My take on the poker skills of the October Nine: Part 1

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Oct 30, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

Before I get into what I observed on Monday night, and offer up my opinions on the nine men that competed for the 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event title, let me preface this column with the fact that I hadn’t watched any of the ESPN coverage up to this point, and had only seen sporadic bits and pieces of the live coverage back in July.

Ok, with that out of the way here is my take on the poker skills of the October Nine members that were eliminated Monday Night:

Steve Gee: Eliminated in 9th place

Gee played a pretty straightforward style in his short time at the final table, and it seemed clear that he was not going to let these young guys bully him, considering he opened play with a three-barrel bluff, and his bust-out hand was in essence a bluff as well.

From what I could tell, Gee is an old-school player who is trying to adapt to today’s more aggressive game.

Robert Salaburu: Eliminated in 8th place

This one was a head-scratcher for me. From everything I had heard this was supposed to be the wild-card at the final table, but the wild-card turned out to be the least skilled player there in my opinion. Salaburu reminded me of the over-aggressive guy you see in every tournament who builds a mountain of chips but then spews them off a little later.

First off, Salaburu acts way too fast to play mistake free (which could be seen in some bet-sizing issues) and his habit of looking at his cards out of turn is a major leak in my opinion; nothing good can come from this.

Secondly, Salaburu is too tricky for his own good, his plays with KK and JJ left a lot of equity on the table, and while his lines may help him see some cheap rivers on occasion he is simply not getting paid when he has a hand.

Michael Esposito: Eliminated in 7th place

Esposito was pretty much what I expected, which was a competent poker player that didn’t have the experience in the numerous situations a poker tournament like the WSOP will throw at you. His inexperience/ignorance of basic short-stack play was frustrating to say the least.

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Andras Koroknai: Eliminated in 6th place

This was another head-scratcher. Koroknai came in with a pretty impressive resume, including a WPT LA Poker Classic win, and at first I loved his strategy of playing super-tight and looking for good spots since his stack was in good shape to begin with. As the levels wore on he quickly adjusted and ramped-up his aggression, but in the end I think he took it a step too far, when he tried his ill-fated 5-bet all-in with KQ. I’d love to be able to give Koroknai a mulligan and see what would happen if he had avoided that single “blowup”.

Jeremy Ausmus: Eliminated in 5th place

Ausmus played near flawlessly in my opinion, and had he doubled through someone instead of constantly winning small pots (which did keep him above water for a long time) things might have played out very differently. I think this might have been the best player at the table.

Russell Thomas: Eliminated in 4th place

I really liked Thomas’ game throughout; he was methodical, thought-through his decisions, and inevitably made the proper decisions time-and-time again. I felt he tightened-up a little too much after moving towards the top of the leader-board, but this was likely due to being card-dead more so than any strategy.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the final three players competing for the 2012 WSOP Main Event Championship. Read Part 2 HERE:


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