Saturday, September 14, 2013

Event 18 Recap

2013 Borgata Poker Open $350 Buy-In + $50 Entry Big Stack No Limit Hold'Em (Re-Entry)
Entrants: 377

Prize pool: $131,950


Not letting a couple bad hands bring you down is one of the essential skills any successful tournament poker player must have. There is nothing worse than playing your best and seeing your chip stack dwindle to nothing. Often times, it will cause you to play in a non-optimal style. The best players, however, know how to adjust. Such was the case for Eric Rivkin tonight. Coming into the final table he was in the middle of the pack but a key loss made him one of the short stacks at the table, at one point being down to just ten big blinds. Rivkin used a combination of good moves and great cards to surge past the rest of the field and take down Event #18 and the first place prize of $34,552. For outlasting the 377 person field, not only did Eric take home the cash, he also received a beautiful Borgata Poker Open trophy and a customized 16 x 20 framed photo with Borgata chip and event information plaque. "It feels awesome to win," said Eric, all smiles while he posed with his trophy. Eric has had substantial scores before including a 60K+ one at the LAPC in recent times, but this was his first outright win.

Eric Rivkin, Event #18 Winner

Final table action got underway with the following table lineup and chip counts:

Seat 1: Leonardo Palermo, Toms River, NJ 1.25 million
Seat 2: Pedro Rios, Houston, TX 460K
Seat 3: Paul Stevens, Marlton, NJ 260K
Seat 4: Artur Zaikansky, New York, NY 700K
Seat 5: Pete Zappulla, Brooklyn, NY 1.1 million
Seat 6: Len Vizirov, Philadelphia, PA 480K
Seat 7: Gurvinder Shergill, London, UK 775K
Seat 8: Sean Wallace, Horsham, PA 1.35 million
Seat 9: Joseph "Mush" Galazzo, Union, NJ 475K
Seat 10: Eric Rivkin, East Hampton, NY 705K 
Eric started out aggressive, raising two hands in a row and inducing folds from the entire table. When he raised a third hand in a row, however, someone decided to finally take a stand against him. That someone was Pedro Rios who moved all in over the top of Eric's 70K raise for 322K more. "I hate raising three times in a row," a visibly perplexed Rivkin said. "You could be moving in light knowing how tight seat three is playing," Eric says while counting in his head out loud the pot odds. He gives his cards a quick flip... once... twice... three times, muttering to himself the entire time. "Alright, I call," he finally says, turning over KJ♣. Rios has A♠8♣ and the board runs out A♣96Q♣A causing Eric to tell Rios "I'm never raising light with the chip leader right behind me."

The double up for Rios would establish a trend that would grip the table for the next hour as the short stacks doubled up on their first five successive all in's that were called. The first of those double ups took place when Gurvinder Shergill opened for 84K with the blinds at 15K/30K and found himself staring at a 354K more all in re-raise from Joseph Galazzo. Gurvinder twisted uncomfortably in his chair, standing up, and then sitting upright on his knees. Uncertain, Shergill stood up again, looking around... almost dazed. He ran his finger over his mouth as if trying to tell someone to hush. Sitting back down, he looked back at his cards and played with his stack, shuffling chips in his right hand, fast and deliberate. Shergill counts out a call and places it out in front of him. He has pocket 4's and is racing against the A6 that Galazzo holds. The flop comes QJT. Gurvinder is still in the lead so to speak, but it's a horrible flop for him as it gives Galazzo a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw to go along with his two overs. The turn is the 7♣ and it looks like Shergill might actually score the knockout of Galazzo. The river though brings the gutshot straight in the form of the K♠ and Galazzo scores a huge double up.

A few moments later, with the blinds at 20K/40K, Pete Zappulla opens for 80K. Shergill moves all in for his last 288K. Pete starts to tank. While he is tanking, Rivkin stands up and says under his breath, but loud enough for the entire table to hear... "You gotta call." Pete ultimately makes the call and an irate Shergill tells Rivkin "you better quit doing that." A sheepish Rivkin sits down as the hands are turned over. Pocket 6's for Shergill and 3's for Zappulla. The board runs out safe for Gurvinder and he doubles up. An apologetic Rivkin looks at Shergill and says... "you're right, I apologize."

