With it being high season for live UK Poker Tournaments, we have been looking at some of the major performances during the final table action, and a particularly impressive rearguard action by Roland de Wolfe was one of the highlights of the final days play at the WSOPE in London at the end of September.
De Wolfe had started the day in fourth position and was widely expected to benefit from being vastly more experienced than his opponents to obtain a higher finish – possibly to even win his second WSOP bracelet – but the wheels fell off that dream midway through the day, as a succession of de Wolfe raises met shoves from shorter stacked players and re-raises from the chip leaders, demolishing his chip stack to the point he was facing elimination in 7th.
Then de Wolfe changed his approach – a move which saw him cling on to bottom spot for another four hours and eventually finish fourth with a payday in excess of £¼ million.
The key to de Wolfe´s “success” was two-fold. First his table position allowed him to focus on the weaker players left remaining in the tournament, inviting them to get involved in marginal coin-flip shoves from the button, which they always declined allowing him to collect the blinds. The second element was the way in which de Wolfe focused on attacking with low and mid-range pairs.
Once a table becomes short-handed, any pair is a good bet against two odd cards. Although a pair of 2´s is a 40/60 underdog against any combination of higher ranking cards, the one-in-five chance of hitting a set tips the scales back in your favour, and it is only higher pairs that you have to fear. The odds of any player on a full table being dealt a pair are around 2/1. Once the table becomes short-handed, those odds increase substantially, and if you are on the button with no bets in front of you, the chances that either of the blinds is holding a pair are almost 10/1.
Aware of this, de Wolfe attacked the blinds whenever he could, and at one stage took down three sets of blinds on three successive orbits – not enough to see him elevated to a meaningful position in terms of the tournament, but good enough to keep him in the game a while longer.
Patience, well-timed aggression and knowing his odds were the factors which had spectators commenting on de Wolfe´s “master class” of short-stacked poker, and whereas many players might have shoved and walked, de Wolfe proved the value of keeping a level head and displaying a never-say-die attitude.
De Wolfe was ultimately eliminated when shoving once too often against eventual runner up, Fabrizio Baldassari , and seeing his Kc Qs turned over by Baldassari´s Ad 8s, but his presence in the game had been a pleasure to observe, and a lesson for everyone in short-stacked, short-handed poker.