Sunday, June 22, 2014

Phil Laak Hits the PLO Skids, Out in 6th vs. "Family Man" Darius Studdard

The $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Six Handed tournament starts with 12 remaining out of 452 runners, with more than half a million going to first place. Among the veteran pros in the tournament are David Baker, Sorel Mizzi, Phil Laak, and Richard Ashby. A dark horse at the table is former chess prodigy, neuroscientist, and artificial intelligence researcher Demis Hassabis, who pioneered the "theoretical account of the episodic memory system identifying scene construction." The UK amateur is also a respected computer games designer who co-founded Deepmind Technologies (which sold to Google earlier this year for nearly $1 billion dollars). Early conversation centers around the genius at the table, with Laak remarking he would like to invest in whatever Hassabis does next. 

Also of note is Kory Kilpatrick, who has been cashing in WSOP events since 2011 and took home first place in the $3,000 NLHE Shootout event two weeks ago for more than $250,000. A complete unknown, but holding his own among the sharks, is Darius Studdard––a 35-year-old New York father of four whose biggest previous cash was a 16th place finish in the 2013 $500 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open for $8,500.

Studdard in throwback Hardaway jersey stares down Mizzi, Kilpatrick (glasses)

Short stacked David Baker is the first to go, when his A-K-J-9 runs up against UK pro Richard Ashby’s A-K-Q-3, which unfortunately makes a diamond flush. Laak verbalizes relief at seeing “Bakes” go, calling him a “mutant genius wizard.” We next have an odd situation of veteran UK pro Richard Ashby tanking for a couple minutes after  river bets have been placed and called. The tournament director is finally called in at the behest of the dealer, who has asked Ashby to show or fold. Richard Ashby complains, saying that he has a ton of flush and straight draws to work through, before finally mucking. Joseph Leung, who is sitting in the tournament chip lead with 960,000, comments that Ashby was definitely taking far too long, however complicated the card combinations he had to work through were. 
major confrontation between lanky Athens, Georgia native Kory Kilpatrick and Phil Laak erupts next. With minimal action taking place up to the river on a J-A-4-J-10 board, Kilpatrick checks and Laak fires out 68,000 into a 72,000 pot. He encounters an ambush raise by Kilpatrik to 225,000. Laak tanks, saying “wish I just checked––pocket aces? ace jack?” He finally puts in the call with a third nut holding J-10 and confronts Kilpatrick’s  A-A nuts  Kilpatrick grins and says “I wouldn’t have done that (slow playing the nuts) if you didn’t keep raising the big blind.” To which Laak counters “keep on defending with that junk.” 

Down to 550,000, Laak again locks horns with Kilpatrick, who now has more than a million chips. Holding K-K-10-3, Laak hits two pair on a 10-8-3 flop and checks. When Kilpatrick bets 48,000, with a straight draw Q-J-9-4, Laak check raises to 205,000 and Kilpatrik puts Laak all-in for 448,000. A 10 on the turn gives Laak the full house and a double up, with the two players back to where they were five minutes ago. Kilpatrik says “Nice hand, sir, you could have waited till the river to fill up.” Laak next takes a pot from his good friend Sorel Mizzi with not much at all. Mizzi is peeved, saying “how many times you been raising me with garbage nothings.”  Kilpatrik, still licking his wounds, says, “two hand heater, that’s huge in this game.” Laak, inscrutable in ski goggles “Yeah, it’s like fat equity.” 

Laak sizing up buddy Mizzi

Gaming wizard Demis Hassabis is out when his A-A-6-4 falls to Studdard’s Q-Q-9-2, with Studdard hitting a queen high straight and Hassabis failing to connect on his nut flush draw. Studdard is now up to a very respectable 1.3 million chips. 

Hassabis vs. Studdard

The gaming wizard is out, but not forgot. Entrepreneurial Laak––"let's talk"

Meanwhile, at the other table, short stack Brandon Crawford keeps doubling up repeatedly, in the process making a major dent in the armor of former chip leader Joseph Leung. He has rocketed in 20 minutes from under 150,000 chips to 750,000 chips. 

Crawford––doubling and doubling

Crawford––the downfall of Leung

fourth time's also a charm

Leung enters middling-stack territory when new leader Brant Hale hits a 10 high straight against him and chips up to 1.5 million. Now it is short stacked Michael Drummond’s turn to double up against Leung when his kings hold and the once mighty Lung is in a critical situation, with 250,000 chips behind. Having dodged four all-in bullets himself, Crawford encourages his table mate “back in it Drum.” Meanwhile cheers are erupting throughout the Rio, as the U.S. team pulls to a 2-1 lead against Portugal in the World Cup. No one is surprised to see Leung bust in 10th, when his K-J-10-5 runs against Drummond’s A-K-K-2. 

The ever creative Phil Laak now places his foot on the accelerator, coming over the top of a Studdard UTG raise to 85,000 and Schmidt call, on a K-7-10-5 board with two possible flush draws. Both players dutifully fold, with Kilpatrick––still a disbeliever––quipping “nice move Phil, with A-2-6-4 all black.” Laak seems unperturbed under his alien specs, replying “I appreciate the vote of confidence.” All hail the Unabomber. Whatever you say about Laak’s playing, he is the only player at this stage who seems to be playing his opponents, rather than the board.  High variance yes, but often profitable. 

who's zoomin' who 

The next victim to Laak's aggression is close buddy Sorel Mizzi, who was crippled earlier by Kilpatrick. Crawford––his remarkable short stack luck finally running thin––is out in eighth. Ashby, who had been running on empty for quite some time, goes next and we are down to the final table.

Mizzi––up against a Kilpatrick monster

and not quite believing...

leaking chips

...and out against Laak
A pivotal hand occurs between chip leader Laak and Studdard, with Laak pushing his opponent in with two pair against his opponent’s nut flush straight draw. Studdard hits his straight on the river and Laak is down to under a million, with Studdard vaulting to 1.6 million.

Studdard––you got it?

Laak to Studdard––nice double up

Laak ultimately risks his last 725,000 all-in preflop with A-8-8-K vs. Hale’s A-A-5-4. A strong hand, this was probably not the best hand to shove with, as the type of hand that would look him up or four-bet will often have that holding dominated. A hand like 10 high double-suited, with straight potential, would play much better against potential raising opponents. In any case, Laak is out with a 6th place payout of nearly $67,000 and the consolation of his wife Jennifer Tilly on the rail. 

 Laak––backpack on and dominated against Hale (cap)

good game 

Meanwhile, the tight (some would say unimaginative) players such as Schmidt, Drummond, and Hale, have  their patience rewarded and level up to the serious money. Schmidt is particularly close to the vest, folding pocket kings at one point to minor pressure from Studdard preflop, and A-K on a king high flop to a small bet against a hand he has dominated. 

"Family Man" Studdard vs. "Mr. Tight" Schmidt

Jesse Katz and Jeff Lisandro are among the final table in the $1,500 Fixed-limit NLHE

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