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When I Was A Donk – Seth Berger

by Julio Rodriguez |  Published: Dec 21, 2016


In this series, Card Player asks top pros to rewind back to their humble beginnings and provide insights regarding the mistakes, leaks, and deficiencies that they had to overcome in order to improve their games.

Seth Berger made a lot of noise at the 2013 World Series of Poker when he made two huge final tables, finishing second in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event for $303,952 and third in a $5,000 no-limit hold’em event for another $315,529.

Since then he has made final tables at the Wynn Fall Classic, WSOP Circuit National Championship, Legends of Poker, Lucky Hearts Poker Open, and Borgata Poker Open. The Woodbury, New York native now has more than $1 million in lifetime live tournament earnings.

Here, Berger recalls two mistakes from his most successful summer.

There are two spots that immediately come to mind, both taking place in my two biggest scores ever. In 2013, I came out for the WSOP and managed to get heads up in one of the $1,000 buy-in hold’em tournaments.

I was so ready to go that I ended up playing way too fast and it was over in like five hands. I didn’t even really get to experience it because of how poorly I played. On the last hand, I ended up calling all-in on the river and I was wrong. I got caught up in the moment. Instead of just taking it slow and grinding him down, I was trying to end it in one hand.

Later that summer, I made another final table in the $5,000 event. I was familiar with the concept of Independent Chip Model (ICM) back then, but I wasn’t applying it to my own game. We were three-handed and even though the short stack only had eight big blinds, I managed to get it all in preflop against the chip leader for pretty much all of the chips.

In the particular hand, I got it in good with A-Q suited against his K-Q offsuit, but he flopped a king and I was out. Instead of inducing a shove, I should have shoved myself to just win the pot preflop and not have to sweat the cards at all. If I had played that hand with a better concept of ICM, I would have been able to lock up at least another $175,000 and maybe have even won the entire tournament.