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Poker Tournament Trail -- William Reynolds

Reynolds Discusses Defeating Tough Opponents at the PCA High Roller Championship

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2010 PCA High Roller Champion William ReynoldsWilliam Reynolds (pictured right) topped a tough field that included 84 of the best tournament poker players in the world in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $25,000 high roller no-limit hold’em championship last week. Reynolds took home the top prize worth $576,240, and the win in the Caribbean put Reynolds career earnings at $1,067,133. The young poker player will be competing at his first World Series of Poker this upcoming summer in Las Vegas, once he turns 21 years old, so that career earnings figure is sure to grow. His other large tournament poker cash came in April of 2009, when he took fourth place at the European Poker Tour San Remo main event, out of a large field of 1,178 players to take home $490,100.

Reynolds barely made the final table of the PCA high roller event and faced elimination multiple times on the final-table bubble. He persevered though and made the final day of the tournament. His final-table performance was impressive, especially during heads-up play where he dominated a familiar opponent, Will Molson (who finished second in the PCA high roller event for the second year in a row). Card Player caught up with Reynolds in the Bahamas and he talked about the high roller victory.

Ryan Lucchesi: You were on a short stack during the final-table bubble for quite some time before the final day of this tournament. How did you keep your composure during that tough stretch and still focus on the win?

William Reynolds: I was on the chopping block the entire time, like four hours before the final table. It was actually very stressful because I had gone so deep and it looked like I wasn’t going to make the final table. I ended up chipping up and winning some pots.

There were a few rounds where I just had to fold and leave myself with just seven big blinds. At one point Adolfo [Vaeza] turned to me and said, ‘You, you’re going to win it now.’ I took his advice and ended up winning it [laughs].

RL: What advice would you give to tournament players about facing adversity on a short stack?

WR: In tournament poker it is all about picking your spots, and if you don’t pick the right spots and you’re not careful about tip-toeing around then you’re going to get knocked out. It’s all about finding the best spot in relation to the table, your stack, the players, the blinds, everything goes into it. You have to be on the look out for any good spot to take advantage during a tournament.

RL: You played very well against your heads-up opponent Will Molson, who also finished second in this event last year. What was your approach to him?

WR: Will is a good player, he is one of the better online high-stakes players, and I’ve played against him a lot during the last couple of years. Almost every single day we battle online. The same with Matt Marafioti [seventh-place finish at the PCA high roller event], so it was an interesting dynamic at the final table. We have never played live together so it was different.

I started raising a lot heads up and I noticed that he was being very careful with calling out of position and three-betting, so I just decided that I would pop it up with any two cards.

RL: Were you surprised that Will was flat calling and min-raising so much during the heads-up final between you two? Or do you think he was trying to mix up his game because you two have logged so many hours playing against each other?

WR: I had a small chip lead when we started and I didn’t want to lose that so I just brought in a lot of raises. We were so short stacked that when I am doing that, it’s very hard for him to three-bet a lot. If he three-bets that might be 15-20 percent of his stack gone just like that. I just continued to put maximum pressure on him and I knew he didn’t want to get runner up two years in a row, so I knew he would be extra careful about moving all in or playing in big pots. I just wanted to be really aggressive and keep the chips flying in.

RL: When you are as familiar with a player as you are with Molson, how important is it to use the intangibles to your advantage? In this case the fact that Molson had already finish runner-up in this event the year before.

WR: That’s extremely key. There were quite a few hands where I played them uncharacteristic than normal, just because I knew he would never expect me to hold the cards I did when I made a sneaky check or a sneaky lead. I was trying to throw him off a little bit and hit him from a number of different angles. I would lead flops, or call the flop and then lead the turn. When it came to heads up I really did hit the raise button on every hand to apply pressure.

RL: What’s the biggest difference in the way you approach a high roller event versus a normal main event?

WR: In a tournament like this everyone at the table has a long history with poker and they’re not going to make bet-sizing mistakes or small errors like that. I just continue to look at the table and see what the softer spots are, and take advantage of those softest spots. If I really good player has position on me then I will stay away from him and take advantage of the soft spots. It’s all relative in that situation.