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World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship

A rough start on day one

by Todd Brunson |  Published: Aug 01, 2010


At the World Series of Poker, the $50,000 Poker Players Championship is the new name of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event — or, actually, that’s what it has morphed into. It’s not just a new name, as three new games have been added: pot-limit Omaha, no-limit hold’em, and deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball. Why were pot- and no-limit games added to the mix? The answer is that the winner should be proficient in all games.

If that wasn’t enough, final-table play switches to straight no-limit hold’em. The reason for this? The American people apparently have no interest in any other forms of poker. At least that’s the stance of ESPN. I’m not crazy about any of this, and neither are a lot of other people.

Last year, I got off to a great start in this event, but it didn’t happen this year. Barry Greenstein was at my table, and was on a triple-draw rush to match the drawout capabilities of the “Great Dane,” Gus Hansen. One hand in particular, we put in multiple bets from the get-go. I made an 8-6 perfect right away, and I guess that Barry didn’t believe me, as we put in four more bets.

He missed the second draw and just called my bet. On the end, he fired into me and showed me a 7 low after I called. This should be referred to as the “Todd Brunson Syndrome.” There’s like a million freakin’ dollars in the pot and I have a pat hand, my opponent draws, and I just have to dodge the 3-to-1 one time. I’d like to have 10 percent of the money that I’ve lost like this in the last five years.

Joe CassidyI was running salty, so I was just trying to play tight and let the negative waves pass by when this next hand came. Joe Cassidy limped in from first position in stud eight-or-better with a 6 up. I was the low with a 3 up, and I looked down at buried nines. Everyone else passed, and it was down to just the two of us.

On the next card, he hit a deuce and I caught a jack. I checked, and, obviously, he bet, as I could have any two random cards here. Now, I could have just folded here, but as I said, I could have any two cards and he might be betting a busted three-flush or a small pair, so I decided to take one off, hoping that he would break off.

Well, he didn’t exactly break off; it looked even better than that. He broke into open deuces and I hit a 9, giving me hidden trips. Now, that deuce easily could have given him three deuces, so when he bet out, I raised him. He raised me back, which I actually liked. I mean, he might have slow-played rolled-up sixes or made deuces full of sixes, but I could still win if either of those situations was the case. If he had slow-played a big pair or had three ducks (the most likely case), I already have him beat.

I just called, not only because of the outside chance that he might have me beat, but mainly to disguise my hand. On sixth street, I got a little worried when I hit a king and he hit an ace. One of the hands that I thought he might have was aces in the hole.

On the river, I was going to raise no matter what, as he couldn’t reraise with a small full house. I hit a jack, though, giving me nines full and making the raise much easier. I didn’t like it at all when he raised back, so I just called. Most players would raise again here, but I knew better. I mean, I still might have him beat, but I don’t wanna reraise him, laying him 2-1 that I do.

The reason it’s 2-1 is that if he did have me beat, he would raise yet again, costing me two more bets. So, I just called, and he showed me four deuces. WTF? I mean, what kind of a freakin’ cooler was that? Not only did I have to hit trip nines, he had to make four deuces, and then I had to fill up!

The bad news is that I’m not even through day one and I’m already getting short. The good news is that Phil Hellmuth is about to be moved to my table. Things started great last year and ended badly, so maybe the opposite will happen this year. Spade Suit

Todd Brunson has been a professional poker player for more than 20 years. While primarily a cash-game player, he still has managed to win 18 major tournaments, for more than $3.5 million. He has won one bracelet and cashed 25 times at the World Series of Poker. You can play with Todd online at or live at his tournament, The Todd Brunson Montana Poker Challenge, in Bigfork, Montana. Check his website,, for details.