It's a serious table but Paul Stevens, the shortest stack, tries to lighten the table up. "Why is everyone looking at me," he smiles. A player mentions that the action is on him and Paul responds "It's because I'm the best looking one here... and the oldest." 
The players go on a 15 minute break, at roughly 3 a.m., and they all return with the exception of Pete Zappulla. He is nowhere to be found. Play resumes without him. Eric moves all in for his last 405K and everyone folds causing him to exhale deeply. With the blinds now at 25K/50K, Len Vizirov moves all in for 390K and is called by the big blind Artur Zaikansky. Artur picked a bad time to defend, even with K-Q, as Len has pocket aces. The rockets hold up and Vizirov scores a nice double up to put him back in contention.
The short stack double up theme continues when Pedro Rios opens for 100K. Paul Stevens tanks... for two minutes... and has the clock called on him by Sean Wallace who says "no offense" as he does so. Stevens moves all in for his last 190K and with it only being 90K more for Rios, he makes the easy call. "I was going to much until you called for the clock," Stevens said, turning over 8's. He is racing against Rios and his A♠9♠. The eights prevail to double Stevens up.

We finally get our first elimination when Gurvinder Shergill moves all in for 455K with pocket 8's and is called by Sean Wallace who holds K♠J. A king comes on the flop and Shergill is frustrated at being the first person eliminated from the table and makes note that the empty chair where Zappulla should be just made $900 more than him by just being absent.

Gurvinder Shergill (London, UK) - 10th place, $1,664

Pedro Rios's aggression gets the best of him in a couple spots. He opens for 100K and has to fold to a Len Vizirov 315K re-raise. The blinds move up to 30K/60K and Pedro opens again for 120K and folds when Sean Wallace moves all in for just over a million total. A short stacked Eric Rivkin moves all in first to act from the button for just about six big blinds and is quickly called by Leonardo Palermo who holds A-Q. "No good," says a proud Rivkin as he turns over A-K. Big Slick prevails and Rivkin lets out a big sigh of relief as he survives to play another hand. The very next hand Joseph Galazzo raises to 120K and Rivkin moves all in again. This time he has a few more chips in his stack and it's a harder call. Galazzo releases his hand  and Rivkin is now over a million in chips. Another big exhale from Rivkin as he starts to stack his chips.

The short stack of Paul Stevens moves all in for 190K and is called by Sean Wallace out of the big blind. Paul has K-9 against Sean's T-6. The board runs out J-3-T-K-Q to give Stevens a straight and the double up. Suddenly, a flustered Pete Zappulla rushes back to his seat. "Why are we playing already," he says. "I was told by the floor that it was a one hour dinner break." The floor responds "why would we have a dinner break at 3 am?" Zappulla's face turns red. "Can I get a manager?" The floor gets the supervisor who comes over and asks the rest of the table if they heard anyone say there was a one hour dinner break. The entire table says no and the floor tells them to play on, despite Zappulla's displeasure. Pete moves all in for 275K the very next hand and everyone folds. "Pity fold," cracks Rivkin.

Joseph Galazzo raises twice and is re-raised twice by Rivkin. Rivkin is taking control of the action and has moved into the chip lead. "Medium pair" he says after the second re-raise. Down to 400K, Leonardo Palermo moves all in from the small blind for 400K. Pedro Rios calls quickly from the big blind and is ahead with A-3 as Palermo has Q9. The cards are placed out... 6-6-2-7-K and ace high wins the pot and Leonardo is done.

Leonardo Palermo (Toms River, NJ) - 9th place, $2,560

The ever wise-cracking Paul Stevens has moved up two notches on the pay ladder. He says "Hey, what's fold equity? I play poker seven days a week and I still don't know." A player eyes Paul's stack and says "it's something you don't have any of." The table laughs.

