An amazing game today. The first heat of the Intercontinental Poker Championships. What a field. The lineup was Tony G in Seat one, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and Carlos Mortensen. I was in the mood to play today. I’m not here to lose my money. I’m not here to get bluffed out. I was after Doyle today. I’ve knocked out Phil Ivey, and Daniel Negreanu in the last two months. I wanted to get Doyle for the hat trick.
So, very early I got my chance for the hat trick. This is the biggest hand of my life, and it’s a very interesting hand, because my entire tournament life was on the line. I either look like a star by calling, or look terrible by getting it wrong. Enjoy.
I was in the mood today. I wasn’t folding any hands on my big blind. I told everyone today. Do not attack my big blind, and my small blind…..This is my money out there, and I don’t want people to attack. So, early on in the tournament I pick up 8 9 on my big blind. I had not folded a hand yet before the flop in this tournament. The blinds were 6,000/12,000, and Doyle makes it 37,000 to go from 2 off the button. So, 25,000 to me, and I call with my 8 9. The flop comes A K 8 with the Ace and the King being spades. I check, Doyle checks. Which I found to be interesting….If he’s checking, I figured he’s not worried about the flush, or he has no hand at all. If he’s got a bad Ace, he’d usually bet there. If he bets there, I give him the pot. The turn comes the four of diamonds. On the turn, I check, and Doyle bets 42,000. I have a total of 160,000 left, and 42,000 is a big whack, but there is already about 75,000 in the pot. There is no way the four helped him. I know if I call this 42,000, I have to call the river. I’ve got to put him on no hand. I put him on Q J, actually. So, I called the 42,000. We have absolutely even stacks, about 125,000 of the initial 250,000. The river comes a 7 from heaven (7 of hearts), which I said ‘Oh, a seven from heaven’. I check, and Doyle very quickly moves all in.
Now, I go into the tank, and think I don’t think I can lay the hand down. I don’t know that anyone in their right mind could call all of their chips, to see if they are wrong, it’s just difficult psychologically. But I have done this before. I called Kirill Gerasimov in the Worlds Heads up Championship, and I was wrong. It was really bad, because I called all my chips off. At that point, I had won 13 heads up matches in a row, including beating Devilfish for the World Heads Up Omaha Championship in Vienna in 2003. The point is I had been through this before, and been wrong, and I didn’t want to be wrong again.
So, I’m thinking I will be really embarrassed if I was wrong. My whole tournament life was hanging in the balance. It was tough to call the great Doyle Brunson. But, it made sense for him to make a move on the river there. So, I started talking to Doyle. I said “I think you got Queen Jack”. And I called. Doyle couldn’t believe it. It was difficult, because Doyle is my idol, and I have so much respect for him. It was an amazing feeling to bust the greatest poker player ever with a pair of eights on a board with Ace King into a raiser.
I am very humbled to win this hand. I’ll remember this hand for the rest of my life. I hate talking about hands, you will notice I rarely talk about hands here, but this is one I can take with me for the rest of my life.
I wasn’t going to lose it after that. The Devilfish was still in, and he was the chip leader. But, I was hot on his heels.
The next big hand was I raised the Russian. Make no mistake – having a Lithuanian background, I love to bust Russians. So, I raised on the button with Ace Three of Diamonds, and Ralph Perry from Russia moves in with Jack Seven of Spades. No help for the board for Ralph, and he was next out. Carlos was the next to go, as Devilfish busted him.
So, it was down to Devilfish and me heads up, and our stacks were about equal. It was a grueling battle. I took an advantage early on, with a lot of stealing. Devilfish was very conservative, wanting to see a lot of flops. The final hand for me was King Jack of Diamonds, versus Ace Nine offsuit for Devilfish. A jack popped out on the flop, and I was through.
This is the absolute best field that you could ever play in. All great players. It’s the best feeling to win this. Now, I am in the final six players of this tournament. I need to win one of my two heats left to win. I have one heat with six players, and one heat with five players. If I win either of these two heats, I will be in the finals heads up. I will update the final.