Perhaps scared after reading about the other semifinal match taking over 19 hours, Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond and Daniel "w00ki3z." Cates had plans on getting in a solid amount of hands in a much quicker time frame. While last night/this morning's tilt between Team Online's Ike Haxton and Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky taking 19 hours to play 4,200 hands, our two superstars this evening took a little over seven hours to run through just over 3,000 hands. After being down for most of the beginning hours of the match, Cates would storm back at the end and take the second seat at the finals to face-off against Sulsky.
Hours 1 - 2 (Hands 1-759)
Annnnnnd we're off!
After a handful of hands on all four tables Cates called for a five minute time out and started anew on all four tables after returning. The tables showing the "Join Waiting List" button as Daniel's Cookie Monster avatar was absent, but this author declined such an invitation (no, they were not REALLY looking for open and looking for players) because just paying the blinds in this $100/$200 blinds four-table match would cause some heavy perspiration. Also, not helping is the near 100% pre-flop button raise rate from both players and only after a long night of drinking would I consider even betting that amount on a Pai Gow hand at the Gold Coast (and likely have a much better chance of winning).
Another five minute pause by Cates half way through the first hour came a few minutes after Phil scooped up a $17,400 pot on Table 4. After Galfond three-bet to $1,700, Dan would call the raise to see a J♠T♥4♠ flop. Galfond followed through with a $2,400 bet which Cates called again. 6♣ on the turn and Galfond kept the accelerator on with $4,600 bet which Dan would call a third time. The river 2♦ saw the match's first all-in bet from Galfond as he put out $11,300 and Cates had no reply to the shove as Galfond would take a $2,775 overall lead after 111 hands.
Shortly afterwards Cates would suffer nearly back-to-back stackings. First one shown below:
Cates just would not believe that Galfond had the ace as Phil shoved on the river with the board showing T♣ A♦ 3♠ J♣ 2♦ and turned up Q♠ A♥ for the $40,000 pot winner as Dan showed J♠Q♣.
Five minutes later with Phil holding a $31,177 to $22,556 lead on Table 4 and the board showing 6♦ T♣ 2♠ 7♣ 6♥ the turned seven would make all the difference on this one with $12,054 already in the pot, Cates put out $10,200 on the river as Phil shoved for $25,150. Big time cooler for Dan with the turned straight 8♦ 9♥ as Phil notched a set on the turn holding pocket sevens 7♦ 7♠ and filled up on the river for the $45,112 pot.
The $50,000 swing. Up to hand 216, Galfond looked to be in control of the opening hour then a punch-drunk Cates taking a nine count on the mat, slowly got up while landing some big punches. On Table 1 with Galfond holding a $42,673 to $25,527 lead, the biggest pot of the first hour would shift the momentum to Cates. Watch below:
With the top heavy board showing J♠ A♣ K♠ T♦ 9♠ with a possible flush or straight, Galfond trying stealing the $18,600 in the middle with a shove that covered Cates' stack holding big slick A♠K♦. Unfortunately for Phil, Dan liked his straight Q♥J♦ enough to make the winning call.
As the players broke for the first hour break they would both lead on two tables, but Jungleman Dan held the lead with a $45,410 overall profit.
Shortly after the break Galfond would strike back for a $58,054 pot after both players hit the 9♥A♠T♥ flop hard. Cates with the flopped set 9♦9♣ and Galfond the straight flush draw 7♥8♥. The flush would get there on the turn 4♥ and unfortunately for Dan he would miss filling up on the river 6♠ for a huge lead this point as Phil started to fight his way back trimming Dan's lead half way through the hour to just $2,303.
Small pots paid off in a big way for Galfond in hands 522-590 as he turned the tables on Cates, taking over the lead in the latter part of the hour.
MrSweets28:I dunno why I don't trust my gut and check
w00ki3z.:I would break my laptop
This first conversation of the match took place shortly after Phil flopped trips with K♣T♣ and cracked Cates' aces A♠A♣ after the flop T♠ 5♠ T♥. But Galfond continued to bet on the turned ace A♦ and shoved on the river 8♣ to hand over the $55,278.00 pot.
Phil however did not let himself get down too much, nor did he suffer any damage to his laptop (to our knowledge) as shortly before the end of the second hour and already $17K in the lead, Galfond would notch the biggest pot ($43,102) to this point. With the board showing J♦ Q♥ 3♥ 9♦ and $4,000 in the middle the two would trade bets back and forth until Cates was all-in holding the flopped two pair J♣3♣. Phil was happy to call with the nut straight T♣K♦. After avoiding a jack or trey on the river 4♣, Galfond's lead going into the second hour break would climb to $70K.
