Running Hot in the Desert By Allen Katherman

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A note from the editor.
Allen Katherman is a guest writer to mantanium.com this summer. He is a Poker personality, fashion enthusiast, nuclear engineer and a great friend. Be sure to follow him on instagram and check back for more.

Running Hot in the Desert
By Allen Katherman

3 Betting with 3’s
Little did I know, this small amount of momentum was going to lead me into a heater and an eventual top 10 stack late into Day 2…

Day 2 started with me hovering around 20 BBs and approximately 100 people away from the money bubble. I played conservative but was missing flops, it wasn’t long until I dwindled down to only 10 BBs. I kept referencing the tournament monitors and eventually began to fold everything without even looking at my cards so that I can make the money. When the count until into the money reached around 10, every table went ‘hand for hand’. Luckily for me, the big blind was on the opposite end of the table so I had a few hands to wait out what was the longest moment of the tournament. After about 20 minutes of repetitive pause and waiting we finally got the broadcast; “Congratulations, you are all in the money.” The room roared with a bunch of claps and hoorays and I felt elated to have finally cashed in a WSOP event. This moment didn’t last long as we promptly began play after the announcement was made.

Right after the money bubble burst I had around 6 BBs and was UTG (Under The Gun, first position to act preflop) as I was dealt my favorite hand, Ace King. Given my small stack and the fact that I had a premium pre flop hand I decided to move all in. Action folded to the Small Blind who called off with Ace Queen and my hand held. Due to the antes and blinds, this double up gave me around 15 BBs. 2 hands later, action folded to the cutoff who made a standard open. I looked down at A2 of spades. The Big Blind also called and we saw a flop of A29 rainbow. Action checked to the C/O who bet, I min raised his open and unfortunately both players folded. This pot brought me to around 22 BBs. This momentum carried as I progressively worked my stack to around 30BBs.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about poker, its that scared money doesn’t make money. Tables began to collapse as players were dropping out left and right. Right before our table broke, action folded to the button who made a standard raise. This player was particularly weak and seemed timid about his hand. I looked down at pocket 3’s from the SB and decided to 3 bet to isolate the button and to potentially steal the pot right then and there. The button didn’t seemed pleased about this but eventually called the 3 bet (I wasn’t pleased about that either….and to be honest I don’t really like my 3 bet with a hand that plays easily post flop). As I was thinking of ways to play the hand post flop and what flops I’d have to bluff, the dealer put out a flop of AA3 (SKADOOSH!). As I made a continuation bet on the flop, I began to think of the most efficient way to extract the most amount of money with my full house. This thought didn’t take long to come into fruition as the button immediately went all in as I called his raise faster than he could complete his sentence. The opponent showed over AQ and the turn and river didn’t improve his hand. We had identical stacks as I now doubled up again and easily had the most chips at the table.

Shortly after that massive hand I was moved to another table as the beginning player pool of 4300+ entries was down to around 300. I had a top 60 stack among the 300 that were left and headed to dinner break with a full steam of confidence. I was focused, determined and felt that I was about to make a huge run! The first hand from the dinner break, the short stack UTG open jammed, as everybody folded I looked down at pocket Aces and called. Everybody else folded and my Aces held. A couple of other spots saw me racking in a massive amount of chips as I eventually worked myself into a top 10 stack nearing the end of Day 2. There was about 120 people left and I was running as pure as a poker player can run until yet another cooler happened.

Play was starting to become tight as a lot of people tighten up before the day ends but I found that I should keep pushing and use this to my advantage to bag more for Day 3. During the beginning of the last hour the action folded to me in the SB and I looked down at 67o. I decided to raise for one of two reasons, I have a tight image that has been running pure, the BB was a very, VERY tight player who played as ABC as can be AND there’s always a chance that you can take the pot down right then and there. The BB flatted and we went to a flop of 69A rainbow. I lead for a small amount and the BB flatted. Turn was ‘rather favorable’ and brought in a 7. I decided to check this back to induce a bluff and sure enough, the BB bet. I tanked for awhile to figure how to get the max out of the hand and I decided on a C/R for value. He flatted again and with him being polarized on a lone Ace, the river Ten did nothing to change the board and as I bet out for value, the BB snap called and showed over AT.

I was DEVASTATED. That pot would have brought me to almost 1 Million in chips and a top 3 stack going into Day 3. Instead, this crippled my stack to less than 25 BBs as the day wrapped up with only 100 left headed into the final day. I was pretty upset with how much I lost in that final hand but then hit me, I was heading into day 3 of a WSOP event! 4300 entries and here I was in the final 100! A spot that I once was uncomfortable in (playing less than 50 BBs) was now a new norm. My Instagram messages were blowing up as I received a slew of a bunch of “congratulation” and “good luck” messages and even my dad drove down to watch me play the final day. I talked strategy with a few people, including Brian who told me “I have never gone this far, so therefore I no longer have an idea of what to tell you anymore”, and went to bed early.

I woke up the next morning to even more messages, posts and voicemails all wishing me luck in the final day. I was pretty excited about all the support that I was getting from the Instagram poker community and received even more support when I met up my dad for breakfast. I even made a small prayer to God to bless me with some luck as I was heading into a final day of a major WSOP tournament. Cards went into the air promptly at 1pm and my high hopes began to fade as I lost a few hands in the beginning as my stack went down to 15 BBs. I stole a few blinds that raised my stack to 18 BBs when this hand happened. Action began as everybody folded to the C/O who made a standard raise. It folds to me in the big blind and I look down at two red queens. I tanked a little in thought, thought about Vegas and the fucking Mirage, and ripped it all in. The C/O tanked forever and while he mulled over his decision I tried my best to give off as many uncomfortable tells so that he’d call. After having the clock called him he made the call and showed over AJ in which gave me a 73% edge. The flop of 644 increased my lead to 87%. The turn brought a meaningess 2 (93%). My excitement began to boil as I just felt that it was destiny. I saw my bracelet being customized and I was asking myself what I was going to do with the $500K score. If this wasn’t a hand that was projecting me to the top than I don’t know what was. As soon as I imagined what selfie I was going to take at the final table, the river brought the Ace of spades and just like that I got ousted in 98th place. My heart sunk into my stomach and I felt my life being drained out of me. I had envisioned the final table, my bracelet and everything else that came along with the accolades of winning a major tournament.

After the initial disappointment settled down, I realized that I had just placed 98th out of over 4300 entries. For this being my first summer of playing tournaments, I made it further than the majority of people that I knew and it took 2 different unfortunate rivers to take me out of a major WSOP tournament. I was satisfied but disappointed at the same time. I knew I played just as well and if not better than the majority of the field, even those that I grew up watching on TV. Like every session, I analyzed all my moves and knew what I had to do was prepare to be ready for the 2018 summer. If there is one thing about poker, its ALWAYS about the odds. But if you can put yourself to be favored, and avoid variance where you can, the results will carry themselves. I knew, that the only way I can go from this point was up and there was nothing that was going to stop me, until I had won a bracelet….

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