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Final Table Takedown - Paul Dewald Battles Back From Three Big Blinds to Finish Second for a Six-Figure Score

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Oct 15, 2010


Paul Dewald, 26, has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of Northern Colorado. He has been playing poker professionally, online and live, since June of 2005. He started off as a cash-game specialist and moved to tournaments with the help of a friend, Hunter “Hemipowerswt” Frey. Dewald had several five-figure scores leading up to his latest successes. On June 13 of this year, he chopped the Sunday Warm-Up on PokerStars for $87,537. In August, he finished third in the PokerStars Second Chance event for $30,600. He has accumulated more than $1.4 million in career online-tournament cashes. He is a hard-working poker player who’s dedicated to becoming one of the best in the game.

Event: PokerStars Sunday Million tournament
Players in the Event: 7,798
Buy-in: $215
First Prize: $233,943
Finish: Second

Hand No. 1
Stacks: Paul “PremiumStud” Dewald – 1,538,200 Villain – 7,083,447
Blinds: 250,000-500,000
Antes: 50,000
Players Remaining: 7

Key Concepts: Patience; take the time to regroup after a bad beat; always be aware of the stack sizes of your opponents

Craig Tapscott: You had a huge stack going to this final table, didn’t you?

Paul Dewald: I did. Then right before this hand, I lost with aces against the A♥ K♥, all in preflop, and my stack was down to about four big blinds.

CT: How did you recover?

PD: I put both of my hands on my head and my elbows on the table, and asked myself: “Why? Why does this happen to me deep in another Sunday major?” The most important thing was that I kept my head on straight after taking that beat.

CT: What happened next?

PD: I didn’t get dealt anything decent over the next few hands. My stack size now was down to about three big blinds. So, I decided to roll with the K♥ 6♥ instead of wait two hands for the big blind to hit me. I figured I would open-raise and not go all in. In doing this, I was hoping that the other players were not paying attention to my stack size.

Paul “PremiumStud” Dewald raises to 1,234,567 from early position with the K♥ 6♥. The action is folded around to the villain in the big blind. The villain folds. PremiumStud wins the pot of 1,100,000.

CT: Very tricky. So, it was pretty much a no-brainer for the big blind to call there with any two cards, correct?

PD: The big blind should call with any two cards because of the pot odds. Rarely will it be a situation in which he is dominated 80-20 or worse. As long as my bet is not for his tournament life or for half of his stack, he should make this call. \

Hand No. 2
Stacks: Paul “PremiumStud” Dewald – 1,688,200 Villain – 34,240,978
Blinds: 250,000-500,000
Antes: 50,000
Players Remaining: 7

Key Concepts: Opponent’s hand range; position
PD: Next, I was dealt the A♣ 9♣, and was ready to roll with this hand if the hijack or cutoff opened.

The villain raises from the cutoff to 1,298,900. PremiumStud moves all in with the A♣ 9♣. The villain calls, revealing the Q♣ J♥.

Flop: A♥ Q♦ 6♠ (pot: 4,376,400)
Turn: 9♥ (pot: 4,376,400)
River: J♠ (pot: 4,376,400)

PremiumStud wins the pot of 4,376,400.

PD: My three big blinds had turned into eight big blinds, and thus began my epic comeback to finish second in the Sunday Million. By playing more than 7,000 tournaments in 2010, I have learned to be patient after taking a horrible beat and thinking all is lost. Prior to that, I had learned how to master playing the short stack from my friend Hunter Frey. The main key is not to freak out when you get super short. You don’t always have to be in a hurry to get it in to have a chance to win.

If you don’t stress out and avoid just jamming the next hand, the skill of picking your spots well and trying to get it in when ahead can be mastered.

CT: What other tips do you have for our readers regarding how to maneuver a short stack?

PD: With a short stack, you really have to play tight and be aware of the other stacks that will call you when you put it in. Blind versus blind when holding Q-X or better, I am rolling with it, mainly because Q-X is usually ahead. Also, if you have to put it in light, you’re looking to put it in against the other stacks that are short, mainly because they might fold.

Hand No. 3
Stacks: Paul “PremiumStud” Dewald – 21,117,327 Villain – 40,706,731
Blinds: 400,000-800,000
Antes: 80,000
Players Remaining: 3

Key Concepts: Pick good spots; hand reading

CT: What was your strategy once the table got down to three-handed?

PD: Well, it always depends on your opponents. If you are playing against players you can run over, you should be opening and three-betting a lot. This was not the situation I was in. The other two guys were very active and very aggressive. My plan was to sit back and wait for good hands, pick my spots well, and let them battle it out, because I knew that they would get it in and put $55,000 more in my pocket. Of course, my objective was to play for first place, but I wanted to stay out of coin-flip situations until I was heads up.

PremiumStud raises to 1,600,000 from the small blind with the K♦ J♣. The villain calls from the big blind.

CT: Did you have any reads on the villain?

PD: He had consistently been calling with any two cards.

Flop: K♣ 7♣ 5♣

PremiumStud bets 1,875,787. The villain calls.

PD: I led into him instead of check-raising, because most players won’t lead with top pair, and I knew the villain would call super light.

Turn: K♠

PremiumStud checks. The villain checks.

PD: I decide to check it to him because he had been very aggressive, but he checks behind. I assume at this point that he may have a 5, queen high, or some similar hand.

CT: So, if he had bet, would you have check-raised?

PD: If he had bet, I would have just called and then checked the river, hoping that he would put more chips in for me.

River: 4♠

PD: I considered checking the river to him, then decided against it, because I had seen him make a hero call earlier. I was pretty sure that I could get more value out of this hand if I bet it.

PremiumStud bets 3,636,364.

CT: Why that bet size?

PD: I decided to make a decent-size bet instead of make it look like a value-bet. This bet size would appear to him that I was trying to steal this pot, when indeed I knew that I had the best hand.

The villain calls and reveals the Q♠ 2♥. PremiumStud wins the pot of 14,464,302.

CT: You’ve been deep in many other major online tournaments. Can you provide a few keys to help players maneuver through the final three or four tables and accumulate chips during the late stages of an event?

PD: I can’t give away all of my secrets, but you have to realize that you are playing to win and not to just make the final table. That’s why paying attention to how active the other players are and who the tight players are is very important. The active players with stacks similar to yours, you can three-bet and four-bet light, and the tight players, you also can three-bet light. At this point deep in an event, pay attention to your image, because the other active players will be more inclined to shove on you, because they will be sick of your three-betting. Therefore, you can call off light and have their hand range beat. ♠