Monday, May 21, 2007

Netiher one could possibly be human...and dealing with the growing pains

We all know him as Imper1um or Zangbezan24 online, and yesterday I came to the conclusion that Sorel Mizzi just is not and absolutely could not be human. Two words pretty much sum it all up, incredible weekend. Friday night he took down FTOPS event #9 for 40k, Saturday he nearly made the final table of FTOPS event #10, the 100 rebuy, and for an encore on Sunday He won yet another World Series seat on stars and took down the Sunday warm-up, an event he took 2nd in only 2 and a half months ago, for nearly 110k. He also went deep and cashed in the FTOPS main event where he got sucked out on for 2 pretty big pots on the river vs the same guy after getting his money in good, otherwise he probably would have been a factor there as well. With all that he dominates, and on such a consistent basis in all of the biggest tournaments, I officially consider him the most dominant online tournament play ever to play online on a consistent basis. Sorry JohnnyBax, you are still my favorite :). Oh yea, what makes this even more impressive? He did this all in Paris where he is traveling for some french live donkfest. Away from the comfort of your home, usually playing many games on a tiny laptop instead of 2 big monitors, is the hardest thing to do, at least for me.

This was originally gonna just be about Sorel, but man is Jared "TheWacoKidd" Hamby almost equally as sick. In the last 2 months Jared has won 3 live tournaments, taking down the $2,500 pre-lim at the bellagio WPT championship which was followed days later by a win in the $2,000 pre-lim during the same serious for over 500k combined. He then went on to cash in one of the toughest live events ever, the 25k WPT Championship Main event. That wasn't enough for him so he decided to take down the $1,000 Pre-lim at the Mirage WPT for another 100k. Today he will be starting day 3 of the 10k main event at the Mirage, down to 40 people and 13 away from his 2nd consecutive cash in a WPT Main Event on his journey to the 1 million dollar 1st place prize. Not to mention his 3 final tables last week in the Poker Stars 100 rebuys, where he had a 5th, took a night off from domination then finished back to back nights 1st and 2nd. The 3 scores combined were worth close to 50k.....sick!

Jared "TheWacoKidd" Hamby on day 2 of WPT Mirage. One of my favorite tournament pictures ever taken..courtesy of Court Harrington of

Growing Pains. Every poker player has to deal with them, unless of course your name is Imper1um. From the 1st moment I saw him railing me in a FullTilt tournament, I thought Sn8wman was just another crazy railbird. Gboro780 told me from day1 I was wrong, and I will be the 1st to admit that I was. Brian is a young 18 year old is a dedicated student of the game who has been constantly picking the brains of any top player who was willing to talk to him. His results since I first saw him on my rail have reflected this dedication he has for this game, as he has been doing well in alot of the biggest and toughest tournaments on the net. It's pretty safe to say he hates poker today, at least I would if I were him.

Sn8wman had 2 great finishes yesterday, finishing 5th in the Pokerstars 200k 2nd chance for over 12k, and Final tabling the biggest tournament of the day taking 9th place in the FTOPS main event for 25k. With about 20 people left, he was 3rd in chips with about 2.5 million. A little perspective on his situation, when they would hit the final table the average stack of the remaining 9 players would be just a shade over 2 million. I remember feeling what he was probably experiencing at this point. The excitement, the nerves, the pressure of not making that one crucial mistake and "choking" at what might be your best chance ever at a 6-figure score online. Even for the greatest players, with the size of the fields these days the opportunity to take down an event such as this one or the Pokerstars Sunday Million maybe a once in a life time opportunity.

