Normal Citizen Enters WSOP Main Event — Does Well — Returns Home Without Permanent Damage

(From 2008)

ESPN’s Day 2 coverage of the 2008 World Series Of Poker (WSOP) Main Event (ME) continued the other night and we were once again treated to a parade of unique and volatile world championship hopefuls. For the past few years, as the number of entries grows, the age of the players has gotten younger and younger and watching the latest hotshot young gun sitting at a table with unkempt hair shooting wildly from underneath a crooked ball cap has become so commonplace that it rarely notes mention. So it was surprising to me to see in the midst of this year’s madness a true one-off, an unassuming baby-face who’s got game, and also has his feet firmly planted on the ground. This rare breed is 22-year old, Brian Schaedlich from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Schaedlich, a recent college grad, makes his living teaching elementary PE and Special Ed at a school in Shaker Heights, a tony suburb just outside of Cleveland. Brian’s love for poker and fascination with the spectacle of the WSOP Main Event inspired him to enter this year’s big game. A few months earlier, Schaedlich and a good friend drove to Mountaineer Racetrack Casino in Chester, West Virginia to play in a WSOP qualifying satellite tournament. Young Schaedlich won a seat for this year’s Main Event via one of the $135 satellites held there.

Fast-forward to July and his first trip to Las Vegas, Brian was now sitting with nearly 7,000 other poker players from across this country and around the world to battle for the biggest cash prize in sports. Needless to say, he was a little awestruck as he nervously squirmed in his chair looking down at a starting stack of 20,000 chips and waiting for Wayne Newton to say, “Shuffle up and deal,” as the UNLV Marching Band played, “Viva Las Vegas” and the Jubilee girls kicked on by. His “through the rabbit-hole” moment was about to begin, and little did he know would substantially exceed his expectations. At the end of the day he was more than a Day 1 Survivor; he played well, caught some good cards and ended the evening with a little over 160,000.

ESPN’s latest broadcast introduced us to Brian Schaedlich as he accumulated chips and showed none of the swagger often seen from your garden-variety assclown yearning for the glare of the 411 production lights. At the completion of Day 2A, Schaedlich bagged up 801,000 chips and was going into Day 3 in first place with double the chips of second place Hunter Frey.

It looked like he had a great chance of winning the coveted Main Event bracelet and the top prize of over $9 million dollars. The media took notice as did the online poker sites, and soon Brian hooked up with PokerStars and was swimming in PS apparel and accessories. I’m sure he was asking himself over and over how this incredible moment could be happening to him. Despite the craziness swirling around him he maintained an innocence that seemed out of place amongst the degenerates, the scammers, the beggars, the perverts, stakers, stars, and action junkies. While the opportunists and douche bags orbited around him, Schaedlich continued to smile and watch everything through the eyes of a virtuous youngster.

SPOILER ALERT: Read no further if you do not want to know how Brian Schaedlich ended up, but obviously you must know by now that he’s not one of the November 9.

Day 3 went badly for Brian, and even though it has not yet been telecast on ESPN I’ll recap his quick descent from chip leader to railbird. He quickly lost a monster pot to Jeff Kimber putting him at just under 400,000 when he limped in with Pocket Rockets. Kimber raised from the dealer button with pocket queens. The flop came out queen high and both players’ chips went in the middle. The turn and river contained no ace and Kimber came out on top. Later Schaedlich lost over 100,000 when he called an opponent’s All In on a 9–7–6–3 board with pocket 5’s. His pair of fives lost to the villain’s pocket aces. At this point Brian was down to only 300,000 chips and fading fast. He finished the evening with a pair of jacks, but lost to Jens Klaning who flipped two pair. At the end of a long Day Three, with 474 players remaining, Brian was barely alive with only 22,000 chips.

Schaedlich started Day 4 as one of the soon-to-be-extinct short stacks. With little help on the horizon, he shoved with ace-nine against Darren Grant’s queen-four. His 60/40 advantage was short lived when a queen hit on 4th Street and ended his incredible run in 456th place. In addition to life-long memories, Brian Schaedlich grabbed $27,020 in prize money.

Even if he had won the Main Event, Schaedlich insists he would return to Ohio to continue teaching. “I love the kids too much, I couldn’t do that to them. I don’t think my kids would really understand Mr. Schaedlich winning $9.1 million and not showing up the next day. As far as quitting the job to do the poker life, I think I’d miss teaching too much.”

The world needs more young men like Brian Schaedlich and the WSOP Main Event was lucky to have him for the short time he was onboard. Good luck next year, Brian and keep up the good work at home.