John Juanda talks us through his WSOPE final table and where it all went right!

John Juanda talks us through the epic final day at the 2008 WSOPE main event…

We all started with a lot of chips at the final table, and when everybody has a big stack I tend to treat it like a cash game, playing suited connectors and small pairs. Usually it’s only towards the end, when the blinds get really high, that you have to shift gears into more of a tournament style.

I was very happy to have position on Bengt Sonnert and Daniel Negreanu. I’ve been playing with Daniel for over 10 years now so I know his game pretty well. He’s said many times that he’s not able to play his normal game when I’m on the table, especially to his left, and I think I was able to take advantage of it.

Big laydowns

One of the key hands of the final table was against Alekhin. I raised with K?-5? and the flop came 6-5-2 with a King on the turn. I had two-pair and a flush draw, but there were also two hearts. Alekhin checked the flop and turn, calling my big bets each time. He then checked the 3? river, bringing a possible straight and flush. I bet around 340k and he check-raised me all-in. I had less than 600k left, so it was really tough to fold, but I laid it down. I just went with my read – I didn’t think he would check-raise me with nothing, and at the end I was told he had a flush. Later, he made almost the same play against me. I bet the river and he moved all-in with a possible flush on the board. I had two-pair with A-6, but I called this time and he showed a bluff.

When we started the heads-up I was super confident. Alekhin played great, but I had more chips than him and I was the more experienced player. Also, even though he’s younger than me, I have more stamina. I grinded him down to 1.3m, then I kind of rushed it a little bit as I wanted to finish it, so I made a couple of bone-headed plays. I went crazy with A-2 when he had A-Q and doubled him up. I may have been feeling too confident as I had 5m in chips, but I should have been thinking that I wasn’t getting the best of it. After a few hours he had me down to 1m or so. I wasn’t going to give up but I started to have doubts about winning.

I then doubled up when I had A-K and he had K-J. He flopped the Jack, but I ended up hitting one of my cards on the river. That hand took a lot of wind out of his sails and I could sense he was a little frustrated. In the final key hand, I raised pre-flop with K-6 and he called me with 3?-4?, which is reasonable. The flop came K-Q-7 with two clubs and he came out betting, which is an unorthodox play. I was sure my King was the best hand and I didn’t want to give him any free cards, so I moved all-in for over 3m. I think he knew he didn’t have the pot odds to call, but he called anyway saying, ‘I’m tired.’ He was about a two-to-one underdog to make his flush.

After I won, I was like, ‘Wow, this is it?’ I was almost disappointed we had to stop! It feels great to have won – satisfaction, relief and happiness all rolled into one. I hadn’t won a WSOP event since 2003 and it was starting to get embarrassing. I said after, ‘Most people have to keep up with the Joneses, but I have to keep up with the Iveys, Negreanus and Seidels!’

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