Saturday, June 14, 2014

Andrew Rennhack Takes Down Michael Katz Heads up in $1,500 NLHE Ultimate Leveling War

Featuring an itchy group of players in their mid-20s, the WSOP $1,500 Event #26: No-Limit Hold'em event final table began with tournament wizard Dan Smith being felted in ninth place, when his A-K failed to hold up against pocket nines. Even with six players left, no one would have suspected that the emerging story would center around dark horse Tony Gargano. A Bellagio high stakes reg frequently seen on the 10-20 tables, Gargano had a minuscule stack of 215,000 when he shoved A-9 against Reed Goodmiller and Andrew Rennhack. Up against Q-J and A-8, the flop came out a perfect A-4-3 for his hand, giving him top pair and avoiding split possibilities. 

Andrew Rennhack takes on soon-to-depart Kamutzki & Goodmiller

Tripling up to 645,000, Gargano still needed another double up to get back to healthy stack and got his 8-8 in good against A-K. Two hands later, it was Gargano’s J-J that held up against A-K on an A-K-J flop and he was propelled to 2.6 million. Another two hands passed before he raised 85,000 with A-8 and faced an all-in shove from short stacked Heinz Kamutzki. Both he and Rennhack called and he had the Austrian Kamutzki dominated on an A-5-5 flop. Shortly after Kamutzki left in sixth, Goodmiller went all-in with Q-J and was called by Rennhack’s A-Q, going out in fifth for nearly $88,000. Next, veteran pro Ryan Welch doubled up J-10 vs. Michael Katz  A-K on a 8-Q-5 flop, when the river brought him a miracle 9 straight.

Young Guns: Reed Goodmiller, Andrew Rennhack, Heinz Kamutzki, Michael Katz

Exciting as it was, this nonstop action was fairly straightforward, with stack sizes dictating the wham-bam-thank you ma’am nature of confrontations. A major blow to Katz came when Gargano’s Q-J hit a Q-J-10 flop, with Katz drawing dead with his K-10 open ended straight draw. Fortunately, he was able to get out of the hand with minimal damage, considering his draw. Next to go was Ryan Welch. Down to 770,000, Welch shoved his K-4 suited and ran against the immovable force of Katz’ J-J. Failing to improve, he took home a respectable $120,000––disappointing considering that he had come into the final table as chip leader. 

The long legs of Ryan Welch up against Gargano, Katz, Rennhack, and Goodmiller.

Three handed was where creative play finally came to the fore, with major bluffs and leveling wars emerging between Tony Gargano, Michael Katz, and short stack Andrew Rennhack, who sat on 1.2 million chips. Holding J-4, Gargano fired a half-pot sized 750,000 bluff on the river into a 10-6-8-5-K board. Katz correctly made the call with his A-10 and was now up to 4 million, with two-thirds of the chips in play. With chip stacks fluctuating wildly, Gargano’s 8-4 next ran into Rennhack’s 9-6, with the latter player hitting his double gutter on the river and Gargano being forced to fold his low pair to all-in pressure. 

Ultimately, Gargano’s bluffy image paid off, as he woke up with pocket aces and three bet Katz’ 9-8 off suit raise up to 355,000. Decidedly not a believer, Katz four bet to 710,000 and had to lay down when Gargano shoved all in. This preflop confrontation pushed Gargano back up to a comfortable 4 million stack. Arguably, he could have extracted more chips by simply smooth calling and letting Katz bluff at whatever peeled off. While a holding of J-J better should logically have been Katz’ holding, he had four-bet light on a number of occasions that evening and could have a very wide range in this situation. 

 Katz –– four betting light

The next major development was Rennhack’s all-in shove with 9-8 suited and 710,000 behind. Gargano called with A-3 and was behind when a 9 hit on the turn. Finally in possession of more than 20 big blinds and with an aggressive table image, Rennhack now changed gears. He smooth called a Gargano 9-8 raise with A-J, bringing Katz on board as well with K-10. Gargano fired out 225,000 on a 7-4-2 board and Rennhack called. When an ace peeled out on the turn, Gargano fired out 325,000, assuming that if Rennhack held a premium ace, he would have raised preflop. Rennhack shoved and Gargano was forced to lay down––becoming the short stack with only 1.7 million. This hand illustrated the power of under-repping premium hands, particularly if you have established a loose table image. Arguably, Rennhack could have profitably smooth called Gargano’s turn bet when the A came out and let him bluff off even more chips on the river. 

Rennhack’s luck continued when he called Katz’ preflop Q-4 raise to 150,000, holding 9-7. With a flop of 3-5-6, Katz had an open-ended straight draw and bet out 150,000. Rennhack had a not-so-shabby double gutter and called. When a king peeled, Katz bet out 330,000 and again Rennhack stationed him. A river four gave Rennhack his sought after straight and he led out for 500,000. Katz tanked on what seemed like an obvious fold, before heroing with only a four and losing a major pot of 2.2 million. 

2012 WSOP Main Event runner-up Jessie Sylvia made a couple excellent points in the booth with David Tuchman on  While Rennhack got lucky here and got maximum value, he misplayed the hand in a couple ways. First––he missed the opportunity to re-raise his draw on the turn and take Katz off a single pair. This was important because, unless a straight got there on the river, his hand had no show down value. Another reason for aggressive turn play is that it would be hard to get paid if Rennhack hit one of his straight draws on the river (a 3-4-5-6 on board should send off warning bells). Fortunately, Rennhack had established a wild image leading up to the final table and was able to induce a very optimistic hero call by Katz. Short stacked, Tony Gargano was the next to go when he shoved with A-6 for 1.8 million and was called by Andrew Rennhack’s queens.

Katz & Rennhack –– mutual disbelief

Play heads up reverted to a surprisingly conservative small-ball style until a crazy leveling hand broke through. Rennhack raised to 160,000 with 9-6 off suit and Katz reraised to 450,000 with10-2, getting a call. With a major pot brewing between junk hands, the flop came 5-8-4, missing both players. Naturally, Katz bet out 350,000 and Rennhack called. When a two peeled, giving Katz the lowest pair on the board, with a mediocre kicker, he bet out 550,000. Rennhack called with his double gutter––he had hit it twice before, so maybe he expected another  miracle. More likely, Rennhack was setting up a play on the river. When a 10 peeled out, giving Katz an unbelievable runner-runner two pair, he shoved and took down the pot. To me, this is an example of the ultimate leveling war––the kind I try to avoid at all costs, but which apparently constitutes advanced play. My only thought is that Rennhack and Katz must have worked out a deal during the break, so it was essentially the bracelet that was up for grabs, instead of more than $150,000––the difference between first and second place. 

Rennhack was able to claw back to over 3 million through a risky, but well-timed river bluff on a missed diamond draw. His river bet of 500,000 into 1.5 million got Katz off his K-5 on a 7-A-K-6- 2 board and set him up for a pivotal double up to more than 5 million, K-K vs. J-10 suited. With Rennhack vaulted into to a commanding chip lead, his sixes held up against Katz’ K-10 and he took home the bracelet and $408,953. Speaking to a WSOP interviewer following the tournament, Rennhack––a Washington state ATM entrepreneur––noted that this was his first cash in the 2014 WSOP and more than made up for the $40,000 he had been down in other events prior to the win.

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