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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | Poker Personalities

A Chip And A Chair Not Quite Enough, Bradley Craig's Main Event Experience

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With the blinds at 200/400 and an ante of 50, Bradley “Brad” Craig finds himself with 450 chips. It's just enough to cover the big blind and ante. Without doubt, his dream is over. Yes, there's the old adage of a chip and a chair, but honestly how many times do you actually hear of someone coming back on day one of the Main Event with just one big blind to win? Or even make it into the money for that matter? It requires an inordinate amount of luck because of the stack size of the player to survive the countless all-ins they will undoubtedly face.

Fast Forward to Day 5. I'm following Nichoel Peppe and sitting next to her is Brad I hear him telling his story to Nichoel. He's still short, but is nowhere near 1 big blind now. Over the course of the day he manages to build his stack up to a workable stack and then most of it vanishes when he runs kings into aces. I see the frustration in Brad's face. He's back down to a short stack... still in it... but again he's going to need some good fortune to look his way.

Nichoel's table breaks and I don't see Brad again the rest of the day. I don't know if he survived or not and because of the way the tables are set up I don't notice him on day 6 either until I am up at my computer later in the day and I see him rushing by to go towards the smoking area. When he comes back I yell down at him and ask how he's doing. He's up to two million. Amazing, I think to myself. This kid really won't die. Nichoel goes out late that evening and I go to see how Brad is doing. I run into his backer George and we talk a little. Brad's alive and well and heading into day 7 in good shape. I tell George I'll see the two of them in the morning.

The next morning, I find Brad's table. His rail of three is there to support him. There is George, his backer, and his quasi-roommates Eric and Jennelle. George tells me how Brad satellited himself in on the last day before the Main Event. “I really have a good feeling,” George tells me, mentioning that he took off from an important day at work to be here. On the very first hand of the day, Brad takes out a short stacked Prahlad Friedman with A-K against K-Q to add nearly a million to his stack. There is a bit of a break as they are dealing with some sort of official ruling at Dennis Phillips’ table and Brad comes over to talk to George and the gang. A somewhat clueless fan comes over and asks for Brad's autograph which tickles his friends as they laugh.

Brad returns to his table and George tells me that Brad mainly plays online under the screen name Fatsofat6969. Which explains why they keep calling him Fat Boy, which is a bit of an ironic name since he's not fat. George met Brad when they went to college together and tells me a story of the first time Brad ever played lived poker. He lost $400 and was pissed off. Brad went home, studied the game, learned everything he could, and started playing online. This was in 2003 and their driving influence was the movie Rounders.

The ESPN cameras had been following Brad's story a bit and Norman Chad comes over to talk to George. Brad sees this and comes over and tells Norman, “This is fun as hell, I can't even lie for a second.” I laugh and tell him that he's a poker player, of course he can lie for a second.

Apparently, Brad's family, especially his Dad, doesn't condone poker. He's scared to death what a poker lifestyle will lead to. Norman says that would probably change if Brad went deeper and Brad's friends say that he still wouldn't approve. Brad comes over and asks what we are talking about. When we tell him his father, Brad just shakes his head and says, “Oh geez.”

The entire gang is from Cleveland and they tell me how Brad sleeps on a $80 foam memory mattress in a spare bedroom at Eric and Jennelle's place. “He plays online on broken laptops and uses a giant monitor,” Jennelle says. Eric adds, When he makes the final table online, we plug it into the big screen so we can all sweat him.”

Brad's table breaks and as luck would have it, he's moved to the secondary feature table. The first break arrives and Brad goes out to smoke a cigarette. He tells me that he's really starting to stress about it now. I ask him why. He says, “It's starting to sink in now. At first, it's just poker but then you realize you're down to six tables, at a feature table, mic'ed up, and having to show your cards to a camera.”

With Brad's move to the feature table and him not wearing any patches, the agents start to circle like sharks. The crew from Poker Royalty, looking like robots in their uniforms of pressed slacks, dress shirts, leather shoes, and identical hair cuts, grab George and Eric to discuss Brad's possibilities with him. Poker Royalty tells George that if Brad wants to ink a deal with PokerStars that they are the only ones that can do it. George had been talking to another agent and Poker Royalty says this agent would have to go through them in order to deal with PokerStars. They end the conversation and Eric and George debate the issue somewhat. Eric has a friend that works with Poker Royalty and wants to go with them. George likes the other agent better.

The other agent has gotten the four of them food for the next break and ushers them into the VIP lounge so they can sit down and eat. Brad is talking as he eats. “I do this all the time, but this is so big,” he says. His friends tell him to think of it like he's just playing online on a random Tuesday night. “The one thing I'm not scared of is getting knocked out,” Brad says, and adds “I can't wait for all of this to be over.” The agent looks at him with a puzzled look and he explains that he just means the side show, not actually busting out.

All the agents fighting over the rights for Brad turns out to be a worthless one. All the dreams of the November Nine and millions of dollar go out the window. Shortly after the break, Brad four bet shoves against Jonathan Tamayo with A-K. Tamayo has pocket kings and Brad is unable to hit an ace and is eliminated. Brad walks over to his friends, shrugs his shoulders, and says, “Oh well.”

Eric tries to encourage him. “At least you shipped 136K,” he says.

“Yea,” Brad says, not seeming overly enthusiastic about that fact at that particular point in time.

ESPN comes over to interview Brad and he tells them that he “didn't expect to be here so I can't be too disappointed. The whole experience has been amazing.” They ask Brad what the moral of the story is and he laughs and says, “Don't get it in with Ace King against kings.” Brad, George, Eric, and Jennelle walk out the side door and head outside for a smoke.

It'll be Brad's last cigarette break of the 2009 World Series of Poker.

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