Gaurav Raina has emerged victorious in Event #29: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em after winning the heads-up battle against James Calvo as the tournament continued through to an unscheduled Day 4.
"We had a joke with my friends. I said I was going to win three bracelets this summer, and we were all laughing. None of us thought that anyone of us is actually gonna win a bracelet. But we were like 'we've been preppin', we're beasts.'"
Raina now has accomplished one-third of his plan. "We're gonna go hard, it's gonna be awesome," he said.
The interrupted heads-up match gave Raina an opportunity to rest and set up a game plan designed specifically for play against Calvo, who showed some unorthodox patterns during the duel.
"I definitely spent some good time with friends discussing what the hell is this guy doing. I haven't seen many of his hands the entire day, the only hands he turned over were big hands, which is crazy, because his frequencies are super high," Raina said. "I was trying to figure out what his bet-sizing patterns were," he added.
Knowing he was coming back with a shorter stack, Raina wanted to make sure he'd do absolutely everything to scoop the bracelet. "I couldn't sleep much. I was thinking about the chip disadvantage, the bracelet, the huge pay jump. I got like four hours of sleep and I was just like walking around in circles. Trying to figure out what to do to not lose this match."
"It definitely couldn't hurt me to get rest and to come back. I was just amped up and wanted to finish, but other than that, it makes no real difference. It's a little suspenseful."
It couldn't start much better for Raina as he doubled in the fifth hand of the day (146th of the final table) when his flopped two pairs held against Calvo's flush draw. Raina vaulted to a slight lead and the players then changed chips back and forth.
Calvo, who took a lot of time to make every decision, was pulling out some big raises and check-raises to frustrate Raina. "Unfortunately, I never had a hand. I was airballing most of the time. His timing was very good. He managed to somehow check-raise when I didn't have much."
Raina had to adjust to his opponent's style and tempo. "I started limping the button because I figured he would be bombing, making big three-bets. Eventually, when I do get the right hand, I need to not let him stop bluffing."
Raina did eventually catch Calvo when he flopped a set of jacks, letting his opponent move all in on the turn where Raina's hand improved to a full house. Calvo still had a chance to win as he had queens up, hoping for another queen to land on the river. Raina faded the two-outer and then finally enjoyed the moment of joy after the 212th hand of the final table.
Originally From New Jersey, Raina and his girlfriend are moving to San Diego after the summer. Until then, there are still plenty of bracelets to chase for the Event #29 champion.
Event #29: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Final Table Results: