Making History with my 10th!
After fighting hard here in Las Vegas for more than a month, and making it into the money in six tournaments, with three final tables, I won my coveted bracelet number 10! The money wasn’t bad either — $630,000 for first place. But honestly, I would have paid at least that much (assuming that I had it!) to win another World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and tie Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson for the all-time bracelet lead. Fortunately, they paid me the money along with the bracelet. Winning WSOP bracelets and other history-making poker tournaments is the reason why I play the game. In fact, my passion for the game, and my level of play, are at a new high.
After a tough second-place finish a few weeks back, I believe that many in the poker world thought that I would not be back to the final table. After all, the fields are pretty massive, and it isn’t easy to make it all the way to the final nine. But I came back to two more final tables, finally beating the other 1,600 players in the $1,000 buy-in — with rebuys — no limit Hold ’em to claim my 10th WSOP title. That tournament began on Sunday, and I told my mother and father, “I don’t think I have enough gas in the tank to win this thing. I have played until midnight or later in so many of these tournaments, under intense pressure, for 30 days now. If I win it, it will be purely by gutting it out.” My mother then pretended to be a gas pump, and somehow it inspired me — she is a spiritual woman. I do not think that I would have won this event without my father watching all day long on Day 2 and Day 3, and my mother’s inspiring presence. Thanks, folks!
At the final table, I caught a huge break when I lucked out to win the following pot. With the blinds at $8,000-$16,000, I called with Kd-5d, and the flop was Kh-Qd-9h. Elio Cabrera checked, Juha Helpi bet $45,000, and I made it $145,000 to go. Then Cabrera moved all-in instantly! Helpi studied for a while and folded, and I asked for a chip count. It turned out that Cabrera had only $135,000 more, and I knew from Day 2 that he can play a little crazy: he moved all-in on me on Day 2 with 4-2, I called with A-3 and I lost that pot. So I was thinking that my top pair could beat any drawing hand Cabrera might have had, like the Qh-10h, or something similar. Plus it was only $135,000 more to call in a pot that was already over $500,000. So I called the bet.
Cabrera then showed J-10 for a made straight! I could only win with perfect-perfect on the next two cards. As I stood there watching, I was resigned to losing the pot, even when the 2d came on the turn card to give me a flush draw. But, BOOM, there was the 7d on the end, and I had completed a diamond flush for the $650,000 pot. Wow! I was so shocked that I actually fell on the floor, and looked up at my wife and said, “Honey, I cannot believe it!” I then took the microphone and praised Cabrera and the way he played that pot.
Another key hand came up when Helpi raised it up to $90,000 to go, and I moved all-in with 5-5 for $480,000 more. Helpi decided to call with his Ah-6d, and for the first time in more than two days, I was all-in and called. In poker parlance it was a coin flip, meaning that it was about 50/50. The flop came down Kd-Jd-5d. I had flopped trips, but Helpi had a flush draw. The next card was the Qd to complete Helpi’s flush, and he jumped about 3 feet into the air. I sat pretty still, while preparing to shake Helpi’s hand and congratulate him on his victory. In fact, Helpi played great poker for three straight days. But still, I knew that I had 10 outs in the deck (three kings, three queens, three jacks and one five) that would win it for me. I also knew, as did Helpi, that he now had 34 winning cards. The river was the Qh, and I scooped the $1.2 million pot with a full house, and I made a little jump of my own.
After my pocket kings won a $2.2 million pot, I went on to win the tournament, and then UltimateBet.com bought 30 bottles of Dom Perignon for the audience!
A-6 vs. 5-5 is:
A) a coin flip
B) about even money
C) about 50/50
D) all of the above