesome story as well.
3 handed play got really crazy when the drunk guy and Mr. Lucky, who’d befriended each other at the table wanted to discuss a chop. As the chip leader now with almost 3 million, and a clear edge on skill, it made little sense for Lee to chop, so they played on. But crazy drunk guy was determined to join Mr. Lucky heads up or go broke shortly after in the strangest of hands. Lee had the A-J, and fired a bullet on every single street, and crazy drunk guy end up calling him down on every single street with just a 5-3. When the river 3 hit, Lee dropped the pot, and was left with a little over a million.
With blinds now at 50k/100k, ante 10k, there wasn’t much room to operate, and he opened A-6 all in from the button. Crazy drunk guy folded his small blind, and Mr. Lucky made the call with A-Q. Lee’s tournament would end there in 3rd place, and he’d take home $43,729 for the good run, a summer saver.
It was after 2:30am, and it was time for me to retire back to the house to get some rest for the start of day 3 in about 9 1/2 hours. I’d shake hands and congratulate Lee on the score. It wasn’t what he wanted or deserved, but it was a good result none-the-less. The crazy drunk guy and Mr. Lucky took a photo where Mr. Lucky held AA and a trophy for the win. I’m not sure why, as they decided to chop the top 2 prizes for about 80k each. But to each his own.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that would be the last time during the summer that I’d shake hands with Lee. I’d enjoyed my conversations with him, and experiencing the events of the summer with him, and Bill and Pat. I felt like part of their group despite the fact that I hadn’t played a single hand. It was an experience that I’ll never forget, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity. I look forward to next year, being on Lee’s rail as he ships a bracelet.
Next post will deal with the action from Day 3 of the Main Event.