Stuart Gunn Interview
The 2006 Caribbean Poker Classic, held at the Marriott Hotel & Resort in St Kitts, was a nine-day frenzy with the main event a $6,000 buy-in and a field of 249.
The first and second prizes were scooped by two Poker Plex players; Bjorn Arild Wiik scooped $347,000 and Stuart Gunn who won $217,400 in second place via a freeroll.
Australian Stuart Gunn gives us a personal account of his journey to second place and tells us how he'll be spending his winnings. Stuart shows players that it is possible to realise their poker dreams and that their chance of winning big does not lay so far away.
“After a long journey via Osaka, LA and Puerto Rico we finally arrived in St Kitts. The next day I headed to the poker room and sat down to play the $330 NLH tournament but busted out pretty quickly due to exhaustion. The next day I played a $50 and a $100 single table tournament and won them both. That night we went to a Poker Plex function where I met the poker manager Henrik who invited me to play in a tournament pitting each of the eight poker rooms at the event against each other. There was about $12k up for grabs for the best 3 teams. I rocked up at 10am and Henrik gave me an amazing goody bag that included an iPod, vodka, Poker Plex T-shirts with my name on them (!), and $1k. The 3 Poker Plex players busted out 6th, 5th and 4th so I headed back to bed.
The ‘main event’ field for Day 1 was split into two. The format was 9 handed, 6000 chips, blinds of 25/25 increasing every hour. The first table I was on had two very good players, an Israeli player two seats to my right who I’d seen playing the 25/50 PLH and a German one seat to my left. Every time I’d come in, the German guy with position, raised and I’d have to fold. I was starting to get into trouble with my stack and needed to slow him down. With about 3.8k in chips, I raised to 600 with Q-J suited in late position. He came over me for 2k. Although he had been pushing me around, he wasn’t particularly loose. I decided to just smooth call and then push all in on any flop. If he had the A-x or K-x that I suspected, he couldn’t call even if he thought he was probably ahead. The flop came T-x-x, I bet all-in and he folded. From there I was able to gain a foothold and take many smaller pots without having to show.
I was moved to a new table with 8k. I faced my second hand in the small blind and limped in with 8d-2d. The flop came 8-7-4 with two diamonds and I bet out for 2/3 the pot and the button flat called. The turn came a 3 and we both checked. At this point, I'd put him firmly on a draw. The river is a Jack. He bet 1,500 into me with the pot about 1,000. I looked at him and he sure looked weak. If he's betting for value he needed to bet less than that. It reinforced my feeling that he had a flush draw. I call and he showed Kd-3d. I get to show 8-2o and having just appeared on the table I developed a great image. Right on the break I got K-K under the gun and raised it to 600. I got up and tried to look like I just wanted the hand to be over and be on the break. The button came over the top all-in for 3800 with A-T off suit and my stack was now approaching 25k. I was chip leader for about half the day with 43k but by the end of the day I finished on an average stack of 19k.
Day 2 and there were 69 players remaining with 36 making the money. With my stack below the average I was thinking about just reaching the money and my chip stack ebbed and flowed. At 38 players I had 19k. Finally we got down to 36 and my stack is 14k, but I’d made the money. At this point, we switched to 6 handed tables, and I firmly decided to play to win or bust.
Up to 45k and an extremely loud American called Howard raised to about 6k. I have Q-Q in the big blind, and slid it straight in. With a stack of about 70k, Howard called my raise with Q-8 off suit! A few hands later in early position I raised with 10-10, with my stack now at 100k. I'm somewhat annoyed when a new player slid his whole stack of 130k in over me. I thought then decided I could find a better time, but he knew I was not happy. On the last hand before the break, he raised and it folded to me in the big blind. I looked at J-J, and realised I could make an exact mirror of his play earlier. Knowing that he knew I wasn't happy about folding, I pushed all-in. He eventually called with 7-7 and my stack was now about 210k!
We were down to two tables 3/4 handed. A player busted on the other table, and the final 6 were set. I was the chip leader and even if I busted out first the least I’d take home was $52k. Poker Plex told me that they’d buy me into the Aussie Millions so all in all it was a great birthday!
I had a plan for each player in the final 6. Playing under TV conditions, people were going to be nervous for a while, it was going to be tight and slow from the start. I'd play tight until I got settled. My biggest problem was Henrik, the second chip stack. He was good, had tonnes of live experience and was pretty fearless. He had one chink in his armour, however, which was that his main game is high stakes Omaha and he had a habit of making pretty big calls when the odds didn't really dictate it. Bjorn had been difficult to read for anything. Andrew had a WSOP bracelet, but he'd been playing pretty tight. I knew how to get out of pots with him. Dave Colclough is the same, but had a smaller stack and he was monster tight. The player on the small stack was a rather large Brit who'd been super lucky. He had an amusing habit of looking at his hand before I look at mine and pretty much broadcasting his hand on his face.
On the final day, I didn't have to worry about playing tight for the first hour because I got absolutely no hands. A key hand came up vs. Bjorn. He raised from the button to 35k, and I smoothed in the big blind with Q-J off suit. The flop came 987 and I led out for half the pot and got called. The turn came 9 and the third heart (I have the Qh). I bet 35k, Bjorn raised another 35k, and I easily had odds to call. Bjorn looked like he didn’t have much, maybe a 7 or 8 or under pair. The river came a 5 and I had a strong urge to bet. There was about 250k in the pot. If I was right about his hand, and I bet about 100k, he wouldn’t call with both a flush and a straight down. If he had the straight on the turn, he would have raised more. The decision I had was either make a ballsy bet, or give him the pot. I chose the latter and he showed A-8 off suit to take the pot.
Bjorn pretty quickly took out Andrew in 4th, then the Brit in 3rd, and we were heads up with about 1.1m against my 374k. On the third hand I raised with Ad-4d to about 35k. Bjorn came over the top all-in and I called. I immediately had a feeling that a murderer might have after killing someone - a moment of clarity in which I thought what have I done? This call was a mistake for 120k, and I may well need therapy to get over it. Although the pressure didn’t affect me anywhere near what I imagined it might have. I forgot to think through this hand and had made a huge error. Bjorn showed 6-6 which held up and he won taking 1st place and $347k.
For my second place finish I won $217,400, which should purchase a nice house. I completed a somewhat dazed post-game interview and we departed the next day on our long journey back home to Australia. The Caribbean Sun flight was late and we missed our connection so the airline had to stump up for two first class tickets to LA. Not a bad result from a free roll!”