There was a moment today in the poker room of the PokerStars Festival Dublin where three tournaments were simultaneously heads-up and all three had interesting storylines. Gary McGinty was winning the Main Event, Max Silver was heads-up in the High Roller against Fraser MacIntyre and Maria Konnikova was up against Tibor Udvardy in the NLHE Deepstack.
We last checked in with the High Roller on the bubble and at that stage MacIntyre and Silver were the two biggest stacks. And, by curious serendipity, the same two players would face off in a heads-up battle for the title, €45,350 and the trophy.
“How are you going to get that home?” Silver joked to MacIntyre as he pointed at the rather large gold trophy that awaited the winner. “I’ll find a way!” said MacIntyre, who lives in Scotland. Were Silver to take down the title they’d be no such worries as he lives in Dublin.
If it sounds as if Silver and MacIntyre cruised to heads-up play then that’s far from the truth. With five players left Silver was the short stack and it was Helio Bandeira who was in charge with almost 40 percent of the chips in play. However, as MacIntyre joked: “Max has been running like Max Silver.”
What he meant was this: With five players left a three-way all-in pot occurred. Silver had ace-king, Helio Bandeira had queen-jack and MacIntyre – who had both players covered – had pocket aces. Two kings popped out on the flop and Silver now had 1.5 million of the 2.5 million in play.
Silver then built his stack to 1.8 million, which was roughly three-quarters of the chips in play, MacIntyre had around 330,000 and Peter Eichhardt the other 380,000. The play was still relatively deep at this stage, though. The blinds were 6,000/12,000 ante 2,000 and MacIntyre began to rally and chipped away at Silver’s stack.
Then came Eichhardt’s elimination. The Swede limped from the small blind with pocket sixes, Silver raised with Ax-Jx, Eichhardt shoved for roughly 300,000 and Silver called the extra. Two aces on the flop left Eichhardt drawing thin and when he received no help on the turn or river he was out in third, winning €21,110.
When heads-up play began Silver had a lead of 1.57 million (130 big blinds) to 950,000 (79 big blinds) so play was still very deep and with two experienced players at the controls it looked like we were in for a long heads-up battle.
However a big pot of 600,000, which didn’t go to showdown, meant Silver further increased his lead and when MacIntyre then bluffed off some chips, the Scotsman was left with 10 big blinds. They soon went in with 7♠3♠ and Silver called the shove with K♦T♣. As we know, it’s always coming seven and a 7♣8♠K♣7♦T♥ board meant MacIntyre doubled.
He wouldn’t get another. On the final hand, he shoved for 19 big blinds with Q♦T♣ and Silver called off with 9♥9♠. The board stayed low – 3♦6♣5♥7♦2♥ – and Silver, watched by his pregnant wife Lisa, who is due on Tuesday, was the champion.
“It’s one of the most swingy final tables I’ve ever had,” Silver said. “Obviously the key hand was the queen-jack. I ran amazingly well heads-up too.”
It’s not the first time Silver has won big in Dublin. He took down the UKIPT1 Main Event in September 2010. “It’s my lucky venue,” he said.
With a baby girl due in the Silver household imminently Silver says that this will probably be his final live tournament before Prague in December.
As for MacIntyre he bucked the trend of only one person being happy at the end of a poker tournament. “I’d have taken second before this started,” he said. “I’m pretty chuffed.”
He was even philosophical about the big pot he lost with five players left. “I’d like to think I could’ve taken it down but anything can happen in poker. It’s just one of those things.”
MacIntyre collected €45,350 for his second-place finish, while the €45,350 that Silver collected for the win should come in handy when the new baby arrives.
If you’re not aware of Maria Konnikova’s story, then here’s a little background. She is a writer with degrees from Harvard and Columbia and has written two New York Times bestselling books. As we’ve reported before, she is currently spending a year on the poker circuit, as research for her new book.
Konnikova has already proved pretty adept at poker, picking up three cashes in Monte Carlo, another trio at the WSOP and one more at the PokerStars Championship in Barcelona. Now, here in Dublin she’s added an Irish flag to her collection.
News reached us that she was heads-up in the €170 NLHE Deepstack event. The €3,090 for first wouldn’t be her biggest cash, but it would be her first live tournament win.
Standing in her way was Swedish player Tibor Udvardy. He held the chip lead, but when Konnikova doubled with aces it looked like it could be her time. Alas it wasn’t to be and she had to settle for the second place prize of €2,190.
Still it’s another cash for the PokerStars Ambassador and another experience that may well make the book!