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Summer memories in autumn

As we kick off the first week of autumn, I'm thinking back to what a great summer I had. I didn't win a WSOP bracelet, but it was a good summer for me with several cashes and a big highlight making the final table of the $50K Poker Players Championship.

As I was writing about a couple of posts ago, I worked a lot on mixed games prior to the Series, playing them on PokerStars frequently during those weeks leading up to going out to Las Vegas. I ended up playing a lot of non-hold'em events this summer, but it was in the $50K where that work really paid off for me, and to final table that event against a tough field was very satisfying.

The $50K is such a stacked event. In fact, there were five Team PokerStars Pros at my table on Day 1 -- Nacho Barbero, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, Eugene Katchalov, and myself. Of course, the other seats were all filled with tough players, too, with all of them very good at all of the games.

I had played the $50K once before and a few other non-hold'em events in the past, but to be honest, besides knowing the rules I didn't know much in terms of strategy. I didn't do so badly in the lower buy-in events before, but when I tried the $50K I pretty much got my ass kicked. I really deserved to lose because I had played pretty badly.

That made me realize I needed to work on my mixed games before going out this year, and so like I say I played a lot on Stars during the first part of the year. I wasn't playing that high, even, but just wanted to practice and learn how to play certain hands and react to certain situations in the various games.

I also studied the different tournament strategy that goes into limit games where becoming short-stacked isn't really the same as in no-limit hold'em. Overall, all that effort worked out pretty well. I finished 10th in the $5K Omaha Hi/Lo event, and then as I say made it all of the way to eighth and the final table of the $50K Poker Players Championship.


I got off to a good start in the $50K, leading after Day 1 then ending Day 2 second in chips with 78 players left from the 132 who started.

The $50K format is the 8-game, which adds no-limit hold'em and pot-limit Omaha to the five H.O.R.S.E. games plus 2-7 triple draw. I was definitely being more aggressive during the NLHE and PLO rounds, as was probably expected of me being more of a no-limit hold'em player.

I played kind of crazy sometimes in those rounds, because people would make big folds to preserve their tournament lives whereas I wasn't as afraid in those spots. The mixed game pros know they have an edge in the limit games and so look to accumulate during those rounds and in a lot of cases want to stay out of trouble when during NLHE and PLO. They don't want to risk it all on a coin flip or even a 55-45 situation because they have such an advantage in the other games.

So I was kind of a maniac against those guys sometimes in NLHE and PLO because I knew they were going to fold their hands. But I think I played pretty well in the limit games as well, which helped me maintain my big stack early on and was a factor later, too.

The $50K is a special tournament. Even with all of the "high roller" events on the calendar these days with bigger buy-ins, those are all no-limit hold'em events, and so the Poker Players Championship remains a big highlight for mixed game players as the biggest event of the year. It was definitely the best moment of the summer for me, making it to Day 5 and the final table of such a prestigious event.

Jonathan Duhamel is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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