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2011 World Series of Poker Event No. 52 — Part One

2011 World Series of Poker Event No. 52 — Part One

by Matt Matros |  Published: Aug 10, 2011


Matt MatrosIn both 2009 and 2010, I got close to big scores in the mixed hold’em events (limit and no-limit) at the World Series of Poker. Two years ago, I was near the chip lead with 15 players left, but then I lost a big pot in each game and ended up finishing 12th. In 2010, I made a questionable play after we’d reached the money. I had K-8 offsuit and decided to call an all-in player getting 2.1-1 on my money. I lost to pocket queens, and

I eventually busted in 44th place. Still, two cashes in two years didn’t sound so bad when I stopped and thought about it.

Given my earlier success in the event, I was a bit chagrined when the 2011 mixed hold’em event started off so dismally. We’d just switched to the limit round when my first disastrous hand came up. Three players limped, including the small blind, and I checked my option with A-8 offsuit in the big blind. The flop came down 8-5-3 with two hearts.

The small blind led out, I raised, and the first limper called two bets cold. The second limper folded, and the small blind called. The turn brought an offsuit 6. The small blind checked, I bet, the limper called, and the small blind mucked. The river brought an offsuit 7, making the board 8-5-3-6-7 with no possible flush. I checked, intending to call a bet with my A-8 (a fairly standard limit call). That’s when my opponent looked at the board, looked at the dealer, and said, “Pot.” After a confused silence, he added, “It’s pot-limit, right?”

“I can’t believe I’m still gonna pay this off,” I grumbled to myself. See, I hate folding in limit hold’em. Plus, while it certainly would seem as though a guy who wants to bet pot has a pretty strong hand, it’s also a lot easier to bluff for a pot-sized bet than for a limit-sized bet, right? That’s what I told myself, anyway, as I called and got shown A-4 for the low straight. I muttered about how dumb I was for paying a guy who was trying to bet far more than he was allowed to, while a couple other good players sitting nearby laughed at me.

For my next trick, I flopped a wheel against the same opponent from the previous hand, this time in no-limit hold’em. I made a large bet for value on the turn, and when he called, I did the same thing on the river. He called again, only to turn over the second-nut flush, having never raised with it. “You can’t be too careful,” the good player next to me said, as my opponent across the felt dragged in the pot.

Down to about half of my starting stack now, I called a raise in position with AClub Suit JClub Suit. The flop of 7-4-3 with one club was checked by all five players in the hand. The turn brought the 5Club Suit, giving me the nut-flush draw. I called a bet from the preflop raiser, and everyone else folded. The river brought an offsuit queen, and the raiser (a very good no-limit hold’em player) bet again, this time leading out for 750. I decided it was a decent spot to try a bluff-raise, and I made it 1,900. My opponent thought for a while, and then clicked it back to 3,100 total. I folded, of course, and a bunch more of my stack was gone.

Getting back to limit hold’em, I defended my blind with pocket nines against a hijack raiser. I caught a beautiful flop of 10-9-6 with two clubs and check-raised. My opponent called, but then raised my bet on the turn when an offsuit 7 fell. I called and didn’t much care for the deuce on the end. I had 1,225 left in my stack and we were playing 300-600. After I checked, I begrudgingly called my opponent’s bet of 600 and got shown 8-7 suited for the flopped straight.

Clearly, this wasn’t going to be my day. I mentally readied my bustout tweet (@Matt_Matros). I’d soon be writing: “After cashing in the event each of the last two years, obviously mixed hold’em was my earliest bustout of 2011.”

I riffled the pitiful remains of my stack. Having posted 150 out of my 625 chips in the small blind, I figured to be committed with a very wide range of hands. Essentially, I had to win this next pot or go home. The cards were dealt, and the same player who’d flopped the straight on me raised again. I looked at my hand and had a trivially easy call with two fives. The big blind called, as well, and we took the flop three-handed. With only one 25 chip left, I checked on the off-chance that it got checked down and my hand was no good. But, of course, the raiser bet the queen-high flop, and I called all in. The big blind mucked, and I was shown two kings. This really was going to be a lightning-fast tournament! The turn was a blank, and I was halfway out of my seat when the 5 came on the river.

The two-outer got me up to 1,850, which was still what I had when I moved in under the gun for nine big blinds worth of chips (in no-limit, of course) with two sixes. I got called by A-10, won the flip, and miraculously found myself back to 3,900 — a little more than half of my starting stack of 7,500.

Half a starting stack isn’t exactly an omen for great things to come, but compared to one-tenth of a starting stack, it feels like all of the riches in the universe. I put my cynical tweet on hold and refocused on the event in front of me. Maybe I wasn’t done with the 2011 version of the mixed hold’em tournament just yet. ♠

Matt Matros is the author of The Making of a Poker Player. He also is a featured coach for