Rep Porter had come close to his first major tournament victory before. He was heads up with Jeff King at the World Series of Poker circuit stop at Caesars Atlantic City in 2006, but fell short of the prize. He claimed an even larger prize last night, his first WSOP gold bracelet. The win also gave him more than $1 million in career tournament winnings - a milestone for any serious player. He prevailed at a final table that also featured professional Devin Porter, and lasted an unusually long nine hours, considering the aggression that a six-handed format inspires. Rep told Card Player about why he expected this, as well as his other thoughts on the final table during a press conference after the win.
Question: Do you feel like you have an advantage in these short-handed events?
Ralph “Rep” Porter: You know, two years ago I played one six-handed event and I got knocked out in the first level. I wasn’t really sure what I thought about it. Then last year, I cashed in both the six-handed events I played. I went deep and I actually got unlucky both times I was knocked out. But, I felt like in the six-handed events I had a good idea of what the ideal strategy was. I actually felt really sharp coming into the six-handed events this year.
Q: What was your mindset coming into the final table? Were you worried about Devin Porter? Did you think the action would play so slow?
RP: I actually thought it would play slow. I thought the stacks were very deep relative to the blind levels. I thought we could definitely be playing 25,000-50,000 for the blinds by the time we were done. As it turns out we barely got to the 20,000-40,000 level. I thought yesterday wrapped up a little sooner than I thought it would…I really didn’t like the seat draw with Michiel [Brummelhuis] right behind me. I played with him a little while yesterday and he was very solid, very aggressive. He had a stack bigger than mine and he was sitting on my left, that’s not the ideal situation shall we say. I was fortunate to pick up the two kings on that one hand and he had a big hand also. Once that hand went down I felt like I was in a really strong position, and it was just a matter of playing well and being patient.
Q: What did you think Devin held when you faced that big decision three handed with pocket tens?
RP: I felt like it was very close. I was going to push over Nathan [Templeton] that was already on my agenda, and then Devin pushes in…I went into the tank, I tried to get anything I could from him, I tried to get a read from him, and he wasn’t giving anything up. He played real strong, he was tough, and I was just really hoping he wasn’t going to show me aces or kings. He’s got to make that play with a range of hands, anything from sevens up, ace-king, ace-queen, ace-jack, all those hands are reasonable to make that play with, especially if he thinks that Nathan might be trying to steal from me…It’s scary, it took me a long time, finally…I put them in and got lucky that I won the race.
Q: Was it an automatic decision to call with king-queen on the final hand?
RP: Yeah, I think so, I actually considered pushing when I made the raise, but king-queen is a strong hand heads up so I was hoping to get some action.
Q: You said that last night action played down extremely fast and then here today it slowed down immensely, especially when four handed. How important is sensing the pace of a tournament at different stages and adjusting your play accordingly?
RP: Well, a lot of that is you have to be aware of how your stack plays relative to what the blinds are, and then how the rest of your table perceives that situation as well. It varies from hour to hour, even within the same table, and then when you move to a different table they can be approaching things very, very different. At one point yesterday I was at the table with the two chip leaders with eight tables left and I would say our table had 30 percent of the chips on it. I had 250,000 and two guys had me buried, one guy had 300,000, and one guy had 350,000. Everyone at my table was playing very aggressive and then there was a guy sitting on my left who had only 80,000, which was plenty to play with there, and he played very patient, he understood. But most people get mixed up in that and they don’t necessarily think about the overall picture, where they specifically are, their table. They get a little myopic sometimes.