PCA2014: Short stacking with Noah Schwartz
Noah Schwartz looks like your average poker player. He wears shorts and a hoodie to a $100,000 buy-in poker tournament, has a backpack slung across the back of his chair, and the shadows under his eyes show a solid dedication to the late night grind. He often looks irritated at the table, angry even, but face-to-face he's a pretty entertaining guy. The 30-year-old, born and bred in Miami Beach, Florida, speaks fast, freely and gives good quote. These are qualities that not all winning poker players possess, but a winner he most certainly is.
Schwartz has clocked up $3,849,229 in live tournament winnings, currently sits 15th on the Global Poker Index, and is two-thirds of the way to donning a Triple Crown. He won a WPT event in 2012, collected a WSOPE bracelet at the back end of last year, and had the EPT Grand Final played out differently he could already be there. Schwartz finished sixth in that for $247,827 in what many (well, we) pegged as the toughest final table line-up ever. Schwartz joined Steve O'Dwyer, Andrew Pantling, Johnny Lodden, Daniel Negreanu, Jake Cody, Jason Mercier and Grant Levy for an all-time classic battle royale. You can read more about that by clicking here.
I caught up with Schwartz during the second break of today's $100,000 Super High Roller when the Floridian was nursing a ten big blind stack, waiting to return to the grim situation of having Super High Roller champions Max Altergott and Martin Finger on his direct left, both with chips. Oh yeah, Mike "Timex" McDonald was in the next seat along, also with his chips. It was pretty far from an ideal situation. Twenty players remained, eight would get paid, and Schwartz was in need of some luck. He'd started the day with 231,000, run it up to 400,000 early on but had slowly dwindled down to 116,000 with few easy spots to shove. When playing a tournament for $100,000 the chances are that players will know their calling ranges pretty well.
"The adjustment is that people are going to be calling lightly so you've just got to get a hand that plays well against the hands that they're going to be calling with, and get lucky if you're not able to pick up a hand. You get jack-ten of hearts or queen-nine of diamonds it's more often than not a hand that you're going to go with. You don't really have many other options at this point, right? It's hard to pick up a hand, right?" said Schwartz.
It's a situation reminiscent of the EPT Grand Final where Schwartz made a move with king-ten offsuit from the button only to find Jake Cody in the big blind with jacks and Daniel Negreanu, who opened from the cut-off, with aces. Fortuitous timing it was not.
"Just making that final table in itself was an accomplishment. The field is tough, it's a larger field and it's the EPT Grand Finale, right? Obviously I'm a bit disappointed with my sixth-place finish because I came in middle of the pack, but once again nothing really worked out for me. That's sort of how it happens. When the players are just as good or better than you a lot of times you just need to find a spot and get lucky as opposed to playing against weaker players where you can take advantage of the weaknesses there you're more likely to get it in with a flip, you know. I found the spot that I thought was a good spot because I'd been playing very tight and (Daniel) Negreanu has aces and (Jake) Cody has jacks. I was cooked. I was cooked," said Schwartz.
To be a successful poker player, particularly one who likes to take part in some high stakes action, you've got to be a glutton for punishment, enjoy at least a little bit of the sting. Schwartz certainly seems to. The chuckling after saying he'd bust out of such an epic final table by jamming into aces is testament to that. Like I said, he comes across as a pretty entertaining guy. But what brings a player, winning or not, to the decision to play a tournament for $100,000 or, say, $1m?
"I played the One Drop, which is the one million, but the only other $100k I've played was the other One Drop at the World Series than this (last year). The reason I decided to play this $100k was because it gets a bigger field than most. You know, when there's 11 people or 15 people and you're putting up $100,000 I just think it's a good return on investment. I don't think that I've got an edge on this field: 85% of the field are of a similar calibre. But, you know, it's my backyard and a win would be nice. It's the size of the field for the most part."
That's some pretty hefty buy-in action for you, but how do you actually go about buying in for a $100,000 tournament? Presumably you don't pay in cash and you set up a wire transfer...
"I actually paid the money in cash. Yeah, I was one of the few who paid in cash. I spoke with Garry (Gates, the PokerStars High Roller coordinator) because I did it last year. The Cove was already taking care of me in terms of the room but it's nice to get four free nights and a little food and beverage credit. I'm Jewish, I've got to take advantage of a few extra bucks. You know, it's nice to have the incentive in order to play it. It's a nice event. I enjoy socialising with these guys. We all know each other and have been on the circuit for a long time, but it's a lot of money."
Schwartz, who used to play under the name "Foruhaters" on PokerStars, had a swap set up with Zach Hyman (a man who really likes smoothies), but Hyman was already long gone.
"He's actually a very good friend of mine but, as you know, his $100k has been lit on fire so as of now I've got no extra sweats. It's just me," said Schwartz, grinning.
All sweats are now over, though. Schwartz three-bet jammed with pocket twos into Matt Glantz's A♣T♣ and found his pair counterfeited on the river of a 6♠5♦7♦6♦5♥ board. That sent Schwartz to the rail just short of the money, but you can certainly bank on him being back for more pain in the future. You can just tell, he loves it too much.
Click through to live updates, features and interviews from the $100,000 Super High Roller.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.