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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Around the WSOP: Quiet Su is making noise in his first Main Event

12 Jul 2019

By Gary Trask
LAS VEGAS -- You would never know that Timothy Su is nearing closer and closer to poker immortality.

In fact, while the soft-spoken, unassuming 25-year-old amateur born and raised near Allentown, PA may not have the flair and panache of a Daniel Negreanu at the poker table, his skills and demeanor have served him quite well.


“I always try to remain calm,” he told Casino City, well, very calmly. “I’m just taking it all in minute by minute, trying to make it to the next break, the next day.”

After entering Thursday with a massive chip stack of 19.235 million, giving him some decent breathing room ahead of second-place Sam Greenwood (11.95 million), the Canadian pro with more than $18 million in career earnings, Su left Day 6 at the Amazon Room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino with the third-biggest stack at 34.35 million, and along the way he ousted Greenwood in one of the most memorable hands of the tournament.

While this is his second trip to the WSOP, it marks Su’s first foray into the Main Event. He took two weeks off from his software engineer job at a new content discovery start-up called Canopy in Boston and played in six events, earning his first-career WSOP cash — albeit a mini-cash of $970 — in the $400 Colossus event. That brought his career earnings to just under $2,500.

So, as you can imagine, his deep run in poker’s most prestigious tournament has certainly taken him by surprise.

“No, I didn’t see this coming,” he said with a laugh. “But I knew I had it in me.”

Su attended Northeastern University in Boston and that’s when he started playing poker, both online and live. He now resides in Boston's South Station area and said his friends and co-workers have thrown their full support at him with messages of encouragement.


“I’ve only been at Canopy for three and a half months, but they couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive about this,” he said. “I’m just hoping to make them proud.”

In addition to poker, Su also plays the oboe. He’s been in a few bands and occasionally takes part in community orchestras, but music has taken a backseat for now.

“I’ve been busy working in the start-up world so there hasn’t been a lot of time to play,” he added. “And hopefully poker is going to keep me busy, at least for a few more days.”

The return of the dinosaur
You may remember Mike Niwinski from the 2016 WSOP Main Event. That’s when the poker pro from Vancouver became a bit of a media darling due to his good nature and wide smile, caught by the ESPN cameras while finishing in 15th place.

Well, the 28-year-old hasn’t missed a Main Event since (he busted on Day 2 in 2017 and cashed for $15,920 last year), and is back at it at the Rio again this year making another deep run.


After coming into Day 6 in 27th place with 4.96 million in chips, he'll enter Friday's Day 7 action in 11th place with 18.9 million.

The Main Event marked the first live tournament of 2019 for Niwinski, an online pro for about four years who said he didn’t even try and “get his feet wet” by jumping into some cash games.

“This is the only live tournament that I make sure I will be at no matter where I am on the planet or what I’m doing,” said Niwinski, who was wearing a similar cartoon dinosaur t-shirt to the one he wore back in 2016. “The prestige of it is a huge draw, but the biggest thing is that it’s such a fun tournament. You get so many recreational players. The amount of people that I hear stories about getting in through satellites or through their league, home games, hearing those stories is just so incredible. So, even though it’s a grind, it’s the most social event that I can go to.”

Niwinski had a roller-coaster-type Day 6. At one point he was near elimination with less than 4 million in chips, but put his tournament life on the line, doubled up and then steamrolled his way near the top of the leaderboard.


"My friends always say to me, 'How do you keep getting cards in the Main Event? You are such a luck box!'" he said with a huge grin. "I don't know what to tell you. The poker gods love me in this event for some reason."

Niwinski, who plans to leave Vancouver and move to Austria to be with his girlfriend in the coming months, added that he thinks his 2016 experience of playing under the TV lights on the ESPN/PokerGo set will give him a bit of an advantage.

“I’m more comfortable at the featured table more than most people, I guess because I’m a bit of an attention whore, to some degree,” he said with a laugh. “But I also think the bright lights keep me more awake and I think I feel like I’m more attentive. And I also think that since most other guys really hate playing at those tables, it does give me an edge, because I enjoy it so much.

“Having said that, just because I’m more prepared doesn’t mean the anxiety goes away. You still get those butterflies, but that’s OK. It means I’m still human and still excited about being here.”

Checks and raises
Two notable bust outs on Thursday afternoon included Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Hachem. The popular and gregarious Esfandiari was definitely the biggest name remaining in the field entering Day 6 and had been getting major facetime on the TV featured tables the last two days, but he had a rough morning and was eliminated in 82nd place, which was good for $82,365. This was the sixth Main Event cash in 11 years for the three-time WSOP bracelet winner, who ranks 10th all-time in career earnings with over $27 million. Hachem is the son of 2005 Main Event Joe Hachem and entered Thursday in 26th place. But like Esfandiari, he couldn’t get anything going for much of Day 6 and ended up bowing out in 79th place while cashing in for $98,120. The younger Hachem now has more than $150,000 in live earnings, a far cry from the more than $12 million his father has won, including that $7.5 million check he picked up for winning the 2005 Main Event. “It’s been surreal, I’ve been pinching myself all day,” Daniel told ESPN after busting out. “It was a great experience. I’ll remember this for a very long time.” . . . Jill Bryant was the 2019 Last Woman Standing in the WSOP Main Event after being eliminated on Day 5 in 116th place, good for $59,295. The Aurora, Illinois resident now has close to $250,000 in live tournament earnings and three of her four WSOP cashes came this year. The number of women to enter the Main Event was up 16% year-over-year in 2019 with 350 women in the field. The average age of those women was 44.30. Sixty-nine of them were 56 years of age or older, and only five of them were between 21 and 25. An overwhelming 260 of the women in the field were from the U.S.
 
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