EPT12 Barcelona: Bubble and Badugi talk with Team Pro Online's Matthias 'Mati312' Brandner


Mati312, a boss at Badugi

When we dream about how an upcoming poker tournament is going to go it's safe to say that in no scenario does this dream involve us hugging the bubble and just barely scraping into the money. But that's the exact scenario that confronted Team Pro Online's Matthias 'Mati312' Brandner, who's a Badugi specialist, in the EPT12 Barcelona Main Event yesterday.

The Austrian's stack had shrunk into the danger zone during the bubble and we were curious to know if it'd plumbed to such depths that he was playing Texas Fold'em, not as scared money but as the correct thing to do. "At the beginning of the bubble period I had about 50k (10 big blinds) and it decreased slowly at the very end I had about 30K left," explained Brandner. "I thought about what I'd do if I'd get aces and I hoped I didn't because I don't know exactly what I'd have done. I think though that I'd have pushed because I mean, I don't think I can fold aces there and the cash isn't life changing money, but still ICM wise you need to fold almost everything because my stack is so small. This is especially true when I've got 30k left as the big blind almost always has to call."

Fortunately for Brandner, who was making a rare live appearance, that scenario didn't crop up and indeed he only faced one mildly tricky decision during the bubble. "My closest decision was that I had ace-deuce suited in the big blind when we were two or three from the money and the big stack opened in late position. He pretty much could push all-in with any two cards because there were only short stacks behind. My hand obviously dominated his range but I mean it's still a pretty clear fold ICM wise. In the end the whole bubble phase went pretty quickly."


A first live tournament cash for the online cash game player

It was the 24-year-old Austrian's first live cash too. ""It was pretty exciting, as I've never experienced the bubble of a big tournament. I was super happy to cash because I started with 15 big blinds on Day 3," he told the PokerStars Blog. But any thought that his work was done had to be put to one side as it was time to try and spin up his short stack and his tactics now hand to change from folding most everything to finding something to go with. "Once the bubble burst I was looking for any two reasonable cards and that's what I did. Unfortunately I didn't get any and pretty soon I was down to five big blinds and was in the big blind. The button open-raised and obviously I'm going to call with any two cards. I had 8-7o and he had ace-king and I didn't improve."

Brandner finished 228th, just missing out on a pay jump, but he still collected €8,800 money that will, perhaps, go towards WCOOP buy-ins. But Brandner will not be playing all the events, as his main game is Badugi. "Badugi is my speciality, but apart from that I also play Razz and 2-7 a bit. The progression basically was play money with friends, micro stakes hold'em and then after that I discovered Badugi and started at the lowest stakes and grinded my way up. Then in addition I took in Razz, 2-7 and some other 'exotic' games but Badugi has always stayed as my main game, that's my niche. The WCOOP is coming so I'll be playing tournaments in those games. I play the two big tournament series each year (WCOOP and SCOOP) and try to play all the tournaments in the games that I play during that time but I'm mainly a cash game player."

After this trip Brandner will head back to Vienna where he's currently studying psychology, philosophy and computer science. He has about one year left and is already looking to the future and what to do as well as playing poker. "My main ambition is actually to try and go in the direction of entrepreneurship and try to start a project. That's what I'm actually already trying to do already. That would be a great transition for me. I'd prefer to work for myself rather than be employed."

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Nick Wright
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour