Wow, so the last few days have pretty much been a blur. I was originally on the fence about whether or not to play the 2nd EPL event since it falls during my frosh week at university. I take my schoolwork so seriously that this is pretty much the most important week of the year. I decided I'd play the event, book my flight for day 3 so that I can play the main event and 2k turbo and in the off chance I make top 12 or so, postpone my flight.
I flew down with Sirwatts and arrived the night before the tournament. Early on my table draw was fairly average for the field- I had Vanessa Selbst, Fabrice Soulier, Allen Bari, Lucky Chewy, Huck Seed, Allen Kessler, myself and Amnon Fillipi. Early on nothing really happened for me until at 300/600, I squeezed AKo over Vanessa's UTG raise and 3 calls from the SB, she jammed 30k with A9o and we chopped. After that I managed to get some good hands and win some pots to get up to like 90k or so. I honestly should remember more hands but can't at the moment... I'll assume I had good stuff and people had slightly less good stuff.
Eventually at 500/1000, Bari minraised the HJ, CO called, Huck seed made it 6200 on the button, Allen Kessler cold 4-bet to 17.5k, I cold 5-bet to about 29k with KK, and Allen Kessler insta jammed 45k more. Reputationally I know Allen has something pretty good here but I sighed and called and was fortunately shown QQ. The very next hand Fabrice raised, Huck called, I squeezed KK in the SB, Fabrice called.
Flop: KQ6dd, I bet he called. Turn: Q, I bet, he called. River: A, I bet and he folded and said I had AQ( based on combos I presume he had KJ or so... possibly AK)
Those 2 hands took me from 90k to 230k and then after that missed a few big draws to end the day with 200k when avg. was 90 or so.
Day 2 was pretty disinteresting in all honesty- I went from 200k-> 150k with almost no interesting hands. The highlight of day 2 was the banter with Phil Hellmuth- he was telling Matt Glantz about a hand at the 50k 8-game final table where he 5-xed 99 in the CO and Matt Jammed A6, which annoyed him since his intention was to send Matt a message(which got the small blind to fold AK somehow).
Phil then said that the reason Matt played the hand so poorly is that he doesn't "speak hold'em" but Phil and the SB "speak hold's fluently"
Eventually I 2.2x 99 in MP, charred jams AK and I lose the flip and ask Phil if he could teach me how to speak hold'em to get a fold there and hes like "well kiddo, its not a lesson you can learn overnight".
Eventually I play 99 better(and Phil played 77 interestingly to say the least). I raise 99 UTG+1 to 3800 at 8/16, Phil makes it 11.8 in the SB, I call.
Flop: 544, he bets 14k, I call
Turn: K, check check
River: 6, check check
He's clearly upset about my 99 beating his 77.
The table breaks shortly after and he SLAMS the table as hard as he can saying "I set this kid up perfectly and now I won't even get a chance to get my chips back". He continued ranting all the way to his new table and dumped his chips on the table, spilling them in the middle of a substantial hand.
Anyways, I obviously didn't speak hold'em that well as I went from 200k down to 150k and avg. was 210k(23 players remained).
Random aside: I have poker dreams about once a month and it typically involves me being deep in a big live tournament and either winning a bunch of money or being deep and having something absurd happen(like the tournament gets cancelled, or I realize it was for play money or something). Anyways, before day 3 I dreamt I was out of the tournament and didn't know how. I woke up kinda miserable until I realized it was just a dream. Sweet.
The next day I had a pretty stacked final table as far as big names go which meant we were the TV table- I had chino, seidel, amak, t-may, allen bari, jamie kaplan and bakes at my table. Bakes busted early and shortly after that I raise AA UTG and chino jams 19BB UTG+1 with JTs and I hold. Some friends were pissed that I didn't slowroll him but thats not my style.
The very next hand Erik opened the button to 10k, I made it 28k in the BB A8s, he makes it 65k, I jam 260k and he folds. Here's my advice for playing against Erik. I likely had the best hand and I honestly believe Erik is the type of guy who will often 4bet AQ here and call when I have A8s and fold when I have KK. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit but here's my general perspective on how to play against Erik Seidel(as much as I like seeing him win everything I figure people may find it interesting since he's sick good).
Erik is much more agro than one would expect from his composure at the table. He's not agro in the sense of playing every hand, but he's the type of person who almost always has a hand where he can take heat afterwards(i.e.. say most people open 70% of buttons semi-deep with antes and 4bet 5%, call 20% against a 3bet, he may only open 45% and 4-bet 10%, call 25% or something which means instead of a fold/call/raise ratio of 64%/ 29%/7%, his will be something like 22%/55%/22%. This means that when you 3bet him you're getting 4-bet 3 times as often as most opponents and getting folds only 1/3 as often as most opponents(my numbers may be exaggerated, but the point is that Erik is sticky to pots).
