Two weeks after my victory in Event 6 of the Borgata Fall Poker Open, I’ve had time to sit back and reflect on the final table. Here I breakdown the key hands that led to my victory. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed playing it.
The final table began 10 handed with blinds at $40,000-$80,000 and an ante. I was in the 9 seat sitting third in chips with about 1.2 million. There were just over 9 million chips in play. To my left I had a solid aggressive player and friend Nam “David” Sou. To his left was a solid player, Jonathan Diolosa, who began the table short. To his left sat the chip leader, and strongest player at the table, John Del Rossi. Unknown to me, two seats over was poker pro Sirous Jamshidi, also short on chips. The rest of the players were a mix of solid regulars and competent amateurs, but only one other player had a stack north of mine.
Hand 1 – A player has been knocked out, and with blinds at $40,000-$80,000 action folds to me in the cutoff and I open to $180,000 with pocket 5s. Sou folds and Diolosa moves all in for $280,000 in the sb. The bb folds and I make the call for an additional $100,000. Diolosa turns over AK, I flop my set, dodge a chopped pot straight draw on the river, and knock out the second player at the table.
Things are fun as I watch players get knocked out in 8th, 7th and 6th place, and my equity increases with each knockout. Then the hand of the tournament occurs.
Hand 2 – Sou raises from the sb into Del Rossi. Del Rossi, still with the chip lead, moves all in. Sou calls. Del Rossi shows A 10 offsuit. Sou shows Ks6s. I was stunned at Sou’s call because he had a lot of chips, but none of it mattered when the flop came down As, 2s xs. Sou flops the nut flush leaving Del Rossi stunned. I am celebrating with Sou on the miracle flop, but pause when a 2 hits the turn. The Ace on the river seals Sou’s fate as Del Rossi goes runner runner full house. There is no doubt in my mind, had Sou won the hand, Sou would have won the tournament. I would have been in trouble with him on my left because of his unpredictable nature.
Hand 3 – We are 4 handed when another key hand comes up. I am in the sb and Del Rossi is in the bb. I had already caught Del Rossi earlier four handed when I called his min-raise from the bb holding A3 and flopped top pair. This time I completed with J9 and Del Rossi checked. The flop came AQ7 rainbow and we both checked. The turn was another Q, and we both checked. The river was a 7 and I checked to Del Rossi who bet $200,000. He might have caught a 7, but I felt J high was good and I called. He tapped the table and surrendered. I showed my J9 sending a message that he was not going to run over me.
Hand 4 – The beginning of the end for Del Rossi. I pick this hand up on the flop with a board of K 2 x. Del Rossi had raised pre flop and was called by the player who would finish second, Vinny Pizaro. Pizaro check raises Del Rossi all in post flop. Del Rossi tanks for a long time and makes the call with KQ, but is crushed by Pizaro’s flopped set of 2s. Del Rossi is crippled by this hand, and Jamshidi finishes him off a few hands later.
Hand 5 – I learned a valuable lesson from this tournament. Read the blog as its being posted. Had I done so, I would have known the player occupying third place when three handed was Jamshidi, who has amassed over 1.6 million in lifetime winnings. I was in second place, Pizaro had the lead. I completed the sb with a weak K and Jamshidi shoved. I folded. A few orbits later, I completed with a suited K6 and Jamshidi shoved again. This time I made the call and found myself behind his A7. However, the call was not for much, and I could easily absorb the hit. No worries as I rivered the 6, took the chip lead and got the match to heads up.
I felt I was the stronger player of the two, and with blinds at $80,000-$160,000, I had almost 5 million chips to Pizaro’s 4 million chips. I figured we could play some poker with these stacks, but none of that mattered as the match was over in 7 hands, on the first all in.
Hand 6 – to read the Borgata blog, one would think I dusted off 4 million chips preflop and caught a 3 outer with a weak hand to win, but here’s how the hand played out. Pizaro completed the sb, and I checked my option from the bb holding Q5 offsuit. The flop came 10 8 5 rainbow. I checked and Pizaro bet $200,000. I made the call with bottom pair. I didn’t take my eyes off Pizaro as the dealer dealt the turn. I then looked down, and saw a beautiful Q. I checked again and Pizaro bet big. I check raised all in and Pizaro snap called with AQ. He thought he had trapped me by limping the big hand. Instead I trapped him with my two pair. All I needed to do was avoid a 10, 8 or A on the river. I was 82% to win my first major event, and when the harmless 2 fell, I was the newest Borgata poker champion.
It took many years and plenty of hard work to reach this goal, but it was worth every minute. I hope I will be able to report more final tables like this from the felt.