Typical tournament coverage comes in two forms: the event summary of the day with a few key hands thrown in for fun and the CardPlayer/PokerWire/PokerNews hand histories, where runners bring in the hands that then are fired onto a server for our enjoyment. This year, we're bringing you a new way of looking at a tournament: one player, one table, over several hours of play. The result brings some fascinating insight into the best players in poker.
Recent Duke graduate Jason Strasser entered Day 2 of the $5K LH/NLH Mixed Championship 11th in chips. He sat in the 1s at Table 72, and his stack had crept up by 7:00PM when I reached the table.
When Jason has chips and is playing well, he truly is a master at the tournament table.
The key players at Table 72 included David Grey , Steve Paul-Ambrose , and Johnny Chan . As the table oscillated between eight-handed and nine-handed, Jason sat squarely focused on Grey, his blinds, and his chips. It was unrelenting pressure. In the last few minutes of the NLH level with blinds of 1.5k/3.0k, Grey raised UTG+1 another 7k. It was folded around to Jason, who deliberated for thirty seconds with right headphone cocked askew on his head then raised another 25k. It was Grey's turn to think, with his cards eventually going into the muck.
As the game transitioned into 6k/12k LH with 3k/6k blinds, Jason changed gears into one of pure aggression. In the small blind, he knocked out the 2s when he raised with pocket tens and was called by the big blind. A flop of led Jason to bet and the bb raised his last 1k with , but neither the flush nor the club were dealt.
Jason then raised four of the next five hands with no one testing him, taking the blinds each hand. Johnny Chan had roughly the same 80k in chips that Jason had at 7:00PM, but by now he'd lost almost half his stack as he played almost weak/tight if that can be imagined. Jason continued to steamroll the table. After the players folded around to his big blind, he mucked to a raise in the small blind. On the button, Jason again raised Grey's big blind, and Grey called. Grey check/folded the rag flop, and Jason turned over pocket kings.
Another raise to take the pot from middle position led Chan to put his iPod-like contraption away and tug on his Gucci cap. Finally, someone stood up to his aggression. Jason again raised in early position, and the 7s called from the big blind. The flop came , and the big blind bet and Jason called. came on the turn, and both players checked. The river brought a final bet from the bb. Jason thought for a minute, finally tossing 12k into the pot. The 7s showed pocket tens, and Jason mucked.
This seemed to slow him down for a few hands, one a bizarre hand that Johnny Chan raised when Jason was on the button. The 2s in the small blind called, and these two warriors checked down a rag board. Chan took the pot with AKo vs. the sb's AQ. Jason took the blinds of Grey and Paul-Ambrose with the final limit pot. He'd grabbed probably 60-70k in chips, much of that through pure aggression that went untested. It was eerily similar to his Main Event play from last year.
Blinds moved to 2k/4k as the game went back to NLH. Grey moved his short stack in with pocket nines that held up when Paul-Ambrose called with A5o. To Jason's left, Greg Mueller held the chip lead with a massive three-level architectural wonder resembling a section of the Great Wall of China. Jason's 150k was probably half of Mueller's stack. After folding several hands, Jason raised to 12k from the button, and Grey called with another 19k behind. The flop came , and Grey moved all-in with K-10. Jason called with some horrific random hand that has been burned from my memory, and again Grey came back from the felt.
The dealer at Table 72 made the table look like a 6-max turbo SNG, in stark contrast to Cyndy Violette's table where an old codger stalled as they were two away from the money. Jason again attacked these bubble blinds, and his feltmates obliged him with their chips.
The bubble burst with several players exiting soon after. It was the 7s again that took a final chunk out of Jason's stack. He was one off the CO and raised 12k. Jason in the small blind then re-raised to 23k. The flop came , and it brought quite a predicament to Jason. He sat motionless with his hand to his temple, his eyes somewhere beyond the cards on the felt. He ultimately checked, only to see the original raiser move all-in for his last 45k. It was probably the ace rather than the hearts, but all of that led him to muck his hand and give the nice pot to his only nemesis at the table.
Unfortunately, Jason's play ran out of steam. After the dinner break, chipleader Greg "FBT" Mueller moved to the 2s at his table. It was Tony George who took him down with pocket kings, and Jason was out in 26th ($15,898).