A cash game pro fits right in at the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship

5 July 2011

You’ve got to give it to Abe Mosseri. The man knows his strengths and his weaknesses.

While playing in the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship at the World Series of Poker, Mosseri was asked by another player if he was going to sit out the entire round of pot-limit Omaha and wait until the game changed to 2-7 Triple Draw, one of his best games.

"Well, I’ll play a hand if I get dealt aces," Mosseri quipped.

A few minutes later, sitting in the big blind and facing a raise from middle position and a call from Doug Booth in the small blind, Mosseri announced a re-raise and put nearly half of his chips out in front of him. The original raiser folded, and after making a crying call, Booth announced, "At least I know what you have."

Booth folded to Mosseri’s all-in bet after the flop, and nodded when he flashed two red aces.

A few hands later, after the game change, Mosseri was once again all-in, but this time in his favorite game. After the final draw in 2-7 Triple Draw, he pushed his last 18,500 chips into the pot. His opponent squeezed the card he drew, and then sighed, flipping over a six-high straight. (Straights count against you in 2-7 Triple Draw, where the goal is to make the worst possible poker hand.)

Abe Mosseri eyes his chips after moving them all in on what turned out to be his last hand of the tournament.

Abe Mosseri eyes his chips after moving them all in on what turned out to be his last hand of the tournament. (photo by Aaron Todd)

"Are you calling?" asked Mosseri with a straight face. When it became clear that his opponent was, indeed, mucking, Mosseri turned over a 7-6 low, and scooped up another big pot.

You may have seen Mosseri on The PokerStars.net Big Game. Or maybe you’ve seen him on a very old WPT rerun from 2003. But televised tournaments are not his normal stomping grounds. He prefers to spend his time at the cash game tables, rather than toiling through tournaments (even though he’s made four final tables and has one gold bracelet, not surprisingly, in 2-7 Triple Draw).

But the lack of TV time doesn’t mean much when it comes to the respect of his peers. He’s earned the respect of the likes of Doyle Brunson, who lists him among the world’s best cash game players.

Unfortunately for Mosseri, after returning from the final break of the night, his table was set to play eight hands of no-limit Hold’em. With just 37 players remaining, Mosseri had just 11 big blinds, and couldn’t afford to sit out two rounds of play and watch his chip stack dwindle to less than half its size. On the first hand of Level 15, Mosseri moved all-in from under the gun with ace-jack of clubs. Unfortunately for him, he ran up against pocket aces and was eliminated from the tournament in 37th place.

But for Mosseri, there’s another table waiting. He’s probably already looking for the next juicy cash game. And in that way, he’s not all that dissimilar from this event’s first champion, Chip Reese, for whom the winner’s trophy was named.

Reese went nearly 10 years without a single cash at the WSOP. The reason? He didn't play in tournaments, preferring instead to focus on cash games. He dabbled a bit in tournaments in the middle of the decade, and when the WSOP held its first $50,000 buy-in event (a H.O.R.S.E. event in 2006), no one was surprised when Reese took the title.

While he won’t claim the title this year, there wouldn’t be a more fitting holder for the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy than Abe Mosseri.

$50,000 Poker Player’s Championship Notebook

After five levels of play on Day 3, the tournament field shrank from 74 to 29. The tournament will play down to a final table Tuesday, starting at 3 p.m. PT.

Josh Arieh is the chip leader with 1,819,000, while Brian Rast sits in second with 1,633,000. Other players still in contention include Phil Hellmuth (fifth, 1,174,000), Gus Hansen (11th, 774,000), Barry Greenstein (18th, 440,000) and Jeffrey Lisandro (20th, 330,000). The top 16 players (final two tables) will finish in the money.

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With a slightly larger field than last year, some players thought WSOP officials would opt to play six levels on Day 3 instead of the standard five they’d been playing the first two days.

"So we’re only playing five levels?" Mosseri asked WSOP floorman Robbie Thompson, looking for confirmation on what he’d heard earlier.

"That’s what they told me," said Thompson.

"Then tomorrow we play to the final table, no matter how long it takes?"

"Sounds good to me," Thompson said. "Tomorrow’s my day off."

---------------

It may be hard to believe, but even the best players in the world sometimes make basic mistakes. Two-time bracelet winner Bill Chen lost a whopping 24,000 chips by inadvertently raising instead of calling a 12,000-chip bet by Brian Hastings in a round of 2-7 Triple Draw because he threw out the wrong color chips. Hastings re-raised for another 12,000 chips, and Chen called. Chen then mucked to Hastings's bet after the third draw.

Chen was eliminated a few hours later.

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