The Winner’s Circle takes a look at the biggest wins from the tournament trail by the players that made it happen. This series will look at the big hands, toughest opponents, and paths to victory each player took in their most recent tournament win through their own eyes and words. If you ever wanted to know what it takes to win a major poker tournament, this is a good place to start.
This week David Plastik takes us through his tournament win at the L.A. Poker Classic preliminaries. Plastik was knocked down very low in the first level of a $500 no-limit hold’em preliminary, but he persevered and came back to win the tournament and $59,640 in prize money.
Ryan Lucchesi: How did the tournament start out for you?
David Plastik: This tournament was a total freeroll. I got an incredible break in the first half hour of the tournament. I had 6-4 of hearts and the board was Q-7-8-4 with two hearts. A guy bets out, so I just call, the button raises, the guy in between folds, and I call. On the river I make a flush, and I’ve got 2,100 in front of me and I’m trying to think to myself what I can get. I bet 1,500, and the guys snap calls. I show him the 6-4 of hearts and he’s looking at the hand for a second and then shows me the K-9 of hearts, and I had 600 left. He didn’t raise me…the only hand that beats him is the ace-high flush, and he left me with 600 because he was scared of the ace-high flush, which was an amateur error. I thought he was slow-rolling me.
RL: How did you start to come back from that setback?
DP: I’m sitting there shaking my head for the next couple of hands with 600 in chips, but luckily were at 25-50 blinds still. Being as experienced as I am, I realized I could still try and do something. I went on and made a little comeback, but I was short the whole time. I got to the final table with the short stack and I got it all in the very first hand at the final table. I got it all in with A-J under the gun and I got called by A-Q. Luckily, I prevailed; I turned a jack and then went up from there. I stayed short the whole time, but people went out around me…No one’s ever won a tournament without getting lucky, and I have to admit I was pretty lucky, but I also think I kept my composure and I was able to go through the times when I was short-stacked. I play a pretty good short stack in my time.
RL: How was the tournament structure for the event?
DP: The fact is that this has a great structure; the final table was fantastic as far as the play. We had so much play...there was so much play on this final table, with the extra time. People were complaining about not getting chips, because they’re used to big starting stacks, but I’m used to this. I’ve been doing this for many years, and it used to be in the $500 tournament we got 500 in chips. No one knew how to play big stacks back then, because there was only one event with 10,000 in chips because it had a $10,000 buy-in.
RL: A lot of younger players would have just given up on the tournament after the setback you suffered at the start of this event. What makes your poker demeanor different so that you realize you still have a chance with 600 left at 25-50 blinds?
DP: I still had 12 big blinds. They would give up and shove it right in…I’m a pretty good short-stack player, and I know that you can, and I have, come back from anything. I won my first tournament with one chip after losing a hand with pocket aces at the final table. I could have put in a raise on the river, but I just called, and I came back, and I’ve done that a couple of times. I’ve learned from a good school of poker, Scotty Nguyen taught me a good way to play short stack. It’s all about never giving up and just realizing anything is possible. I don’t give up like most people, you’ll see me grind a short stack for the longest time sometimes…and then you’ll see me with a lot of chips. You’ve just got to have faith and it works out that way.