Pedro Rios starts applying some big stack pressure, moving all in three times in a row pre-flop knowing he has the stacks left to act behind him covered. All three times everyone folds. With a bigger stack in the big blind, Pedro decides on the 4th hand to just raise to 120K. Paul looks down at his cards and says "they are singing my song... End of the Road by Boyz II Men." Paul starts to sing the song... not very well... and moves all in. He notions to Pedro that it's an easy call but Pedro doesn't get the chance because Len Vizirov re-shoves to isolate the short-stacked Paul. Paul has A-K and has Len crushed as Vizirov only has A-J. But Paul's song choice was prophetic... a jack flops... and it's the end of the road for Paul.

Paul Stevens (Marlton, NJ) - 8th place, $3,776 

The still upset Pete Zappulla is next to go when he moves his short stack all in with K-5 with the blinds now at 40K/80K and is called by Sean Wallace's A-J. A king flops for Pete to give him hope but an ace on the turn delivers an end to a very disappointing final table for Zappulla. Pete still wants answers for his extra long dinner break and heads off to the cage trying to figure out what went wrong.

Pete Zappulla (Brooklyn, NY) - 7th place, $4,992

Artur Zaikansky was never able to get anything going and found himself down to just over four big blinds and holding an ace in his hand. He moved all in and was called by the Q♠J♠ of Len Vizirov. A queen would flop to give Len the pot and send Artur off to collect his winnings.

Artur Zaikansky (New York, NY) - 6th place, $6,208

Perhaps the biggest hand of the night would then take place. With the blinds at 40K/80K, Eric raised to 180K only to face an all in re-raise from Len Vizirov. Eric didn't waste too much time before calling. Vizirov held pocket 8's and seemed unhappy and somewhat in disbelief when he saw the K♠Q♠ that Rivkin held. The flop was a good one for Len's snowmen... 9-9-2... the turn not so much as it was a Q. The river just added insult to injury as it was a King. The massive post crippled Vizirov and made Rivkin the runaway chip leader. A frustrated Len would move all in on the next hand with T-2 and Sean Wallace would look him up with K7. The flop had a 2 in it to give Len a pair but it also had a 7 to give Wallace a better pair. That would be enough to win the hand and send Len shaking his head as he walked over to fill out his paperwork.

Len Vizirov (Philadelphia, PA) - 5th place, $7,552

Pedro Rios continued his first to act aggression, raising to 200K from the button with the blinds at 50K/100K. Sean Wallace moved all in from the small blind and Joseph Galazzo followed suit and moved all in as well from the big blind. Rios quickly got out of the way. Wallace held K♣J and was dominated by Galazzo and his AJ. The board would run out J♠-T♣-6♠-2♠-T♠ and Joe would double up to nearly three million in chips, crippling Wallace in the process.

Eric Rivkin would later open for 200K and find himself facing a re-raise from Pedro Rios. Rios had made it 630K to go which prompted Rivkin to announce that he was all in. Holding pocket jacks, Pedro called with little hesitation. It was a four handed cooler though as Rivkin held kings. The board brought no help to Pedro and Rivkin added even more chips to his substantial chip lead.

Pedro Rios (Houston, TX) - 4th place, $9,599

It would only be moments before the tournament was finished. The incredibly hot Rivken opened for 230K. Sean called all in for less only having 135K left in his stack. Joseph Galazzo re-raised to 750K prompting a shove from Eric. Galazzo made the call. The hands:

Sean - K-6
Joseph - A♣T
Eric - Queens

The flop came J84♣. Eric still ahead. The turn was the 8. One card away from the win for Eric. The river... 5... and the ladies hold to deliver the double knockout.

Sean Wallace (Horsham, PA) - 3rd place, $11,942

Joseph "Mush" Galazzo (Union, NJ) - 2nd place, $19,199

Eric Rivkin is our first place winner! A professional poker player since 2007, Eric has had bigger scores in his career but this is his first outright major tournament win. "The biggest hands were the last two hands and the hand where I had A-K against Leo's A-Q." He added that "no one really got in my way. Even the big stacks to my left were playing tight." Eric wants to play in the Championship Event but has a prior obligation that he needs to try and clear up first. If he has his way though, he'll be here.

Eric Rivkin (East Hampton, NY) - 1st place, $34,552

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