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Cheong, Jarvis come full circle at Main Event

11 July 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Two breakout stars of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, Matt Jarvis and Joseph Cheong, both began their quest to make it back to the November Nine on Sunday.

Jarvis and Cheong burst onto the poker scene last year after reaching the Main Event final table. Jarvis, a 27-year-old professional from Vancouver, earned a little over $1 million for his eighth-place finish. Cheong, on the other hand, held the chip lead at the final table before a few costly decisions relegated him to third and a $4.1 million payday.

Jarvis said he was excited to be back at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, where his meteoric rise began 12 months ago.
Joseph Cheong had a rough first level, but chipped up and ended the day with 54,000.

Joseph Cheong had a rough first level, but chipped up and ended the day with 54,000. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

“It's great. I told all my friends and family before I came here that it felt a little bit like Christmas Eve,” Jarvis said.

Cheong, who ended his first day of play with around 54,000 chips, said he was also thrilled, and relieved, to be back at the Main Event.

"It's crazy. I can't believe the whole year has gone by. I'm glad to make it past Day 1 at least,” he said.

Both men were active during Sunday’s action, but it was Cheong who got off to a shaky start. Holly Madison had barely finished saying, “Shuffle up and deal” before the California native was in trouble.

"In the first 15 minutes I was down to like 15,000 [chips],” he said. “I thought that [his opponents] would think that no one wanted to bluff in level one. They weren't having it."

Jarvis ended his day with 35,000 chips and was involved in some major pots as well. His notoriety has also prompted fellow players to ask for advice on certain hands. During the dinner break a player picked his brain on a certain hand they were both involved in. Jarvis told him that while he couldn't say what he had because they were still at the same table, he'd be more than willing to talk about it afterwards.

He thinks his opponents are playing him differently now that he’s a much more known commodity.

“I definitely noticed that they're definitely playing me different since last summer,” he said. “I think that my reputation is that of an online aggressive player so they're getting more involved with me.”

Cheong received a lot more TV time during last year’s Main Event than Jarvis. When play was three-handed at last year’s final table he actually held the chip lead. That all evaporated when a costly bluff crippled his stack and ended his hopes of becoming champion.

That bluff was one of the most discussed hands at last year’s WSOP, but one player at Cheong’s table seemed unaware. As the players counted their chips at the end of the day Cheong replayed the hand for him, with no bitterness in his voice.

That one player is the exception. Cheong was proven last year to be a hyperaggressive player, and he says his opponents know that as well.

“I know that last year I got away with a lot more bull---- because no one knew who I was,” he said. “This year they're really trying to come after me.”
Matt Jarvis won his first gold bracelet last month.

Matt Jarvis won his first gold bracelet last month. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Cheong and Jarvis are no longer unknowns in the poker community, and both competed in multiple tournaments in this year’s WSOP. Cheong cashed in two events for a little over $16,000. Jarvis, on the other hand, entered ten previous WSOP events in 2011. He didn't cash in the first nine.

But as the saying goes, the 10th time was the charm.

A little history lesson first. The list of November Niners who have faded into obscurity after their Main Event pinnacle is long. Darus Suharto, Craig Marquis, Kelly Kim, Steven Begleiter, Antoine Saout and Darvin Moon are just a few examples of players who haven't been able to produce quality results since their Main Event final tables.

Before this year, Scott Montgomery, Eric Buchman and Phil Ivey were the only November Niners to win a gold bracelet after their Main Event final table appearance. Buchman and Ivey were the only two to do it the year after the November Nine.

Jarvis added his name to the latter list in June after he won the $5,000 six-handed No Limit Hold’em event.

“It was incredible,” said Jarvis, who wore his gold bracelet on Sunday. “All my family and friends came down and I jumped into their arms after the tournament was over. It was really great.”

What hasn’t been great is the online poker landscape after April 15. Both Jarvis and Cheong went into last year’s Main Event final table with reputations as online poker grinders. Unfortunately, only the Canada-based Jarvis can still play at the biggest online poker sites due to Black Friday.

Jarvis said the results of Black Friday have greatly impacted his online play, despite living in Canada.

"It's been tough especially since I'm sponsored by Full Tilt and all of that,” he said. “People were saying it would be great because all of the American regs would be out but Americans account for like half of tournament field sizes. So prize pools and tournaments have definitely gone down."

Cheong has been unable to play online since April 15, but he said he’s been “playing everything” in Las Vegas, which he has called home for the past year.

Neither of the two will have to worry about online poker for the time being. Both will be back Tuesday to see if they can make history repeat itself.
Cheong, Jarvis come full circle at Main Event is republished from