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WSOP: Bracelet Winner Q and A -- Michael Banducci

Banducci Talks About His Poker Memory and How He Imposed His Will on the Final Table at Key Points


Michael BanducciMichael Banducci took down his first gold bracelet ($1,000 no-limit hold'em rebuy) and $636,736 last night at a final table that also featured Michael Binger, Jonathan “FatalError” Aguiar, and Jeff “yellowsub86” Williams. Banducci is 23, he has never held a full-time job, and he is a rising star in the online world himself. He says the thousands of hands he has played online have helped him to develop one hell of a memory for poker hands. Banducci played solid throughtout the final table, but he really started to take things over threehanded with Williams and Peter Gould. Banducci touched on this and a number of other topics when Card Player caught up with him at the post-final-table press conference at the Rio.

Question: I’ve noticed from your video interviews tonight that you’re a very analytical player; you possess a high degree of recall. Were you constantly running prior hands and situations through your mind at the final table?

Michael Banducci: Yeah, there are so many meta-game things going on here, especially between all of the thinking players. A lot of the hands that you’re playing, you are just recalling back to what you did before … . There was one hand where I called out of the big blind, and the flop came 7-7-6, and I had 8-7, and I led into my opponent. Because earlier yesterday I led the flop into him in the same kind of spot with nothing, and I led the turn with nothing, and he folded, so I showed the bluff. So, today I led the flop with trips, and I led the turn with trips, and I bet the river, and then he folded. But I was able to get two streets of value out of him because of the fact that yesterday I took the same line and showed the bluff. It’s stuff like that; in order to get max value out of your hands against each person, you have to know what they’re thinking of you, and that comes down to the past hands you’ve played against them.

Q: Do you attribute that power of recall to the thousands and thousand of hands of poker you’ve played online?

MB: Yeah, when I first started playing online I couldn’t have told you about a hand that I played five minutes ago. You just play so many times, and you talk through so many hands, that it just becomes ingrained in your memory. I can tell you about hands 2-3 years ago, now, and exactly what the turn card was and what the guy bet … And I don’t know why that is, but I’ve played so much poker that there’s just a separate part of my brain up there that’s for that kind of stuff, I guess.

Q: When you got to the heads-up match with Jeff Williams, it seemed like you weren’t necessarily playing cautiously, but it seemed that you sensed how dangerous Jeff could be. Tell us a little bit about that heads-up stretch?

MB: He’s really aggressive; he’s really capable of a lot of things. He reminds me a lot of myself a year ago; I used to be just wildly aggressive like him. I understand how he plays, and what I didn’t want was to let him get back into it. So, I was trying to keep that steady lead. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t pop a pair … I wasn’t getting there. He ended up climbing back pretty close to even, and luckily I saw a good hand where he would stick it all in, and I got it in in a good spot.

Q: How were you staying patient during the long slow periods at sixhanded and threehanded play?

MB: Sixhanded, we were all kind of even, and I thought I was better than my opponents, so I wasn’t going to put myself in a spot where I’m going to be at risk and I didn’t need to be. So, I was just trying to keep everything really simple. When we got down to threehanded, I was lucky to have a whole bunch of chips, so at that point it was a totally different thing, because I was trying to keep it real calm ... I was forcing that on the whole table. No raising or reraising and no big pots. I was taking a little longer on my decisions, and I was min-raising and min-betting, stupid things, but when a guy min-raises the button, in the small blind there’s not that much incentive to try to reraise and steal the 100,000. There’s not a reason to come after that. I’m just trying to discourage action so we can keep pots in control and keep everyone playing small-ball. They get in this mindframe that now they’re playing small-ball and that everything is going to stay small, and they just joined right into it. I kind of got them to play the game I really wanted to play, and it worked out really well.