Coach’s Corner

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Fellow bursa303.city buddy Coach from the Monday night games in NYC played in a WSoP satellite (he made it to the next round). Here’s parts of the write-up he sent me:

“This is a $250 buy-in, with 49 entries (7 tables of 7) with final table on Saturday. Winner can either take $10,000 plus travel costs to enter to the WSOP or take $5,000 and walk away. If they choose the second option, places 2-7 also get prizes. If they take the first option, only second place also pays.

I won my table and will be playing in the finals on Saturday at noon. Needless to say, I feel quite lucky to have gotten there. The tournament went a grueling 6+ hours, a full 1.5 hours longer than any other first round entry. In the end, I wound up going head to head with, and quite frankly, almost losing to Lisa, the tournament organizer’s wife, who was a last-minute, fill-in entry and who, if she is to be believed, has only been playing for a couple of months.

The day had an auspicious start — playing in my 8:00 a.m. basketball run, I had a chance to play, for the third time, with Brian Koppelman. If that name isn’t familiar, he’s the fellow who wrote Rounders. When I told him what I would be doing later in the day, he actually took some interest, said that if we ever did anything like this again, he might be interested, and (without me asking) gave me a pep talk and some advice. Kind of like getting advice from John Wooden before going out and playing ball in a key playoff game.

Despite Mr. Koppelman’s advice and blessing, I found myself down for the first 3 hours of the tournament, hovering between $11 and $14k in chips (we started with $15k). My first showdown of the day saw me lose with a flush when a 4th spade hit the Board, making my 9 lose to someone else’s A. I managed to save myself an early exit about three or four times, laying down good hands which would have gotten crushed. Two good examples — my QQ, faced with an A on the board and a big bet from the fellow who I was heads up with (he had AK suited); and, in the toughest decision I had before the final hand, I folded KQ with K-Q-10-7-2 (and three spades) on the board. The 10 was the last card, and it conveniently gave one player 3 10’s and another a Broadway straight.

I did knock the first player out of the tournament, a fairly tight player from NJ, who was short stacked when his JJ lost to KK. I had AA (the only time all day), and an A came up in the flop. He checked, as did I. With a 8 on the Turn, we had A-8-7-2. He checked again, and I told the table, “I sense weakness,” making a minimum bet. He raised all-in. I called, and he exposed 10-9, giving him an open-ended straight. He didn’t catch it, and was toast.

The chip leader for most of the tournament was an Equity Trader named Scott. He had 3x as many chips as anyone else, having caught KK an unbelieveable 6 times in the first 2 hours. He blew his chance to coast to a win by getting really passive in the back end of the game. One prime example — I raised out of the chute with 22. He called and we were heads up. For only the second time in my life, the board gave me quads — 2, 2, 10. I checked, desperately hoping that he’d bet. He never did. We made it all the way to the river, and finally I bet 2k just to see if I could get anything from him. He folded. Sigh.

For the last 2.5 hours, it was Scott, Lisa, and me. I played as aggressively as I could, raising and collecting blinds with as poor a hand as 4-2. Both of them chickened out enough that I was able to fight all the way back to a slight chip lead. I regret that I do not remember the specifics of the hand I knocked Scott out on. All I remember is that neither of us was a lock, and that he didn’t go all in until the river. That gave me something like an 85-20 lead on Lisa. She almost got me though.

I put her all in twice, and she won both times. The second time, when she had about 35k in chips, she called with 33 to my K6 suited. No help. Now trailing, I played very aggressively again, and managed to fight back to slightly ahead. That’s when I got dealt J-4 offsuit, as the little blind. I called (blinds were now 1800-3600), and the flop came 5-J-5. I checked. She made a big bet (8k). I called. Next card was a 3. I checked again. She made a bigger bet (12k). I called again. A nine hit the board on the river. No straights or flushes possible, and I’m holding 2-pair. I checked. She went all in. I called (apparently I had only 400 more in chips than she did at the time). We both wished each other luck and said that we expected the other to win.

She rolled an A3, for a lower two pair. Whew!

I gather that although I may be a fan favorite at the final table, I will definitely be an underdog. One fellow, who played Saturday, is supposedly a known quantity from past WSOPs and was trying to find a cheap way back to Binions. Stay tuned.”

Thanks Coach for sharing. I’m looking forward to hearing about how you did. Best of luck this weekend.

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