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Ryan LaPlante Talks About His Recent World Series of Poker Bracelet Win

LaPlante Wins Largest Non-Hold'em Live Event In Poker History


Ryan LaPlante is having one hell of a summer. The 26-year-old poker pro overcame 2,483 entrants to win the largest non-hold’em live tournament in history when he took down the $565 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event at the 2016 World Series of Poker.

The Wisconsin native earned his first bracelet and collected $190,328 for the victory, the largest score of his career. Despite plenty of reasons to celebrate, LaPlante immediately jumped into the $1,500 buy-in Millionaire Maker event, and five hours of play later had secured yet another cash.

The same day, he also hopped into the $1,000 no-limit hold’em event and managed to sneak into the money, bringing his total number of cashes to six in the first 17 events of the summer. In fact, LaPlante is currently sporting a 75 percent cash rate, having entered only eight tournaments so far.

The record for most cashes in a single series is 12, set by Konstantin Puchkov back in 2012. With only two scheduled days off and nearly 50 events still remaining, LaPlante has a good shot at breaking the record.

Card Player caught up with LaPlante shortly before he was awarded his bracelet to discuss his life-changing win.

CardPlayer: You are known as one of the top pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better tournament players online. How did that experience help you in this pot-limit Omaha high event?

Ryan LaPlante: I play all of the PLO hi-lo tournaments online, which sadly isn’t very much. If there isn’t a series going on and I’m outside of the U.S. playing online, I’ll probably spend only between $1,500 and $2,000 a week on buy-ins for that game. So you can’t get in a lot of volume.

Ryan LaPlanteThere are a lot of similarities, but in other ways the two games can be wildly different. A lot of PLO players, cash game or tournament, hop into PLO hi-lo and make what I think are a lot of fairly basic mistakes. But I’m also sure that I make the same type of mistakes when I switch over to regular PLO.

CP: What kind of mistakes do you think you made in the tournament?

RL: There are so many spots that I encountered during this tournament that I just didn’t know what to do. Not necessarily the math behind it. When you are playing poker, your goal is to put your opponent on a range on hands and play against that range. When you are up against a good player, don’t have much information and can’t build a range of hands, you have to build yourself a range of hands.

What you are betting with, what you are triple barreling with, what you are betting flop, checking turn and betting river with. It’s all of those types of things. It’s not just whether or not you should bet your hand. How am I playing each street with this hand? How does it match up with the rest of my range? And how does my opponent view my range? It’s not like hold’em where there is just one hand. In PLO, there are six possible hand combinations that you have to think about on each street to build your ranges.

CP: And the goal is to be as balanced as possible?

RL: Not necessarily. The goal is to be as balanced as possible against very skilled opponents. You can get away with being unbalanced against weaker players. For me in this tournament, some of the most difficult decisions weren’t about whether or not I should get it in with a big drawing hand. It was more like, do I bet the flop in this two-big blind pot. Because when you make that decision, you aren’t just deciding that street, you are deciding what happens on the turn and river when the pot can get much bigger.

There’s a lot to this game. In hold’em, there are some spots that are standard. There’s not a lot in PLO that is standard. Three-handed and heads-up play was very mentally taxing.

CP: It may have been taxing for you internally, but you seemed to be having a great time at the final table, unlike some players who become statues afraid to give off free information.

RL: I think the players who become statues at the table are, for the most part, insecure about their playing ability and how they present themselves. I tried my absolute best to eliminate that from my game as early as possible. If you look back at my early final tables, I was the guy wearing sunglasses and covering up with a hoodie. With some experience and confidence, I was able to get rid of the sunglasses and just have a little more fun at the table.

CP: After you won, you said that you picked up a lot from Sean Shah, the runner-up.

RL: From the final 18 down, I watched a lot of the stuff he was doing. Especially during the final four, he was checking all flops out of position and any time that it was limped, he was never raising preflop. Once I knew that I was supposed to do that, it made a lot of my preflop decisions easier and it made certain flop decisions easier.

CP: You’ve had a night to digest your win. Can you put into words just how important this bracelet was to you?

RL: The bracelet to me, was everything. Even if I had all of myself in the tournament and won the full $190,000, which would be a life-changing sum of money for me, I would still think the bracelet was more important.

I’ve been playing poker professionally for the last six years. When I was really young, around 12 years old, I decided that I was going to do whatever I loved for a living and I would give zero fucks about whatever money was involved. There will be times in my life when I have a lot of money and times when I don’t, but the accomplishments will stay with me forever. I know it’s cliche, but I love what I do and I wouldn’t do anything else.

For more coverage from the summer series, visit the 2016 WSOP landing page complete with a full schedule, news, player interviews and event recaps.