Brian Rutland came into the day in sixth position but it didn't take him long to sign a few bills of lading, accepting the big pots shipped his way. He was neck-and-neck with Terry Hawkins for much of the evening and finished out the night in second, only $12,000 behind the leader.
After the chips were bagged and the beers were poured Brian took us through the tournament from his point of view.
Brian, give us a bit of background on yourself and your experience in poker.
I'm from here in Mississippi, right outside of Tupelo. I play a lot online and I play a lot of Circuit events, this year at the Gold Strike and last year in Aruba. I placed second in Aruba and that was actually the last time I really played good poker. I really have a feel for the game and I really like it.
We have a lot of home games, maybe five a week, so I can pick and choose from those. I played some satellites here and when I went home I won our home game, which is about thirty people, and I decided that was good, I was playing good enough, so I came back and played the main event.
Let's talk a bit about how this tournament has gone for you so far. It was a relatively small field as far as big buy-in tournaments go so give us your feelings on playing in smaller fields, how you played here and the level of play that you've experienced in the last two days.
Well, we saw a few pros here and there are still a few remaining. They are intimidating but it's great to see them show up; I wish there had been more. It was a bit disappointing though, to only have 138 players when I was expecting three or four hundred. But it's okay, they had bigger and better things to do I guess. To have a short field and be going into the final table with a lot of chips is great though.
We saw lots of different kinds of players here. What sort of table dynamic do you enjoy and what did you experience here?
I'm really 50-50 when it comes to playing against pros and amateurs. I enjoy a good mix of different people like what we saw here but I really just wish there were more of them. A few more good players and a lot more amateurs would have been great.
It sounds like you like the larger fields. Do you ever find it daunting at the beginning of an event to have such a large number to get through in order to reach the final table?
No. I've won some good events where there've been 800 to 1,200 entrants and I find that a lot more fun and a lot more rewarding. To beat 130, and don't get me wrong because it would be great and there are a lot of great players here, but if you're in a really big field and you can make it even to the top 10 that's a great accomplishment.
Do you mean that it's more rewarding in terms of the accomplishment as well as the cash?
Strictly the achievement; the financial gain is a side benefit. The thrill of actually winning is what I'm here for.
You've had some experience taking on larger fields so tell us about your approach to the early stages of those events.
When I get a deep stack it's definitely to my benefit. I don't have to play really aggressive and when you have that many chips it's a lot easier to feel comfortable. A lot of the time you just make a hand and bet it and they call. And that's a good thing.
In the late stages of this event we were really deep stacked, the average stack in the last hour had around forty big blinds. Were you feeling comfortable?
Yeah, I really enjoy this kind of format. I prefer being able to make hands and have people call me down with the worst of it rather than being forced to play really aggressively and maybe having to suck out on somebody.
You chipped up a lot later in the day and you took down a monster pot when you stacked Shannon Shorr so take us through that hand and any other pivotal moments in your day.
Well, in that hand he raised me, and he'd been raising me a lot. I had pocket deuces under the gun and he raised me with K♦ Q♦. The only two hands I put him on when the flop came was an overpair or two overcards with a flush draw, the board was T-5-5 with two diamonds. The turn card was the perfect card, the 2♦, it could not have played out better. I went all-in when the deuce came, hoping he was on the flush draw, and he was and he called. That was it.
There was a substantial amount of chips in the pot but when you open-shoved on the turn it was still a lot more back to Shannon. Were you surprised he would call that much when there were a number of hands that could have beat him?
He did have the second nut flush so the only hands that are beating him there are the nut flush or the boat. I put more pressure on him by moving in and it did disguise the strength of my hand I think. But it was really just the perfect card to hit. The hand kind of played itself a bit.
Let's talk about the final table a bit. Are there any players you're going to stay away from or others that you're going to go after?
Going into the final table I'm going to use the same game I brought at the beginning. I'll try to play good cards but no matter who it is, if they're playing aggressive I'll tighten up and if they're passive I'll be more aggressive. I will be playing the player, not just the cards.
Thanks Brian, see you tomorrow.
Of the nine remaining players Rutland is by far the most animated at the table. If this were a televised event he would be soaking up much of the limelight but since PL.com is the only site offering you truly live updates of this event you'll have to watch his performance via our scintillating photography and evocative live updatery. Action gets underway at high noon - be there or suffer the consequences.*
*No actual consequences will be experienced should you fail to be there.