$2,500 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split: “No Mirage: Wynn Takes Over Omaha Class Reunion”

by Andy Glazer - poker.casino.com

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of watching some terrific Omaha Eight or Better players duke it out for a gold bracelet, and among the split game stars I observed at the final table were Nat Koe (1st), Mark Gregorich (6th), and Mike Matusow (9th).

In one of those random chance events that clearly proves high-low split poker is all luck, Koe, Gregorich and Matusow all returned to today’s final table in the $2,500 entry, 7-Card Stud, Eight or Better for Low tournament.

When we started play, the seats and chip counts, playing with $3,000-6,000 blinds, were:

1) Andreas Krause, $33,500
2) Nat Koe, $82,000
3) Mark Gregorich, $37,000
4) Raymond Miller, $10,000
5) Rich Chiovari, $32,000
6) Mike Matusow, $57,500
7) Gino DiPeppe, $15,500
8) Joseph Wynn, $55,000

Miller’s low chip total didn’t offer much hope playing 3&6, and we lost him early. But Matusow was another story. Starting in second chip position, we figured one of our three class reunion members would make a run at the title. But he had two big hands ironed out by bigger ones early, one to Wynn, and one to Krause, and the talented, flamboyant Matusow had to settle for seventh.

I missed Chiovari’s exit in an effort to be two places at once (a terrific final table was readying itself in the Pot Limit Omaha event across the room), but got a consolation prize in witnessing one of the toughest, and best-handled, tournament exits I’ve seen in a while.

Gino DiPeppe had done a nice job working his way up the ladder accumulating chips when he got a couple of hands run down. The second one, to the aptly name Wynn, cost him almost his whole stack when his two pair got run down by Wynn’s third eight on the river. He was left with next to nothing—$5,500 in a game where that didn’t even cover the big blind had to post the next hand.

Never bothering to look at his cards until the end, Gino wound up making a big straight to chop a pot and move all the way up to $7,000 in chips. On the very next hand, he made a queen-high flush that made him no money when his opponent made a low, and on the very next hand after that, Gino made the Eight or Better player’s dream hand, a wheel, only to get quartered when Wynn made not merely a wheel but a six high straight.

Talk about your rough 10-minute stretches. First, you lose almost all your chips when you get run down from behind. Then, on three consecutive hands, you make a big straight, a big flush, and a wheel, and have fewer chips after these three hands than when you started! I give this one a nomination for the Poker Nightmare Hall of Fame, but DiPeppe handled it with tremendous class, laughing good-naturedly at his misfortune.

“What are you going to do?” he smiled. “It was so bad, all I could do was laugh.” Playing at the new higher (5&10) limits, his meager stack departed soon thereafter.

Four-handed, and with two of the four members of the Omaha Class of ’00, Koe ($91,000), Andreas ($83,000), Wynn ($83,000) and Gregorich ($65,000), decided to chop most of the money. Koe took $55,000, Andreas and Wynn each took $51,000, and Gregorich took $43,000. This left $45,100 in play, which they decided to split $25,100 for first, $12,000 for second, and $8,000 for third.

Koe, who had been on the wrong side of the deal a few days earlier when he accepted the chop and then won the tournament, got on the right side of it today, because his chip lead evaporated and he went out fourth when his wired jacks improved to two pair, but lost when Gregorich, who also had a straight flush draw, made trip tens on the river. His deal netted him $55,000 while a no-deal would have meant only $19,350.

The blinds moved up to $8,000-$16,000, and all players impressed the spectators with their solid play. Krause, in particular, didn’t seem to be in any mood to gamble. Showing a 2-4-2 board, he tossed away a hand, showing two eights in the hole, when Wynn bet $16,000 showing 2-5-5.

Krause, a Stuttgart, Germany native who works as a soccer coach when not playing the European poker circuit (he’s pretty new at it, having started only a couple years ago), started moving from solid to tight. His board showed 7-2-2-2, obviously trips at a minimum, and checked on the river. Wynn, showing 6-8-3-9, bet, clearly holding a low and conceivably a straight, and Krause mucked his hand, raising more than a few eyebrows. Wynn flashed a seven, a card that made a straight more likely, but still didn’t complete it.

Gregorich, the impartial observer, was surprised but later said he wasn’t sure it was a bad play. “He’s got a low for sure,” he said, “and Wynn seemed pretty happy with his hand. I don’t think I would have laid it down, but it could easily have been the right play.”

Gregorich became the short man, mostly due to a big rush from Wynn, who built a lovely tower of chips consisting of six 20-chip stacks supporting one central pillar about 70 chips high. It was pretty to look at, but the $190,000 was even prettier to Wynn, since there was only $322,500 on the table. Mark eventually went out when he started with wired queens, never improved, and fell to Andreas’ kings-up.