This goes for all situations- he limps the small blind tons and will limp-raise air pretty willingly, he almost never checks planning to give up when out of position(which means his c-betting ranges aren't as strong as lots of people, but he's super good at guessing-right postflop... but a lot of that is likely a result of people playing too straight forward against him, so I think having a decently strong preflop calling range where you can value raise flops and have decent equity when bluff-raising is pretty good). An example of one hand we played where I pussied out but think it was a decent spot is he raised button, I defend BB, Flop: KT7r, check, he bets, I call with 76s with a bdfd. Turn: Q, check, he bets again. I think he usually has something pretty good here but I think he never ever ever gets bluff raised in this spot, and think checkraising to like 2.7x the size of his bet and barreling river would have gotten him to fold almost everything. Combo wise its pretty easy for him to have AJ/J9, but I think if I'm completely unreadable(which I may not be) this is a pretty good spot to checkraise bluff something like JJ and I think he's very likely to only call river with J9+.
Additionally I think committing to your bluffs against him is reasonable- my friend built a HUD of the final table and noticed his check-fold % is extraordinarily low on early streets and very high late(which is obviously a fairly small sample, but it makes sense since most people are probably too afraid to commit to substantial bluffs against him). Basically he can fold really big hands in good spots- as was the case in one hand I kinda botched against him.
Also, this is my guide for how I would recommend very good/experienced live players would play against him.... if you are an occasional player who gets seated at his table in a WSOP 1k or something just stay out of his way and let him keep winning everything.
Oh also he's got a huge disparity between how loose he is with a big stack versus a small stack. He opens much more and defends blinds much more when he has a pile of chips vs 30 BB.
Anyways, after knocking out chino we quickly got down to 15 players and redrew. My table had Erik, Sirwatts, Amak, David Steicke, Sean Getzwiller and Matt Glantz.
Things went quite well overall and I managed to win a huge pot off of Sirwatts with 14 left.
Blinds 3k/6k/1, hes maybe 3rd in chips and I'm about 7th with just below avg.
He makes it 14k in the HJ, I make it 34k in the CO with JJ, he calls.
Flop: T64r, he checks, I bet 32k at 84k, he makes it 77k, I make it 127k, he jams my last 130k in, I call and he has ATs. I'm not sure what I think of his line- I think with a more agro image its good since it induces me to call lots of worse hands when he makes it 77 and induces some spazzes on my part. Additionally its a good enough board that even if he calls he's going to have to stack off lots and I'll put him on something similar to what he has so I'll likely only barrel off my stack as a bluff when it puts him in a tough spot.
I hold and all of a sudden I'm 2nd in chips. I then eliminate Sirwatts in 14th when he jammed 13BB on the button with 96s and I called with AK and held. I then won a bunch of small pots on or near the bubble and before I knew it I was chipleader with 9 left(I had double average).
Amak just busted in 10th place and Erik Seidel was BB with no SB. I raise Td8d UTG 4 handed and he calls BB
Flop: AT8r(44k in pot), check I put in 22k, he makes it 54k I call. I think his range is decently strong but that said I'm still calling Ax in this spot
Turn: T, (152k in pot), he bets 75k I call. Sick turn card, I now beat A8, 88, and his straight draws are drawing dead.
River: 9(302k in pot) he bets 130k with 254k back. Here I think against pretty much everyone in the worlds its a jam, but Seidel is just too much of a gangster to jam here. I jam, he sighs and after a minute or so says he can't fold(I assume he has 88) and calls with AT. I talked to him afterwards and he said if I jam that river he thinks he has to fold 88 pretty comfortable (and not in a trash-talking sort of demeanour, in a "I apologize for offending you" kind of way. )
After that I was down to 400k or so and hovered around there until the end of the day and went into the final table with 357k which put me 7th/8 when avg. was 600k.
They gave me a video recorder to record if I do any cool stuff between that night and the beginning of the final table(presumably for the TV program). I did about 5 1-2 minute videos just talking about my thought process towards preparing for tournies/the poker lifestyle etc. I thought that was kinda a cool idea and although its less interesting for someone like me, I feel like if they did that for random as EPTs/WSOP events it would be pretty cool. For me that night wasn't much different than any other night, but for someone playing for completely life-changing money it would be interesting for the viewers to see more about how they're feeling/whether they sleep well/how they prepare etc.
Going into the final table I was super pumped. The table was quite tough it went Fabrice Soulier, me, David Steicke, Dutch Boyd, Isaac Baron, Sean Getzwiller, Erik Seidel, Nam Le. Erik won a few big pots early(including eliminating Dutch AA v JJ) to take a massive chip-lead. I took out Sean the short stack KK vs AK to end up about 3rd/6. Isaac got set-over-setted by David and then lost QTs to ATo against Fabrice to finish 6th and then Nam ran 55 into Fabrice's 99 to lose in 5th.
