By Sean Chaffin
As the final table was set to begin Saturday in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Danny Park found himself in a unique position. He was the lone recreational player at a table full of professionals and he was the chip leader.
It’s an unbelievable situation for Park, who works for a logistics company during the day. At the table today, Park faced two WPT champions looking for a second title, Jonathan Jaffe and Seth Davies, and one of the best players in poker, Alex Foxen. For Foxen, a win or runner-up finish would bring him a second straight Global Poker Index Player of the Year title as well as his first tour championship.
It’s a huge stage for Park, but he’s taking it all in stride. He wasn’t able to get family and friends on a flight to Las Vegas on such short notice so he is going it alone here in the PokerGO Studio. But they all plan on watching the coverage on the PokerGO live stream.
“It feels unbelievable, this is the biggest tournament I’ve played in my life,” he says. “I’m just so glad to be here.”
Park knows it won’t be easy but has some experience at the tables. He has $564,000 in live tournament winnings and won a $550 event in August at the Parx Casino in Pennsylvania for $95,017. That may not stack up against some of the resumés at the table, but with a big chip stack he’s hoping to keep his run going.
“I’m just going to try and play my best and try to keep up with all these great players,” he says. “I’m going to try and use my chips to my advantage and put maximum pressure on the short stacks, and not risk all my chips against the big stacks.”
After being off a week from work, Park is set to head back home tomorrow. He’ll have some thinking to do about his future if he takes home a massive score.
“My boss doesn’t know I made the final table yet, but he’ll probably find out next week,” he says. “Depending on how well I do here, it’s going to open a lot of options for me. We’ll see how it goes.”
Park says Days 2-5 were a bit of a “roller coaster ride,” but he managed to stay alive and then find a nice chip stack to earn a spot in the final table.
“I made some bad decisions and blew away a lot of chips, but I was fortunate enough to bounce back,” he says. “I lost half my stack a few times, but was lucky enough to build it back up. From there I just tried to play more cautiously and try not to make the same mistakes over again.”
Park placed fifth for $465,780, an exciting finish to go back to New York with. Expect to see Park on the WPT again soon at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open this January.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.