111 Hands Galfond +2,775
216 Hands Galfond +14,517
262 Hands Cates +$42,710
306 Hands Cates +$52,010
410 Hands Cates +45,010
522 Hands Cates $2,303
590 Hands Galfond $27,251
653 Hands Cates +$7,439
710 Hands Galfond +$17,260
759 Hands Galfond +$70,681
Hour 3-4 (Hands 760-1,671)
At the start of the third hour, a railbird could clearly see who had the upper hand as Galfond sported six figure stacks on both Table 1 and 2 while conceding modest leads to Cates on Tables 3 and 4.
Cates was not interested in letting Galfond run over him just yet but it would a lucky turn card to stop the bleeding a bit. With Phil holding $96,606 to Dan's $24,802 on Table 2 after Phil four-bet to $3,200 preflop, Daniel decided to shove for $24,802 as Phil made the call with big slick A♥K♠. Cates went looking for a jack holding A♦J♦ and would find one to his liking on the turn T♠ 5♠ 7♥ J♠ 5♦ as the $49,604 pot temporarily stopped Galfond's bull rush on Cates' stack.
Galfond would open a small door for Cates in a $38,008 pot on Table 4. With a board showing A♥ 7♦ 5♦ 4♠ 7♠ Cates shoved $11,004 on the river and turned over the better ace K♣A♣ to Phil's A♠J♥.
The last hands of hour three and four were not kind to Mr. Cates, just watch one of two $40K+ pots swing Galfond's way below:
After Cates flopped a boat with 5♦4♥ and got Galfond to commit his $22,000 stack on the turn with the board showing 4♦ 5♥ 5♣ A♣, Phil's pocket sevens 7♠7♥ found some love on the river 7♦ costing Cates the $44,000 pot as Galfond took the first six-figure lead of the showdown while taking a break for the third hour.
Small ball was the word for hour four of the tourney as Galfond held to his six-figure lead for the majority of the hour with only one pot climbing over $20,000. Then, towards the close of the hour the players got some Red Bull in their systems as the action picked up. First, there was a potential $30K pot on Table 2. With the board showing T♦ 6♦ 4♥ A♥ 6♣ and $15,600 in the middle, Cates shoved for $12,200 but after about 40 seconds of thought, Galfond refused the offer and handed over the pot without further contesting.
A few minutes later on Table 1, Cates would allow Galfond to do most of the betting for him. With the board showing A♥ 3♠ 2♣ 9♥ 6♥ Phil would check-call the flop, then check-raise the turn as Cates called. On the river holding top two 9♦A♦ Galfond shoved $13,100 and Cates called again with the flopped set 2♦2♠ taking down the $41,000 pot. Shortly before the fourth hour break Cates would strike again with a flopped set, this time on Table 2 and faded a flush draw for a $45,102 pot which helped Cates go to the fourth hour break only $65K down.
817 Hands Galfond +$82,786
904 Hands Galfond +$85,348
1,019 Hands Galfond +$82,351
1,034 Hands Galfond +$88,298
1,134 Hands Galfond +92,676
1,206 Hands Galfond +$65,562
1,262 Hands Galfond +$106,069
1,311 Hands Galfond +$109,920
1,499 Hands Galfond +$88,248
1,535 Hands Galfond +109,204
1,671 Hands Galfond +$65,456
Hour 5-6 (Hands 1,672-2,636)
Sometimes the big bluff works...
... and other times not so much. Watch below as this $46,204 pot unfolds:
With the board showing J♦ 2♦ 9♣ J♥ and $6,800 already in the pot Cates would check as Galfond bet $4,800. Cates came back with a check-raise to $10,200 as Galfond thought for a moment and decided to shove while covering Cates' stack at Table 3. With the turned trips Dan made the call K♥J♠. Galfond did not however have the good and turned up the now lame pair of ducks 5♠2♠ as the river did not matter, sliding $46,204 over to Cates.
A lot of things were sliding to Cates as the hour five break approached. Momentum and more importantly money, as Jungleman Dan continued to close the gap and then hit a huge pot on Table 1. Holding $58,953 to Galfond freshly, unsealed $20,000 stack, Cates would three-bet preflop to $1,600 as the two saw a A♦ 4♠ J♠ flop. Bet-call $1,800 by Cates, and another bet-call on the turned K♠ this time for $4,600 as the river K♥ did not change Cates' aggressiveness and shoved to more than cover Galfond's stack. A few clicks of the timer did nothing to change Phil's decision to call with A♥T♠. Cates however would turn over a slightly better hand. Big slick K♦A♠ would seal up the $40,000 pot and knock Galfond's lead under $50K.
