Day 3 completed
|Blinds||40,000 / 80,000|
Day 3 completed
Tons of variables influence success in poker tournaments. Playing at one's best and running well are the most cited ones, but a favorable table draw might also be one of the key ingredients. Shankar Pillai proved it today in the 185-entry 2019 World Series of Poker Event #81: $1,500 Bracelet Winners Only Event.
Pillai came out on top in the strong field of WSOP decorated players. He took home $71,580, one of the modest first-place prizes of the summer, but that didn't make his victory any easier.
"It feels good. A little special, because everyone had one already," Pillai said.
Playing against former WSOP champions meant that nobody at the final table would be intimidated by the atmosphere. There was no place for first-timers.
But Pillai still found an advantage over his opponents on the last table. The seat draw was very generous to him. Coming back with the second-biggest stack, Pillai had the optimal position at the table as the chip leader Tommy Nguyen rubbed Pillai's right shoulder.
"I think I had the best seat at the table by far. Tommy had the chip lead and he was the most aggressive by far," Pillai said.
What made his situation even sweeter was the fact that Michael Gagliano, another feared opponent, was the next one to Pillai's right. Having the benefit to act after two of the most dangerous competitors in the majority of the hands, Pillai's gameplan was clear.
"Every time they folded, I tried to play as many pots as I could," Pillai claimed.
While that could work for the first few hours, Pillai would eventually have to challenge both Gagliano and Nguyen. The final day started with several short stacks at the table, and they were leaving the table one by one.
Final Table Results
|1||Shankar Pillai||United States||$71,580|
|2||Michael Gagliano||United States||$44,232|
|4||Brett Apter||United States||$22,349|
|5||Kevin Gerhart||United States||$16,299|
|7||Thom Werthmann||United States||$9,140|
|8||Scott Bohlman||United States||$7,032|
|9||Haixia Zhang||United States||$5,512|
Scott Bohlman lasted only two hands and Thom Werthmann followed him to the rail before the first break. Andreas Klatt was able to double every now and then, but it still couldn't prevent him from falling in sixth place. Kevin Gerhart and Brett Apter also gave way to the top three stacks at the final table.
"We just always had a lot of chips, so I figured it was going to be us three," Pillai said about facing off with Nguyen and Gagliano.
The fast-paced tempo left the remaining three players with comfortable stacks, and it seemed that neither player had any higher chance than another. It was anyone's game.
And the chips were flying in all directions. Nguyen had the chip lead until Gagliano took over. Then Nguyen risked his stack on an open-ended straight draw on a turn and Pillai picked him off with aces. The bullets held and Nguyen was dismissed.
Gagliano still held the better stack, but the heads-up match had one particular theme. Gagliano was winning mostly the small pots, adjusting his game in the process. He limped a lot of his buttons while Pillai kept raising his own. Whenever they tangled in more inflated pots, it seemed the chips would always find a way to Pillai's stack.
"I let him win the small ones and the big ones... I went after them," Pillai revealed.
It was a special match, considering the common hand history between Pillai and Gagliano. They meet at the tables on a regular basis, both being located on the East Coast. "We play all the time," Pillai said.
So it was a tricky spot for both of them. They could hardly surprise each other, but Pillai was still able to put Gagliano into some tough spots.
"I was bluffing most of the big ones. Like, I had it one time. That was kind of the gameplan," Pillai said.
He certainly had it when they clashed on the 218th hand on the final table. Pillai raised his button, Gagliano called, and Pillai barreled all streets of the board, jamming the river. Gagliano had turned two pair and he called, but he learned that the turn didn't do him any favor. Pillai hit a straight at the same time, and he even improved to a flush on the river.
The cooler locked the second bracelet for Pillai, his first since 2007 when he won the $3,000 No-Limit Hold'em event for $527,829. Pillai will play a few more tournaments here at WSOP and fly back to New York after the $5K event.
"I'll be home a lot. I have a 16-month-old son so I don't travel that much anymore. I'll play the tournaments nearby," Pillai said.
Gagliano is surely already planning his revenge, be it in Atlantic City, Florida, or elsewhere.
Hand #218: Shankar Pillai raised to 190,000 and Michael Gagliano called from the big blind.
The flop fell and Gagliano checked to Pillai who bet 225,000. Gagliano called.
The hit the turn and Gagliano checked again. Pillai threw in a bet of 650,000 and Gagliano called.
The river was the and Gagliano checked one more time. Pillai paused for a moment and then announced he was all in. Gagliano double-checked his hand and then called.
Pillai turned up for a turned straight and rivered flush and Gagliano flipped for two pair.
Gagliano was eliminated in second place for $44,232 while Shankar Pillai took down the 185-strong competition, taking home $71,580 along with his second bracelet.
Hand #214: Shankar Pillai raised to 190,000 on the button and Michael Gagliano called from the big blind. The dealer fanned a flop of that was checked around to the turn. Gagliano bet 300,000 and Pillai folded.
Hand #215: Gagliano opened to 225,000 on the button and Pillai called. The flop fell and Pillai checked. Gagliano fired 250,000 and Pillai check-called. The turn came the and Pillai checked again. Gagliano threw in a bet of 525,000 and Pillai folded.
