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Final Table Takedown: Ty Dobbertin Scores Six Figures At Gardens Casino

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Sep 20, 2023


Ty Dobbertin was born in Seoul, South Korea and came to America when he was adopted, growing up near Rochester, New York. His relatives have always been big card players, and he enjoyed playing euchre and gin rummy at family reunions. While in Baltimore attending Johns Hopkins University, he started playing poker at the nearby Atlantic City casinos on weekends.

Poker was a natural fit for Dobbertin, who competed on the Magic: The Gathering pro tour when he was younger. He spent a few years living in Philadelphia, grinding out mid-stakes cash games before making the switch to tournaments. He then moved to Los Angeles, taking a job as a software manager while continuing to play tournaments on the weekend.

Dobbertin has picked up a handful of wins in L.A. and this summer he made a deep run in the World Series of Poker main event, finishing 498th out of more than 10,000 entrants for $35,000. In May, he picked up a career-best $127,100 for taking down the Gardens Casino Memorial Day $600 event, beating out a field of 1,412 entries.

When he’s not at his day job or winning poker tournaments, the man of many talents enjoys spending time with his wife Emily, martial arts, playing guitar, and even acting and film production.

Card Player caught up with Dobbertin to talk about his big six-figure win and break down some key hands he played on the way to the title.

Event: Gardens Memorial Day $500K GTD
Buy-In: $600
Entrants: 1,412
Prize Pool: $734,240
First-Place Prize: $127,100

Stacks: Ty Dobbertin – 4,800,000 (48 BB) UTG+1 – 1,800,000 (18 BB) Button – 3,000,000 (30 BB) Big Blind – 2,000,000 (20 BB)
Blinds: 50,000-100,000 with a 100,000 big blind ante
Players Remaining: 15
Players: 8

CT: Set this hand up for us.

TD: I was in the small blind to begin this hand and I was top three in chips, and I looked down at ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit.

Action: Villain 1 opened UTG+1 to 225,000. Villain 2 flat called from the button.

CT: What’s the best play here?

TD: I think that all three options of raising, calling, or folding were all reasonable, with folding perhaps being a touch too tight, but not a big mistake. 

CT: Did you have a read that a squeeze might work?

TD: It was a very tempting spot to squeeze with a big stack and put pressure on the shorter stacks. I think that doing that at some frequency is likely the right play. The issue is an ICM consideration, because winning another 20 big blinds was not nearly as valuable to us as losing 20 would damage us. 

With over 4,000,000 in chips I was likely to make the final table with a playable stack, and having 6,000,000 doesn’t really change that. But having 20 big blinds drastically lowers my chance of making that final table. Here, any non-all-in squeeze would leave me basically forced to call way behind if the big blind or original opener were to jam their sub 20 big blind stacks in, which seemed like a disaster. While shoving would work a lot of the time, the risk of losing the hand and dropping down to 20 big blinds puts us in much worse shape than busting one of them and going up to 65 big blinds or so. 

There is nothing wrong with folding a hand that’s likely to be dominated, but having to give up just two extra big blinds if the big blind jams isn’t going to affect us much, so…

Dobbertin called. Villain 3 in the big blind also called.

Flop: QDiamond Suit 8Club Suit 5Diamond Suit

Dobbertin checked, as did the big blind and the original raiser. The button then bet 300,000.

CT: It was one of the best flops you could have hoped for.

TD: I could go for the check-raise, and if it had been heads-up I would be raising at a high frequency. But with two other players still left with perfect re-jam stacks behind me, I decided to just call for now. 

Dobbertin called.

TD: Since I had the nut flush draw there was no harm in letting other draws get a good price to draw as well. But it was not to be.

The big blind and UTG+1 folded.

Turn: 4Club Suit

Dobbertin checked, and the button bet 650,000.

TD: After this bet he was leaving about 2,000,000 chips behind. This was a great spot to jam with a combo draw and a covering stack. The villain had less than a pot-sized bet left. If I were to jam, however, with him just flatting on the button, I don’t actually think that I have a nut or range advantage overcalling from the small bind.

CT: Can you please explain?

TD: Well, against the early-position raiser, I think a jam would be much more effective because of the nut advantage in small sets and straights that I could have. But against a button who seems like he’s starting to polarize, and with me blocking the two most likely types of flush draws, he could be bluffing. I decided to…

Dobbertin called.

River: 2Spade Suit

Dobbertin checked, and the button moved all-in.

TD: I blocked pretty much every bluff except for exactly 10-9, J-9, and J-10 of diamonds while he has every set other than Q-Q and the straights all in his range.
Dobbertin folded. The button flashed QHeart Suit 8Heart Suit for two pair and won the pot of 2,900,000.

