Winning ten-fold!

Mar 29, 2005 5:59 AM

Most poker players don’t have "lucky" numbers. But if Doug Lee had one, it would definitely be "10."

Consider the hand that took place on day two of the $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Circuit championship at the Rio last week. Late in the night, with about 40 players still remaining in the tournament, Lee found himself all-in and in a desperate situation.

Lee had A-10 and all of his chips were in the pot when the board showed a 10. Top pair would normally be a pretty strong hand in hold’em, but this time, it wasn’t

Lee’s opponent had pocket kings. Lee stood up from his seat and was just about to walk away, broke and busted: a distant 20 spots from the prize money.

Then, a remarkable thing happened. On the river, Lee managed to catch a life-saving 10 to complete his three-of-a-kind, and not only survived but took a decent-sized stack into day three.

Little did he know at the time that the lucky 10 would make a magical appearance 48 hours later, and would ultimately be worth $695,970 in first place prize money.

The championship event attracted 222 entries. It took three days of play to eliminated 213 players. At the conclusion of day three, Rene Angelil from Las Vegas — the manager and husband of international singing superstar Celine Dion — was the last player to be eliminated, leaving only 10 players for day four’s finale.

The final table included three former WSOP gold bracelet winners: Phil Ivey (four titles), Jennifer Harman (two titles) and Tony Ma (two titles). The seven remaining players were seeking their first WSOP win. There was some great poker action on the final day, but the best occurred in heads-up action between Lee and Harman.

The heads-up duel began with the clever Canadian holding a 3-1 chip advantage — 1,694,000 to 527,000 — over his winsome adversary. Lee won seven consecutive pots, and it looked like the "Canadian Super Bomber" was outplaying the far more experienced Harman.

Then for a moment, the poker world turned on it axis.

It all started off badly for Harman. She raised 50K and Lee moved all-in. Tired of his ceaseless raising, Harman reluctantly called with a less than a stellar hand. The audience was horrified to see the players show their hole cards: Q-9 for Lee versus Harman’s Q-7. Harman was in serious trouble. For Harman, the cheering crowd was nothing short of a home field advantage. Lee must have felt like Michael Moore at the Republican National Convention.

The flop came J-4-2 and it looked like the night was over. Then, the poker gods woke up and dealt a gift to Harman. The crowd shouted over and over, "seven!" "seven!" "seven!" — making it appear to anyone who was strolling by that there was a craps game going on inside the ballroom. Indeed, God did play dice with the universe — kaboom, a seven fell on the river and the room exploded with cheers.

That magical catch gave Harman nearly 700K and she was back in the hunt.

But what gods giveth can also be taken away.

On hand 149 there was 320K in the pot before the flop. Harman moved all-in with Q-Q after the flop came K-10-2. Lee thought for a few moments and called, holding 10-9 which was good for second pair. The crowd was delighted to see this, as Harman had a clear advantage. A harmless three came on the turn and suddenly, Jennifer Harman was one card away from seizing a 2-1 chip advantage.

But remember Lee and his lucky 10s?

Everyone was standing, five ESPN cameras were rolling, and the room was dead silent when the faint flick of a final card brought both agony and ecstasy.

It was a 10.

Lee was visibly shaking when the final card was dealt. Even Harman, a gutsy veteran of many poker wars could not hide her emotions as the final card was dealt. It was great theatre. Great drama. Great poker.

Lee jumped into the arms of his small band of supporters and the stunned crowd, now realizing they had witnessed one of the most exciting poker matches of all time, finally came around and gave Doug Lee a much deserved cheer and round of applause. The audience knew that both players had given everything of themselves, and the spectators finally acknowledged that with several ovations for both players.

Harman, the grizzled poker pro with the schoolgirl looks and charming smile, was the runner up. The two-time gold bracelet winner received $383,840 for second place.

Lee, a 35-year-old real estate investor from Calgary, Alberta won his first major tournament in the United States. He joins Nghi Van Tran, from North York, Ontario (winner of the Atlantic City championship in January) as a World Series of Poker Circuit winner from the Great White North.

Lee was humble about his accomplishment, noting well before the final table started that playing in this tournament was his fondest poker memory so far, because it gave him "a chance to play with so many top pros." If that was Lee’s fondest moment beforehand, one can only imagine how $695,970 in prize money and a gold ring might solidify the memory.

WSOP Circuit
Championship event
Final results



Doug Lee

Calgary, Alberta

$ 695,970



Jennifer Harman

Las Vegas, NV




Jean-Robert Bellande

Hollywood, CA




Gabriel Thaler

Las Vegas, NV




Grant Lang

Brookfield, CT




Kevin Keller

San Diego, CA




Dennis Perry

Williamstown, KY




Phil Ivey

Las Vegas, NV




Tom Macey

Chicago, IL



  Hieu ”˜Tony’ Ma S. El Monte, CA