"It was brutal, and I was a little stunned, honestly."
That's how Dan Shak described bubbling the $111,111 One Drop High Roller, his second high roller bubble within a week. Just a few days earlier he went out on Day 3, just before the money, in the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl at Aria.
Shak's One Drop bustout hand is what poker nightmares are made of. All Shak needed to avoid was one of four deuces on the river. Well, you know how that turned out.
Here's how the hand was reported on the PokerNews Live Reporting Blog.
Down to just 140,000, Dan Shak shoved from the cutoff once action had folded to him. Phil Hellmuth called from the small blind and big blind Seiver squeezed to 440,000. Hellmuth folded and rolled his eyes as soon as he saw Seiver's hand.
The flop came , doing not much for anyone yet. The on the turn, however, did. Shak turned top pair but Seiver had a gutshot to the wheel.
"Shak needs to dodge a deuce to double up," the speaker said.
"Not the deuce..." Shak said.
But it was a deuce that hit. The completed the board and the crowd was in awe. Seiver started collecting the chips while Shak stood there in disbelief. He left the Brasilia Room through the side exit. The tournament is now in the money. The remaining 20 players are guaranteed $166,666 from here on out.
We sat down with Shak to discuss how he bounces back from two brutal bustouts in such a short period of time. It's never easy to have this type of discussion with a player, but Shak was more than willing and very gracious and kind. Maybe the mental coach he's been working with for the past six months has something to do with that. In fact, he gives props to his coach when asked how he bounced back from bubbling two high buy-in events within a week.
He admitted that this is a unique situation for him and he decided to work with someone exactly for this kind of situation. For a short period of time following his elimination from the Super High Roller Bowl, he told himself he was "never playing poker again."
Shak quickly got over it though. "By the time the One Drop came around I was in a good mental frame of mind the whole way through. I felt like I played my best. I could have played just to cashed, but you have to play to win. I play to win. I could have folded and a cash would have been nice. Not bubbling two tournaments in a row would have been real nice.
"But the reality is you can't be a winning tournament poker player just by min-cashing. Unless you win something, you can't sustain yourself. Yeah, I'm a businessman and poker isn't my main source of income, but if I feel like I'm bleeding money playing poker, it's time to call it quits."
When asked what prompted him to work with a coach, Shak said, "I love to play poker and my one leak, well, one of my many leaks, my major leak is bouncing back."
"I obviously didn't train to bounce back from stone bubbling two tournaments but to bounce back from bad beat hands, getting short-stacked and things like that. I trained exactly for these circumstances."
And bounce right back is exactly what he did. Shortly after busting the One Drop, Shak hopped into Event #9: $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship where he placed 16th for $16,958. It's obvious he would have rather made the money in one of the high rollers, but jumping into another of his favorite tournaments and playing well was exactly what all the hard work and preparation was about.
"I could have played just to cashed, but you have to play to win. I play to win"
Shak admitted to having some very lucky run outs over the years and wanted to prepare for the unlucky periods. "I wanted to get over bad hands quicker, so I don't play poorly afterward. Just take them in stride and move on to the next. I know if I'm mentally prepared when the luck turns around, I'm going to start crushing it. I want to put myself in that position."
Is poker a game of luck or a game of skill? Shak has an opinion on that, too.
"Some people think poker is a game of skill, but after all the years I've been playing I happen to believe luck certainly plays a big part in it. Skill plays more of a role by far, but luck certainly has to be on your side to win a major tournament."
Shak plans to leave Vegas and take a break before heading back to the WSOP towards to the end of the series.
"I'm not the youngest anymore. I'm going to take a break and come back stronger. Part of me wants to keep playing, but the rational, smart part of me says I need a break."
Shak ended with this advice: "The game is constantly changing and to be successful and keep up with these young guns you have to adapt your game to their game. I think I've done that well on this trip. I'm going to walk out of here feeling good about my play."
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