Hand #216: Pillai raised to 190,000 on the button and Gagliano called. The flop was and Gagliano checked. Pillai bet 250,000 and Gagliano check-called. The turn came the and Gagliano checked again. Pillai fired 700,000 and Gagliano let it go.
Hand #217: Gagliano limped and Pillai checked. The flop came and Pillai checked. Gagliano fired 100,000 and Pillai check-raised to 325,000. Gagliano called. The turn brought the and pillai checked again. Gagliano threw in a bet of 350,000 that was enough to win the pot.
Hand #209: Michael Gagliano raised to 225,000 and Shankar Pillai called. They checked it all the way to the end with the board reading . Pillai tabled for air and Gagliano won the pot with .
Hand #210: Pillai shoved from the button and Gagliano folded.
Hand #211: Gagliano made it 225,000 and Pillai called. Pillai check-called 250,000 on and they checked the turn and river. Pillai showed and Gagliano took it down with .
Hand #212: Pillai raised to 190,000 and won the pot.
Hand #213: Pillai got a walk.
Hand #203: Michael Gagliano moved all in for 1,600,000 from the small blind and Shankar Pillai folded.
Hand #204: Pillai moved all in from the small blind and Gagliano folded.
Hand #205: Pillai got a walk.
Hand #206: Pillai limped and Gagliano checked. The dealer spread a flop of that was checked through to the turn. Gagliano fired 175,000 and Pillai called. The filled the river and Gagliano continued with a bet of 450,000. Pillai let it go.
Hand #207: Pillai got a walk.
Hand #208: Pillai limped from the small blind and Gagliano moved all in from the big blind. Pillai folded.
Hands #198: Shankar Pillai raised to 190,000 and won the pot.
Hands #199: Michael Gagliano limped, Pillai raised to 280,000 and Gagliano folded.
Hands #200: Gagliano got a walk.
Hands #201: Gagliano limped and Pillai checked. Both checked to the river of the board where Pillai fired 200,000. Gagliano folded.
Hands #202: Pillai made it 190,000 and Gagliano called from the big. Gagliano checked the flop and Pillai bet 150,000. Gagliano cut out a check-raise to 550,000 and Pillai called.
Gagliano checked when the appeared on the turn and Pillai fired 800,000. Gagliano called and the completed the board. Gagliano checked and Pillai moved all in. Gagliano immediately released his hand.
Hand #192: Shankar Pillai opened to 190,000 from the small blind and Michael Gagliano called from the big blind. Players saw a flop of and it was checked through to the turn. Gagliano fired 325,000 and Pillai folded.
Hand #193: Gagliano limped from the small blind and Pillai checked. The dealer fanned a flop of that was checked through to the turn. Pillai fired 100,000 and Gagliano called. The filled up the river and Pillai threw in another bet of 250,000. Gagliano called. Pillai showed for sixes and deuces and Gagliano tabled to win the pot with kings and sixes.
Hand #194: Pillai opened to 190,000 on the button and Gagliano folded.
Hand #195: Gagliano limped from the small blind and Pillai raised to 280,000. Gagliano called. The flop fell and Pillai bet 400,000. Gagliano folded.
Hand #196: Gagliano got a walk.
Hand #187: Michael Gagliano limped and folded when Shankar Pillai raised to 250,000.
Hand #188: Pillai raised to 200,000, Gagliano three-bet to 725,000, and Pillai folded.
Hand #189: Gagliano limped, Pillai raised to 280,000, and Gagliano placed in a four-bet of what looked like 900,000. Pillai quickly folded.
Hand #190: Pillai raised to 200,000, Gagliano three-bet to 725,000, and Pillai called. Gagliano bet 525,000 on the flop and Pillai called. Gagliano slowed down on the turn, checking. Pillai moved all in and Gagliano folded.
Hand #191: Gagliano limped, Pillai checked and he checked again on the flop. Gagliano bet 100,000, Pillai check-raised to 325,000, and Gagliano called.
Pillai checked the turn and Gagliano fired 250,000. Pillai called.
The river was the and Pillai checked to Gagliano who announced an all-in bet. Pillai instantly folded.
Hand #182: Shankar Pillai raised to 200,000 on the button and Michael Gagliano moved all in. Pillai snap-folded.
Hand #183: Gagliano limped and Pillai checked. The flop came and was checked through to the turn. Pillai fired 150,000 and Gagliano called. The filled the river and was checked around. Pillar showed for trips tens and Gagliano mucked.
Hand #184: Pillai raised to 180,000 on the button and Gagliano moved all in from the big blind. Pillai let it go.
Hand #185: Gagliano limped and Pillai checked. A flop of was dealt and checked through to the turn. Pillai checked once more and Gagliano fired 125,000. Pillai check-called. The completed the board and Pillai checked. Gagliano bet 300,000 and Pillai called. Gagliano revealed for trip queens and Pillai mucked.
Hand #186: Pillai opened to 200,000 on the button and Gagliano called. The dealer fanned a flop of that was checked to the turn. Gagliano threw in a bet of 325,000 and Pillai let it go.