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WSOP 2005 - June 19th, by Peter Costa

WSOP 2005 - June 19th, by Peter Costa The back-to-back shootouts began with a $1500 Limit Hold’em event. I decided to play a little more open early on and try to accumulate some chips before the limits increased. So much for that approach - I was down to 900 from the initial 1500 and needed to get lucky. Well, a lot of luck in this game sometimes depend on the blind hands. With mostly just having to call one bet to a raise - they can determine how you run. I got lucky three times in a row. Holding 2-2,3-3, and then 5-5 on the big blind - I called the extra bet each time and flopped a set each time. Skillful eh? As a bonus - I got plenty of action each time.

This stroke of luck gave me the opportunity to make the last three. In fact, I had a slight chip over the other two. Soon it was down to heads-up and a real chance to go through to the money and the next round. My opponent was actually a very good limit player. He had been down to just 400 but made a great recovery. However, after one hour or so of heads-up play - I had a big advantage with 11,000 over 4,000. Then the crucial hand that almost got me over the winning line. With limits of 300-600, I raised pre flop and then went to war slightly on a flop K-4-3 rainbow. I stopped caring what my opponent held after an Ace hit the turn. Holding A-K, I led out again and got called by my opponent who had just a couple of big bets remaining. A dangerous deuce hit the river. Holding 5s-6s, my opponent’s prayers were answered. Little went right for me after and I lost the battle.

You could say that I was feeling a little frustrated at how things have gone since I made the final in the fourth event. But at least I had another shootout to look forward to….

With this being NL - I felt that I would have a greater chance if I get myself in a similar position. However, it was a bit of a struggle to get going early on. But then I was handed a gift (if a gift ever exists before a flop), when I was re-raised all-in with 4-4. Luckily for me, my K-K actually stood up. This again helped me to get to the last three. All even in chips, I decided to change tactics slightly. Having previously bet small with big hands - I was about to start over-betting them. I think it was the only way to combat the player on my left. He had been a pain from off and was playing some great poker. I looked at perhaps trying to get him while three-handed, rather than wait for heads-up. I just needed a little help from the cards.

The help came by way of K-4 on the big blind. As he tended to do - the dangerous opponent limped on the button. However, this was going to prove costly. All three in the pot - I made a big bet on a flop of K-4-9. The button, holding K-2, calls quickly. I know he at least has a King. The turn brought a harmless looking seven. I moved all-in. Having done the same move on the previous hand against the same player (I actually made the nut flush) - the K-2 decides to make a stand. This was a nice situation to be in.

I was left heads-up and in an even better position than the limit. A couple of hands later it was all over. The frustration of the previous day was forgotten.

Starting with 760 players - we had 76 go through to the next round. This was split into 13 tables of 6 and just the winner going through to the last thirteen.

We started with 15,000 and blinds of 200-300. Normally, this structure would not be too bad. However, short-handed, it’s a totally different story. Lets just say that we knew we would have to gamble.

John Juanda raised on the button to 800 - the small blind calls. I don’t like my A-7 on the big blind. It’s normally a no-brainer fold at this early stage. However, this quick structure made sure that we would gamble more - I also called. Both the blinds check to John on a board of 5-6-8. John bet 2100. I know that John could be doing this play with any hand. I also know that if he does have a hand and calls - I have outs. John pondered for a couple minutes. He looked at his stack and suggested that the structure was lacking. In other words, he would probably muck in a different situation. In truth, I didn’t mind if he did call with an over pair. Having 11 outs twice - was not too bad a spot. John did call, but was drawing to two outs on the river as I hit the Ace on the turn. I hoped this little bit luck would carry me through.

Three-handed, things did not look too good. With 90,000 in play - I could barely get over the 20,000 mark. My saving grace was that the other two players did more limping than raising. This allowed me to hit quads with my 7-5 and double up against the chip leader. He then lost his remaining chips to the other player (Ted Lawson) - heads-up again. After only a few minutes of heads-up play - the crunch hand came. Almost level in chips - we both saw a flop of 4-6-7 two spades. Ted made a small bet and I called with 9h-Ts - looking for a magic 8. The eight 8s came and Ted bet 8,000. I was trapped. Ted had Qs-6s for a flush. I moved all-in, Ted called and that was that.

My consolation from the defeat is that I would be playing the next event - a $2500 Limit Holdem.

Until next time - play well, get lucky and carry on getting heads-up!

Peter “The Poet” Costa


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