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Chad Batista and Hoyt Lance at the Final Table
Chad Batista turned heads throughout the Main Event at Caesars Indiana thanks to his dynamic table personality, loose-aggressive play - oh, and the mouth full of diamonds he was rocking.
The 25-year-old Floridian and online tournament phenom came into the final table as chip leader and saw his stack dwindle until he was the underdog going into the heads-up match with Hoyt Lance. Batista turned things around with a series of double-ups, however, and eventually emerged victorious in only his second brick-and-mortar tournament ever.
Chad, can you talk about what happened at the final table?
I just played my game. I knew that once it got to heads-up if I could double up off him once or twice I was sure he couldn't beat me. Hoyt just tried to get the tournament over too quickly.
That's why I stopped raising. I'd been raising all tournament and you never saw me raising when we were heads-up. I was just limping in, all the time just limping in. Waiting for him to put the raise in and then I'd go over the top once I got some chips, so I stand to win a lot more than just raising and winning $20,000 and having him shove and me calling with an ace-eight. I don't like doing that; I'd rather be the one putting the money in. I just switched strategy from the way he was playing after the dinner break.
Hoyt mentioned that you had really tightened up between Day 2 and Day 3. Was that because of something you'd noticed in his game?
He just started to go crazy, trying to get the tournament over. I was kind of setting him up, to be honest with you. I kept making raises and quick-folding because I never had a pair, and I kept doing that to let him think in his mind that it was working, and then at the end I check-raised him and pulled him in with the bottom pair.
I actually should have lost. (laughs) But hey - you're a genius when it works and a donkey when it doesn't.
He built a big stack throughout the day. Did that daunt you at all?
I mean, when you get queens and ace-nine all day…I never got a hand like that. But he played good. He deserved to finish so high.
What would you say was the turning point in the heads-up match?
I guess the second double-up heads-up. A pretty big dagger was the five-seven hand, like, I just felt like I'd been playing too tight at that time and it was time to make a move, and it kind of backfired.
Is it true that this is just your second brick and mortar tournament?
Well, I played the $500 event here earlier in the week, and I made the final table there too. I got fourth in that event.
Do you approach an online tournament any differently than a tournament at a casino?
No, I just play the same. I don't really have a basic strategy; I just play.
But it's so much better when I win online. I just go to a bar and if someone asks and I tell them, "Yeah bro, I just won a quarter-million dollars" they're just like, "yeah, right," like you're the biggest liar in the world.
Will you start playing more brick and mortar tournaments now?
Yeah, I'm going to play a lot more, yeah. I got a free seat to the World Series, so I'll be there. I'm going to be playing a lot.
What are you going to spend the money on?
Nothing in particular. I don't know, a new outfit or something. We'll see.
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Hoyt Lance finished second in the tournament after a somewhat stunning reversal of fortune that saw him go from dominant chip leader to heavy underdog in the span of a few hands. The former real-estate developer retired from his professional life to pursue a poker career earlier this year, and tabled a seventh place finish at Tunica last month. Hoyt was gracious enough to talk to me about the final table and his analysis of his tournament play on Day 3.
Hoyt, you played a heck of a tournament. Can you talk about your impressions of the final table?
I was in great shape going into heads-up; I had my opponent on the ropes. I had him out-chipped - I had $1.4 million or so and I had him down to somewhere around $160,000 and I actually got impatient. I got impatient, trying to take him out quick, and the reason why is that for the last three days, he'd been a really erratic player - he's a good card player, but he'd been a real erratic player, and I knew that he was in the situation that he was going to have to start pushing.
So I actually got impatient and let him double up on me several times, and then on the final hand he moved all-in and I had to call. I moved in with the best hand and he caught up with me on the river and there's nothing we can do about that. I wish Chad all the luck in the world and I'm proud of him. He's done a good job and he deserves it. I actually thought I had him at the end. Actually, I did have him on tilt, but he just happened to wake up with a hand a few times there and he got doubled up on me.
Once he got doubled up on me then the tide turned, and I was in the situation where I had to start making moves. I saw some nice cards and I was ready to move and see if I could get my chips back. It didn't work, but I'm happy with my finish. The WSOP here in Indiana has put on a great show - everyone here has been super great. I've enjoyed playing and I'll be back.
You came into the day and played quite aggressively with the big stack and seemed to be pretty dominant. Was that something you'd planned on doing after Day 2?
Yes. Actually, I had set this up from yesterday with the guys who were at the final table with me. We'd played back and forth at several tables yesterday and we were all together for several hours, and I played really solid and tight and everyone knew that. When I moved into a pot I always had the best hand.
I was on the ropes last night and then I was in a situation where I was short-stacked and I looked at king-nine of spades and I led out with a nice bet in late position, and the big blind, which was a huge chip stack, had been putting pressure on all the short stacks.
And of course he puts me in and by that time I was pot committed. And he turns over ace-queen, and he hits his ace on the flop, so I'm down to 2%. And geez, it's the worst bad beat I've ever put on anyone - I caught runner-runner to make a set and double back up and just barely make it to the final table.
So coming into today I was seventh in chips, so I was kind of short stacked. I had some big stacks on my right and my left, and I knew the only way that I was going to win this thing, or even get second place, was if I changed gears today. I decided that I was either going to go home in ninth, or I was going to go home in first. And I changed gears, and it worked. I'm happy with my play, and I wish Chad lots of luck. He did a great job.
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For his first place win, Chad Batista walks away with $262,002, as well as a WSOPC ring and a seat in the $10,000 Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this summer. Hoyt Lance wins $137,471 for his second place finish, and says he plans to compete at the WSOP this summer as well. Both players played quite well in a tournament that featured some bizarre play, and both walk away fully deserving of their substantial paydays. Congratulations, fellas, and good luck building your poker careers!