We were 4 handed for a while and I was always about 1/2 of average. Eventually 35BB deep I raise CO, Fabrice 3bets the BB and I jam 44. I think overally against Fabrice this is a reasonable line since he is willing to 3-bet but I don't think he will 3-bet call enough pairs(i.e. never 3-bet call 77), so against his calling range small pairs do reasonably well, and I think he'll definitely 3-bet light occasionally plus have some value 3-bets he won't call shoves with. That said I think the gameflow was such that he was almost never light in that spot. I had lost several pots to go from about 800k to 550k and I think he'll be much less inclined to 3-bet me light there. He called with TT and I hit a set. EZ game and now I was back to average.
A general theme for the day was just get in small pots with David Steicke where he just made the best hand every time, this happened for a while and against I got down to being the short stack with 650-700k(this tournament I ran insanely good at allins but think a lot of the more hidden forms of luck I ran kinda bad so it looks like I was just constantly chipping down). At 12k/24k Fabrice raised the button, I jammed 44 in the SBfor about 27BB or so and he called A8o. This call likely is +CEV since I'm always 3bet calling 99+ and AQ+ and have some QJs, K9s type hands too, but I'm guessing it was kinda an ICM disaster when stacks were maybe 700, 700, 2.2m and fabric with 1.3m or so.
Anyways, I hit a set again and win, ex game. Erik goes through a phase of losing every pot and gets to being quite short. He eventually jams 55 into Fabrice who I believe had TT and all of a sudden we're 3handed and the best player is out.
I had been quite tight during the early parts of 4-handed play and as a result was able to have many successful light 3-bets late in 4-handed play and early in 3-handed play. 3 handed I win lots of pots to get up to about 2m when David has 2m and Fabrice has 1m or so. I think I did a good job of winning lots of pots with the worst hand but lost one big pot.
David Steicke 3-bets quite a bit and often with hands that I don't think he's formed a good plan with(he showed things like A3o OOP). I haven't played back against him much and I open button to 70k, he makes it 170k, I make it 340k with 87o and he calls. Flop: AT5r, check, I bet 250k, he jams for a million and some odd more and said he had A9. Kinda annoying since I'll probably win the pot postflop like 70% of the time when he defends A9o, sorta disappointing he hit top pair.
After that David has most of the chips and stacks like 2.8m, 1.3m, 800k and Fabrice has been shoving lots. One close spot I raise the button with A9s, he jams TT for like 23BB after jamming a ton lately and I find a fold which may have been overly nitty but I felt he was decently strong and was relieved when he showed me that I was beat.
Eventually he jams the SB with ATs for 800k at 20/40k,, I call with AQo and hold so that I'm HU with about 2.1m against 2.8m
I win a few pots early to get up to 2.3m and then quite early I raise 66 to 90k, David makes it 300k, I jam 2.3m, he calls with AQo and I hold for 95% of the chips in play. That was a HUGE sweat(JJxKx board), maybe the biggest flip of my life
Then I jam his last 200k in and he calls with 84o to beat QJs, then I get a bunch of bottom 20% hands and he gets up to about 520k.
I get Q5o on the button and jam for 13BB which I think is typically good but a decent mistake against someone who was playing as loose as him. He calls K3o and holds.
Even though he had 25BB he continues jamming most hands and gets up to 1.1m, and then shoves about 28BB on the button, and I look down at A4o. I make the call and he has K2o
I end up holding and win the tournament. I felt sensational and am honoured to be the second EPL winner ever. I win 782k and the championship ring. Thanks to all my friends and family for supporting me and sweating online, and thank you to all the 70 year old women who decided to be my cheering section.
This blog was probably really jumbly, I probably misremembered lots of hands, but the general idea is that I just won EVERY allin and it feels pretty awesome to win a tournament where I know that pretty much anyone would have won with my cards. I'm a pretty big believer in the fact that the long-run doesn't exist, so I just want to run as good as I can as often as I can and this was a perfect example of that.
This was literally the first poker I had played since the last EPL(which was literally the first poker I had played since WSOP) so I was kinda rusty in some spots. I think I definitely need to touch some things up even as simple as what ranges to call various reseals with against various players. I also need to just bluff more. So many people (myself included) don't bluff enough rivers against good players since they just assume they're getting called so often and even if they risk only 50k to win 100k and as a result only need the bluff to work 1/3 of the time, they remember the times its fails too much and forget about the times it works. Everyone in the EPL is capable of folding decent hands and I feel like in spots that seem close to me I should just err on the side of almost always bluffing but typically err on the side of passing up to bluff more often than not.
Also one other thing I want to mention- this was probably my happiest I've ever been after a poker tournament. Before this the happiest I had ever been after a tournament was certainly just after having a big piece of cardrunners instructor Will Ma who won the grand prix de paris and lots of my own big wins I wasn't as happy about as some of my medium sized wins(my paradise poker win I couldn't sleep before or after and as a 16 year old kid I was so nervous I was shaking, in Dortmund I had been sick/kinda frustrated due to them not enforcing the english only rules and they never penalized anyone despite dozens of warnings and then the casino staff tried intimidating me into thinking my 5 figure tip was insufficient and most of my other good finishes I came up short of the win). This win feels amazing and I couldn't have asked for a better early birthday present(I turn 22 tomorrow).