This is the fourth in a nine-part series taking a look at the players set to battle at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event final table in November. This time around it's one of the more controversial players, David "Chino" Rheem, who's the focus of our attention.
You know what I'd be thinking if I saw my opponent's cards hangin' out heads-up? It would probably go something like, "Aw yeah, I'm gonna' rob this mofo blind." And I've got kids and a day job.
Poker can make even the best of us a little criminal at heart, so it's hard to believe how much people have made of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's story about David "Chino" Rheem's criminal record, even arguing that if he wins the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, it'll be hard on poker.
In his column "Dead Money," writer Josh Slagter penned of Chino's past, "This isn't the kind of extra publicity that World Series of Poker officials had in mind."
But Chino is the definition of a card player, and is marked by many pros as the man to beat. The fact is, Chino has got game - and that's good for the game.
"I am definitely rooting for Chino to win," said noted poker personality and 2008 WSOP Main Event 17th-place finisher Tiffany Michelle.
Chino has Tiffany Michelle in his corner.
"Chino obviously has one of the longest histories and resumes in poker. He's worked really hard. He's played really well. It would be really neat to see one of our own have that payoff. That would be great [for poker]."
As it happens, the charge against Rheem was pretty much on squadoosh, minor kid's stuff that he did when he was underage. The Sun-Sentinel nearly wrote as much, in fact:
"Turns out his two cases of 'Burglary on an unoccupied structural conveyance' - police talk - means he broke into cars and stole stuff. They also got him with marijuana.
"It happened eight years ago, when Rheem was 20, and while it's a real pisser to have your car broken into - if you haven't experienced it, good for you (I've been hit at least three times) - I'd suggest this post be the end of it. He did his [four months'] time."
When it comes to the game, Rheem is easily the smoothest talker at the November Nine final table, and has a great image to go with his razor instincts. Almost everybody calls him "crazy" at some point in their breakdown of his play, and that perception could work to his advantage.
"Chino, he's the crazy guy," said Ivan Demidov. "If he gets some cards and gets lucky, he will be tough to play against."
Crazy talkin', chip stealin' card criminals - that's why everybody watches poker, isn't it? Lie, cheat and steal, baby. That's poker. Who better than the clearly reformed and completely focused Rheem to represent?
Oh, and sure, Chino is the only guy with a criminal record ever to walk into the Rio. That notion that poker is the ultimate realm of contest for the misfit hustler genius? - that's part of the game's greatest appeal.
As for what he's been doing leading up to the Main Event, Rheem's record has been rather unremarkable. He did play in the WSOPE and the APPT Macau, but there were no significant cashes to report. He had said early that he planned to take it relatively easy heading into Nov. 9.
"I am just going to try and lay low, keep a clear head, relax, take some time off," said Rheem. "[I'll] spend some more time in these next three months with my girlfriend and my family and my friends and just try and keep a clear head and not think about this final table too much 'cause I feel like if you think about it too much it's going to like, at some point, drive you crazy."
Rheem can afford to take it easy over the months leading up into the final table because he believes he's the most experienced person left on the table, so he doesn't have too much to think about.
"I already know how I play. I already know what I have to do," Rheem said.
Rheem was running very well leading all the way up to the WSOP Main Event, with results in the last year that read like this:
Rheem also had a second-place finish in the 2007 WSOP, and it is safe to say he is probably one of the players who would have preferred to just keep playing rather than take the three-month break.
"In the beginning I didn't like [the new format]," said Rheem. "I would rather just play today and get it over with. But now that I think about it and the reasons for why it's being pushed back I can appreciate it."
Rheem currently has $10.2 million in chips and depending on the seat draw, that's not the worst position at the table and could make him tough.
"Chino's a little bit behind, but it's poker and anything can happen," said Michelle. "He's a little bit crazy but I think that's going to be an advantage for him at the Nov. 9 final table because I think it's probably going to be a pretty tight table. His aggressive style will definitely help him if that is the case."
One also has to wonder if Rheem's experience is going to further play a role, because two of the other players at the Nov. 9 final table are barely old enough to get into the Rio.
Craig Marquis and Peter Eastman both have a chance to become the youngest players ever to win the WSOP Main Event.
Youth doesn't impress Chino - just ask the youngest WSOP bracelet winner on record, Steve Billirakis
But Rheem doesn't seem all that impressed. In fact, he knocked the youngest player ever to win a WSOP bracelet, Steve Billirakis, mercilessly out of the 2008 Main Event on Day 4 with his pocket queens.
One thing is for sure: Rheem is wicked happy about finding himself at the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table.
"Now that we're finally there it feels great," said Rheem. "It's a good feeling, I can't explain it. I am just going to take it as it goes. Hopefully I can handle it as maturely as possible."
Stay tuned for the next intallment of the November Nine series on Thursday.
You May Also Like
The PokerListings Daily 3-Bet is a set of fresh tires, a quick gas-up and a perfect slipstream down the afternoon poker news straightaway.
December 05, 2013
With over 51,000 online gambling accounts created in New Jersey since November 21 Governor Chris Christie still believes the new industry will create $1 billion...
December 05, 2013
Fans and watchers of the World Poker Tour are well familiar with the Royal Flush Girls.
Niklas Heinecker picked up another $178k on Full Tilt Poker last night to shoot past $10 million in overall profit this year.
December 05, 2013