Matt Stout had another close call with a WPT final table, this time in the $25k Championship a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Read on for the inside story on how Stout went from chip lead with 21 players left to busted in 17th place. Here's a little hint, it took a sick, sick cooler from Faraz Jaka.
Day 4 of the Bellagio $25k got off to an extremely slow start for me, which was in no way indicative of how the rest of the day would go. However, I'll kick things off with one of the greatest quotes I've ever heard at a poker table.
After Yevgeniy Timoshenko and Nikolay Evdakov had been chatting back and forth in Russian a bit at the table (which is not allowed, but we let it go for a few minutes because we were sure it wasn't malicious/shady), the dealer finally asked them to stop.
Yevgeniy replied, "It's OK, we're just talking about pierogies and snow and shit." (NOTE: I have decided that it's been long enough since "Rounders" jokes were being overused, and are now funny again. Proceed with caution, though.)
Oh yeah, the poker. That wasn't going so well, which is why the comic relief was so crucial. I lost every pot I played for a few hours. It got so absurd that my friend Cliff Josephy re-raised me and I decided that I was going to knock down his entire chip stack before folding. =) He chuckled and showed me the Ace and the King.
I had spread about a third of the chips I'd started the day with around the felt at my first table. Then I got to a new one with Nikolay Evdakov, Billy Baxter, Brian Lemke, Faraz Jaka, and J.J. Liu.
This presented an opportunity I'd been waiting a long time for.
For those of you who don't know, Billy Baxter is an olllllllllllld school poker pro and was the man who convinced the Supreme Court of the United States that poker winnings should qualify as income, not just a gambling win.
What this means is that poker pros are taxed at a much lower (still brutal, but much lower) rate and that they are able to write off buy ins and expenses. Without Billy's help I doubt I'd be able to truthfully file my taxes without going broke.
I've always looked forward to the opportunity to thank him for this huge favor he's done for poker pros, and I took it and got the story of fighting with the Supreme Court straight from the horse's mouth.
Oh yea, the Bellagio tournament, right. So anyway, I was down to 630k at 6/12k when I got to that table with 27 players remaining and 18 spots paid.
Suddenly I decided it was time to go on a superheater. I coolered and stacked my buddy Brian Lemke with Aces against his Kings for a ~900k pot.
Then I took a couple pots from my buddy Faraz "thet0ilet" Jaka, one with a flush draw that rivered top pair and one when he tried to bluff the river and I hero called.
Suddenly I went from having a boring day where I was slowly siphoning off chips to having over 2 million and the chip lead with 21 players left and 19.5 million in play. The blinds were only 8/16k, and I was LOVING my chances at making another WPT final table...
...Then it happened. Disaster struck. The toilet flushed. Well, not really...he made a straight and a boat. No flushes.
I lost one pot to Faraz when he tried to semi-bluff me on the turn with an open-ended straight draw. I called with second pair and decided I would also pay him off when he rivered the straight.
Then he was back up to about 2 million and the chip lead, but I wasn't far behind with a little over 1.5 million. He raised the cutoff to 40k @ 8/16k, and I called from the small blind with K♣ Q♣. He led 54k on a T♣ 9♠ 3♦ flop, and I called. The turn was the J♦, and I check-raised his 150k bet to 380k. He called, and the river was the J♥. I checked and called an 800k bet, and he showed me the bad news: J♣ 9♦.
It really sucked going from chip leader with 21 left to being crippled with 20 left, I'll be honest. I refused to give up and kept shoving in good spots, which fortunately never got called.
I managed to squeeze into the money with 18 left and onto Day 5 with a meager ~250k stack at 10/20k. I got it in with A♦ J♠ against Faraz's A♥ 5♥ for a ~600k pot, but a Q-9-9-Q-x board chopped that one right up.
A few hands later I shoved the cutoff and got it in with A♣ 7♦ against David Williams' 6♥ 6♦. The board by the turn was K-Q-9-9, but David managed to fade everything and bust me for a ~700k pot.
I think it's pretty clear that this wasn't how I planned on wrapping up the tournament. Being 1/21 and finishing 17th sucks. I'm not losing any sleep over it, though, because I feel that I played my best game and got extremely unlucky.
I'd be pretty pissed at myself if I'd punted it, but I definitely didn't feel that I'd punted this stack.
Once again, "The game is the game. I'm at peace with my play."