After a few small confrontations got the stacks closer, the final two decided to chop the remaining $37,100 at $17,500 each, leaving $2,100 and the bracelet in action. They understood the bracelet had to remain in play, but Wynn jokingly suggested they each wear it in alternate weeks.

The duo then settled down into a long heads-up duel. “Long” doesn’t actually do it justice. “Interminable,” “endless,” and “exhausting” probably come a bit closer to the experience, which didn’t end until nearly midnight. The most interesting moment during the battle came on one of those odd rules situations that scream out for universal rules and experienced directors.

Facing Andreas’s board of 3-6-J-Q, with a huge amount already in the pot, Wynn had to decide if he wanted to call a $30,000 bet on the river. He quietly turned all of his cards face up—the two hole cards as well as his river card. Although he’d been drawing at a low, all he had was a pair of sixes, and he studied Krause for a long time before deciding to muck the hand.

I asked Assistant Tournament Director Tom Elias about this play, because the Series rules clearly state that a player cannot expose cards in an attempt to induce a response or gain information. Elias, who has seen it all in a long tournament career, explained that several rules come into play in this situation, and the most important one is, you don’t want the player who violates a rule to gain any advantage from it.

“If Krause had known the rules well enough, he could have won the hand right away,” Elias explained. “If, for example, Krause had, after Wynn showed his hand prior to calling, mucked his own hole cards, I would have declared Wynn’s hand dead, because you could interpret his exposing action as folding. But I’d rather not jump into the middle of it at the final table unless a player requests a ruling, and Krause never did.”

Wynn ultimately mucked his hand, a good decision, because Krause showed jacks full of queens, and Krause had a big lead. But Wynn wasn’t done.

“He plays well, but he’s still a novice in certain ways,” Wynn said. “I got a lot of information from him. He had a lot of tells. I knew which hands to get away from and which to play. I couldn’t be sure I would win the tournament, but I was pretty sure I would be getting my money in with the better hand,” the Hollywood Park player said.

At the high limits, the chip lead changed hands many times, and a lot of big confrontations resulted in split pots. But the end came when all of Krause’s remaining $66,000 went in pre-flop, with Krause holding K-Q-10. Wynn was right, he got the money in with the best hand, K-9-9, and the best hand got better in a hurry, with two more nines falling in the next three cards, for quad nines. Wynn even added a King on he river for four nines and two kings, which counts pretty much the same as four nines but certainly qualified as finishing strongly.

Krause won’t be sticking around for the Big One; he wants to get back to Germany to be with his girlfriend on her birthday, proving conclusively that what women have been saying for years is true, all the good men are already taken. It’s probably just as well. Las Vegas is the wrong town to take on a guy named Wynn.

It probably would have gone on even longer, but with only $2,100 in play, the directors decided to skip directly from the $15,000-30,000 limit and go right to $30,000-60,000, and five and a half big bets between two players doesn’t last very long, even in a split game.

By the Numbers

Entries: 129

Total Prize Pool $322,500

1. Joseph Wynn, $70,600 ($129,000 officially)
2. Andreas Krause, $68,500 ($64,500 officially)
3. Mark Gregorich, $51,000 ($32,250 officially)
4. Nat Koe, $55,000 ($19,350 officially)
5. Gino DiPeppe, $16,125
6. Rich Chiovari, $12,900
7. Mike Matusow, $9,680.
8. Raymond Miller, $6,455

9th-12th, $4,835: Mallory Smith, Maureen Feduniak, William Skaggs. 13th-16th, $3,225: Gregory Mascio, Mel Judah, Fernando Bracelli, J.J. Volpe, David Holzderber.


Buckle up tomorrow, folks. We have a real all-star final table set for the Pot-Limit Omaha Event:

Seat 1, Hassan Kamoei, $38,000.
Seat 2, Amarillo Slim Preston, $90,000
Seat 3, Markus Golser, 47,000.
Seat 4, Dave Colclough, $68,000.
Seat 5, Phillip Ivey, $91,500.
Seat 6, Chris Bjorn, $26,000.
Seat 7, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, $33,500.
Seat 8, Ali Shakeshik, $38,000.
Seat 9, Phil Hellmuth, Jr., $55,500.

Hellmuth and Colclough, you might recall, got into it a bit at their last final table. I suspect they will both be focused on poker, and not on past peccadilloes, but the seeds are there. And with talents and personalities like Amarillo Slim, Shakeshik, and Ulliott at the table, as well as maybe the hottest player in the game, young (23) Phillip Ivey, I think we’re in for a wild ride. Stay tuned.

/Andy Glazer