Las Vegas, NV
The Beatles recorded Yellow Submarine 44 years ago. Heck, I wasn't even born yet, and it was a good two decades before Jeff Williams entered the world.
Yellow Submarine, originally written by Paul McCartney with help on the lyrics from John Lennon and Donavan, was supposed to be a vehicle for Ringo to sing, but at the same time, McCartney intended it to be a children's song about an ancient mariner who lived... in a yellow submarine. Although Marianne Faithful and Brian Jones got credit as background vocals on the song, Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones was also part of the crew chanting the catchy famous chorus.
The same-titled movie is less children's entertainment and more of a mind-fuck for liquid sunshine-ingesting hippies and flower children of the 1960s.
In 2006, I first heard about the legend of Jeff "yellowsub86" Williams, a college student in Georgia who was an up and coming online player and under a Beatles' inspired screen name. Williams was not even old enough to drink in bars and couldn't set foot in the WSOP for another two years, but the European Poker Tour was the one place he could take a shot at the big time. He became an overnight sensation after his performance at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.
In 2005, Dutch pro Rob Hollink beat Brandon Schaefer heads up for the EPT championship. The Americans got a second chance at the title in 2006 when Jeff Williams beat Great Britain's Arshad Hussain for the crown. Williams won a shade over $1 million for his first major tournament victory and quickly made a name for himself.
At the 2008 WSOP, Jeff Williams was mentioned as one of the rookies to watch in an article in Bluff written by Lance Bradley. During the first week of action, Williams almost made Bradley look like a genius when he final tabled a 1K rebuy event and finished in second place. His epic run was good enough for a $406K score and he increased his career live earnings to over $1.5 million. In his first WSOP final table, Williams proved that he'd be a threat to win a bracelet at some point in his career.
Fast forward two years later. Williams popped up on the radar as one of the leaders late on Day 1 of the $5,000 buy-in NL event. I always thought that the 5K was one of the toughest tournaments at the WSOP because it was primarily a pro-heavy field of almost 800 runners. Because it's not as prestigious as the Main Event, no one runs satellites to that event. As a result, the field does not have as much dead money as the donkuli or the Main Event.
Bottom line... whoever wins the 5K has to navigate one of the strongest fields at the 2010 WSOP.
Day 3 began with 18 players remaining and Jason DeWitt holding onto the chip lead. They quickly played down to the final table with Antonio Esfandiari busting out in 13th and Perry Friedman bubbling off the final table in 10th place. When the final table began, Peter Gilmore was the chip leader with over 2.3 million.
Homer, one of my colleagues from England, pinged me at the end of Day 2 and mentioned that Paul Foltyn has a legit chance at winning the bracelet. "He's better than Chris Moorman," explained Homer. Moorman is considered one of the best if not the best MTT player in the entire British Empire, and to be whispered in the same breath as Moorman is a sincere compliment. Alas, Foltyn's destiny was an 8th place finish.
The final table featured a handful of established young guns who honed their skills on the internet -- David Benefield, Jason DeWitt, Jeff Williams, Samuel Trickett, and Amit Makhija. In fact the area around the final table was also a who's who in online poker. Plenty of twentysomething pros were railing their buddies, with Williams drawing the most fans. A couple of them were holding up yellow construction paper with scratched messages with "Yellow Sub" references.
The secondary final table with the beef jerky lounge hanging over the action is like a steamy Thai boxing theatre where fighters beat the snot out of each other and bookies with eye patches snatch fistfuls of money out of the hands of degen gamblers who somehow always seem to bet on the loser.
Since the crowd is hovering over the final table (unlike the final table on the TV stage where the spectators sit on bleachers a safe distance away), the scene can get raucous real fast, especially when the ingestion of spirits takes precedent on the rail.
In the first two weeks at the beef jerky final table, I've witnessed...
1. Boisterous Brazilians chanting soccer fight songs.On Thursday night, the rail was hopping and the cocktail waitress was bombarded. Ordering drinks became an arduous process sort of like the military putting in a requisition order for ammo.
2. A bevy of binge drinkin' Brits pounding cans of the best light lager that Milwaukee has to offer.
3. Quirky French-Canadians passing around a bottle of vodka and taking angry swigs like a deranged character out of a David Lynch movie.
