Durrrr Day - Part 1

June 26, 2011

Waiting for Durrr. I've staked out a position by a dorr near the back entrance to the Rio, where of course Tom Dwan will pass on the way inside from his private RV. It’s 11:45 am.  Normally Durrrr would come in late, but as he’s into the second day of a $5,000 buy-in Omaha event that restarts at 2:30pm and he wants to give the $2,500 NLH a shot that starts at noon, and there’s a must play $10,000 Horse event beginning at five, he will want to make the most of this morning at the WSOP.  At least that’s the way I think he thinks.  I’m the paparazzi, and he’s a rock star. 

3:30 pm, down to twelve tables of the Omaha, and Tom Dwan’s got chips.  I saw a picture on the internet just last week, and in it Dwan looked bloody tired.  His eyelids had taken on a lizard’s heaviness, like even they had decided it best not to waste more energy than absolutely necessary.  It is one long summer.   But this is actually the first time I’ve watched Dwan up close since the World Series of Poker began and it’s pretty clear to me, as the saying goes, that Tom Dwan could spot a mouse moving from five miles away.  Rumours of the demise of the poker superstar known as Tom Dwan may be greatly exaggerated. 

The story, of course, is that no one knows what the story is.  What we know is that Tom Dwan is recognized as one of the two or three best poker players in the world.  We know that he came from the internet where he won so many millions that he could no longer get a game.  We know that he destroyed televised cash games like High Stakes Poker and exploded into poker’s consciousness.  We know that last year it was said that if Tom Dwan won a WSOP bracelet then private prop bets struck would net him more than ten million dollars over and above the six figure winner’s check.  We know that he hasn’t won that bracelet yet.  And we know that since then, a lot of the shine has been taken off of Tom Dwan.

They’re playing six handed Pot Limit Omaha and Dwan has a stack.   If there is a combination more devastating than that in the world of Durrrr, then I don’t know it. While I’m watching, Dwan busts George Lind on his right with a 10-6-5-3 double suited by spiking a straight flush on the river.  Tom’s very animated afterwards in the funny way he talks about hands.  Durrrr has a funny way of talking about hands because he has a completely unique way of thinking about poker.  He never says I knew or it had to be.  Dwan doesn’t play in absolutes, but only incomplete maybes.  His brilliance is in leading people into a green hedged maze with them blindfolded and his eyes closed, and then he turns on the lights in the middle of the garden and goes from there.  While he may not know the way home, he has a pretty good idea of where you think the exit is.

I remember watching Tom play televised heads up Omaha against a captain named Zigmund.  I was sitting in the box next to Phil Galfond, someone who would be the other guy they might talk about as the best Omaha player in the world were it not for Dwan.  He’s probably witnessed as many hands of Dwan playing Omaha as anybody.  But in the box, seeing every one of Tom’s cards every hand, Phil turned to me at one point and said something like, “I actually didn’t know Tom plays that well.”  That’s how strong it was. 

I’m not too familiar with the other players at Tom’s table.  But the east coast wise guy known as Will the Thrill is across the table and there’s a twenty something on a Crackberry furiously texting away between hands and a guy with a goatee from Seattle in seat number six.  Speaking of fashion, Dwan is sporting a grey zippered hoodie which can only be described as purely functional, undone all the way, over a plain red tee.  Thin white iPod earbuds trail down from his face, but he’s not listening a bit.  In fact, Durrrr is watching the action closely, his eyes rolled down while his head cocks up as cards get turned from a pot he’s passed on.  He sips from a Venti Starbucks at his side.  Venti Starbucks are what you drink when you’ve taken the leap and aren’t fooling around anymore.  That I know. 

There are whispers around that Tom Dwan’s gone off the boil.  So intermingled are the rumours and the gossip with the life of a man whose every breath is the number one subject of internet poker forums abuzz.  It’s been a weird two years.  First there was Isildur, then last year’s WSOP, then Macau, and lately Black Friday.  But Tom Dwan does what he does precisely because he doesn’t need anybody’s permission to do it.  He drums to his own beat, and keeps score with the money at the end.  That’s it.

