This is part 2 in a 3-part series on Rolf’s performance in the €5000 Main Event at the Master Classics of Poker, November 2006.
Having made it to the third day with an average stack of about 65K, I am happy to see that again there has been no redraw for seats. This way, I can try and use my tight play from yesterday to my advantage, now that the blinds have risen & the antes have kicked in. I am even happier when I find out my table had been chosen as the televised table. This is what I have come here for – now it is up to me to perform.
Despite the fact that I want to get as much airtime as possible, I don’t just want to survive: I want to win this event. So, on just the third hand of play, I reraise a tight opening raiser for about 60% of my stack, holding just a J 8 . I know this person respects my play, and I know he would fold the hand that I figure him for, AQ. (Later, in the TV broadcast, I find out that he has folded this exact hand, AQ.) Not much later I also make a big under the gun raise with a 6 3 , and I win that pot uncontested too. I am gaining ground slowly but surely, but then suddenly the tide turns. I make my trademark big raise from under the gun, this time with 8 8 , for about 17K total. The solid Michael Keiner decides to push all-in with the A J , and I elect to call the 21K extra – but lose the hand. I am now suddenly down to 77K, having lost a showdown for just the first, or possibly second time during this entire event.
Ace starts losing coin flips
Without playing a hand, my stack dwindles further to 65K – the same amount that I had started the day with. I am way below average now, and when the blinds rise to 3K-6K with a 500 ante, I decide to move into a different gear. Using the fact that also today I have not been caught making any moves, I bully my way back into the event. I raise or reraise three consecutive pots with nothing, winning them all uncontested, and then on the fourth consecutive hand I again make a massive raise – from under the gun this time, to 80K. Of course, this time I have a real hand, QQ, but still my fellow countryman, the popular Thierry van den Berg decides to call all-in with an AK offsuit. I expect to win, but unfortunately a king flops. Having lost my second race, I am now down to 55K – the shortest stack in the event.
I fight for my life. I continue to push all-in about two hands out of three, for the simple reason that I don’t want to move up one or two spots – I am playing to win. But having regained some ammunition, I also lose my third consecutive coin flip, with QJ versus the 99 from a tight player in the big blind who decides to make a stand. Still, I recover by again winning two pots uncontested, getting me close to the 100K mark again. Then, I win a crucial pot. Facing a 25K raise from Micha Neuteboom, a Dutchman that I have already reraised off his hand once, I am lucky to find pocket aces. I make the exact same type of reraise that I have already made against him before, and despite the fact that he just has a KQ offsuit, there is just no way he can fold here. Indeed he calls all-in for 54K extra, and my aces hold up. I have 180K – and am back in business!
We are now down to 18 players, two tables, and at the televised table we have no less than four Dutchmen, out of the five that are left in the event. I win two pots because of good strategic maneuvering, but I decide to take my foot off the gas somewhat after all this firework from before. I even fold 88 in early position as the first one in, and A Q against a raise. Once I notice that despite my just average stack of 205K (considerably less than the 700K of the chipleader to my right Alex Jalali) all six players to my left have less chips than I do, I decide to change gears once again. Hoping to build my stack so I can start bullying the players to my left, and with the blinds now 4K-8K with a 1K ante, I try to grab the 20K dead money by making a massive 82K total raise with just a 5 4 . Because the chipleader has already folded and because I haven’t played a hand myself in a long time, I am pretty certain I could get away with this move, say as a starting point to my projected Bully Play. But Dutchman Menno Vlek seems to know what I am thinking, and decides to push all-in for 166K total with just an AT offsuit. I take my time to calculate my odds, thinking that almost certainly I am up against aces. But getting slightly more than 3-to-1 on my money, there is just no way I can fold my small suited connectors here. I make a little show for the cameras (saying something like: “Geez, who would be so stupid to first raise with a five-high, and then even call a reraise with it”), and the tension starts building up. Of course, in the end I do make the call. Immediately, I start calling for spades and little cards, and again Lady Luck smiles on me. The same Lovely Loeki from before builds the tension even further by giving Menno top pair on the turn. But then on the river she completes the runner-runner flush, giving the pot to the proper person: me. The crowd goes wild, Menno slams the table, and I get crazy looks not just from the players and spectators, but even from the lovely dealer – as if to say: “Rolf – what on earth were you thinking?”
On a hot streak
I have worked my way up to 400K now. Having never played any kind of rush before (being a strictly cash game player, I don’t believe in rushes – I believe in making +EV plays), I know that now is the time to collect. Knowing that by now my opponents probably view me as a total maniac who could move in with anything, I make an absolutely ridiculous 210K raise from under the gun with KK. Thierry van den Berg insta-calls for all his chips, pumping his fists in the air. Still, I am not 100% convinced that in fact he’s got aces – that is, until he shows them. Again being a clear dog in a big pot, I start shouting for kings – and indeed, on the turn a king pops up. Now it’s Thierry’s turn to smash the table and curse his bad luck, while as before, the crowd goes wild. Wild not just in the positive sense though, as by now three of their favorites (Micha, Menno and Thierry) have all been eliminated by the same player: me. And taking into account the fact that quite a few people had percentages in some of these players, this doesn’t make me the most popular player in the house. But having scooped a 400K pot as a 4-to-1 dog, I have almost closed the gap to chipleader Alex Jalali, and I am in excellent shape now.
Going for the kill
But I am not pleased yet. With ten players left on two tables, we are playing five-handed – and I know that this is the time to accumulate chips. I reraise Jan Boubli with an A5 to make him lay down, and then I also reraise Jan Sjavik’s under the gun raise. Holding just a Q J , I reraise enough to put him all-in, and after some deliberation he decides to fold a hand that has me dominated, AQ. Phew! I go on in my bullying way, and also eliminate the last player before the final – again, being a slight dog. In no-time, I have been able to work my way up from short stack to number one in the event. This means that at tomorrow’s nine-handed final table, I will start as the clear chipleader, holding no less than 841K – for approximately 25% of the total chips in play.
While everyone is wondering what on earth has happened to this Ultra-Tight Rolf that they knew from the cash games, and while the Micha / Menno / Thierry fans curse me for my arguably stupid plays, I go to bed very pleased. I have given the TV cameras what they wanted, and I know that for a very long time everyone in Holland will remember the Ace. But more importantly: I have paved the way for my ultimate goal – taking home this very prestigious title. I know I have gotten to this point in a good-but-unorthodox and very lucky manner – now it’s up to me to pull the trigger in tomorrow’s Final.
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 22.07.2007.