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A Look At One Poker Table During The Money Bubble

With The Bubble Looming, The Pressure Rises


Raechel Whetstone Sweats The Bubble As The Shortest Stack In The RoomOne of the most tense moments of any poker tournament is the bubble, which determines who makes the money, and who goes home with nothing to show for the hours and hours they spent battling it out on the felt.

On Tuesday, event no. 2 of the 2012 World Series of Poker came to such a bubble. The $1,500 no-limit hold’em tournament attracted a total of 2,101 players, but only 216 would get a piece of the $2,836,350 prize pool.

By the time the field had reached the final 217 players and started hand-for-hand play, one table in particular, no. 434, stood out with a number of short stacks. On one end of the table, you had Tommy Miller, a professional poker player with heaps of chips in front of him. On the other end, five short stacks, treading water, praying that someone else would bust before the blinds and antes came back around.

One such short stack was Jia Liu, a dealer at Foxwoods who made the trek to Las Vegas to play some events at the WSOP. He was sitting with less than three big blinds, but after doing the math, he realized he’d be alright if he waited out the bubble, especially after looking over to his right and seeing Raechel Whetstone.

Whetstone, from Honolulu, Hawaii, has been playing poker for seven years, but was making her first ever appearance in a WSOP event and badly wanted to cash. Just a few hands before the bubble, however, she nearly saw her entire stack shipped across the table.

Lei Lei Survives His All In During Hand-For-Hand Play“I was sitting in the big blind with A-K and somehow managed to get it in against pocket aces,” said Whetstone. “I thought he had me covered, but after the dealer counted it down, I realized I had a few thousand left. With the bubble here, I really had no choice but to wait it out.”

The bubble nearly burst on the second hand of hand-for-hand play when another short stack, Lei Lei from Beijing, China, moved all in from the cutoff holding pocket jacks. Lei, who only had about eight big blinds of his own, was called by Miller in the blinds with A-K. The jacks held, Lei doubled up and the rest of the table reluctantly congratulated him. Of course, they were upset that bubble had to continue, but they admired the man for having the courage to play his hand, despite the risks involved.

After 12 minutes on the bubble, the blinds had finally reached Whetstone, who would now be forced all in on her next two hands. Though she confidently said that she would never fold a big hand on the bubble, the look of worry on her face hinted otherwise.

Scanning the room for all ins, Whetstone was relieved to hear the announcement over the loud speakers that everyone remaining in the tournament was now in the money, guaranteeing themselves a $2,893 payday.

The unfortunate bubble boy, Jason Berilgen, was several rows over, having shoved his A-8 into Matt Juttelstad’s pocket eights. The board offered no help and Berilgen was sent to the rail.

The Table Gets Back To Business After Making The MoneyThe celebrations included high fives, handshakes, hugs and calls to friends and family, but nobody was more excited than the short stacks on table no. 434, who stood up to cheer with their respective rail birds and bask in their accomplishment.

Their reaction was short lived, however. Within moments, they were seated and focused on the next task at hand. Surviving until the next payjump and possibly, becoming the last person standing, claiming the gold bracelet and the $517,725 first-place prize.

Update: Jia Liu busted in 208th place. Raechel Whetstone went out in 193rd place. Lei Lei survived until the next pay jump, earning $3,176 for his 159th place finish.

For complete coverage of the summer poker festival, check out our WSOP landing page.



9 years ago