I’ve been working as a technologist at SIG for over 20 years and currently manage four teams of 33 brilliant and hardworking technologists. I began my poker journey during my early days at SIG, finding a conservative playing style, and that I much prefer tournament play to cash game play. Outside of SIG, I’m an avid blitz chess player, photographer and a rock/blues guitarist.
Almost every American kid learns some kind of poker as a child, but I’ve only been playing seriously since 1996 when I started at SIG. From that point on, I learned valuable lessons from SIG’s Managing Directors, who would occasionally sit in on the after-work games, and other SIG poker experts such as Bill Chen and Jerrod Ankenman. I’m a student of Dan Harrington’s approach to tournament poker, and I think it has served me well, this marking my third visit to the Final Table in the last four years. Haven’t been able to take the crown though.
When I made it to the Final Table this year, I had $26K in chips. With the blinds at $1-2K, it would only take 8.6 circuits to be “blinded away,” which must be avoided at all costs. At M=8.6, I had very little room for tricky plays, and my calculation was usually around whether to push all-in or try one more small play first. After a 15 minute run of bad cards, I was finally dealt a KJo in the cut-off. This is a well-known dangerous hand, but still much better than the random trash I’d seen until then. I raised to $5K, hoping that the dealer and the blinds would fold. Unfortunately, the dealer, Stephanie, re-raised me to $8K, and the blinds folded. I called the additional $3K, and hoped for a good flop. In making this call, I calculated that my remaining chips, if I folded after the flop, would still leave me with enough to make an all-in push painful to someone who called me and lost. Flop was 10-3-9 rainbow and I checked to the raiser, who bet another $4K. I put her on a high pair of JJ or better, or AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, all of which are currently beating me, so I folded. I had two over cards and a gut shot, which are collectively about 28% to happen with two cards to come. Worse, the Ks and Js are only “partial outs” in case Stephanie holds a better K (AK, KQ) or a better J (AJ). So I folded, and hoped a later “first-in vigorish” push could keep me alive. Stephanie later told me she had AK.
In retrospect, a better play was probably to push all-in from the cutoff with these cards. With AK though, I’m guessing Stephanie was calling and I’d have been out unless a miracle occurred. In my final hand of the day, I had 94o in the small blind with two callers of the big blind, offering me 7-1 odds which would be incorrect to pass up. So I completed the bet. I flopped a 9 (and two overcards), but Matt called my all-in and made an unexpected straight on the end to knock me out of the 2017 event. I hope to be back again.