Last week on the PokerStars.net Big Game, a quintet of top pros including Justin Bonomo, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, Joe Cada, and Daniel Alaei found themselves contending with yet another Loose Cannon who defied that moniker. A single mother to a 16-year-old son, Nadya Magnus' calm, focused demeanor at the tables made it seem like she'd been making five-figure river bets for years and drew accolades from her opponents. Magnus was truly chasing her dream on camera this week, not only trying to turn a profit in the game, but also trying to make a play for the North American Poker Tour passport awarded to the winningest Loose Cannon. Magnus aspires to a career on the felt, so a slew of NAPT buy-ins would go a long way toward her making that a reality.
Loose Cannon fun facts: Originally from Russia, Magnus now lives in Palatine, Ill, a suburb of Chicago. She is a former figure skater and has a WSOP-Circut title, winning the Ladies' Event at the 2009 Circuit event in Hammond, Ind. Barry Greenstein thinks she would make an excellent villain in a James Bond film, and we totally agree.
Magnus gets back in the black: After missing a few flops, Magnus found herself down almost $20,000 but was able to get back above water in this hand. Dealt in second position, Magnus opened for $1,400 and Justin Bonomo called with . Magnus led out for $2,100 on the [Td flop and Bonomo called. The on the turn was an excellent card for Bonomo as he picked up an open-ended straight flush draw. Magnus bet $5,100 and Bonomo called. Magnus made her straight on the river when the fell and checked to Bonomo who made a nearly pot-sized bet of $14,500. Magnus responded with a shove and Bonomo folded.
"I was thinking it would be so awesome if she check-shoved," Jason Mercier said.
"That's actually NOT what I was thinking," Bonomo replied.
Mercier and Alaei run it three times: Greenstein opened for $1,500, Mercier called from the button with , and Daniel Alaei came along from the big blind with . Both Alaei and Mercier hit the flop hard — Alaei flopping a wheel while Mercier picked up straight and flush draws. Alaei checked to Greenstein who made a $3,000 continuation bet despite missing the flop completely. Mercier raised to $8,400, and Alaei three-bet to $24,000. Greensten got out of the way, Mercier shoved for $123,100, and Alaei called all-in for $82,600. They decided to run the turn and river three times. Alaei won the first two runs and Mercier the third.
Greenstein pushes Cada off kings: Joe Cada had an extremely rough go of it in his appearance on the Big Game and this hand is but one example. Already stung and losing more than $50,000, Cada faced an opening raise from Greenstein, who made it $1,500 to go with . Cada looked down at two kings and raised to $5,300. Greenstein made the call, and they saw a flop. Cada bet $7,800 with his overpair, Greenstein raised to $23,000 with his gutshot and top pair, and Cada called. The on the turn gave Greenstein more outs with a flush draw, and when Cada checked to him, he bet $35,000. Cada was spooked and folded the best hand. Greenstein said he put Cada on two tens, which is about what Cada was representing, although his actual hand was much stronger.
Cada decided to quit at the game’s halfway point, down more than $86,000. Joe Cassidy filled the empty seat — and boy was he in for a shock.
Magnus wins a $117,000 pot: On the fifth hand he played, Cassidy opened for $1,400 and Magnus raised to $4,900 from the big blind with . Cassidy called and they saw a flop. Both players hit top pair, Cassidy with the better kicker. Magnus led out for $7,700 and Cassidy called. The turn was the , the perfect card for Magnus, making her aces up. She led for $15,600 and Cassidy called. The river was a bit of a scare card, the , but Magnus maintained her aggression and fired a third, $30,000 bullet, hardly batting an eyelash. Cassidy looked tortured about it, but decided to make the call.
“I have two pair," she said calmly, as Cassidy mucked. With that $117,200 pot, Magnus was up $71,600 after 80 hands while Cassidy was stuck $60,000.
