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William Chen is a Champ Again
Don't check your prescription; you're not seeing things. William Chen has won another WSOP bracelet. The 35-year-old with the Ph.D. in math from Berkley defeated 739 other entrants in the $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Short-Handed tournament to claim his second bracelet in less than two weeks. At the final table, Chen defeated Nath Pizzolatto after two hands of heads-up play when he pushed Pizzolatto all-in with King-Queen and a king-high straight to beat Pizzolatto's 6-8 and subsequent ten-high straight, netting him $442,511 and status as a bona fide rising star. Chen gave PokerListings.com some insights while on his way to celebrate the victory.
Can you talk about the final table and heads-up play?
Well, it was over so quickly. We both got straights; it was incredible. I don't know. Even though I was short-stacked, I felt pretty comfortable because the blinds were only $4,000/ $8,000, and I had over $100,000 in chips, so I had lots of time to play. But once it got short-handed, I felt comfortable with my chip stack.
I knew I was going to play a big hand with Mike [Guttman, the third place finisher] at some point. We were just kind of feeling each other out, and it happened really quickly. He had ace-king, and if he had won that hand with ace-king then he would have had the chip lead, and I would have been short-stacked again. Instead, I won with pocket jacks and was able to bust Mike from the table. I play short-handed a lot, so I felt pretty comfortable in that position at the final table.
Take us through the final hand.
Well, Nath limped in on the button, and I raised from the big blind because I had a good hand. I bet $30,000 hoping to take it, but he called and the flop came jack-high. I was going to check and maybe call a small bet because I had over-cards and probably fold to a big bet because it was the first hand out of the chute. So I checked, and he checked behind. The turn was a ten, and I had two over-cards and a straight draw, so I made a bet - I can't remember how much, but a big one. It was a bet that I was hoping to steal the pot with, and if it didn't, I was just hoping not to be raised. But he called, which was okay.
Then the nine came, and I noticed that an eight would make the straight, so I bet $80,000, that I was hoping Nath would call if he had the naked eight. Then he raised back, and I had to put him on an eight and tried to get the most value for my king-high straight, and, I don't know, I think he's in a tough position with that hand. I mean, it's heads-up and he's got a straight. I could be making the same play on just a naked eight. So he's in a tough situation, and I think he made the right play.
How did you feel Nath played?
I thought he played well for his first World Series. It's incredible even cashing in that situation. He kept his cool, and he gambled when he needed to. He proved to be pretty dangerous as an opponent. I was hoping to bully him down and get an opportunity to take his chips that way, but it happened so quickly.
You've won two bracelets at the 2006 WSOP. To what do you attribute your success?
Mostly, a lot of luck. [laughs] In the tournaments that I've played in, it's been luck at the right times, you know, pocket jacks against ace-king, that sort of thing. But I think that it shows that following the mathematical concepts that we have, balancing our play, calling with the right frequencies, and so forth, trying to figure out what your opponent's range of hands is, actually does work, somewhat.
What are your plans now that you've won two WSOP bracelets?
I'm going to play more tournaments. I'm going to keep playing tournaments and keep trying to win bracelets.
Thanks, Bill, and congratulations.