Report on the first British Poker Open Final
A Day Out in England with Greg Raymer and Company
The 1st British Poker Open has been played in twelve 6-seater qualifying heats throughout April. The winners of each heat played in two 6-seater semi-finals starting with equal chips. As soon as three players were eliminated in each semi-final, the three remaining players would take their existing chips at that point into the BPO Final with them. The line-up was determined with total chips brought of 1,200,000:
Matt Born (England) 340,000
Adam Dujmovic (USA) 281,000
Haakon Waersted (Norway) 258,000
Andreas Harnemo (Sweden) 132,000
Greg Raymer (USA) 128,000
Robert Hill (USA) 61,000
In the heats, players of the calibre of Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Andy Bloch, David "Devilfish" Ulliott and several other professionals had missed out in the 6-seater shootouts, as did many on-line qualifiers.
Of the finalists, only Greg Raymer is a seasoned professional although Andreas Harnemo did recently come a close second in the EPT E-WSOP final in Vienna, earning himself over 100,000 ($135,000).
Greg Raymer's Miracle on 4th Street
At the halfway point in this 6-seater Final, there were five players remaining. Waersted and Dujmovic had consolidated their positions and held about 2/3 of the 1,200,000 chips between them. Robert Hill had already gone out, leaving Born, Harnemo and Raymer with little more than 10% each, but still over 12 x the big blind. These three small stacks would be glad to have a reason to improve their positions. They soon got their chances....... all at once!
Raymer had the smallest of the three stacks by a small margin. They were dealt these hands:
Raymer: Q 8 offsuit
Harnemo: A K suited
Born: Q Q
Harnemo and Born wanted action so they each bet low. Raymer sensed weakness and, without further ado, raised all-in with his Q 8 offsuit!
Born will have lit up and been ready to call but his sense of anticipation was punctured when Harnemo before him called Raymer's big bet. Now Born had to ponder since he now knew he might be an underdog with two committed players already in. Nonetheless, the value was there and he eventually called for a 3-way showdown.
When Raymer saw the cards, he knew it looked bad and quickly said he needed two 8's or a series of cards for a straight.
The flop came J 6 9, giving Raymer a gutshot draw. The turn came 10, completing the miracle queen-high straight. The river was another 9 and Raymer had tripled up on a 15/1 shot! Harnemo would have lost to Born anyway but Born will be cursing his slow-play as Raymer surely would have folded to any large bet had he not been the first to raise. Harnemo and Born were both eliminated soon afterwards with their miniscule stacks not standing a chance of revival.
Now Raymer had elevated himself to equal chip status and, with his big-game experience against the other two, it looked like Raymer's name was likely to be etched on the trophy.
Greg's House of Cards
At the start of the Final, Greg Raymer had a low chip stack but he soon began building with his aggressive approach. He suffered a considerable setback though in a family pot with five players seeing the flop:
Raymer QJ o/s
Harnemo 89 o/s
Born A7 o/s
Waersted Q6 o/s
A motley bunch of hands indeed. The flop came down K J 7 and everyone checked. Ironically, the low stack, Robert Hill, had folded his J 7 or he would have been all-in after the flop with a 2-pair and would have lost there and then.
The turn brought a 10 which made a straight for Harnemo and an open-ended draw for Raymer and Waersted. Waersted bet 15,000, Raymer called and Harnemo raised to 45,000. Waersted folded and Raymer called. The river brought a second K. Harnemo bet 35,000 which Raymer called leaving himself struggling with 73,000 chips.
Raymer quickly recovered after his Kc 7c was complemented by a flop of 3c 8c 7s giving him a flush draw and middle pair, while Harnemo held 7 8 for 2-pair. The 6c completed the flush and Raymer's all-in bet was called by Harnemo.
Raymer further enhanced his stack and reputation when he opened with a raise carrying 6h 2h. This time, Born (who was still chip leader) holding Kc Jc got involved by flat-calling. The flop fed out a bit of rope for both of them, K J 2. Born bet out 30,000 and Raymer, thinking that his 2 was leading, called.
The turn was another 2. Both checked. River came a 6 to complete Raymer's full house. Born was out of position and bet 40,000. Raymer stuck in his remaining 88,000. Born decided to call despite probably thinking he was behind. Unfortunately, playing the likes of Greg Raymer means you always have it in the back of your mind that he is "pulling a fast one", in this case representing a set of 2's. Sadly for Born it was worse than that! Born slipped back and was finally hammered by the Raymer miracle hand.
Greg was up and down a couple more times. On one occasion, the 6 2 combination came back to haunt him. This was held by Waersted who called Raymer's 120,000 bet on the river with the board showing 9 K K 6 2.
Raymer finally succumbed when he raised Dujmovic all-in with A 2, after Dujmovic had opened with a raise holding A 9. Raymer stated afterward that he felt he had been poor all night with his reading of players, unlike the heats where he dominated.
Heads-Up and Switch Off!
Amazingly, after the remaining two players, Adam Dujmovic and Haakon Waersted, had demonstrated their strong play and fearlessness about going all-in during the multi-handed play, the opposite occurred heads-up. For two whole hours, these two tentatively prodded at each other's stacks only occasionally compelling the smaller stack to commit all-in. The lead skipped back and forth until Dujmovic gained the upper hand with his chips dominant by 5:1.
Waersted twice received monster hands, KK and AA only to see Dujmovic surrender his blinds on each occasion. Yet, once again, Waersted doubled up to bring the chips close to level. Finally, and perhaps fittingly, the match was decided on a coin-flip showdown with Waersted's Ks Ts playing Dujmovic's 7 7. The pair held up and Waersted's remaining 40,000 chips went down in the next hand.
Victory for Adam Dujmovic and Televised Poker
Dujmovic goes back to the USA with £85,000 ($165,000) and the trophy. Waersted takes £32,000 ($62,000) and Raymer £20,000 ($38,000). The final table comprised mostly internet qualifiers but it was nonetheless a quality match with a lot of strong play, some unorthodox moves and of course the added ingredient of the reigning World Series of Poker Champion, Greg Raymer.
The whole final was broadcast live and unedited for six hours on British television with the help of some natty graphics to display the hole cards and percentages. The emphasis is on the poker and there a welcome absence of stage dramatics from the players and no audience in the playing area. They remain in the bar with the TV monitors!
Some may argue that this does not make for stimulating TV but I disagree. I believe it is good to see the game in all its forms, including uncontested hands and bluffs.
Roll on next year. Next up on TV over here in Britain is the Poker Million which is run in a similar format. The heats are already in the can but the Final will be live on TV. I for one am looking forward to it!
10th May 2005
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