This week's two episodes of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event on ESPN earned higher ratings than the week before. The stakes increased as well as the action picked up with the start of Day 6 when just 80 players remained from the 6,737-player starting field, continuing until they were down to just 51.
Along the way several November Niners were shown in action, including Kenny Hallaert, Jerry Wong, Griffin Benger, Cliff Josephy, Michael Ruane, Qui Nguyen, and Frederick Pons.
Nguyen we saw win a huge hand when he was nearly all in with jacks versus ace-king with a little over 60 players left, while Pons narrowly escaped elimination shortly thereafter when his pocket nines managed to survive against Ka Kwan Lau's pocket aces. Meanwhile William Kassouf once again grabbed the spotlight, with another dozen of his conversation-filled hands making the coverage.
For this week's round of "What Would You Do?" we've chosen three hands, starting with the very first one shown. Play along and decide how you would approach each of these Day 6 puzzles.
Hand #1: McConnon vs. Abugazal
After a couple of knockouts on the outer tables, there were 78 left as the first hand was dealt at the main feature table. The blinds were 40,000/80,000 with a 10,000 ante, meaning Jason McConnon's stack of 1.995 million represented almost 25 big blinds to begin.
McConnon had brought notes to the table, presumably describing hands with which to shove a short stack, something Hallaert sitting next to him noted he couldn't consult while in a hand.
Sure enough, in that first hand McConnon was dealt in middle position, and when he moved to check his sheet the floor was called to confirm what Hallaert had said — the notes were fine to consult between hands, but not during one. (No surprise that Hallaert — a tournament director himself — would have known.)
A little later on the broadcast, Norman Chad jokingly complained about McConnon's notes, asking "What happened to trusting your gut? What happened to instinct? What happened to poker?"
In any case, McConnon chose to min-raise to 160,000, and it folded to Adi Abugazal in the big blind who had 2.975 million to start the hand. Abugazal called, and the flop came .
Abugazal checked quickly, and with top pair McConnon continued for 135,000. Abugazal then check-raised to 535,000.
There was 1.12 million in the middle at that point including Abugazal's bet, and McConnon had 1.69 million behind.
We saw McConnon pause about 20 seconds, then announce he was raising all in. Unfortunately for him, Abugazal called in a flash and showed for a flopped set, and two cards later McConnon was out in 78th for an $80,721 cash.
Hand #2: Lau vs. Kassouf
Later in the same level, another interesting spot arose involving Ka Kwan Lau and William Kassouf who were seated next to one another at the feature table and got involved frequently on Day 6.
With not quite 5.4 million to start the hand, Lau looked down at on the button and raised a little over 2x to 175,000. An uncharacteristically quiet Kassouf — with about 10.3 million to start — then three-bet to 525,000 from the small blind, and Lau called to make the pot 1.21 million.
The flop came a dazzling , giving Lau quads. Kassouf led for 660,000. "I had the best hand preflop, best hand on the flop," said Kassouf to Lau who remained silent and stoic. Lau called, bringing the pot to 2.53 million.
The turn was the , and this time Kassouf — quiet once more — checked.
Lau's instinct was to bet his hand, and he set out 660,000 worth of chips. In response, Kassouf folded his .
Hand #3: Christoforou vs. Tartar
Okay, one last one, this one starting out as a four-way hand then resolving into a decision for Carlton Tartar versus his lone remaining opponent, Andrew Christoforou.
With around 65 players left and the blinds still 40,000/80,000 with a 10,000 ante, Jeff Hakim raised to 185,000 from under the gun and Lau called from the hijack seat.
It folded to Tartar who'd been dealt in the small blind and he called the raise. Christoforou in the big blind then noted how he was about to fold, but that given the pot odds he had to stick around. "He doesn't want to, but he has to," Christoforou said with a grin, referring to himself in the third person as he tossed in the calling chips.
With 830,000 in the middle, the flop came and it checked all of the way around. The turn then brought the , giving Tartar two pair, and he checked again. This time Christoforou bet 380,000, and after both Hakim and Lau folded, Tartar went deep into the tank.
Christoforou's bet meant there was 1.21 million in the middle. Tartar had 1.84 million behind, with Christoforou having him well covered with nearly 6.4 million.
We got to see Tartar think for a full minute, after which his gut told him to let his hand go. The chips were pushed to Christoforou as he returned his cards face down to the dealer — .