I remember when I had my chance. It was the last Sunday of February in 2006 on Party Poker during their monthly 750k guarantee with a 350+28 buy-in. I'm not positive on the exact payouts, but I remember cashing for roughly 70k when I finished 3rd, so I'd imagine the top 3 spots were 1st- 200kish, 2nd-100kish, 3rd-70k. I remember the natural nervousness I felt. I did however have 2 things going for me. First, the fact that 4 months before I had my "introduction" to real pressure when I made the final table of the Paradise 150k guarantee. I passed that test with flying colors, winning the tournament for just under 30k. The prize pool was nothing compared to this party tournament, but I remember the final table was stacked with great players including Roothlus and JohnnyBax amongst others. I should have busted very early at this final table, but fortunately JohnnyBax is a great player and made a standard fold pre-flop for great players. I dont remember the exact situation, but we were 8-10 handed and it was the typical Paradise push fest. The blinds were like 4k-8k, and the chip leader who was opening alot made a standard raise to like 22k, and I shoved like 150k all-in with AQ. At the time, I didn't know Bax except from playing with him on stars and we had yet to become the close friends we are today. In the SB Bax tanked forever, having a decent stack which was in between mine and the CL's and eventually folded AK. CL called with KK, I hit my ace which would have been out-kicked if Bax called too and went on to win the tourney.

The second thing I had going for me was the support group I had around me. With about 60 left my messengers were nutts with friends excited for my opportunity. I'd say I had about 20+ friends messaging me, but I remember specifically responding to only 3 or 4 players who were major factors in keeping me calm. The others I would respond when I had a chance but didn't take an urgency to it. I remember specifically wanting to play perfect poker and not make any mistakes once we were down to 100 people or so since I had a pretty good stack. One specific example of this was from 100 people left until we were down to 6 or 7 I remember folding AQ EVERYTIME someone had open raised ahead of me, even when the raise was from late position. It was the one hand I didn't want to lose my tourney with. Then finally with 6 or 7 left at the final table, I was one of the shorter stacks when a slightly shorter stack moved all-in from the c/o or button in what was pretty much an any 2 shove for him and I re-shoved from either the button or small blind (I remember there was at least 1 if not 2 players behind me), knowing that if I lost the pot I would almost certainly be the next one eliminated. The other guy was live with something like K7 and I held with Ace High. I ended up busting 3rd after I went from chip leader to crippled when I shoved KJs vs the 2nd stacks 88 and lost a race. When I made the push, the blinds were 50k-100k, and the original raiser had like 1.8m when he 3x'd, I had 2.2m ish and the short stack had 900k. Pretty standard play considering the stacks and the pay jumps.

OK, back to Sn8wman. Here Brian is with a most excellent shot at 336k for 1st (more then most people make in 10 years of working for the man) and having already locked up 9.5k with 2 tables left. I imagine his nerves must have been at his highest level ever while playing poker at least. I was talking to gboro on messenger who was helping keep him calm in such an intense moment. Brian asked gboro for my messenger and Brian and I began talking. At this point Brian had lost some pots and had gone from his peak of 2.5millionish to about 1.6m, but he was still in awesome shape with the blinds only being 25k-50k and this being the greatest structure ever online in my opinion. My intentions were not to try and help him in any hands but to try and provide a calming influence as others had for me. I asked him how many people he was talking to on messenger, as too many voices is never a good thing. To my surprise he was only talking to 1 other person besides gboro, martine23. Thats a pretty excellent duo over poker intelligance if you ask me, as they both play near perfect poker. He had been opening pots to 150k, standard 3x the BB and was getting re-poped alot. I told him I wanted to only give him 1 tip and that was to decrease the size of his raise to between 115k-130k as they have the same effect as 150k and when you get re-popped you save 25-35k if you end up deciding to fold.

Anyways, everything was going wrong for Brian and he was soon down to about 900k after getting re-popped pre-flop and losing a confrontation in a battle of the blinds vs a very tough opponent who was in the SB. Lucky for him the break was just in time, but he was in a somewhat panic mode, insisting he had to get off messenger and focus on getting this done. I tried to calm him for the 5 minutes he had on break and offered him one last tip. With blinds being 30k-60k, he had that awkward 15 BB stack that is tough to play. I told him to tighten up on opening pots instead looking for good oppurtunities to move his stack in vs someone else who opened a pot. This is definitely the best way to play a 15 BB stack when the other players have a similar stack to yours or a 20-25 BBs stack. With that I wish him luck and he signs off.

