Teachable Moments From Twitch: Never Give Up
The World Series of Poker is a time of year when poker players from all around the world converge on the city of Las Vegas both to play their favorite game and to repeat clichéd phrases to one another.
For example, chances are good most of us will soon be down to just a few big blinds walking the halls of the Rio on a break and have a friend interrupt our complaining with the phrase "all you need is a chip and a chair." No one wants to be on the receiving end of that comment, but alas, we probably can't avoid it. And even if we don't want to hear it, the message is a good one — as long as you have chips, you have a chance.
Never has the truth of that sentiment been more emphatically proven than in a recent series of hands I witnessed while watching the $35K guaranteed Insanity Stack Knockout No-Limit Hold'em final table at Stones Gambling Hall live streamed on the Stones Live Poker Twitch channel.
The story began when a player lost the vast majority of his stack holding trips vs. trips with five players left at the final table. The commentators gave him an obligatory "good game" as he started to walk away from the table while the graphics updated to show that he busted. But that wasn't quite the case — the player hadn't been entirely covered, and soon he was called back once the dealer realized he still had chips.
The good news was that he had 30,000 left. The bad news was that the blinds were 20,000/40,000 and he had to post the small blind. Having a quarter of a big blind behind isn't ideal, but commentator Alex Fitzgerald was prophetic when he said "You always have a shot. It's never over until it's over."
The miracle started with the cutoff limping in with , the button doing the same with , our hero flicking in his last 10,000 from the small blind with , and the big blind checking his option with .
The flop came . The cutoff bet 60,000 into a pot of 170,000 with his top pair, then the button raised his better top pair to 260,000 for value. The big blind called the raise with his ace-high, and the cutoff folded.
The turn went check-check, then after the river completed the board the graphics showed our all-in Hero (with a pair of sixes) had "0%" equity versus the button's better pair of kings. But that changed dramatically when the big blind led out for 340,000 into the pot of 770,000 with ace-high. That caused the button to fold his top pair, giving the big blind the side pot but awarding Hero the main pot as his third pair was the winner.
It's nice to go from 10,000 behind to an 80,000 stack, especially in this fashion, but even after winning Hero still only had 2 big blinds. Also, this was a "knockout" tournament in which players won bounties for eliminating others. It would still take multiple miracles to bring this comeback into fruition.
In the very next hand, the hijack opened 2.5x to 100,000 with , and Hero called on the button with . The small blind also called and the big blind folded. The flop was very good for our Hero, and the sealed the deal. After that hand he was suddenly up to 320,000, a respectable 8 big blinds.
Hero next used his newfound fold equity to get a number of shoves through, then later found another miracle at the 25,000/50,000 level when he shoved Q-7-offsuit from the button and managed to outdraw the small blind who called with A-7-offsuit. That hand got him up to a million chips and the tournament played out relatively less dramatically from there.
The story ended with perhaps the biggest miracle of all, however, when Hero got heads-up with a 1.9M stack to the chip leader's 3.3M stack and was able to walk away with an even chop — along with a story he will be telling for the rest of his life.
So what's the lesson? When you're at the WSOP this summer and it seems you don't have much of a shot, never give up!
Unless of course, you're considering bluffing on the river in a multi-way pot when a short stack is all in at the final table. That's a spot where you should probably just give up.