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WSOP $10k PLO Final Table

(results: http://www2.pokerpages.com/tournament/result8742.htm)

This was a 2-day event with a $5000 buyin and optional $5000 re-buys the first two levels, and an optional $5000 add-on at the end of the first two hours.

This was the last large event before the 6-day “big event”. Omaha is a game like Hold’em but very different. You get 4 cards instead of 2 and have to use 2 of the 4 cards and 3 of the board cards to make a hand. I’ve been playing pot-limit Omaha (high) since the 2003 Aruba event, and mainly have been playing around the tournaments I’ve gone to at the Commerce and in Reno, and then a few multi-day sessions at the World Series this year.

I flew in from DC the night before and wound up not sleeping (playing PLO cash games). Hooked up with my wife and friends in the AM, then went into the tournament. During the dinner break the first day I went down to the cash game. The Unabomber said “Freedman, you’re hardcore, playing during the dinner break”.

On the first day, I ended the rebuy period with about 6000 in chips, from 5000 starting. I never got very low, and didn’t feel the need to add-on at the end. It just didn’t seem that having another 5000 in chips then would greatly enhance my chance of making the top 5. I could be wrong on that, as many pros I talked to disagree(d) with me.

A few interesting hands from the first day:

- I limped with Aces, which I had been doing, as there was more than enough raising at the table. Slim flopped top boat and I had pretty much nothing. He made a small bet. The turn came an Ace, giving me now the top boat. Unless Amarillo had quads, I was good. On the river he bet 2500 and I raised 2500. He had about 5000 chips left. He called, saying he knew I had him beat…

- Jim McManus, who had re-bought a few times and added on even with a good number of chips, and I were each up to about 25k in chips. I had KQJ9, with QJ of clubs. The flop was K99, with K9 of clubs. I checked it to Jim, who bet the pot (7k). I re-raised all-in. He called with A9. I had a straight flush draw also in case he hit his A, which was good, but he didn’t hit an A and I doubled up.

- Had a few hands with Phil Hellmuth, Jr. He was in a bad mood and was folding pretty easily post-flop. He wasn’t in his scary mode.

Lederer seemed on his game and was quite formidable the whole tournment. I was lucky to have him generally to my right when we were at the same table. I would say his play degraded at the final table, but it’s also possible his cards were no good, or that there were other factors at play I was not aware of.

Those hands were before the dinner break. After the dinner break, I gradually built up but had no dramatic hands (a good way to build). I was the chip leader at my table towards the end, and could have even potentially been more aggressive but I was getting enough respect to gradually grow my stack a few $k at a time, so I was happy.

The first day finished at 2:30am.

The morning of the 2nd day I had a 2-hour conference call at 7am local time, and spent a few hours repairing my main machine, which had crashed due to unfortunate issues with Linux and NFS.

The tournament started at 2. By about 4 we were into the final table (final 10 people). I came in with 85k chips (down from 180k peak). I had some promising hands (pre-flop) and was down to 55k chips when Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu had a hand which busted Moneymaker. I was in the hand but folded on the flop.

Moneymaker had flopped a straight, bet the pot, and got a call from Daniel. On the turn, the board paired Queens, and Moneymaker moved in (he had about the pot in chips, another 100k or so). Daniel had made quad Queens and Moneymaker was out one from the TV table of 9.

Once we got down to 9 they gave out interview times and had us come back at 6:15 for the start of the final table. The interview was mildly interesting, pretty standard questions on background, style, and had me do some chip-shuffling, which I can just barely do.

The final table had hole-card cams and a “bunnycam” for showing the cards that would have come on the turn and/or river if the hand had played out. This info should make the TV show quite interesting (especially for me).

The final table had Freddy Deeb to my left, not great, and Howard Lederer and Daniel to my immediate right, the best place to have them. Those three players were my main concerns.

Going into the final table I had 55k chips, by far the short-stack. There were a few people (including Lederer and Negreanu) with 250k chips or so and the rest had 100-150k or so chips. I wasn’t depressed, but I was clear that I was going to need to get some good hands or I’d just have a television appearance, chance to wear an Akamai hat, and gain legitimacy for my poker hobby.

I actually borrowed a copy of Poker for Dummies to read at the table, but I didn’t get a chance, because there were very few pots at the table where serious decisions weren’t being made.

A brief summary of the final table hands hands:

Pretty quickly, I got Aces, got in heads-up. It wasn’t as “premium” a hand as Aces in Hold’em but it was pretty good for a short-stack, and luckily it held up and I doubled up.

A little while later, the perfect hand came for me. It was raised to 38k or so pre-flop with a number of callers. I flopped the nut heart flush, pushed in for another 53k or so, and it folded around to Daniel. Daniel thought for a bit, we made some faces at each other, and he eventually decided to call. At the end of the hand, I had 292k, was seriously in the game, and a little while later when Howard lost a large pot, I was actually chip leader at the table for a few hands.

Daniel and Howard then lost some big hands. Daniel lost some big ones, 50k-100k+ at a time, which brought him to a short-stacked position.

Amazingly, and due to no fault/skill of my own, both of them were out before me.

On my final hand it was raised by the current chip-leader (who went on to win) pre-flop and called. I had about 250k chips at that point, and was uninterested in “hanging on” to get another 30 or 60k extra over the 90k I was guaranteed. The flop gave me a huge straight draw and a middle flush draw.

I had QJ97 and the board was Kd 10s 6d. I had Q or J of diamonds, so I had to worry about one or two higher diamonds, but I didn’t put him on that – I put him on 2 pair or a set already.

Notice the difference between Hold’em and Omaha. In Hold’em I just had an open-ended straight draw with QJ on tht board. With Omaha:

An A gives me a straight (A K 10 board, Q J hand)
A Q gives me a straight (K Q 10 board, J 9 hand)
A J gives me a straight (K J 10 board, Q 9 hand)
A 9 gives me a straight (K 10 9 board, Q J hand)
A 8 gives me a straight (10 8 6 board, 7 9 hand)

So that looked good to me, 5 cards to get me a straight from 3 or 4 suits, plus maybe cards from the 4th suit to make a flush draw. A good chance to trade $30k or $60k of safe money vs. a much better chnce at $410k.

I bet the flop, Ted re-raised the pot, and I re-raised all-in. He had a pair of 10s and the nut flush draw. I didn’t hit the straight, so I was out. I still think I took a reasonable chance, as if I got to 2nd place there would likely have been a deal, guaranteeing at least $300k – and I would have had a shot at the bracelet. Also, I knew that I would need chips to deal with Freddy Deeb in any case.

Overall, I was pretty happy with how I played, and with the experience overall.

The event should air on August 31st.