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Poker Tournament Trail -- Sam Stein

Stein Talks About His Close Calls in 2010 and Deep-Stack Tournament Strategy


Sam SteinSam Stein (pictured right) began 2010 with a few near misses in big events. He has made five final tables during the first five months of the year, but each time a tournament win has eluded him thanks to the fate of lady luck.

He most recently battled with Jason Mercier in the heads-up final at the North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun $25,000 high-roller no-limit hold’em bounty event. Stein finished in second place and was awarded $75,000. His largest cash of the year came when Stein finished in second place in the NAPT Venetian $5,000 no-limit hold’em main event out of a field of 872 players. Stein took home $522,306 for his efforts along with 1,600 Card Player Player of the Year points. He now has 2,826 points overall and he currently owns fifth place in the standings.

Card Player caught up with Stein at the World Poker Tour Championship at Bellagio, and he spoke about his strong start in 2010 and how to approach a deep-stack event.

Ryan Lucchesi: You have made a lot of final tables this year, but a few key moments have kept you from winning tournaments. Are you confident that your luck will change as you continue to play deep into events?

Sam Stein: I have a ton of confidence, and I feel like I have been playing really well recently. Hopefully things will start panning out at the final tables hopefully and I will start winning a few of these.

RL: What did you think of the high-roller bounty shootout tournament at NAPT Mohegan Sun?

SS: It’s a good event. I enjoy playing in those tournaments with a bunch of good players; you’re more focused. For me, it’s just easier to play against better players. When everyone is thinking logically, you can make moves and your hands make sense, so it is all about the mind game. I love that aspect of it. Against bad players you just have to wait for good hands and play made hands.

It’s nice to play in the sit-and-go structure in the [high-roller bounty shootout] event. You’re not worried about how people are playing at other tables; you’re just focused on what’s going on in front of you, which makes it easier. You calculate the chips and what’s going on at your table and don’t look at anything else.

RL: Has your rise in the player of the year standings been a consideration so far?

SS: I definitely look at it, but it doesn’t affect what I do. It would be really nice to win it; I definitely keep track of the points after each tournament.

RL: Are you more active early in a deep-stack event like the WPT Championship in order to work on your game and get a read on the pace of play of your opponents?

SS: Everyone is seeing a lot of flops. There is not as much three-betting as there is in the later stages of tournaments so you can see a lot of flops. There are a few raises and people calling so it’s a little bit like a cash game.

RL: Do you use the early days of a deep-stack event to work on your post-flop play or are you still weary of raises because of how quickly things can escalate?

SS: There’s a lot of things you can do preflop. If you get reraised and you four-bet someone, then they have to have a really big hand to continue, because they know if they call, there’s a really good chance they’re going to have to put up their entire stack to see if their jacks or queens are good. They really have to have premium hands.