As expected, Jeff Williams' friends chanted the chorus to Yellow Submarine whenever he won a big pot. The later it got into the night, the louder and more frequent the chant became. They even sung once when he got a walk in the big blind. I usually have to go to karaoke bars to watch tone deaf amateurs butcher the lyrics to Beatles songs and slurring the chorus completely out of tune.
Williams sprang a leak and busted in third when he couldn't chase down pocket sevens with A-5. Williams won $328K which puts him over $1.9 million in live earnings. Yellowsub got sunk this time, but he's one of those players that will win a bracelet. It's not a matter of when, but how many. He'll also eventually join the elite club of EPT champions with bracelets.
With Williams elimination, the fight for the bracelet came down to Jason DeWitt and Sam Trickett. Less than 2 million separated them in chips with DeWitt on top. DeWitt, aka TheMasterJ33 and NoSoup4UUUU at the virtual tables, prevailed and won his first bracelet. DeWitt had come close a few times with a second and third place at last year's WSOP, and finally broke through with a first place victory.
I'm not impressed easily, but I have a tremendous and automatic respect to whoever won the 5K bracelet which is why I offer up a heart congrats to Jason DeWitt.
Bouncin' Round the Room on Day 14...
Another busy day in the trenches with five events and one final table.
Event #18 2K LHE Day 2: This played down in front of the pressbox, so I was able to keep tabs on it while I wandered back and forth from the final table of the 5K. Notables who cashed included Joe Serock in 28th, French pro Gabriel "yellowhat" Nassif in 23rd place, and Shannon Shorr in 17th place. November Niner alums Happy Shulman and Eric Buchman made deep runs. Late into Day 2, Happy snagged the lead, but he busted out in 13th place.
Bracelet winner Matt Matros continued to prove why he's one of the best LHE in the world as he cruised to another final table. Can he become the first double-bracelet winner at the WSOP? That's one final table I'll be sweating on Friday with Eric Buchman holding the chiplead.
Event #19 2-7 Draw Lowball Championship Day 2: Stacked field got a lot slimmer during Day 2. David Baker was out in front for most of the day after taking away the chip lead from German pro George Danzer. Baker's roomie, Steve "Stevie444" Chidwick, was also among the leaders at one point.
Yan Chen had already won a bracelet this year in Triple Draw and was a legit favorite to make a final table with 20 players to go. Chen plays in the biggest Deuce to Seven cash games in the world. The only downside is that his best game is not something that gets played as frequently as he'd like in Bobby's Room, where Chen is a regular. He once told Change100 a crazy story about playing 2-7 against Ivey and Tom Dwan around the time when Dwan was just learning the game. They kept bumping up the blinds and ended up at $20,000/$40,000 stakes. Chen ran good, but Dwan didn't play so hot.
The final two tables included familiar faces like John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Chad Brown, and Andy Bloch. Score... Full Tilt 3, Poker Stars 3. Wait who's the third Stars player? That's right George "The Original Scarf Boy" Danzer.
The money bubble finally burst late on Day 2. Chad Brown cashed in 13th place, while Yan Chen's run for two bracelets came to an abrupt halt when he exited in 12th.
When play was suspended, ten players still remained with David Baker the chipleader. He's on the cusp of making his second final table this summer (FYI... 2-7 is seven-handed). Geroge Danzer is second in chips. Seidel, Juanda, Negreanu, and Bloch all advance. Negreanu is second to last in chips with 223,000. I have to report that or he might bust my balls on Twitter.
ODB - The Original David Baker
Event #20 PLO Junkiement Day 1: The lowest level buy-in PLO is for thrill-seekers and desperate Omahalics. No way I was going to set foot into the Pavilion. I'm a reformed PLO player and for me to wander around inside the ropes would be like a alcoholic getting invited to Oktoberfest.
Event #21 Stud Day 1: Since the WSOP instituted 5pm events (mostly for the less popular events), it's been hard for me to get jazzed about those until they hit Day 2. Nothing against players in the 5pm events, but with five events running in two different rooms, it's harder than you think to be in 5 places at once. I either need to clone myself, or score some high-quality speed.
Photos courtesy of Harper & Benjo.