John Veltheer came into the $5k PLH event with high hopes and great preparation. It was a pivotal hand against a Main Event champion that ended his day.
John had been through the ringer throughout the day. "I got down to 6k right off the bat," he said, "then I went on a nice run to jump back up to 16k. Then down again, then up to 26k again, then back to 8k." The field was one of high quality, and John's table was no exception.
He hugged the dealer in the 1s, and to his left was Steve Zolotow in the 2s. "Zolotow's made me lay down probably twenty hands today," said John. "A-J, A-10, pocket 8's. Just frustrating." Terrence Chan moved to the 3s in the afternoon, and the former PokerStars customer service manager is a solid NLH player. In the 7s sat Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, the 2000 Main Event Champion.
Ferguson is a mainstay at WSOP events, one of the regulars that sits most every day a tourney is going on. The five-time WSOP bracelet winner is always a threat to go deep in any tournament, and he's had one final table already this year.
John moved up to 45k after the dinner break. "I lost a big pot this afternoon where I could have taken out Ferguson," he said. "I doubled through him on a 10-high board where I had kings and he had jacks. I could have knocked him out then and there.
In his big blind, Ferguson raised 2k. He looked down at and called for another 1.2k. The flop came , and John checked. Ferguson bet 2.5k, and John check-raised another 4.7k. "Ferguson had been bullying people a lot," said John. "When he called my check-raise, I put him on A-Q, maybe A-J. So I thought my four was live. The turn was the . "I bet 11k and thought I could get him off a big ace." Ferguson raised another 28k, putting John to the test for the last of his chips. "With my nut flush draw and what I thought was my live four, I had to bet 20k into a 65k pot for the call."
John deliberated. Terrence Chan got up and walked around while others at the table stared down John. Ferguson had gone into his shell, his head down as his sunglasses pointed toward the felt. His eyes weren't visible, and there were no tells coming from him.
"Mathematically, I felt like it was right to call," said John. "I felt my 4 was live, and I had the nut flush draw. I looked over at the screen that showed the time we had left. If I won this pot, I'd be up to over 90k and be able to go deep. If I got away from the hand, I'd have to grind back from 20k again. I decided to call."
He turned over the and Ferguson showed for top two pair. The dealer had already burned the car before Ferguson flipped over his cards, and it was due to the speed of the dealer that the sequence went that way. John needed a spade, but came on the river. Ferguson dragged the pot to reach 92k in chips, and John stood up from the table.
"It had to be in my big blind, it was just another 1.2k to call," he said. "Then I thought I could get him off of his hand. I could have gotten away from the hand if the spade hadn't hit the turn. I should have just check/called the turn. Ferguson would have bet 12k, I could have called, then I could have check/folded the river."
Math or no math, it hurt to walk away from the Amazon Room. "I'm playing at the Venetian tomorrow," he said, and he walked down the hall with one of his friends. "I played really well and made one or two mistakes all day," he said. In a field with this much quality, it doesn't tame much to send you out the door.