[Scotty Nguyen, born October 28, 1962 in Nha Trang, Vietnam is a Vietnamese American professional poker player who is a five time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner, most notably as the winner of the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event and the 2008 WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. This win also made him the first and currently only player to win both the WSOP Main Event and $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. events.]
For those that do not know, this was my second year in a row making a deep run in the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio, finishing 6th place last year and now 8th place in this year’s event. I came into the event this year just knowing it would take a lot to throw me off my path of winning for my fans and family.
I’d like to tell you about my thought process in my elimination hand because it had many different elements to it: With blinds at 40,000-80,000, and a 10,000 ante, I raised from middle position to 260,000, and David Benyamine called from the big blind. We both checked to the turn on a board of Jh, 10d, 6d, 8h, David bet 350,000, I raised to 1,150,000, and David moved all-in. I called with 8-8 for a set of eights, but David showed 10-10 for a higher set, and I needed to catch the case eight on the river to stay alive. The last card was the 7d, and David won the pot with his set of tens to eliminate me from the tournament in 8th place.
Now the first factor to consider is that David called my raise from the big blind. Because he already has some money invested, David might be calling to defend his blind, to see a discounted flop with a variety of marginal hands, or he might have an actual hand like a pair or big cards. A call with a real hand here likely means he wants to control the pot as best he can out of position. Now when David checks on the Jh-10d-6d flop, I consider putting in a continuation bet, but I decided that a check would be better.
With so many draws out there, betting could only build up a bigger pot if he has anything, as he would have to re-raise to protect from the draws. I wanted to keep the pot small even if I had the best hand since my hand was vulnerable at this point, so I checked as well. Now that turn card, 8h, is gin for my hand as it gave me a set and didn’t complete the flush draw on board. The 8h did complete a straight on board, however David would’ve had to played gap cards like Q-9 or 7-9 out of position and I just didn’t put him on that type of hand.
When David bets into me on the turn, it can mean many things. David could’ve checked a hand like J-10 on the flop with the intent of check raising, expecting me to bet any overpair to protect against the flush draw. David could have pocket 9’s or 9-10 for a pair and draw, and decided that here is the time to find out if it is good or not.
David could also hold two diamonds and want to bet to decide the price of seeing the river, instead of checking and allowing me to bet and decide the stakes myself. Finally, David could have 6-6, 10-10, or J-J. I raised to $1.15 million here because I need David to know that he cannot draw cheaply, and I want him to pay if he has a flush or straight draw. David would have had less than $1.5 million behind if he calls. When David moves all in over the top of me, I thought for a couple minutes.
There are three problems with David moving in here – the board texture, my stack size and my image. Because the board texture is so draw heavy, it makes sense for David to try and push me off my hand here with a draw, which makes it hard for me to fold a strong hand like trip 8’s. David also knew that if he pushed all in, I would be put to a decision for my tournament life. If I call and lose, I am out, so he could be using this bet as a power play to make me fold an overpair, an A-J, or any hand that might be marginal in this spot.
Finally, I had been playing good, solid poker all day, and David could shove knowing that I would only call with an absolute monster hand. With less than $1.8 million to call and around $4.5 million already in the pot, I was getting better than 2-1 in this hand to call, and this, coupled with every other factor prompted me to call. As you can see, there were a lot of layers to this hand, and many factors that led me to ultimately calling.
It was unfortunate that the hand played out this way and I am disappointed as I am anytime I come so close.
However, I will be back next tournament playing harder than ever to improve on my finish in this tournament baby!