Shirley Rosario
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Legends of Poker 2005

Omaha HiLo Championship

by Shirley Rosario

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Legends of Poker 2005Read: Max Shapiro's Official Report From This Event

The Omaha Hi Lo event at the Legends of Poker was something I looked forward to all week. I have been really focused in that particular game lately and I felt it was a perfect time for me to take a tournament down.

I arrived a few minutes late for the tournament, but I wasn't flustered. I sat down in my seat and realized I was sitting with a few great Omaha players. Since I arrived late, I was at the far end of the tournament room. This meant that my table was going to be the first to break. We started the tournament out with $1,000 in chips and were playing 45 minute rounds. After the first hour and a half, I had $1,200 in chips. I wasn't amassing a huge amount of chips, but at least I was headed in the right direction.

About the fifth level, I was kind of struggling to stay alive. I had about $800 in chips and I stayed at that amount for about one round. Finally, I started breaking ground and I just kept moving forward. With four tables left in the tournament, I had an above average stack. I knew that if I didn't lose a significant amount, I would make it to the final two tables. When we got down to three tables, I was sitting with a guy who was playing to get lucky. He went on the biggest rush I have ever seen in a tournament. He not only won most of the pots, he won huge pots. There was one hand where he was playing against one opponent. The flop was KT8 and it was four bet on the flop. The turn brought a nine and it was two bet. The river brought another ten. The first player bet out, "Lucky" raised, and the original bettor raised all-in. As he threw his last chips in, he said, "If you have quads, I am going to walk away talking to myself." "Lucky" said: "start talking" and showed his four of a kind. At the time, the average chip stack was about $6,000 and he had approximately $19,000. "Lucky" was playing a lot of pots and I knew I had to three bet him any time I could. If I could isolate, I would most likely have the best hand every time. I managed to isolate him several times and almost every time I came out on top. After those few hands, I knew I was going to make it into the money and I felt good about taking the whole event down.

We merged to two tables and I was fortunate that I had "Lucky" at my table. The only problem was I also had a table with a lot of skilled Omaha players. I carefully chose my battles and I maintained my position. When we got down to the final table, I was about third in chips.

The final table started out so slow. Almost everyone was playing cautiously and I just nipped away at them. While most of them just sat there, I slowly doubled my stack from $15,000 (of $155,000 in play) to $30,000 -- without us losing a player. I think the only exciting thing that happened for the first 40 minutes was when Vince Burgio told the whole table to watch as he said "all-in". He wasn't really all-in, as a matter of fact the dealer was pitching the cards, but he thought it would be funny to have his friend Max Shapiro, the tournament reporter, run over to the table to make sure he didn't miss a key hand. Although the action was slow, we finally managed to lose two players. About an hour and a half into the final table play, I knocked out two more players. I raised with AQ93, the player to my left three bet (all-in), the player to his left (Dao Bac) called, then I called. The flop was Q93. I bet and Dao called. The turn was a three giving me a full house. I bet and Dao called all-in. He had an open end straight draw and was drawing dead.

Things started getting exciting when we got down to three players. There were a lot of hands played and a lot of chip movement. We took a short break and I was the chip leader (about $80,000), but things changed as soon as we got back. I played one hand like a total bonehead (or at least that is what Steve said, over and over) and I lost a lot of my chips. I lost another huge pot when I flopped two pair and a low draw and got counterfeited on the turn. Two more hands later, I had only 3 chips left in front of me -- $1500. Steve was livid and ended up walking out of the room and I stayed and fought harder than ever before. I survived several all-ins and worked my 3 chips up to 40. Randy Holland and I battled to stay alive and unfortunately for him, I wouldn't die. He finished in third place and I was left with the most aggressive player on the table.

When the final table started, I noticed that the aggressive player would always bet if it was checked to him. I knew that I would eventually be able to exploit that. When I found myself heads up with him, I was happy that I noticed that fact earlier on. The one thing that was key was that I managed to lose smaller pots than he did. Our stacks moved up and down, but mine would eventually move a little higher than his every few hands. By the time our next break rolled around, I had him outchipped $95,000 to $60,000. We discussed a deal during the break, but couldn't come to an agreement. He wanted to take $20,000 each and play for the remaining $5,725. Since I had more chips, I would only make a chip count deal and then play for $5,000. I finally told him that if he managed to catch up with me in chips, I would reconsider the deal. He caught up a few hands later in an unbelievable hand. I kept betting the whole time and after the river, I showed him my top two pair. He said "trip eights" and turned his hole cards up which happened to be A888. I thought he was joking or misread his hand, but when I looked at the board, there was an eight out there. He really had a set with his piece of garbage hand. He immediately offered the 20k deal again and I accepted.

After the deal was made, I clobbered him. The heads up play lasted a long time, but once we had an agreement, I beat him in about ten hands. I won the final hand with A255. I was lucky that my pair of fives was good enough to win the high hand.

The whole experience was great and I learned a lot of things in the tournament. I learned that I am much better at playing heads-up than I am at playing three-handed. I think the next time, I would be better off backing off on more marginal hands when I am three handed. I also learned the importance of my ipod. During the final table, my ipod kept me from engaging in the idiot conversation and helped keep my eye on the prize. That prize ended up being $25,725.

The link to Max Shapiro's official report for this tournament is at the top of this page. Also see my report from playing the 2005 Legends World Poker Tour event.

See also California State HORSE Poker Championship
And 2010 H.O.R.S.E. event at the California State Poker Championship