Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Travel Report: 2012-13 WSOP-C Foxwoods Main Event, Day 3 -- Saul Crushing

Another airport posting here as I await my flight out of Providence back home. The WSOP-C Foxwoods Main Event wrapped up a bit before midnight last night, with Kevin “BeL0WaB0Ve” Saul emerging as the winner.

After the tourney ended, I saw some of the congratulatory tweets coming through for Saul, including one from Jason Somerville ending with the hashtag “#saulcrushing” which I immediately wished I had thought of at some point when posting his hands over the last couple of days. (So I stole it for the post title above.)

Saul started the final day of play with a below average stack among the final 16, but it had been clear since the middle of Day 2 that he was probably an odds-on favorite to make it deep, if not win the sucker. My blogging partner Chad and I were discussing at night’s end how this often happens in these events, namely, that a particular player tends to emerge even with six or seven tables left as a likely candidate to win, and while it doesn’t always work out that way it often does.

It was a similar story a few weeks ago at the WSOP-C Caesars Atlantic City Main Event, where Joseph McKeehen had already distinguished himself as a tough player on Day 2, then he picked up significant chips late in the day to be a prohibitive favorite going into the last day (when 19 were left). Also happened at that Sands Bethlehem Deepstack event from December with Chris Klodnicki, although in that case he was already a seeming favorite with 100 players left.

Actually everyone at yesterday’s final table distinguished himself, I’d say, with all having good moments in which hands were played well and most getting lucky here or there, too. Saul even experienced some good fortune yesterday in a hand against Bobby Corcione.

In that one Saul and Corcione traded bets after a 6d8d7s flop to build a nearly 3 million-chip pot, with Saul ultimately all in and Corcione just barely having Saul covered (by 10,000, it turned out). Corcione had AdAs and Saul Kd9d, which meant it was almost exactly a 50-50 flip -- kind of uncanny, actually, considering they’d begun the hands with nearly even stacks, too. A diamond came on the river and Saul survived.

“That’s not good,” said eventual third-place finisher Cory Waaland to me off to the side, remarking on Saul’s having not only avoided elimination but had built himself a big stack once again. Paul Snead -- who’d end up fourth yesterday -- had said nearly the same thing to me the day before when Saul had won a big pot while eliminating a player, again indicating the respect others had for Saul.

Snead actually was knocked out by Saul in another near coin-flip of a hand in which Snead was all in with ace-king and up against Saul’s two red eights, then the two black eights came out on the flop to give Saul quads.

Saul was on the other end of a number of bad-beat scenarios, too, both yesterday and the day before. But when such hands occurred he always had the chips to sustain himself afterwards, and continued to apply pressure and play smartly to build back up time and again.

There was an even more eye-popping flop than that quads hand yesterday, one that saw Waaland find himself in what I called a “hand-in-the-cookie-jar” moment after shoving from the blinds with Jh2h and getting called by Ethan Foulkes who held AcJs. The flop then came 2c9c2h, driving everyone into hysterics. The turn was the Tc, thus giving Foulkes a flush draw, then the river brought the Jc, giving Foulkes the flush but Waaland a better full house.

It was a nutty hand, and while both Waaland and Foulkes played well throughout the tournament, it is funny to think how a hand like that can affect how these things turn out. (Foulkes ended up finishing seventh, Waaland third.)

Saul is probably the best known player to win a WSOP-C Main Event during the 2012-13 season, aside perhaps from Dan Heimiller who won the ME at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana stop last October. Heimiller needs to update his awesome website to reflect that triumph.

Foxwoods was a fun place, although Chad and I didn’t have a heck of a lot of time to explore it much other than to sample a few of the restaurants. We didn’t play any poker either, although we did use our $10 freeplays to try our luck at Caveman Keno, with Jay “WhoJedi” Newnum tutoring us as we did.

Besides being a great blogger and photographer for the WSOP and an expert in all things Star Wars, Newnum also has advanced training in Caveman Keno, and thus advised us regarding optimal play. Alas for your humble scribbler, I couldn’t turn a profit with my Fibonacci-derived numbers (skipping 1 and 2 and using 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55), but Chad did manage to walk away with a small win of $14 or so.

From here it’s back home for a couple of days, then I’ll be trucking it over to Harrah’s Cherokee for the Main Event there (which starts Friday). Am very curious to see the scene, and bracing myself for what will likely be a huge turnout for the Main Event. I expect I’ll see a number of the same folks from this weekend’s tourney at that one, although the difficulty of flying in -- the closest airport is Asheville -- might keep some away from Cherokee.

All in all it was an exciting tourney in Foxwoods with a somewhat satisfying result, confirming once more the curious combination of luck and skill that distinguishes the game.

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