Bay 101 TV Final Table!
March 22, 2022

I finally made my first WPT TV final table appearance last week at Bay 101.  “Finally” may be a bit of an exaggeration, considering that I am 25 and have only been playing WPT events for less than 18 months.  However, I think I’ve earned the right to use such dramatic language.  I don’t believe that anyone has made as many “second to last” days in WPT events as I have over the past year or so without making the final day.  It’s always frustrating to get so close to a win and fall short, but I’m happy to have finally broken through into a top 3 spot.


I started day 1 strong at a tough table which included: Phil “USCPhildo” Collins, Antonio Esfandiari, Paul Wasicka, and Josh Arieh.  I was involved in nearly every pot and managed to have the winner at almost every showdown.  When you’re running well and playing well, it’s hard for anyone to play back at you.  I slowly increased my stack throughout the rest of the day without too many setbacks despite some tough tables.


Day 2 started out even better than day 1.  I was the chip leader at my table and came out firing.  I opened just about every pot I had the chance to, and was lucky enough to have some hands when I got played back at.  I 3 bet called Howard Lederer’s shove with AQ and was up against his JJ for a good chunk of chips to add to my stack and a $5,000 bounty as extra incentive to make the call.  The flop came 9 T K, which isn’t great for my hand since a Q now makes Howard a straight.  The turn bricked but the river brought a J to make three Jacks for Lederer but complete my straight.  Howard was a gentleman and stuck around for the picture and shirt signing, but the $5,000 bonus was the real prize.


From there I moved to another semi-tough table with plenty of chips on it.  I sat next to Jonathan Tamayo when we were 1st and 2nd in chips.  This didn’t last long, as I encountered my first big setback of the tournament.  Steve Sung limped the button, Brandon Cantu completed the small blind, and I raised out of the big blind with A9o.  Steve Sung now reraised about 25% of stack.  Cantu folded, and I decided to move in risking about 40% of my chips.  Sung tank called with TT, and I missed to move down to the middle of the pack.  My play here was very high variance, very aggressive, and ultimately unnecessary.  However, in my defense, I thought he was folding (obviously), and sometimes that’s the only reason I need to make a play.  Sung makes some very odd stack size plays and I just didn’t think he was all that strong here and knew he had no problem folding after putting in 25% of his stack.  These odds plays can elicit some odd responses, and that’s exactly what he got out of me as well as a bunch of my chips.


I built back up and put a pretty mean cooler on Joe Cassidy when we got all the money in on the turn of a 3 9 T J board with my KQ vs his TT.  This propelled me to over 200k and I kept it rolling from there.  We hit the money and went 6-handed at 36.  My new table was pretty soft and I took advantage.  I built up to 400k and then got lucky getting two pair in against a straight on the turn and smashing the four outer on the river for another 100k boost.  I ended the day around 450k, about 40% of the final table average with 27 remaining.

Day 3 started pretty mixed, with a few decent pots going my way and a few going against me.  Most notably, I lost a flip with KQ against Mclean Karr’s 77.  This was a mere stepping stone in the most absurd run of cards I’ve ever seen, but you can see how his story ended at  I moved tables and the usual second to last day nonsense began.  I proceeded to lose every all in against short stacks and got rivered out of some very crucial pots.  I had Joe Sebok’s empathy as he watched me fall from over 800k to under 200k.  I had members of the press needling me about my falls from grace late in WPTs.  And I had my own thoughts as to how miserable yet another WPT choke would be.  I wallowed in my own misery for a bit, but this time, I refused to die.


It’s a funny thing about going from big stack to short stack; it can be a very freeing experience if you allow it to be.  Of course, I’m always trying to accumulate as many chips as possible.  However, with a big stack late in these tournaments comes pressure.  You have everything to gain, as well as everything to lose.  Again, there’s nothing better than being a big stack late in a major tournament, but a short stack has one advantage: Nothing to lose.  When you’re on the shorty, and everyone is just waiting for you to go broke, you have everything to gain but nothing to lose.  If you can forget about the stack you had, and live in the moment, you can play your stack well and aggressively and put yourself in good spots to double up.  I’m proud to say I was able to go from under 200k to about 500k without ever being called all in.  I used this momentum and the confidence it gave me to run it up the rest of the day.  We went 5+ hours without losing a player, but finally got to the 7-handed final table after midnight.  Andy Seth took out the 7th place finisher, and the stage was set for the following day’s 6-handed TV final table.  I’d be going in 3rd in chips with 1.1 million.


Andy Seth, Phil Hellmuth, Mclean Karr, Hassan Habib, and Matt Keikoan stood between me and my first WPT title.  I’ll leave the final table happenings to television, and comment on it when it airs around June 7th or 13th I’m told.  Overall, I’m happy with my play, but we’ll see how it looks on TV.  It was a good experience and I hope to be back real soon.  For now, I’m in Austria for EPT Snowfest.  I already busted the main event, but I’ll be snowboarding the Alps for the next four days so I can’t be too upset.  I’m going to try and post some video on here so hopefully that comes out well.

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