With the increase in the blinds from $100/$200 to $200/$400 coming up on the 3,000th hand, Galfond's lead continued to slide steadily during the sixth hour and sure enough before the sixth hour the nearly 2,000 hand reign of Galfond had ended as Cates stormed back into the lead convincingly. Of course it did not hurt hit a flop or two like on this hand:
Cracked kings for Galfond, and a flopped straight (and rivered flush) for Cates contributed to Jungleman's epic rise after being under Galfond's thumb for the majority hours two through five as Cates would take a $66,688 lead into the sixth hour break.
1,778 Hands Galfond +$75,087
1,826 Hands Galfond +$84,204
1,930 Hands Galfond +$63,085
2,120 Hands Galfond +$59,463
2,203 Hands Galfond +$49,997
2,267 Hands Galfond +$44,641
2,393 Hands Galfond +$27,961
2,564 Hands Cates +$40,385
2,602 Hands Cates +$74,041
2,636 Hands Cates +$66,688
Hour 7-8 (Hands 2,634-3,051)
Things might have gotten our two combatants little loopy in the seventh hour after a nine would have given Galfond a set and Cates a straight:
MrSweets28: GOOD THING I DIDN'T HIT A 9
w00ki3z.: YES IT WAS A GOOD THING
w00ki3z.: NEXT TIME TRY HARDER PLEASE
w00ki3z.: I WANT YOUR CHIPS
MrSweets28: NO I DO
And after this overuse of caps the two would sit down like gentlemen and continue towards seeing who would walk away with a minimum of $250,000 and a shot at Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky who might be a little loopy himself after his 19 hour semi-final match with newly minted Team Online's Ike Haxton.
Back-to-back stackings at Table 2 would nearly close down our first table of the match as both Cates and Galfond would notch a rivered straight with the board showing 3♠ 5♦ Q♣ 7♥ 4♥. However, Cates' 8♠6♠ outpipped Galfond's 6♦7♣ and the $40,000 pot slid to Dan. On the next hand with $9,478 remaining on the auto-reload Galfond tried a semi-bluff check-raise with the board showing 8♠ 4♠ 9♥ 3♥ holding T♠7♥ and got called by Cates' two pair and a flush draw 9♠3♠. The rivered 2♠ gave Cates the $18,956 pot closed the table for a bit until Galfond worked his funds around like a decent Wall Street broker and started up the table again with a fresh $20,000.
The 3,000 hand barrier would be crossed a little before the seventh hour and two brand new tables of $200/$400 blinds were hand-crafted by the finest... well they are made especially our All Star Showdown as these later hours have favored Jungleman.
On the sixth hand of $200/$400 play on Table 4, Cates would knock Galfond down to his last stack. Watch below:
With the board showing a straight 7♠ 4♠ 6♥ 5♦ 8♣ and $15,200 already in the pot, Galfond tried to push Cates off his hand with a shove for $38,702. Unfortunately for Phil, Dan already had what he was representing, a better straight 9♠A♦. Galfond showed he was playing the board J♥K♠ and Table 4 had nothing but a Cookie Monster avatar and $80,000 under his name as play moved to Table 1.
MrSweets28: SO TILTED I CANT SPELL
But moments later being the good man he is, Phil "MrSweets28" Galfond would wish our second All Star Showdown finalist Daniel "w00ki3z." Cates good luck in the finals.
Down to $6,316 of his starting stack of $200,000 Galfond would check the limped button to see a 2♦J♣7♦ flop. He would check again as Cates led out for $400 as Galfond called. K♠ on the turn and Galfond would check-call a $1,200 bet. The 4♥ on the river would be the card of the match as Phil check-called for the third straight time, this time for all his chips holding the flopped top pair J♠3♦. However, Cates turned the better pair 3♣K♦ and took home the last $12,632 pot along with assuring himself $250,000 for reaching the All-Star Showdown final with Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky.
Hand 2,636-2,722 Cates +$78,505
Hand 2,722-2,765 Cates +$102,005
Hand 2,765-2,913 Cates +90,859
Hand 2,913-2,967 Cates +$117,000
Hand 2,967-3,022 Cates +$169,378
Hand 3,022-3,042 Cates +$180,382
Hand 3,042-3,051 Cates +$200,000
Be sure to check back here at the PokerStarsBlog for all the action as Cates takes on Ben "Sauce123" Sulsky at 18:00 CET tomorrow (November 4th) for $550,000 and the first All-Star Showdown trophy!
David Aydt is a freelance contributor