PokerStars Championship Barcelona: Studying late-stage strategy with SamSquid

The €10K High Roller is ticking along nicely. They're down to 22, and you'll find all the bust-outs and chip counts at the bottom of this post.

But first, how should one play in these late stages of big tournaments? One player who certainly knows is Sam 'TheSquid' Grafton, still fresh from his victory at the PokerStars Festival Bucharest only one month ago.

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How to graft with Grafton

We decided to study SamSquid's play, to see if we can pass along any advice to all you budding poker players out there. Let's get to it.

1. Big blind

Grafton was in the big blind, and saw a 55,000 open from Stefan Schillhabel under the gun. Tomi Brouk then three-bet to 150,000 in the cutoff, and it folded to Grafton. He checked out both players' stacks before coming in with a four-bet to 370,000.

Schillhabel tanked for a long time, using up at least one time bank card as he studied Grafton's stack (around 900,000 behind). The German then moved 589,000 in the middle for a six-bet with four seconds left on the clock. He wasn't all in though; he'd kept 30,000 behind, perhaps because we were on a pay jump.

Brouk got out of the way, and after a little think Grafton started talking. "He's woken up with it here," he said. "OK Stefan, let's go!"

Grafton stuck in some chips to make the call and flipped over the A♦4♦. "He's not all in," said someone at the table, but Grafton insisted he'd put the extra 30,000 blind on the flop.

It fell 2♣T♥5♣ and Grafton stuck in the 30,000. Schillhabel surprisingly tanked for a while. "Maybe you have A♣3♣..." Grafton hoped.

Eventually Schillhabel called, flipping over the Q♣Q♦. The 8♠ turn changed nothing, nor did the 6♠ river, and Schillhabel doubled up.

"You saved me some money there!" Brouk told Grafton after the hand. "Everyone's a winner then!" Grafton replied. "Everyone likes the outcome."

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Brouk's stack saved by the Squid

2. Small blind

Despite that loss, Grafton was right back in the action in the next hand. Brouk opened to 55,000 in the hijack, and when it folded to the Brit he made it 195,000 to go. Schillhabel folded his big blind, and Brouk let it go too.

3. Button

Grafton folded his button after a cutoff open to 50,000 from chip leader Ronny Kaiser.

4. Cutoff

With no action in front of him, Grafton decided to fold his cutoff hand. As he's out of the hand, he has time for some banter with Parker 'TonkaaaaP' Talbot.

5. Hijack

Grafton lets his hand go. In fact, everyone does, and Brouk gets a walk.

6. UTG+1

Another fold from the UTG+1 seat.

7. Under the gun

Grafton starts the hand by asking where Ihar Soika (in the small blind) is from. "Belarus," is the answer. Anyway, Grafton lets his hand go. In the background, Spanish boss Adrian Mateos arrives to chat with certain Spanish players he may or may not have a vested and/or financial interest in. If you know what I mean.

8. Big blind

Back in the big blind. It folds to Kaiser in the small blind and he just limps. "I don't raise much on the big blind," Grafton says. "But when I do I bet big, like 4x or 5x."

This time Grafton just checks to see a J♣3♠Q♠ flop. Both check to the 4♦ turn, and Kaiser tosses in a 25,000 chip. Grafton then raises it to 110,000, and it doesn't take Kaiser too long to fold.

"What did you have?" asks Grafton. "Not much!" replies Kaiser.

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Kaiser's still chief


So, what have we learnt from all this?

In conclusion: from what we've seen, just play your blinds aggressively.

Unfortunately after our orbit with Grafton ended, his good friend Jake Cody was eliminated in 27th place.

First he lost a race with the 7♣7♦ against Pascal Hartmann's A♥Q♦ for most of his chips. Then action folded to him on the button and Cody made it 80,000, leaving himself just 5,000 behind. Franz Ditz then raised to 200,000, and Cody called with the 8♥8♠. Ditz had the K♦K♠ and alas, the last Team Pro was out.

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Cody's out

Cody cashes for €32,950 - not bad indeed. We caught up with Cody yesterday to talk about cash games in Macau and his love of Barcelona. You can check that interview out here.

Here's a look at all the bust-outs so far:

23. Stefan Schillhabel - €38,350
24. Ihar Soika - €32,950
25. Conor Beresford - €32,950
26. Davide Marchi - €32,950
27. Jake Cody - €32,950
28. Christoph Vogelsang - €28,630
29. Jens Lakemeier - €28,630
30. Nicolas Chouity - €28,630
31. JC Alvarado - €28,630
32. Shawn Buchanan - €25,380
33. Francis-Nicolas Bouchard - €25,380
34. Timur Margolin - €25,380

Just 22 now remain, and Ronny Kaiser remains the chip leader. All players are now guaranteed €38,350, and here's how they stack up on the first break of the day:

Ronny Kaiser2,696,000
Benjamin Pollak2,100,000
Luis Rodriguez Cruz2,000,000
Christopher Kruk1,975,000
Jakub Michalak1,800,000
Quan Zhou1,780,000
Pascal Hartmann1,700,000
Franz Ditz1,450,000
Emil Patel1,450,000
Stefan Schillhabel1,428,000
Boris Kolev1,370,000
Sergio Cabrera1,350,000
Markus Durnegger1,250,000
Tomi Brouk1,127,000
Parker Talbot920,000
Fabrice Maltez750,000
Sam Grafton700,000
Oliver Weis690,000
Alexandre Reard685,000
Marc-Olivier Perrault670,000
Marius Gierse650,000
Joaquin Walter220,000
Georgios Sotiropoulos200,000

For live updates, check in with our friends at PokerNews.

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Jack Stanton
@J_W_Stanton in Barcelona