2011 WSOP Event 18 Recap

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WSOPYet another of the $1.5k donkaments took place in Event 18: $1,500 No Limit Hold’em. 3,157 entrants came to Vegas this weekend to try their hand at winning a bracelet and a big payday by playing poker for a few days, trying to get their share of the $4.3 million prize pool.

A field this massive makes it difficult for pros to navigate. However, since this event paid an incredible 324 players, many were able to cash this event. Costa Rican Godfather of Poker Humberto Brenes, Erick ‘E-Dog’ Lindgren, Dwyte Pilgrim, and Prahlad Friedman were among the many that finished in the money.

The big story in this event is that it was a FOUR day event. Originally scheduled to be played over three days, this tournament was pushed to a 4th after 6 players remained after the ten level rule was implemented on day three. While a couple of other tournaments also stretched into day 4, none did so with as many as 6 players still remaining.

When the players returned for day 4, 6 remained, with 25 year-old Foster Hays leading the way. He worked to ensure his victory, eliminating four of the other five competitors. His heads-up battle, however, was one that really tested his mettle.

Hays entered heads-up as the massive chip leader, but Casey Helton would not simply be overlooked. Helton battled back, and even held the chip lead at some points in the heads-up match. The final hand shows how close the match was: it took the tournament staff 3 counts to make sure Hays actually had Helton covered. He did, and Helton was sent home $450k richer. Meanwhile, Hays put on a new bracelet and added $735,400 to his bankroll.

2011 WSOP Event 13 Recap

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WSOPEvent 13 of this year’s World Series of Poker, a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout tournament, had a capped number of entrants at 2,000. This cap never quite came into play, with 1,440 players showing up to play, creating a nearly $2 million prize pool.

How a shootout works: each player is assigned a table, as usual, to begin the tournament. However, as players bust, the tables are not balanced; rather, each plays down to a winner, much like a sit-n-go. Once someone wins the table, they wait until all tables are finished. Once they are, the winners of the individual tables are reseated again with the other winners, and the same thing happens until we are down to 9 or fewer winners. Once that happens, the final table is formed, and the winner of this table is the winner of the tournament.

Considering this is not a traditional tournament structure, the 1,440 entrants is still quite impressive. Many of these players are those we have seen on TV before: former November Niner Filippo Candio, former actress Jen Tilly, WSOP champion Greg Raymer, and Pokerstars spokesman Daniel Negreanu all finished in the money, making at least almost $5k for their efforts.

The final table was stacked with talent. Former bracelet winners David ‘the Dragon’ Pham, Vitaly Lunkin, Dan ‘djk123’ Kelly, and Erik Cajelais were all vying to add another to their trophy case. However, none of these were ever really in contention, with Cajelais outlasting the rest, but still finishing in 5th.

Eventual winner Andrew Badecker made sure to put himself in the best place to win this tournament very early, entering the final table as the chip leader. Throughout the entirety of the final table, he rarely lost the lead, and when he did, he reclaimed it quickly. Eventually, he busted Robbie Verspui, who took home $228k for his second place finish. Badecker, along with the bracelet, also took $369,371 home for his win.

2011 WSOP Event 2 Recap

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WSOPBringing out one of the best fields we will see in this year’s WSOP, the $25,000 Heads-Up No Limit Hold’em Championship was bound to be hotly contested throughout the event. In a tournament that pitted distinguished pros against one another in match after match, including Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, Vanessa Rousso, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, among many other popular players, we knew this bracelet would be one to cherish.

These events are not only about the bracelets, though. In an event that brought out only 128 players willing to pay the steep $25k, the prize pool swelled quickly. Min-Cashing in 16th place still earned you just north of $67,000. The winner, however, would take home a much better boost to the bankroll, netting $851,192, more than 25% of the $3 million prizepool.

By the time the event reached the quarter finals, many top names made their way to the rail, but all of those left had a poker pedigree that could not be argued with. Eric Froelich, Gus Hansen, Yevgeniy Timoshenko, and Jake Cody all have had their share of success on the felt, all of whom have had major tournament victories in the past. These semifinal matchups, with Froelich playing Timoshenko and Cody trying to take down the Great Dane (who won a similar event in Europe last year), were hotly contested, though both Timoshenko and Cody seemed in control of their respective matches the whole time. Eventually, Cody sent Hansen on his merry way (to one of the high-stakes cash games, no doubt) and Timoshenko outlasted E-Fro on his way to the finals.

