Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Event 8 Recap

$350 + $50 Deep Stack NLH (Re-Entry)

It was a veteran player with 100 career tournament cashes heads up against a man playing in his first ever tournament, and in the end it's the newbie who takes down Event 8 of the Borgata Fall Poker Open.

Harry Zhou (Baltimore, MD) outlasted Mike "Little Man" Sica (N. Brunswick, NJ) to take the title and the $48,351.

"It's great," says Zhou, a computer science professor at Towson University, "but I play for fun, it's not about the money, it's about the decision making process."

Zhou, who normally plays $2/$5 no limit cash games, decided to take his shot because he "wanted to try out a tournament," as he normally doesn't have the time to spend 20+ hours over two days for one event.

"He played great," said Sica, who was impressed with Zhou's aggression that kept opponent's on their heels. This was Sica's 100th career cash, according to pokerpages.com, for more than $1.1 million in career earnings, including a WSOP bracelet in 2004.

But he almost wasn't around to see it.

Just before the bubble on Day 1, Sica was down to 18k (3 BB) and not only survived to make the money, but grinded the short stack all the way to the final table.

"It proves never give in, never give up," says Sica, "I'm an excellent short stack player. It's what I had to do to win my bracelet."

Day 2 began with 41 players and surprisingly Sica, who was 38th in chips (110k/7 BB), wasn't the only short stack to make the final table. Mike Tauman (Metchen, NJ) also made a deep run (4th/$13,885) despite starting the day 39th (95k/6 BB).

But while the short stacks struggled to survive, Zhou dominated the final table as the chip leader, including a dramatic double knockout for a 6 million chip pot.

Zhou flopped two pairs against Ryan Eriquezzo (Danbury, CT), who finished 8th/$5,535 and Jonathan Rice (Cumberland, MD) 7th place/$7,088, as the two eliminations gave him more than half the chips in play 6-handed.

Sica leveled the playing field by eliminating three of the next four players including Adam Sloan (New York, NY) 6th/$8,933, Tauman in 4th, and Steven Rodriguez (Staten Island, NY) 3rd/$17,477 to set up the 75 minute heads up match.

572 players were chasing their piece of the $200,200 total buy-in and the field featured many of the Borgata regulars including Event 1 winner Mike Lydon, Event 2 winner Amanda Musumeci, and Event 5 winner Harry Korotki.

Rounding out the final table were Matthew Wantman (Stonehand, MA) 5th/$10,875, Tommy Flanagan (Brooklyn, NY) 9th/$3,884, and Henri Berberian (Aix En Provence, France) 10th/$2,525, who was stunned by his exit.

Berberian pocket jacks were run over by Sica's pocket 5s when he flopped quads, but Sica couldn't keep the magic going against Zhou, who's teaching specializes in artificial intelligence that he applies to poker.

"It assumes you have intelligence to play the game," he joked while smiling and holding the Event 8 championship trophy.

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