Teacher gains WSOP seat at Full Tilt

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Texas Hold'em is a game of odds and calculations, but it's also a game of timing. For Matt Krambeer, the timing of a World Series of Poker* freeroll for PokerListings.com players at Full Tilt Poker turned out to be perfect.

Krambeer, who plays as mdk23 at Full Tilt Poker, racked up his 300 player points early on in the qualifying period for the March 23 freeroll. He signed up early for the tournament, but said it was a quirk of fate that he actually ended up playing.

"I had signed up for the tourney well in advance, but the tourney was on Easter Sunday and we had family plans for that day. At the last moment the plans didn't work out," Krambeer said.

"So I logged on to Tilt only to see that about half of my starting chips had been blinded away. Luckily, I tripled up almost immediately after sitting down and then won a few other big hands to get a lot of chips early."

He joined a 135-person playing field to compete for a $12,500 WSOP* prize package exclusively for PokerListings.com players.

"One-hundred thirty-five people may seem small in the online age of poker, but when you consider only the winner gets rewarded, it's still a pretty daunting task," Krambeer said. "Once the play got down to the final 30-40 players, I thought the play was very good. There were some bad beats and bluffs that didn't work out for people, but that is part of the game."

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For Krambeer, his win was a case of finding the right time to make a stand at the final table.

"The very first hand of the final table, I got involved in a pretty good-sized pot where my opponent raised me off my hand," Krambeer said. "After I folded that hand, I was the short stack at the table with about $8,500 in chips."

The chip counts among the rest of the players at the final table ranged from $42,000 to $15,000, and Krambeer said he floated back and forth, constituting one or other of the bottom two stacks for most of the final table.

"I was able to pick my spots by being aggressive in good situations, and that kept me alive until I was actually able to pick up some hands," he said. "I was the short stack essentially during the entire final table; even when it was down to three people I was out-chipped by JodyM55 $132,000 to $32,000 in chips."

He still managed to outlast the third player to face JodyM55 heads-up. Krambeer's chip count had improved to $75,000 versus JodyM55's $125,000, but JodyM55's aggressive pre-flop play quickly blinded Krambeer down to about $60,000.

"I knew that I was going to have to make a stand," Krambeer said. "Blinds were $1,500/$3,000 with a $300 ante. I came over the top of his pre-flop raises a few times and picked up some chips."

His big chance, however, came in the ninth hand of heads-up when he was dealt A A in the big blind. JodyM55 made it $9,600 to go, and Krambeer chose to smooth-call rather than coming over the top.

"I reasoned that my chips were probably going in on this hand anyway and wanted to get as much value as I could," he said.

The flop came 3 4 6, and both players checked. The turn brought an A, and JodyM55 immediately went all-in.

"Obviously I insta-called," Krambeer said.

JodyM55 showed pocket queens against Krambeer's pocket rockets, and when the 8 fell on the river, Krambeer had crippled JodyM55.

Five hands later, the tournament was all over. Krambeer, holding K Q, put JodyM55 all-in. JodyM55 chose to make the call with J T.

"I always seem to get burned on these races, and when the flop came Q 9 9, I thought, 'Here we go again versus his straight draw,'" Krambeer said. "However, the turn was a 5 and the river was a 4, and I won with the pair of queens. JodyM55 played very well; I just got good cards in great situations to win the tourney. I was stunned. I couldn't believe it."

Krambeer is a 38-year-old high school social studies teacher and football and basketball coach at a small school in northeast Iowa. He has been playing No-Limit Texas Hold'em online since right before the poker boom in 2003, and he plays a few times a year at some local casinos when his schedule permits.

Between his job and time with his wife Jeannie and four-year-old daughter Keely, that schedule can be pretty tight. When asked how often he plays online, Krambeer said, "It varies, but if I am not coaching, grading papers or spending time with my daughter, I may play a couple hours a day, usually in sit-and-go tourneys. I play mostly on weekends, though. I usually play low-level sit-and-gos and multi-table tournaments."

Much of that free time for poker is spent at Full Tilt Poker, where Krambeer said he occasionally plays a few times a week, but mostly on weekends.

"I really like the traffic and multi-table tournaments at Full Tilt," he said. "I think their 'bounty' tourneys are fun. They also do a great job of offering freerolls and bonuses for the everyday player."

Krambeer's WSOP freeroll win at Full Tilt Poker was the biggest so far of his poker career in terms of cash value.

"I have won a couple of MTT small buy-in tourneys on various sites," Krambeer said. "One as an $11 buy-in MTT for $1,800 on Poker Stars, and the other was about $1,300 on Party Poker several years ago. "

His biggest win in a live event was during the Iowa State Poker Championships in November 2007 at the Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa. Krambeer took down the first event of the series to win $3,500.

That live tournament experience will come in handy when he heads to Las Vegas for the WSOP Main Event this summer. Krambeer said he is both nervous and excited about taking on the championship event.

"It is obviously a dream of every poker player, but you don't want to show up and make a fool of yourself either," Krambeer said. "It will be a challenge, but I look forward to it."

Some of the pros Krambeer would look forward to playing against in the WSOP would be what he calls the "obvious choices" - Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Allen Cunningham.

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Lethal at the table, but Krambeer would still want to play against them.

"And, of course it would be entertaining if you were at or near Phil Hellmuth's table," he said. "These are the pros I would most like to meet or play against. Unfortunately, they are also some of the best No-Limit Hold'em players in the world. But I guess that's why it's called the World Championship, right?"

Krambeer did say the things that drew him to the game in the first place were the strategy and skill involved as well as the competitive nature of the game. He'll get to experience a huge dose of all those at the Main Event.

Before then, he'll have plenty of opportunity to hone his skills at Full Tilt Poker as well as to continue his daily visits to PokerListings.com to read strategy tips, follow poker news and scope out the forums.

"It's a great site for poker players of all levels," Krambeer said of PokerListings.com. "It really has something for every level of poker player. It's a great site if you are signing up for new poker rooms; the bonuses and freerolls offered are outstanding."

* World Series of Poker and WSOP are trademarks of Harrah's License Company, LLC ("Harrah's"). Harrah's does not sponsor or endorse, and is not associated or affiliated with PokerListings.com or its products, services, promotions or tournaments.

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