Magnus’ misstep: With adrenaline pumping through her veins after picking up that six-figure pot, Magnus decided to open up her range, but got cut off at the pass on this hand. Greenstein opened for $1,500 from under the gun, Cassidy called with , and Magnus called from the small blind with . Greenstein made trips on the flop, but Magnus was the one who took the lead, betting $3,100. Greenstein called and Cassidy folded. The on the turn had to kill Cassidy just a little (he would have made Broadway). It also left Magnus drawing dead, although she didn’t know it. She checked to Greenstein who added another $6,000 to the pot. Still not putting Greenstein on a king, she made the call. The river was the and Magnus checked. Barry bet $15,000 and finally figuring she was beat, Magnus found a fold.
"Can you tell me at the end what you had?" Magnus asked.
"Of course," Greenstein replied.
"Can I guess what you had and you'll tell me now?" Jason Mercier said.
"I think you had jack-ten,” Greenstein offered.
"I think you had queen-jack,” Mercier said.
"Queen-ten or queen-jack" Cassidy added.
"Why aren't you guys guessing what he (Greenstein) had?" Magnus wondered.
"Because we know what he had!" Mercier laughed.
Bonomo busts Mercier: Bonomo raised to $1,400 with , Mercier flat-called with , and Cassidy called with . Bonomo made the second-nut flush with a straight flush redraw on the flop and the action was checked around to him. He bet $4,000 and Mercier called. The turn gave Mercier top pair with the , but little did he know that he was drawing dead. Mercier checked, Bonomo bet $11,000 and Mercier called. The river was the and Mercier checked a third time. Bonomo made a $30,000 value bet, and Mercier shoved for $97,300.
"Really?" Bonomo said, his jaw hanging open as he looked Mercier over. "I guess you have the ace of diamonds, what's the other card?" he wondered aloud. "Yeah, I call."
"I have ace-jack. Nice hand." Mercier said. "That's kind of a good hand you had there."
The Big Game drinking game: Any time Joe Stapleton says "value," "range" or "pot control," you must imbibe. Warning: you’ll probably pass out by the first commercial break.
While we’re at it, the Joe Stapleton quote of the week: "You have to be careful about donk-betting into these psychos when they have position."
Ruh-roh, Nadya!: Magnus picked up pocket jacks and opened for $1,400. Mercier found in the big blind and made the call. The flop was dangerous for Magnus as Mercier hit top pair. He checked to Magnus and she bet $2,200. Mercier smooth-called. The turn fell the , and Mercier checked again. Magnus fired out again for $5,500 and Mercier called. The river was the , and Mercier checked a third time. Magnus made a smart check behind and lost the $19,000 pot to Mercier. Her profits were cut to $46,000, below the $50,300 threshold set by Ernest Wiggins for the NAPT passport prize.
Talk about the perfect flop at the perfect time: Alaei made an opening raise holding , and after looking down at , Magnus raised the pot to $5,400. Alaei made the call. Both players hit the flop, Magnus flopping top set and Alaei an open-ended straight draw. Alaei checked, Magnus bet $8,000, and Alaei called. The on the turn was safe for Magnus, and Alaei checked to her again. Magnus bet $20,000, and Alaei decided it was too expensive to continue drawing. With that pot, Magnus’ profits were up to $54,200, once again putting her in the lead for the NAPT passport.
Once more, with feeling: With only two hands remaining, it would have been easy for Magnus to fold her way to the end and preserve her profit. However, when she picked up in the big blind, she three-bet Joe Cassidy and Danny Alaei, probably hoping to take it down right there. Cassidy got rid of his ace-ten, but Alaei called with pocket deuces. Magnus made a gutsy $9,500 continuation bet on the flop and Alaei gave it up, conceding the $25,000 pot.
Final Profit/Loss: Justin Bonomo (+$227,700), Nadya Magnus (+$63,600), Barry Greenstein (+$32,600), Daniel Alaei (-$58,700), Jason Mercier (-$77,400), Joe Cada (-$86,400), Joe Cassidy (-$101,000)
Faced with the decision between keeping her profits and returning for another 150 hands, an elated Magnus decided to keep the money. Her first phone call was to her son, Roman.
Think you'd be a great Loose Cannon? Daily qualifiers are running for the Big Game on PokerStars.