Tuesday, November 08, 2011

World Series of Poker Championship Tonight

Tonight, the final 3 players left in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event will play each other live (well, 15 minutes delayed) on ESPN starting at 9 Eastern. I've thoroughly enjoyed the way ESPN is now covering poker with this unedited style. The tension is increased as we don't get to see the players' cards until the hand is over, and we get to see the smaller battles that set-up the huge, game-changing hands. As a poker fan, that's much more entertaining than just watching Ace-King go all-in against pocket 8s and seeing who wins a 50/50 hand.

Here are the three remaining players:

Pius Heinz (Germany):
Heinz has a commanding chip lead with over 52% of the chips in play. He nearly has twice as many chips as the other two players. He's aggressive, fearless, will raise with any two cards. His style, combined with such a chip lead make him very dangerous. He's very good at applying constant pressure on his opponents.

Ben Lamb (USA):
Lamb won a WSOP event in the summer, and is perhaps the best at reading people among the three finalists. However, he's only still alive due to some lucky breaks that saved him from his own bad decisions. He needs to either continue to get lucky, or use his reading ability to chop at Heinz's stack of chips.

He also looks like a young Tim Thomas.

Martin Staszko (Czech Republic):
Staszko is the oldest of the remaining three (Heinz is 22, Lamb is 26, Stazko is 35), yet ironically has the least amount of poker experience. He's a solid, level-headed type of player that understands game theory well (he's a world renowned chess player). He understands situations, but has occasionally struggled to understand the people he's playing against.

For Heinz to win, he needs to avoid disaster. He needs to prevent himself from being too aggressive and bluffing off his chips. It's a fine line, because he also needs to put the pressure on his opponents.

For Lamb to win, he needs to take his time and not let Heinz win all the small pots. Lamb needs to wait for an opportunity to take a big pot. He has plenty of time, so long as his chip stack isn't steadily decreasing. He needs to tread water and wait for the right time to strike. He needs to attack Stazsko in order to keep himself afloat.

For Staszko to win, he needs some cards. If he gets a few big hands, hits a few flops, he's skilled enough to extract maximum value from good fortune. But if he's not getting any cards, he'll see his chips slowly leave him. The other two players are more aggressive, and Stazsko might get run over if he doesn't either get cards or change his game.

I think Heinz will win. He has the chips and the proper set of skills to use them.

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