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Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 127: Three Big Hands from the Poker Industry Championship

Chad Holloway

Last month, I spent a week at the Hard Rock Tulsa with the RunGood Poker Series crew. At the start of the series, RGPS president Tana Karn hosted the first-ever Poker Industry Championship, a $330 buy-in tournament opened only to members of the poker industry such as dealers, floor staff, and media.

The event attracted a small field of 15 entries (hey, it took the World Series of Poker Main Event five years draw more), including photographer Katerina Lukina, poker veteran Johnny "Quads" Wenzel, tournament director Bill Bruce, and PokerNews contributor Bernard Lee who hosts The Bernard Lee Poker Show.

The small field actually made the playing experience unique in that we largely played short-handed and with deep stacks for most of the tournament. That is unusual for a one-day tournament. I couldn't help but think that this small tournament had a format akin to many high rollers (though obviously at a lower skill level), and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to open my range and mix it up.

I was fortunate enough to win the tournament for $2,250, so I thought I'd share some of the more memorable and influential hands from my run.

Running Hot Early

From the moment I sat down, I got off to a good start. I was not only hitting most flops but also getting paid by my opponents, who always had just enough to call. One of the guys I constantly clashed with was traveling dealer Thomas Bowler, one of the best at what he does.

A hand from Level 2 (100/100/100) was indicative of just how well I was running. Bowler had raised to 250 preflop and I called from the big blind with {q-Diamonds}{10-Clubs}. When the flop came down {q-Spades}{9-Spades}{10-Diamonds}, I checked and called a bet of 300 from Bowler.

The dealer then burned and turned the {6-Clubs} and I checked again. Bowler bet 500 and given the deep stacks I just called to see the {10-Spades} peel off on the river. I had filled up and thought about leading out, but instead I decided to check hoping Bowler maybe made a flush and would bet again.

Sure enough he bet 1,000, giving me the opportunity to check-raise to 4,000. Bowler paused for a moment and then called. I tabled my hand and he just shook his head before flashing the {10-Hearts}. Clearly the case ten got me paid.

I had a lot of hands like that early on, which allowed me to build a stack early. It's always nice to be on a heater!

Thomas Bowler
Thomas Bowler

Avoiding a Disaster

One of the most interesting hands I played came when three of us were left. It was interesting in that if it were played differently, and it very well could've been, I probably would have finished in third place.

It happened in Level 11 (1,000/2,000/2,000) when I raised the button to 4,500 out of my stack of 90,000 holding {8-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}. Bowler had around 140,000, and he defended his big blind with a call to see a {8-Clubs}{8-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} flop. Bowler checked and I played my flopped trips slow by checking behind.

"He had two opportunities to check-raise, all of which would have cost me dearly."

When the {k-Clubs} appeared on the turn, Bowler checked for the second time and I knew it was time to bet. If he had either a king, deuce, or club there was a good chance I'd get a call out of him, and sure enough, he called my down-sized bet of 3,000.

The {4-Diamonds} river wasn't anything to worry about, so after Bowler checked for a third time I bet 7,000. He quickly called and I confidently tabled my hand. Much to my surprise, he rolled over {j-Clubs}{7-Clubs} for the club flush!

Had Bowler played the hand more aggressively at any point, I certainly would have lost more chips. He had two opportunities to check-raise, all of which would have cost me dearly. Had I been in his shoes, I'd probably have check-called the flop, as he did, and then gone for a check-raise after making my flush on the turn. If I had checked behind, he could have then led out for value on the river.

That said, we were fairly deep at that point and the board was paired, so his conservative line is certainly understandable. Still, I had to count my lucky stars on saving chips on that hand (I had 74,000 after the hand, Bowler 157,000, and Ian Pearson 58,000).

The Final Hand

Chad Holloway
Chad Holloway wins the inaugural Poker Industry Championship

In the final hand of the tournament, which took place in Level 13 (2,000/3,000/3,000), I looked down at the {q-Clubs}{8-Hearts} and raised the button to 8,000. Bowler defended and the flop came down {q-Spades}{9-Diamonds}{2-Spades}.

Bowler checked, I continued for 6,000, and Bowler check-raised all in for 65,000. Given the draw-heavy board — both straight and flush draws — I figured there was a good chance I was ahead, though him having a hand like {q-}{10-} or {q-}{j-} was certainly possible. Still, given my hand and the stack sizes, a call seemed like a no-brainer.

Fortunately for me, Bowler held neither draw but rather {9-Clubs}{3-Diamonds} for an inferior pair. I was a an 81.62 percent favorite while Bowler had a 18.38 percent chance of coming from behind. Neither the {6-Spades} turn nor {5-Hearts} river changed a thing, and just like that it was over.

I had the honor of winning the inaugural Poker Industry Championship and claimed a pretty sweet Signature Ring. Overall it was a fun day of poker and I'm already looking forward to attempting a title defense in 2020 when I hear the event will take place at a West Coast property.

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  • In Hold'em w/ Holloway, Chad shares 3 big hands that helped him win the Poker Industry Championship.

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