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Best of Dan Podheiser

Gaming Guru

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Vancouver home game taking over WSOP Main Event

13 July 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Vancouver, B.C. might just host of the toughest home poker games in the world.

Matt Jarvis finished eighth in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event and won a WSOP bracelet the following year. In 2013, Jason Mann won $285,408 for his 25th-place finish in the Main Event. And on Saturday, Darlene Lee put herself in contention for a deep Main Event run before busting out in 113th place on a crazy, four-way all-in pot.

All three players play in the same home game in Vancouver. Talk about a tough table.

As Lee navigated the shrinking Main Event field Saturday, Mann was there for support on the rail. The two met at a casino in Vancouver about eight years ago, when Mann first started to play poker, and were friendly acquaintances for the first few years of their relationship. Now, Mann considers Lee one of his best friends.

Darlene Lee plays during Day 5 of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event.

Darlene Lee plays during Day 5 of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. (photo by Dan Podheiser/Casino City)

"We would see each other when we played and we knew each other then," Mann said. "We didn't really know each other that well for a number of years and then we started playing some home games together, and when you do that it's a much smaller circle and we became much closer."

When Mann made his deep run in the Main Event last year, Lee was in the reverse position, providing support and hand analysis for her compadre.

"She was railing here and there ... while she wasn't playing cash games," Mann said.

In addition to their home games in Vancouver, Mann and Lee will often travel together to the same tournaments and swap pieces of each other's action. A month after Mann's deep run in the Main Event, they played in the $10 million guaranteed Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship Event, where Lee finished 39th for $40,723.

This summer, several members of the Vancouver home game crew came to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for the majority of the World Series. Mann said the group as a whole has had "a pretty miserable summer," but a deep run by Lee in the Main Event would reward her backers handsomely (she earned $52,141 for finishing 113th). And though Mann is the only member of the crew still in Las Vegas, they all were exchanging strategy advice and words of encouragement in a group chat on WhatsApp.

"Generally we've just been talking about attitude and more mental stuff and ways to handle herself," Mann said. "Today it's all about how to get through today and into Day 6."

Lee, who didn't want to be interviewed during the day for fear of being distracted, was knocked out in a massive, four-way pot.

William Pappaconstantinou began the hand by moving all-in under the gun for 425,000. Lee, whose stack had dwindled down to 280,000, called in middle position. Nicholas Nardello then cold-called from the button, and before the small blind could act, Justin Swilling quickly moved all-in for 775,000 from the big blind. Nardello, who only had a shade over Swilling's total bet, made the call.

Lee's Ad-Jh was in bad shape. Pappaconstantinou turned over 4s-4c, Nardello had Js-Jc and Swilling showed As-Ks. The Th-4d-9d-8c-9s run-out brought no help to Lee and she busted out of the 2014 Main Event.

After the hand, Mann gave Lee a hug and said, "I'm proud of you."

Lee then posted the following on her Twitter account:


Dan Podheiser

Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.
Dan Podheiser
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.