The 2021 World Series of Poker has entered the third week, and for the leading Asian online poker site Natural8, there was reason to celebrate a few days ago. Team Hot ambassador Pete Chen earned his first WSOP gold bracelet and became the second player from Taiwan to earn poker’s most sought-after prize. Chen also joins fellow ambassador Danny Tang in the winner’s circle and can now rightfully call himself a World Champion.
His victory wasn’t from a live event at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, however, but rather in the virtual arena. Out of a field of 1,023 entries in Online Event #3: WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Ultra Deepstack, Chen walked away as the champion and collected the top prize of $82,560. It was the third cash for Taiwan’s Chen as he already made the money in Event #3: Covid-19 Relief No-Limit Hold’em Charity Event as the 17th place for $2,077 and another small cash prize of $1,676 in Event #4: The Reunion No-Limit Hold’em.
The Unexpected Silver Lining
Pete Chen’s victory was very much welcomed after a rather cold run in the months and weeks prior. Even on this eventful day, he invested multiple entries in Event #20: $1,000 FLIP & GO No-Limit Hold’em without making it to the money stages. He then played some SNG at the event venue and entered the Online Bracelet Event on his phone at the same time. Perhaps it was good that he didn’t make the restart of the FLIP & GO tournament, as otherwise, he would not have had any chance at the gold bracelet.
Chen walked back to his room around midnight with approximately 100 players left.
“I was running good. Queen jack cracked aces. When I played [at] the final table, I didn’t really care about the money, so I was just playing [aggressively]. The bracelet was more meaningful for me than the money,” he mentioned during an interview next to the mothership in the Amazon room.
His plans for the rest of the series are certainly set as he is looking forward to play as many tournaments, up to $10k buy-in, as possible. Mixed games will likely not be included in that because “there are too many good Hold’em events on the schedule”. Chen also mentioned with a smirk on his face that he might end up with more than 200 tickets again, which means at least 200 tournament entries across the entire two months in Las Vegas. Not only WSOP events but also competitions in other casinos in town are on the agenda for the MTT grinder.
Return to The Live Poker Scene
During his career, Chen has earned numerous trophies all over the world, but the gold bracelet remained out of his reach until now. This has now changed, and “it feels like the collection is complete”. He admitted that he just loves playing poker and that the gold bracelet is special for sure.
With live poker on a hiatus for the past two years, Chen focused on his own company in Taiwan, which aims to promote poker and improve the skill set of card game enthusiasts, as well as his own YouTube channel. Now that the live poker grind is back on the mind, there are two important things for Chen when it comes to the daily preparation.
“I do have the goal of getting at least eight hours of sleep every day and I do go to the gym pretty much every day back in Taiwan and here. My goal is to play as many tournaments as possible, and [I] don’t mind showing up late for some events.”
So far, the series has seen fewer players than normal, with a decrease of around 20%, but the atmosphere, in general, has been very positive, which the Taiwanese poker pro noticed almost immediately.
“People waited for a long time to play live poker again, and they feel really happy to play here even though it’s difficult to eat here and have the mask on. I met a lot of good friends here, which is nice. Before that, I used to play online, which [felt] like a game, but being back [at] the tables, [it] feels almost like real poker again.”
The New Normal at WSOP Events
During the festival, poker players are required to wear the mask indoors and that includes whenever they move tables during the WSOP tournaments. Once seated at the tables, they can take their masks off but many participants prefer to keep the mask on, thus altering their usual poker face. This may be unusual for some and can have an influence on the reads. For Chen, however, it doesn’t make any difference and he enters the events with a specific game plan.
“My decision is pretty much already made and depends on the strategy and what the online software suggests. Live [game] is totally different. When I was on a downswing last year, I tried to copy [the] PIOsolver strategy but that is not a good idea for live [games] because there, many players don’t follow the strategy. You have to adjust to live players and that is [a really] important key factor. I just play tighter in my opinion, and if you are unsure, just fold it.”
Playing a tighter style seems to be a better strategy from Chen’s point of view, and perhaps that will soon lead to another gold bracelet. He is looking forward to the $10,000 Bounty Event and the respective lower stakes turbo version. There won’t be any shortage of poker to be played either as there is a game running pretty much all the time.
“If I bust, I [will] just come back here [to Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino] to play SNG because it’s the only time you can play live poker again, and [I] don’t know what will come after.”
He also confirmed that his next planned live poker stop is the World Series of Poker Europe, which follows right after the pendant in Las Vegas and runs until early December 2021. Following that is the EPT Prague, and once that has concluded, Christmas will be right around the corner. Chen, who is accompanied by his girlfriend, will then head back to Taiwan for an overdue break.