Beating Bad Chances
  World Series of Poker
  World Poker Tour
  European Poker Tour
  Reading OtherPlayer’s Mail
  From the Other Side of the Table
  Poker Hollywood Style
  Cheese head Poker
  A Golf Story
  An Hand
  Champion of the Year Award
  Frank’s Top Moments in Poker
  The Next Poker Wave


Although Frank had been through a bad phase at the World Series of Poker, he was optimistic and all set to win the $2 million first prize at the Championship Tournament in 2003. He played very well throughout Monday and Tuesday and he even won quite a few big kitties. He built up his $10,000 into $127,000 very easily without going down at any point nor did he go anywhere near an all-in.

Frank felt it would be very easy to move from 130 players to 45 on the third day. That’s when Frank encountered Meng La! Frank encountered Meng ‘Over the Top’ La for the first time, and Frank was sitting on his right on the third day, and if Frank were to be believed, Meng La was so faster than Su Unger!

Frank had an Ace of diamonds and a Queen of diamonds on the first hand, and he started out poker betting with $4,000 and Meng upped the bet by $10,000. Frank would have played on till he had extracted another $25,000, if he knew Meng La played wild and crazy poker. Frank chose to quit and the game continued. On that day, Meng upped Frank over and over 12 times; in fact, he upped over and over or moved all-in at least twenty times in the initial two hours.

Once he had bet any money, he refused to quit the hand. Lord knows how he continued to exist for the first two hours despite playing so fast. Frank would normally shatter a player by approximately the fifth move when an opponent played so fast against him. Nevertheless, Frank knew he would get Meng finally if time would be on his side. Meng was being painful to Frank, although ultimately his chips would look good in Frank’s stack.

Even though Meng was offensive, Frank had $117,000 and 60 players remained when this hand happened. Another player called Robert Varkonyi, whom Frank had never before met, joined them at their table. Frank instantly read him well (Frank’s strong point in poker was that he was good at reading people).

The blinds were being played at $1,200-$2,400 and the ante was being played at $400 apiece, Frank looked at this Ace of hearts and king of hearts when Robert increased the bet to $800. Frank increased another $17,000 because he didn’t think Robert had a strong hand. Robert instantly said he was all-in. Frank demanded that the chips be counted, as it happened, he had $81,400 more (totaling $106,400).

Since there was $56,000 in the kitty previously, Frank had to make up his mind, but his mind continued to yell, ‘He doesn’t have anything, make the call since you now your hand is the best.’ Frank could virtually swear he knew that Robert didn’t have anything, and something inside him told him it was the right time, as he was a 2.2-to-1 favorite. (Fran had the feeling he had an Ace and something).

A moment later, Frank called, and Robert showed his Queen of clubs and ten of clubs with pride! Frank thought he was only a 2-to-1 favorite (when in fact he was a 3-to-1 favorite) for the $220,000 kitty. What had he done? For the past three days, Frank had shunned all the big kitties, which now left him as only a 3-to-1 favorite for the money.

Frank thought he could easily end up with the final 45 players if he had retained the $81,000 (and another $11,000 that he had remaining from Robert), that too without playing any big kitties. Actually he might have flopped a set against someone with a top pair, or maybe even made a flush and had his opponent drawing dead.

The final investigation is thus: Frank made a terrible call, although he was certain Robert was bluffing. But how does one make that distinction? Does one quit when he considers himself a 2.5-to-1 favorite while the kitty’s is offering him a 7 to 4 chance? Frank’s call was terrible, as he could’ve won the tournament easily even now had he not made it (since he would have had $92,000), instead, he had made returning from $11,000 extremely tough by losing the kitty to Robert.

Frank wasn’t keen on the way Robert played over here. What was the point of gambling all his chips against an opponent who was famous for reading players well? Wouldn’t it have been better to have just waited for a better hand or better spot to come along? Frank felt he should have quit, instead he moved all-in.

Although Robert bungled a few times in the game, he compensated for it with the fantastic way he played the final table, and went on to win the 2003 WSOP. Frank appreciates the fact that any person can play at the WSOP. He admires the fact that their doors are open. But one finds more hurdles to winning when the doors are open door.

For the third consecutive year, Frank was the last World Champion left in the WSOP, in the year 2003, and yet that wasn’t enough to pay the rent. Before he had committed most of his stack to a kitty, Frank wished he had waited until he had someone drawing almost dead.

He wished the flop didn’t consist of the Ace, Queen and ten, which enabled Robert to defeat Frank’s Ace of hearts and King of hearts with his Queen of clubs and ten of clubs and two pairs. How he wished it hadn’t been so tough to win the WSOP. Then again, it wouldn’t be the WSOP, would it?