CT: Disaster avoided! It’s a good thing you didn’t shove the flop.

TD: The important thing is that after this hand I still had about 4,000,000 in chips and was still a top-five stack with plenty of room to maneuver. I feel like knowing the value of your stack at different phases of the tournament and being able to constantly adjust your risk tolerances appropriately is a major source of EV. This is especially true in small-stakes tournaments where most people will play their hands the same based on chip EV only.

Stacks: Ty Dobbertin – 17,500,000 (58 BB) Big Blind – 17,000,000 (57 BB)
Blinds: 150,000-300,000 with a 300,000 big blind ante
Players Remaining: 2

TD: We had played heads-up for almost an hour and we both had commented that we were getting tired. Both of us had made some little procedural mistakes, miscounted chips, or misread the board slightly.

Action: Dobbertin raised to 750,000 from the button holding KDiamond Suit 5Spade Suit. The villain called.

CT: Did you have any reads on this player before the heads-up match began?

TD: This player had said he primarily played cash. Throughout the tournament his bet sizings had been pretty large overall and he was not afraid to gamble and go after draws in big spots. I felt like this was not the type of player who was particularly worried about adjusting his strategy for ICM, which is why he was able to start three-handed play with half the chips in play.

I also felt like he was more of an ‘old school feel’ player who would take a read and not be afraid to put a lot of chips behind that read. For instance, in an earlier hand when we were still at two tables I limped a strong ace on the button on his big blind. He took a strong donk flop, blast turn line against me. These types of players are definitely very dangerous to be around earlier in the tournament.

Flop: 8Diamond Suit 6Club Suit 4Club Suit

Villain checked.

CT: Not a horrible flop for your hand. A gutter and king high could be good.

TD: I had a hand that is often the best hand and can be checked frequently. However, with the chance to make a nut hand in position with either a seven or a king, I don’t mind both building a pot or getting protection if he folds here. By unblocking the flush draws there’s a chance I could get called by worse as well, so…

Dobbertin bet 1,400,000, and the villain called.

Turn: 10Spade Suit

Villain checked.

CT: Would it be worth it to keep firing?

TD: I had a hand that is often best, so it was likely -EV to try to use a bluff against low pairs and far too weak to bet for value at this point. I had position, so I was happy to take a river card. 

Dobbertin checked.

CT: What range of hands did you place the Villain on?

TD: When he called the flop, his range should have condensed to hands that hit the flop either with a pair, a flush draw or backdoor flush draw, or that wrap around the board in some way. Such as hands that contain a five, seven, or 10-9 type hands. I would have many better hands to bet for value as well as weaker draws to turn into bluffs on a card like a ten. 

River: 6Heart Suit

TD: The river came another six, which completed no flushes. The villain seemed a little tense and grabbed a handful of chips.

The villain bet 7,000,000.

CT: What did you make of that sizing? Could it be for value?

TD: The size of the bet in itself actually wasn’t too surprising after playing with him all day. His style tended to be to not play many hands, and when he did, he was very sticky with his draws. And he tended to bet very large when he did bet.

CT: Did you have much interaction with him during the trek to the final table?

TD: He was one of the biggest stacks throughout much of the day in fact. We had talked a bit throughout the final table. I didn’t remember, but he told me that we actually final tabled the mystery bounty event at the Gardens in March together where I got second.

CT: Did you have any other takes on his style?

TD: Well just a couple hands before this one, we had played a similar board that went check-check on both the turn and river. I ended up winning it with ace high. After that pot he vocalized how he knew I didn’t have anything and should have bet big to get me to fold.

CT: It seems like he was giving away his mindset. Maybe he was smart enough to give a reverse type of tell, hoping you would fall for it when he did bet big with the goods.

TD: I’ve found that at the end of these tournaments when it gets late and everyone is tired, most players seem to have a moment where they sort of accept that they are happy with where they are and just want to get it over with.

That’s when it becomes gamble time, sort of like when it gets late into the night at a cash game, and everyone is stuck.  

CT: So which way were you swinging, fold or call?

TD: I have to say that the comment from the earlier hand, along with us talking about how we were getting tired (he actually asked if I wanted to chop at that point as well, which I declined) really had my live reads pushing towards call. It would have been a snap call with any pair. But as it was, I really wished I had ace high at least. But I went with my gut and…

Dobbertin called, and the villain showed J-7. Dobbertin won the pot of 18,600,000.

CT: Nice call.

TD: Thanks. He showed down J-7 for the other gutshot on the flop. After that hand I had around a 2:1 chip advantage and never gave it up.

Find Ty on Instagram or Twitter @TyDobbertin. ♠

*Photo by Bill Bruce / Gardens Casino