So now there were somewhere in the area of 12 people left when it folded to Sn8wman in the small blind and he just completed. The BB had about 1.1m barely having him covered raised to 200k total, 140k wore which brian called. At this point gboro and I both thought Brian had AA and were shocked at what ensued on the flop. On a flop of 974 and roughly 430k in pot, Brian checked to the BB who bet 540k and Brian let his natural instincts take over and instantly moved in for about 700k total with Q9o and the BB called exposing he was on a complete move pre-flop with his 75o. The turn was a 5 and the chat spam went nutts for Q's and 9's on the river which never appeared. The river was a 4....oh yea, the board was now 97454 counterfeiting the BB's 2 pair and shipping Brian the nearly a 2 million chip pot!!

So now the blinds are 30k-60k and there are 10 left with 9 making the final table. It folded to the SB who made it 3x and Sn8wman called from the BB with Q10dd. The flop was KK8 with 1 diamond. in the previous blind vs blind confrontation earlier the villian raised 3x pre, and led 3x on A72flop w/ 2 diamonds which Sn8wman called holding QJ of spades. The SB check the turn and Brian bet 6x BB and folded when the SB moved in on him. So back to the hand at matter, the flop came KK8 with 1 diamond and both players checked. The turn was a rag diamond, 3 or 4 or something and the SB lead for 250k with about 1 million behind. Meanwhile another player had busted at the other table so the next hand would start the final table. Sn8man has 2 options when the SB leads 250k on turn. He can call and have 1.5 million when the action continues on the river, folding to any bet if he doesn't improve his hand and still in decent shape to start the final table. This play is a little weak/conservative at this point, but definitely not "wrong". Option two is simple. With almost 700k in the pot after the SB's bet and having the villain covered by 500kish, ship your stack in there and put him to the decision of calling off his last 1 million chips knowing that the final 9 is set if he folds. If the SB does call, and he needs a big hand to do that, you still have outs and also have him covered by a few NLH aggression OWNS. Unfortunately the villain called w/ AK, Sn8wman missed his flush draw and ended up pushing King hi in the SB vs the BB the 1st hand of the FT, who called with a better king high and Brian was eliminated in 9th taking home 25k.

While it wasn't the 335k he had hoped for 25k was still a nice score. Most of us know this, but I'm sure it will take him a few days to realize himself as I imagine he's feeling disappointment and second guessing a few of his plays late instead of feeling the pride of the accomplishment of finishing 9th out of 3,798 participants in one of the largest tournaments ever played online. In my opinion he should take pride in knowing that he played the Q10dd the way 90% of the top players would in the same exact situation, and this is just one of the many growing pains poker players go through in their journey towards greatness.


Nancy in Fox Valley said...

Interesting reading. I always thought you'd be good at sports reporting. I knew you liked writing, but never thought about you putting the two things together. Way to go!! It's hard to believe you're going to be 27 on Friday. It seems like only yesterday that you were standing at the top of the stairs mooning your sisters and I and yelling "CRACK KILLS". And wasn't it just the day before yesterday when you were standing on the pitcher's mound, oblivious to the crowds around you, pitching to win while I sat in the stands biting my nails, nervous as can be? Where have the years gone? You may be on your own, rarely needing your family, busy with your own life, but you'll always hold a special place in my heart - reserved for my youngest, my only boy.

Pojai said...

hey kevin,

i really respect ur game n i love watching ur videoz. I am just an average poker player who is still learning the game. I would love to chat with you about poker. If it is possible, can you add me on ur messenger. My messenger is I was excited when i heard below has a blog. Weeeeee

JDPriest said...

Kevin great job on the blog so far. I can honestly say this is the best poker related read there is out there at the moment. The way you talk about the game is so honest subjective and humble, its totally refreshing. Coupled with awesome poker content, and the occasional bit of sickness, makes your blog a must read for me. I hope you keep blogging with the same enthusiasm.

Good Luck at the tables


sprstoner said...

sno0ow is a sik fck

TheReader23 said...

Kevin --

Love the picture of you without the hoodie......and I'm sure your Mom loves it even more. Good luck with the new look.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Imp is sick. I've watched him a few times in the $100+ buy-ins and he just seems to know the right play at the right time. That said, I've watched the majority of the p5 ranked players and it leaves we standing in awe and makes me realise how far my game has to develop!

GL in the WSOP Below

ChieftanMews said...