2007 World Series: What Do You Do With the Big Stack?

by Craig Cunningham

Jeff Norman began the day with the chiplead. Playing a short stack can be tough, but sometimes playing a massive stack can have its own landmines.

Jeff started the day wanting to play tight, but the passive table caused him to change gears. He started Level 1 in the small blind and took the first pot with a pre-flop raise. As "All-in/Call" rang nearby, the dealer detected that the next hand had missing antes. Fortunately, Prahlad Friedman was playing a few tables over, so no fisticuffs erupted. "I truly have no idea what happened," Jeff told the dealer and the floor as each player reviewed their antes and small chips in front of them. Jeff mucked to a raise on the button, then his hand in the cut-off gave a glimpse to how he would play in these first two levels. With blinds of 500/1000 and a 100 ante, he raised another 2500. The 2s called as did the 4s. The flop came Ah-2h-Kc. Both the callers checked, and Jeff bet out 3k. The PokerStars qualifier Ernst Hermans 2s moved all-in, and Jeff thought for ten seconds before folding.

He mucked the next two hands then made it 2500 again to call. The 3s called with another 14k behind. The flop came Qc-3s-5c, and the 3s check/folded to Jeff's 5k bet. He limped UTG only to have the 7s move all-in for 17k more. Jeff studied him and folded. He checked and folded his big blind on a flop bet, then completed his small blind only to find Ernst raise another 2k to take the pot.

As he folded on the button to an early raiser, ESPN's Norm Chad came to chat with PokerStars one Bernard Lee. Jeff was smiling broadly as Chad and Bernard talked while he stacked the pot when he raised to 3k from the cut-off. After folding the next hand, Jeff ran up to the Milwaukee's Best No-Limit Lounge where his friends Steve and Sue Lister from San Diego watched. He jumped back in his seat and folded four of the next five hands, taking the pot when everyone folded to him in the big blind.

In the second level of the day, it was more of the same. Jeff continued to raise pre-flop somewhere in the 10-15% range and attacked naked pots that no one wanted. If he felt pressure, he proceeded deliberately. If players let him, he put his chips to use with deadly affect.

"I'm just chipping up, now at 340k," he said. "I just busted someone who slow played aces. I had 6d-4d, but I had to get there on the river with one of those backdoor draw things." He may not be the slickest with the lingo, but Jeff Norman is one player who respects these chips and knows how to use them. He's been here before and he wants to get there again.


Jeff had his first major misstep. He raised in middle position to 3500, and the 4s called on the button with pocket tens. I knew they were pocket tens because I saw them. The flop came 10c-4c-2c, and Jeff bet out 6k. He was raised 18k more, and then he three-bet for another 40k. The 4s moved all-in, and Jeff smiled as he went into the tank a bit. Bernard Lee got up and talked to the 2s about a hand ten minutes ago, then Jeff mucked his cards. The 4s showed his hand as he raked the pot. Jeff dropped down to 260k in the process.

Cameras followed the new player in the 7s, Rich Weissman with 485k. He spun his seat card into the middle of the table and unracked the three stacks of orange chips. Jeff will need to regroup and adjust, something he is very familiar with.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in