The Bubble Boy’s Final Table Preview

Nov. 5, 2011



The king-queen hand, I swear to you, I have blackouts.  I can’t even remember what was going on in my head. 

It was two weeks before I was ready to look at a poker table.  It was mixed feelings because I’d never had that kind of money.  But that was like my seventh live tournament ever and my second cash, so live and learn.

The king-jack is what still pains me.  That pot would have put me at 42 million.  We were eleven handed, six handed on my table, five handed on the other table.  I opened ace-king under the gun and Pius Heinz shoved king-jack and I called.  He shoved for like nine million, but he miscounted his stack.  The blinds were 150,000-300,000 and I had opened to like 625k.  He shoved and I asked him how much he had and he said, like seven.  But he actually had nine.  I had the nut flush draw on the turn, he had king high and he spiked a gutter on me. 

I was one card away from being chip leader at the Final Table.  While I was passing my chips over to Pius when he beat me, the other table broke and they said, “We’re going down to ten handed.”  So that played a lot on my mind.  I was like, how can this guy hit a four outer against me for the chip lead of the November Nine?  And then like three hours later we were still ten handed.  I just came to a point in my mind where the mental battle was too tough.  I’m a bit religious in a way, God always does what’s best for you and God only knows why things happen.  And I went from believing I could win it to thinking maybe I just had to bust in tenth. 

It was the way things had gone, what with Gianetti doubling up twice while I folded for three hours ten handed.  And then the first hand I opened, somebody shoved and I was thinking, are they really picking on me this much? 


 The November Nine

Who did I play the most against that’s in the final nine?  The fact is that most of the guys who I played a lot against were knocked out.  A couple of the guys, like Sam Holden and Eoghan O’Dea, I basically never played with at all before the final ten.  I was with Ben Lamb for I’d say about six hours before the final ten.  But I didn’t play much against him.  I played a lot against Gianetti and I played a lot with Pius Heinz. And that was pretty much it. 

 Martin Stasko

I did play a bit against Stasko.  What can I tell you about him? I think he was playing tight and aggressive, but really aggressive. You could tell he was really zoned into the game, nothing was distracting him.  He was one of the few who weren’t looking back at the rail, and he seemed very calm at all times.  I played an interesting pot against him just based on table images and game flow, where I opened ace-deuce under the gun and he three bet me next to act.  It was just before a break and I was just really suspicious of the frequency in his three betting for a minute.  I knew it would look really strong if I four bet him, and it did in fact get through, but there weren’t many hands of his shown and he didn’t get much coverage.  Stasko actually built his stack when they moved him to the outer table from the feature table.  He came back with a huge stack.  I can’t really tell you much else about his game.

Phil Collins

There is so much about winning to me that is based on momentum.  For example, to me Phil Collins is the favorite, but he’s had zero cashes in the last couple months. 

Collins does a lot of limping, and it’s funny because how should you react to that?  Now I’d go as far to say that he is much better than all the players at the table post flop. I’m willing to admit that Phil’s a lot better than me post flop and a lot better than at least 90% of that table post flop, if not everybody.  But people have big egos, and they are so used to tournament poker being such a preflop game, especially in the endgame of a tournament.  But in this tournament at this time, when Phil Collins limps, what do you do?  Let’s say you have a hand like ten-nine suited that you’d normally open.  What are you going to do?  The correct adjustment would be to try and limp in behind Phil in position and try to take him post flop, but you’re in such a horrible spot at that stage of the WSOP main event, because what goes through your mind is always the worst case scenario. 

You could say that when he limps I should raise regardless of my hand because limping is weak.  But what if he limp raises, me what do I do then?  What do I do if he limp calls and I miss and then he floats me on the flop out of position?  It all just goes through your head, and I think he really exploited that well.  Collins limped a lot and he was balancing his range while doing it as well, which is pretty amazing.  He’s got over forty big blinds, so he’s got plenty.  And I don’t think his seat should matter that much because he’s played enough poker.  I think Collins has played more poker than anybody else at the table, because he used to be an online grinder and he’s a tournament specialist.  He’s been in the situations where these players are right now so much more than everyone else at the table, and I think his experience is going to kick in and help him pull through. 

Matt Gianetti

Everybody has their own style, so you can’t fault Gianetti for playing tight.  But I do know that he hit a lot of hands.  Tournament poker isn’t only about playing well, you also have to hope to cooler some people, especially in 7000 runner fields.  And Gianetti got this Brazilian guy for all his chips.  He made two boats against him and got paid off both times shoving the river.  But Gianetti obviously knows what he’s doing.  People go on heaters and ever since the November Nine started someone has gone from making the November Nine across to the actual final by winning a big tournament in the middle, and Matt took one down at the WPT Malta. 

I think Matt’s a very strong player.  But he’s a cash game player.  He understands what lines people make and hell put you in tough spots if he has to, but I don’t like his odds of winning it.

Bob Bounahra

Bounahra seems to be a really nice guy, but he’s way too tight to even have a shot at winning this.  Clearly I now understand how tight he was but I didn’t see the coverage until afterwards.  If you had spent some time playing with him then you kind of get the suspicion that he’s not as tight as people who were viewing it would believe, because he just kept getting hand after hand after hand.  So the frequency Bob was opening with made me think that he was making moves, but really he was just running amazingly hot and hitting hands.  Now that I know that, I really don’t like his chances.  I’d be willing to bet that he busts out within the first three from the November Nine.  He stands no chance of outplaying these guys, so he’s going to have to cooler people to make it through. 

 Anton Makiievskyi

Makiievskyi is a really nice guy, and I really like the way he plays.  He’s not afraid to mix it up.  I played a lot with Anton, he got himself into some interesting spots.  I played a lot with him because he was blind on blind against me when we were six or seven handed, and you could tell that he was the type of guy who’s very willing to bluff his stack away, like he really doesn’t care.  Obviously when it came time to make the November Nine he tightened up a bit, but I really like his style of play.  From what I saw I’d be willing to bet that he’s played a lot of tournaments because he was really putting pressure on people. 

Anton played a really interesting pot against Ben Lamb, which I vaguely remember.  He opened the button and Ben Lamb flatted and it came a paired board.  Lamb check-raised the flop and Makiievskyi flatted and the turn paired the board again, so it was like K-K-2-2.  And Ben check-raised him again.  It went check check on the river and they both had a pocket pair that played.  But it was so interesting to see the dynamic he had with Lamb, because he had played with Ben for like three days straight before the final day.  So he wasn’t giving Ben any credit at all. 

Final Thoughts

If I had to pick one guy who I think is going to be the winner, wow, I just couldn’t say.  I don’t think Ben Lamb is going to win it, or Bounahra or Heinz or Holden.  I believe it’s going to get down three handed between O’dea, Collins, and Makiievskyi.  That’s how I think it’s going to go.  But best of luck to them all.


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