Poker players all have dreams. Oftentimes, it's a struggle to make those dreams come true, but for Patrick Chan, he's been living it since the middle of July when he reached the most prestigious final table in all of poker.
"It's just a dream come true to me," Chan said of reaching the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event final table. "I've been looking forward to this for many years, and it's just the biggest thing that could have ever happened to me in my poker career."
Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Chan is representative of the countless players who grind for a living, not necessarily making it big, but making enough to support themselves. He's also a testament that hard work pays off, because as a member of the November Nine he is guaranteed over $1 million.
It'll be far and away the biggest score of Chan's career, which dates back to 2010. That said, he has had his fair share of poker success, including two six-figure scores — $131,895 for finishing third in the 2012 Borgata Fall Poker Open Championship and $100,689 for a 12th-place finish in the 2014 WSOP Event #8: $1,500 "Millionaire Maker". Chan also took home $71,449 in January of this year when he finished runner-up to Loni Harwood in the Parx Casino Big Stax $2,500 Championship.
"I've played the Main Event three times over the last three years," Chan said. "I hadn't cashed until this one, so this cash is the one."
Chan began his career playing multi-table tournaments online, but transitioned to live poker after Black Friday, though he admits he occasionally travels outside the country to play on PokerStars.
"It's just a blessing to me," he said. "I'm just a $2/$5 grinder and I play mid-stakes tournaments, plus small-stakes to mid-stakes online tournaments, and I can't believe that I had a little run good and now I'm in the November Nine. It's a dream come true. It's amazing to me how this all happened."
With a stack entering the final table of 16 big blinds (6.225 million), Chan's dream could end much sooner than later if he's not able to get things going early. He's only half a big blind ahead of Federico Butteroni on the leaderboard and, like his Italian counterpart, will be looking to make some moves early in order to accumulate some much needed ammo.
"I'm going to go into the final table and play really aggressive to try and run up a stack because I have 16 big blinds," Chan said as he thought ahead to this weekend. "Joe [McKeehen] is on my immediate right, so I have a good seat draw with him being the big stack at the table. I should be able to shove or three-bet opens that he will be making in the early part of the final table because he has all the chips and can play in a more loose-aggressive style."
With his plan seemingly in place, Chan spent the time off between July and November focusing on his game, but not getting too much into the details of things. For anyone that plays the game on a professional level, they can relate to Chan's words about it being a stressful endeavor. It's that stress that he wanted to rid himself of during the time off in order to stay as focused as possible on what lies ahead.
"My plan was to focus on my game and study short-stack play in order to come back with a strong mentality," he said. "I wanted to try and stay healthy and not play too much poker because poker can stress me out and I'd rather not have that on my mind."
Come Sunday, there will certainly be a lot on Chan's mind, namely the nearly $7.7 million first-place prize that he and his eight opponents are vying for. The bright lights will be on and the stakes will be high, and we'll see if the Brooklyn pro can turn his dream into the most life-changing reality possible for any poker player.