The Adventures of an Internet Satellite Qualifier at the WSOP
Scott Weikel, who runs his own consultancy and recruitment firm in New York , jokes: "What with the downturn in the economy earlier this year, I had a lot of time to play poker." Well it certainly paid off. Scott played a five-dollar satellite tournament on PartyPoker.com which led him to, eventually, Vegas and the World Series of Poker. Although Scott is no beginner and had qualified for a smaller tournament at the Bellagio the previous December, this was the WSOP for God's sake ? The Big Stage.
"PartyPoker really made me feel at home," says Scott. "They booked me in at the Stardust and when I got to the Bellagio the whole team was there to welcome me, with golf shirts and baseball caps and so on."
"I've got my special lucky hat and shirt, but PartyPoker said, "If you wear our merchandise instead, and get to the final table, you'll get a good bonus," so I was like 'okay!'
Despite his warm reception, however, there were hairy moments to follow.
"As I sat down on the first table there was Amir Vahedi, one of the best tournament players in the world, sitting in front of me and I thought: 'uh oh'. It was intimidating, sure, but extremely exciting."
And how did Scott cope with the venerable Vahedi? "Oh we knocked him out quite quickly, " he laughs.
Towards the end of the day Scott was awestruck to find himself on the same table as the world's greatest living gambler, the legendary Amarillo Slim. "I mean, the honor! This man is an icon of the game. Anyway, we were in to the last couple of minutes of the first day, and I was getting nothing but rags. The big blind was coming up and I just didn't want to pay it, so I'm stalling for time, waiting for the bell. Slim leaned over and drawled, "Son, we all know what you're tryin' a do, just play your goddamn cards."
"So obviously I paid the blind and got Ace/King, went all in and ended up splitting the pot with another guy. I survived the first day by the skin of my teeth."
Scott finished a very respectable 910th or so, out of a cast of thousands; but for him it was all just an unforgettable poker adventure.
"I got a bit of training from a coach ? big numbers guy, who taught me about betting strategy and money management, and so on; and I'd practiced in Atlantic City beforehand. But nothing can prepare you for the whole experience:
"I just remember sitting opposite Paul Darden with Phil Helmuth behind me; there were ESPN TV cameras all over the place and I was thinking: 'wow'?sure its nerve-racking, but its an amazing experience ? a poker player's dream."
(© 2005 BluffMagazine. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)