Ungar vs Hellmuth vs Duarte in the Greatest WSOP Performances Ever

I met Jesse May at 8am in Gatwick airport on Wednesday. Its’ usually McCarran in June, but this year is not usual. It took a while to get on the road because I had to have a second pint whilst watching Jesse get his impressive caffeine hit. The things you do for a friend.

We eventually rented a car and headed for what we hoped was Wolverhampton. It wasn’t. I never believed he’d get it right. We quickly got into a friendly discussion about the best WSOP performances we had witnessed…

I Made a Case for Stuey…

I happened to be hanging out in Binions on Day 1 of the ’97 main event. He was seated at a table just beside the rail. I decided to watch the action for 10 minutes and stayed 10 hours. I was mesmerized. Stuey was playing a game that wasn’t invented until 2004. During one of the breaks, I was chatting to Stuey’s buddy Mike Sexton. Stuey came over and told Mike he was in terrible shape and struggling to get through the day. I couldn’t believe it. The rest is history.

Hellmuth’s Fifteen Bracelets Ridiculously Underrated

Jesse and I have always been big Phil Hellmuth fans. Especially Jesse. He thinks Phil’s achievement in winning fifteen bracelets is top drawer and we both think he is still ridiculously underrated. Except by himself of course. Hopefully, Phil will win a few more bracelets and finally catch or even pass Doyle or Johnny Chan on the all-time list. If he does that, he will stay there for sure because the way this global warming thing is going there’s not going to be time for anyone to catch him. Not on planet earth anyway.

Player A’s Amazing Double

We did give some consideration also to Player A who pulled off an amazing double in the noughties. He entered a WSOP NLH event and was one of the chip leaders at the end of Day 1. When they got through the bubble just before the end of Day 2, he was in the money even though he hadn’t shown up. He then went on to enter the next NLH event and did exactly the same thing! Impressive stuff and I can’t see that record being beaten. I can’t even think why anyone would try to beat it. Though you never know!

And the Winner…Billy Duarte’s Back to Back Final Tables

Finally, after we’d gotten lost a few times, we settled on a winner. In 2006, Boston Billy Duarte entered a 2K NLH event and a few days later finished 8th. Any normal man in his late 60s would probably have taken a well deserved day off, but not Billy. He bought straight into the next day’s $1500 event. A few days later, it looked as though fatigue was winning out as Billy, who was on the big blind with a couple of tables left, appeared to have nodded off. A young guy moved all-in with A2 and Billy luckily woke up with AQ and knocked him out. Maybe he was asleep and maybe he wasn’t. Your guess is as good as mine.

The next day, I was seated beside Billy at the final table. He was ex military and I suspect CIA. I forgot where I was for a while as Billy was telling me a story about Boston, a pub, guns and a meeting with The Irish. Then some guy knocked him out. He said something about finishing the story over a beer in Dublin. That never happened as Billy was dying and only had a few months left. That’s why his back to back final tables impressed us so much.

Mad Marty vs Men the Master

Eventually, mainly by luck, we found Wolverhampton. Only 2 hours late. The reason for our day trip to England was to visit Mad Marty and Katherine. Normally, a bunch of us would spend the first couple of weeks of the Series in the Nugget having the craic, but this year they are battling Marty’s cancer. You wouldn’t have thought it, as we were pretty soon laughing at some of the hilarious stuff that went down when we all worked (?) together on TV. Though one of my favourite Marty stories is from the seniors event in Vegas at the WSOP a decade ago. I was lucky enough to be walking past when it all went off.

Marty was seated on Men the Master’s left pretty deep in the event. They were both having a few beers. Then, when they were in the blinds, everyone folded around to them. Men raised small and Marty called. Men bet the flop small. Marty called. Before there was any action on the turn, Marty started shaking his head and muttering to himself that he’d played this all wrong. Men looked at him and Marty looked even sadder, shook his head, and muttered again that he’d played it wrong. Men moved all-in and Marty called. Men had absolutely nothing and Marty had flopped a set of fives. OMG.

Men lost the plot and started shouting at Marty asking what he meant when he said he’d played it all wrong. They may not have been his exact words! Marty looked totally bewildered. That did it! Floor. Security. The usual stuff. Men left the room. A couple of minutes later, he came back in through another door and shouted at Marty, asking what did he mean when he said he did it wrong. Then there was beer on the table, the cards, everywhere. The WSOP. The greatest show on earth. ?

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