Timoshenko blazed out to an early lead and seemed ready to steamroll Cody. However, Cody battled back, both by making pro-caliber plays and, as is necessary to win a tournament, hitting some cards at the right time. Eventually, Cody prevailed, winning his first WSOP bracelet and the first place cash prize.

It is still early in this year’s WSOP, but Cody put himself in a good position to make a run for Player of the Year. A couple more deep runs and he may sneak his way into a household name. One thing is true: he now has the bankroll to do so.


Limit Holdem versus No Limit Holdem

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It has been and probably will be one of the most discussed topics in the poker world for some time to come. Usually when we think about beginning poker players we tend to think about limit holdem. That doesn’t mean that limit requires any less skill, actually reading your opponents and having good feel for the game are even more important in limit, it just means that it requires a twist on how to execute those skills successfully along with a lot of playing experience. When I first began playing poker years ago I started out playing limit. The reasoning was simple. After reading all of the books I could get my hands on and playing on simulators I figured it was the safest way not to lose a whole lot of money off the top while being able to learn the game. I also noted that the buy-ins for no limit cash games were around $200 – $300 for the low stakes $2/$1 games. Clearly I was nowhere near ready to play in even the smallest no limit games at that time.

Limit gives you an opportunity to slow the game down due to the capped betting. It also allows you to learn how to play solid fundamental poker while not being under the pressure of losing your entire buy-in at the drop of a card. That in-and-of-itself provides many new poker players with a comfort level that is just not there for the novice Texas Holdem poker player. Limit in many ways can appear as if it is a drawing game and you will typically see many players in the pot whereas a No Limit game will usually see a pre-flop raise to push out players with mediocre hands. Also, limit is a game that always gives you odds to whatever draw you may have simply because there is so much money in the pot.

Strategically Limit Holdem is much more competitive at the higher stakes where skill level comes more into play. For instance: At a $2/$4 table with a full ring and 5 players in the pot there is almost no way that a player with the nut flush draw is going to fold when he is getting more than 5 to 1 on his draw. Now consider that a raise was made post flop. It would be a very poor choice not to put $4 dollars into the pot for a shot at $20 and possibly more by the River.

On the down side of the limit game is the fact that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to protect your premium hands. If you don’t flop or turn a set and someone is constantly raising with no flush or raise on the board in a 4 or 5 way pot it is probably time to muck that premium hand. This is where many players don’t seem to get it. You cannot hold on to bad hands all the way to the River in any form of poker and expect to make a profit over the long term. You have to be capable of folding as all good player do when they have confirmed they are beat.

As with time and a little talent you find that you will develop a feel for the game and instinctively you should know when you are beat. On the other hand you should also know when you are ahead and be capable of utilizing those same instincts to extract maximum value in the hands you are involved in.

No Limit Holdem is still the king of all forms of poker despite the current Omaha craze that is taking the world by storm. However, no limit also requires even more skill and intuition to play well and be profitable over the long run. Solid fundamental play is a given in a good no limit player. What seperates the no limit players is the moves that can be made and the betting. You can use your chips to your advantage to move players off of hands and out of pots. You cannot do that playing limit holdem. If you are in a poker tournament you always have the threat of the blinds and being busted out of the tournament hanging in the balance as you make your decisions from hand to hand. More than any other form of poker chips means power in no limit holdem. Other players try to avoid the big stacks when playing no limit tournaments. As far as the poker strategy goes you have access to an entire arsenal of moves just as the limit players do. The difference is that there is no limit on what you can put in the pot. You can put your opponent(s) to the test at any point in time in a hand before, during or after the flop.

I am not suggesting that either form of poker is better than the other. Yes, I do believe no limit is the king of poker due to its popularity but all forms are valid and require study, experience and a lot of practice. There are lessons to be learned in both limit and no limit. So don’t be scared to sit down at the poker table with a few friends and give it a shot. You might be surprised.

Curtis Mayfield III