He was aware of the consequences of what he was saying. He knew that the spectators would consider his statement as sour grapes. Well, he said it anyway. Frank couldn’t imagine it would end this way. Throughout the final day of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2003, he kept making mistakes (more like blunders), when he was assisting Gabe Kaplan with the ESPN commentary.

When Robert Varkonyi (the one who eliminated Frank two days ago) who had a pair of nines was playing against Julian Gardener who had a pair of Aces (all-in pre-flop) on the first hand, he lost $400,000 of his total $640,000. Frank didn’t like the way Robert played with his pair of nines, which lead him to blurt it out.

At that time it appeared to be extremely prudent to say this, and so Frank said he’d shave his head if Robert Varkonyi won the WSOP. The executive producer asked Frank to repeat what he’d said because he had a feeling it would add color. Frank didn’t want to repeat it, then again he doubted that this comment would make the final cut on ESPN just so he would appear in a bad light.

Then again, Frank didn’t think Robert stood any chance of escalating from $240,000 in chips, so that this remark would be included. Thus he repeated the statement for ESPN commentary. Frank looked at Robert when the online poker players when his statement had been conveyed to them, and he appeared indignant. Frank felt it was possible he might have encouraged Robert.

Frank wasn’t certain that were true but he noticed that Robert’s game got better than the rest of the players thereafter. There was the one time when he held off an Ace or a King when john Shipley moved all-in with an Ace and King as opposed to Robert’s pair of Jacks, other than that he seemed to have taken control of the table from then on.

Robert was only all-in once, when he bet $1 million pre-flop with a pair of Jacks against John Shipley’s Ace and Jack. Robert increased his chip lead after that kitty, right until the time when he monopolized the other players Robert had a Queen and ten (he had the same hand against Frank’s Ace of hearts and King of hearts two days ago, and beat him) and he opened the bet with $100,000, when only four players remained and the blinds were being played at $15,000-$30,000.

Scott Gray had an Ace and nine and moved all-in for $250,000, Robert called and commented this was Frank’s favorite hand (he was speaking of the time he defeated Frank) and so he would call. Frank didn’t particularly care for the call at that time. Then again the Queen and ten was his favorite hand since a pair of Queens and an eight turned up at the flop.

A nine turned up at the third street while an Ace came up at the fourth street, both these cards matched up with Scott’s Ace and nine, yet it couldn’t hold up to the Queen trio. By this time only three players remained; after the fifteen-minute TV break, the first hand to be played was magnificent. Instantly Julian Gardner opened with $100,000.

Ralph Perry was the small blind; and he increased the bet to $300,000 to go, that’s when Robert at the big blind moved all-in with $4 million, Julian, who had a pair of tens showed them to Frank before quitting. Ralph, who had a pair of Jacks, chose to call Robert, who as it turned out had a pair of Aces in the big blind! WSOP history couldn’t come up with a hand as exhilarating or cruel as this one.


Robert got rid of two players in two hands, he had $5 million in chips when went head on against Julian, who had $1.3 million I chips. This hand came up when the blinds were up to $20,000-40,000 within ten minutes. Again Robert got a Queen and ten and instantly bet $80,000 to go, Julian, who had the Jack of clubs and eight of clubs matched the big blind, when the four of clubs, four of diamonds and Queen of clubs turned up at the flop.

This time Julian checked, Robert bet $50,000, which was somewhat less. Julian bet all his money, which amounted to $900,000, meaning an increase of $850,000, that’s when Robert called. The hands were overturned; the card at the turn was a ten. The tournament director, Matt Savage (did a great job throughout the WSOP) announced that Julian needs a club or a nine to win; the kitty now consisted of $2 million. Oh no Matt!

The last card was a club and yet it didn’t help Julian win the kitty. The ten of clubs turned up at the fourth street, this way Robert got a full house (tens full of Queens), which defeated Julian’s Jack high flush with the four of clubs, four of diamonds, Queen of clubs, ten of spades and ten of clubs on display in the community. The last card was fantastic; both the players got big hands!


As soon as the ten of clubs was disclosed at the fourth street, the crowds chanted ‘Shave Frank’s head. Shave Frank’s head….’ Since Frank kept his promises and Becky Behnan managed to secure barber’s equipment. Frank would have preferred to avoid his head being shaved but he surely deserved what was coming to him, and he was aware of it!

Robert shaved my head in front of a roomful of spectators, press and cameras, followed by Becky Behnan, Andy Glazer, David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliot and some others. But Robert (graciously offered to let him get out of the situation) probably made quite a display of shaving his head in front of thousands of people. Robert had his day in the sun.

Robert played poker brilliantly all the while controlling the final table at the tournament. Congratulations to Robert Varkonyi, the 2002 World Champion of Poker. Although it has been two years, and ESPN have aired the tournament hundreds of times, they still continue to end it showing various people shaving Frank’s head. Anyway, Frank believes any press is good press.

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