Durrrr’s on about 240 thousand chips right now, dwarfing everyone at the table except a scraggly hair who just sat down on his left with about 200k.  Blinds are 800-1600, so Tom’s stack is plenty deep.  And he’s smiling.  Will the Thrill is telling a story like Paulie from the Sopranos at a banquet dinner.  Of course it’s all about Tom Dwan.  “I’m telling you,” The Thrill says to the whole table rapt with attention, “I remember it like it was yesterday.  The guy did a triple lindy and turned over two sevens!” Everyone laughs.  “When was it, Tom?  You went deep, what was it ’08, ’07?”

Will the Thrill must be talking about Foxwoods.  It was November 2007 when Tom Dwan got fourth in a WPT event there and cashed for three hundred grand, only just turned 21.  Back then he was still willing to play a 10k event just for the event itself.  Not like last year in Macau when a picture on the internet made it look as if Dwan was sitting with 20 million dollars.  Not like at the end of 2009, when tens of thousands of people railed online as the ape bat Swede named Isildur seemed to take a million off Durrrr every night and then lose it back to someone else the following day.  Not like last year, when Dwan laid down his challenge, a chest pumping marketing idea that said he couldn’t be beat, until someone named Jungleman came along and began to do just that.  In less than four years, Tom Dwan has walked a lifetime in his shoes.  And if you believe some of what you read, he’s flailing quicksand.  Other stories say he’s minting it.  Up close, though, it’s clear to see.  Whatever the pressures, he hasn’t cracked yet.  They haven’t gotten to him.  Not yet they haven’t. 

The last hand before the break Tom snaps off your man for 12k on the river using an ace-ten from his hand to show down one pair.  He’s relaxed and generous in signing two proffered autographs and posing twice for photos, and then scurries into the hall towards the tournament cage.  Time to buy-in to the twelve o’clock tournament before the registration closes.  Later on he’ll buy-in for the 10k horse.  It doesn’t matter how he’s going.  He plays them all.  Three at a time. 

Playing three WSOP tournaments a day has gone slightly out of fashion, what with most of the online money faucets cut from a roar to a trickle to a broken pipe.  Mostly it was a days of the boom status symbol, like a Breitling watch, exercised by those with the bright patches who were on the kinds of sponsorship deals where they did it because they could.  The name players from TV would be seen sprinting back and forth from one table to another and shoving their money in blind and rebuying twelve and fifteen times and insta double rebuying while calling in the dark during the last level of the 5k events and just generally trying to exhibit a disregard for money that had some of the normal guys who were playing from their own tank feeling a bit over wrought.  Mostly it was a bracelet buy, guys like Phil Hellmuth purely after the prestige or guys like Ivey and Negreanu who made side bets for the series of such amounts that they could convince themselves that running like a rag doll for eight weeks around the place was positive EV.  And then along came Tom Dwan.

Tom Dwan is not a man who wants a bracelet.  There’s something like 857 people who have received WSOP bracelets over the last thirty years, and Tom Dwan has never laid awake at night dreaming about being number 858.  That’s not his makeup.  He says he’s in it for the money, but what Dwan really means is he wants to win the game, and money is his only way of keeping score.  And so what he did is make some bets.  Not just any bets.  There’s a lot of guys who have made bracelet bets because what they really want is to run around like a chicken for eight weeks.  Dwan made the bracelet bets because it was the only way he could get that much money down.  How much did he bet?  The closest number that can be ascertained is, everything.  Just everything. And last year, when Dwan was only one step away from winning a bracelet, when he had to beat but one more man to get a title, he appeared on the verge of bringing the entire poker community to their knees.  It appeared that Durrrr would have basically broken every high stakes player in one fell swoop.  But he hasn’t done it yet, and the opposite side of that coin is logical.  It figures to reason that Tom Dwan needs to win a bracelet.  It figures to reason that Tom Dwan needs to win a bracelet bad.

Durrrr hurries from the registration cage into the other tournament room, carrying his ticket and I guess an intention to shove his chips in during the twenty minute break, only to find that the twelve noon tournament is on break as well.  Where to go but his RV, then, now shuffling laconically out of the Rio into the heat, stopping to talk to Edog, “Hey man, have you got any chips?” and pleasantries with Negreanu as they both disappear into their air conditioned hotels on wheels.  It’s another level in another long day for Tom Dwan.

Tom Dwan Interview https://thepokerfarm.com/online-poker-videos/exclusive-tom-dwan-interview/

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