Yesterday I finished 3rd place in the $50k Poker Player’s Championship. On some level, I just don’t buy into the importance of bracelets. What makes these tournaments more special than others? I don’t need anyone’s acceptance, I’m very comfortable with how my career has gone. But I have two exceptions. The first, is the main event, for obvious reasons. And the second is the $50k Poker Player’s Championship.
There is only one high stakes mixed event, which inherently makes it special. And given how much the mixed players really seemed to want it, it’s really easy to get caught up in “OH MAN THIS GUY WANTS IT NOW I WANT IT GIMME!!!!”
Despite my severe lack of experience, I hopped in this week, and was lucky enough to get third place. I got an inside look into the mixed game world. NL at the highest level is a bunch of guys who have really done their homework (See: Ike Haxton). Most players are playing a very theoretically strong style. An example of what I mean: you expect players to have good preflop standards across all positions throughout various stacksizes and it’s noteworthy or surprising when someone fucks up.
Compare this to the mixed world… The mixed world seems to be a lot of smart competitive guys… who are card players (Bryn Kenney types come to mind). Not to imply they don’t work hard or study… but the game is just not at the same level of sophistication as NLH. I was fortunate enough to get to pick the brains of multiple people who play the 2000/4000 mixed in Bobby’s room. Hilariously often two good players say totally opposite things about a technical question (IE: whether to play hand x in the small blind vs a button raise).
I played quite a bit with Phil Ivey and John Hennigan throughout the tournament. When I play big bet with these two guys, they’ve generally been very quiet. This week, there was a lot of joking around. Both have had great results lately, which helps, but it also seemed like they were very much in their element.
I have to say, getting to bullshit with Ivey, who was in rare very jovial form, was very cool. He was also busting my balls a bit about lack of experience, which I’d never seen him do before.
The tournament was a blast. And there was something pretty hilarious about getting some of the basic fundamentals of stud explained to me at 4AM while eating dinner before day 3 of the tournament, when my equity in the tournament was mid six figures. (Also while getting some coaching before the final table, when my coach, tactfully asked, who the hell bought half of you in this tournament :P)
Some of the good hands:
- I get moved to a tough table for the last hand of No Limit Holdem. I spill my ice coffee on the floor. Ike erupts in laughter and we start making jokes. At 4000/8000, 900,000 effective. I raise to 20,000 with POCKET ACES. Jesse martin flats CO with TT. Ike jams 170,000 with a suited ace. I flat call (I would call my whole range here which is roughly 66+, AJ suited?…). Jesse goes into the tank and jams (which I think is the best play). All of a sudden, I am a massive chipleader, playing against Ivey, Galfond, Angry John, and Deeb. Oh baby.
I had 78 hearts, and Hennigan folded Qc 2. I’m not technically proficient enough to know how we both played it (but I have a hand I can comfortably fold to the turn checkraise, and unblock lots of river folds, and have no showdown value, so I would assume it’s fine? Either way, was a rush 🙂
Some of the bad hands
- https://www.pokernews.com/tours/wsop/2018-wsop/event-33-50000-poker-players-championship/chips.218529.htmThis is the hand where everything started to fall apart. John opened the button, and I flatted 762. I would 3bet if I had pairs to go with it, or my six was a wheel card (I’m not very confident in this). There’s also incentive to 3bet less for ICM reasons.I believe I drew 7642, and led out into two draw 3s. Grinder raised and John cold called. Here I put in the third bet. 1) I just think I am pushing equity 2) I want to shut John out of the pot. Grinder Caps and is pat. At this point I still think he can have any 8 and possibly a tad wider even.I catch 76542 and check raise. He 3bets. At this point I am worried, but I call down and pat and lose to the wheel. Massive pot.
- The Very next hand I joke about trying again and raise from the button.https://www.pokernews.com/tours/wsop/2018-wsop/event-33-50000-poker-players-championship/I had four to a seven, and had seen another seven already. I don’t know which combos I’m supposed to raise when he bets into me, but this felt like a natural one. I’m doing great against his d1s and if he breaks that’s a huge result. The thought crossed my mind to 4bet against a 3bet, but I felt i needed much better blockers.
3) https://www.pokernews.com/tours/wsop/2018-wsop/event-33-50000-poker-players-championship/chips.218578.htmI thought this was a tough spot in o8, I had kt42. Internet tough guy Alan Bari made a point to tell me what a dummy I am, but all decision points felt close to me. It feels like John is usually high at this point, and grinder doesn’t HAVE to be going low. I’m getting a good price at this point. It felt like a tough spot to meCould have been an ICM play to fold at any of the earlier decision points, also, but I am not at all confident. To simplify strategies, I don’t play any flats in o8 in the small blind, and I’m not super confident what his range looks like. Would be interested in thoughts.
And then I had a few interesting short stacked plo spots at the end of the tournament.
- https://www.pokernews.com/tours/wsop/2018-wsop/event-33-50000-poker-players-championship/chips.218604.htmMy brain is fuzzy right now! I had Kd J; which I thought was an unfoldable hand. Physically, I thought he was strong, but with these blockers I decided I had to put in one bet postflop. Grinder is great at the live aspect of course and he totally could have gotten me to bite on a reverse tell.In retrospect I got this part wrong, the King of diamonds blocker is just not that big of a deal, and other blockers are more pertinent. Shoving also is probably a play to do sometimes. When I go against my gut for theoretical or blocker reasons, and it turns out I get the technical aspect wrong, I find that to be the most frustrating feeling in poker.2) https://www.pokernews.com/tours/wsop/2018-wsop/event-33-50000-poker-players-championship/chips.218613.htmI had TT96 with two spades. This was the last hand of PLO, with limit holdem next, where the big blind gets a lot larger. When grinder calls the small blind, I think he has lots of suited and connected hands that are not ahead of my button range.Now John in the big blind pots with what I presume to be an insanely strong range. I think I have an interesting decision. If I was heads up against one opponent and I am totally fine gambling. Against two people, I think it is a very clear fold and try to bink a payjump. With only 3x pot to play, stacks are just going in fairly often. And if stacks go in, it is probably in Grinder’s favor against an AA heavy range.It really comes down to how weak Grinder is flatting, but I decided if he had anything fairly connected or double suited, he would try to win the tournament right there. So I pitched it.The next hand we switch to limit holdem. I am very short stacked and call a raise in the big blind with T7 with a heart. The flop comes 985 two hearts, I raise allin and lose to AK. Definitely will be back in there next year, and I think I have found my new favorite WSOP event 🙂