Friday , June 24 , 2011
Eric “ChipsAhoya” Rodawig was victorious in Event 33: $10,000 Stud 8-better World Championship at the 2011 World Series of Poker. Banking $442,183 and the coveted bracelet, Eric bested an elite Final Table including several players with multiple bracelets and tens of millions of dollars in earnings. He sat down with Alex Huang to answer a few questions about this tremendous accomplishment.
Alex Huang, CardRunners Brand Manager: What were your thoughts and strategies entering the Final Table?
Eric Rodawig, CardRunners Pro: As the chipleader entering the Final Table I was very confident with my chances. My plans were to leverage my chip stack and be very active and steal in the right opportunities. My attitude would have been drastically different had we been playing a different variant of poker, where some of the other guys may have been the expert, such as NLHE (Phil Hellmuth), Pot Limit Omaha (David Benyamine), or Stud Hi (Ted Forrest), but this was my specialty and I was playing well.
Was there a moment when you felt like this was your tournament to lose?
Well, as I mentioned before, I was very confident and liking my chances! But I think that when my chip stack got to about 2.8 Million, or effectively half the chips in play, I felt like this was my night. I had maintained the chip lead from the very beginning of Day 3 and I overcame a fairly big cooler against Hellmuth where we both made full houses. Despite all this I was still the chip leader.
So you find yourself playing heads-up against Phil Hellmuth, who was pursuing his record 12th bracelet. Tell us a little about the match?
Well, it pains me to use the word epic, but it really was about as epic a final as you could plan. Playing him for the title was as memorable as it gets. I was actually very impressed with how well he adjusted to me and thought it was a tremendous honor to be with him on that stage. He and Negreanu (who I busted in the 10k last year) are my two favorite poker players, so it’s kind of neat to be able to say I’ve bested both of them in my preferred form of poker.
How has your involvement with CardRunners and as a video-maker/coach helped you with closing out this table?
My experience as a cash player was certainly a real asset. Cash games provide the opportunity to play more short-handed and heads-up Stud 8/b which is something that most the tournament-only players don’t get to do. This gave me a significant edge and level of comfort above my opponents as players began to be eliminated from the Final Table.
In addition to the hours logged at cash games, my experience as a coach has been tremendously helpful for my own growth. As a coach, I was approached by a lot of NLHE and PLO players who were looking to learn Stud 8/b and make the jump to the growing 8-10 game mixed. Talking with these students gave me a chance to identify common mistakes and tendencies that NLHE or PLO specialists make when playing playing Stud 8/b. For instance, NLHE players tend to steal too liberally in Stud 8/b and don’t take into consideration changing pot sizes as play goes short-handed and fewer antes are in the pot, which worsens your odds. Having students also kept me sharp about knowing the math in certain situations and keeping my game sharp.
Many of the readers probably have minimal or little experience to Stud 8/b tournaments. Can you discuss some of the differences in tournaments versus cash games?
There are some real big differences in the way tournaments and cash games play in Stud 8/b. It is much more common to see more passive play in a tournament setting. I’m not sure if that is the product of it being a live event or not, but you see many more free cards in tournaments than cash. Additionally there are certain hands that play differently given that your tournament life could be at stake. You may sometimes take the lower variance route in order to preserve your chips in situations where you might be reraising in cash games.
The final table play was pretty slow. You are known as a restless person. How did you battle boredom?
It was difficult. Before Black Friday I was accustom to playing 9-12 tables of PLO or 4-6 tables of Stud 8/b simultaneously. During the final table, we were playing a few dozen hands an hour and people were tanking on sixth street for several minutes at a time. Fortunately I had my cell phone and was able to use it to keep me occupied when the action was slow.
Also it’s easier to stay engaged in a Stud game since there is so much information available. In a flop game, the community cards are displayed for the duration of a hand, whereas in Stud cards are folded and you need to see what dead cards are mucked because it can have a huge influence on your decisions. For instance, if I see that 3 5’s have all ready been folded and my opponent is showing a 4-6-7 board, I can confidently call down with a single pair because of card removal and expect it to be very +EV.
How important was having a rail there to support the pursuit of your first bracelet?
It was very important. I finished Day 2 and called my wife who lives on the East Coast. While we were still short of the bubble, I convinced her to fly out to Vegas that morning. In addition to her, I had [Alex Huang] fly out as well. There were several guys from the TwoPlusTwo Stud Community as well as fellow CardRunners Pros and staff who were cheering me on.
This was very important for several reasons. While my wife will always be there to support me, it was also nice to have some great poker minds on the rail as reinforcement. It is also critical for me to have fun when playing, and being able to interact with my railbirds was great fun.
How did you “stay in the moment” on such a big stage?
It’s funny because I didn’t really become concerned with the giant leaps of tens, and eventually hundreds of thousands of dollars as each player busted, but I was still monitoring the payout jumps on my phone. I actually get more stressed about a stock portfolio fluctuating $1,000 than I did during the Final Table.
It also helped to have an interactive rail. In fact, there was a drunk guy who began shouting at the WSOP crew for having the flop cam displayed on the TVs for spectators. With no flop in Stud 8/b, spectators were resigned to having to listen to a Tournament Director narrate the cards being dealt. This fan was growing impatient and began to tell the staff to “zoom the camera out.” His persistence even provoked the staff to explain that the cameras were fixed, and even got a smile out of Hellmuth!
You can check-out Eric's videos at CardRunners here.