This morning I talked about how winning a poker tournament takes a mix of skill, timing and luck. Team PokerStars Pro displayed all three during his run through the PokerStars.net LAPT Season 5 Punta del Este at Mantra Main Event. But when it came down to heads-up play, Guillen's luck and his timing betrayed him.
Guillen and Marcelo Fonseca played a tough heads-up battle. Fonseca had a small chip lead to start and never relinquished it. Both players preferred to keep pots small pre-flop; most raises were for the minimum and three-bets were almost non-existent. After the flop, bets were hard to come by as the two men were very careful with all but the strongest hands.
The way the tournament ended, then, came as a shock. Ninety minutes into heads-up play, Marcelo Fonseca opened his button for the minimum of 200,000, as had been his custom. Guillen's normal response was either to fold or to call and see a flop. In the whole of heads-up play, I don't think he had three-bet a single hand in response to a Fonseca button raise. But three-bet is exactly what Guillen did in this spot, shoving all in for 2.8 million.
Fonseca snap-called. And suddenly all of those carefully played pots were out the window. 5.6 million chips were up for grabs. The winner of this pot would either be champion or have a dominant lead.
It was bad timing and rotten luck for Guillen, and great fortune for Fonseca. Guillen turned up A♠9♣, a hand that was a big underdog to Fonseca's A♣K♥.
Guillen had been in this spot before. He came from way behind in a three-way pot yesterday to runner a full house against a flopped straight. At this final table, he hit a three-outer to keep the dream of his first LAPT title alive. The question, then, was whether there was any pixie dust left for Guillen to sprinkle over the table.
A flop of T♥7♠J♠ hit neither player, but Guillen picked up a few extra outs. An 8 or a 9 would vault him ahead of Fonseca's Big Slick. But there were no more miracles for Guillen. The turn and river bricked out 2♣ and 5♦ to give the Punta del Este title to Fonseca.
Guillen was gracious in defeat. He stood up, walked to the other side of the table, and give Fonseca one of those half-handshake, half-hug embraces that are a staple of guys the world over. Then Guillen quietly departed the stage to collect his $126,240 and to let Fonseca bask in the glow of a hard-fought, well-earned LAPT title.