WSOP bracelet winner Thomas Bihl explains how it can be done: “I made one small adjustment, deciding to three-bet most of her button-raises to take control of the hands”

The 2007 WSOPE H.O.R.S.E. champion tells us about how he became the first player to bag a bracelet

The player

Fittingly, as the WSOPE is sponsored by Betfair, Thomas Bihl (from Frankfurt) is a Betfair sponsored pro who plays under the name Buzzer. This is the biggest win of his career – the £70,875 fi rst prize topping up his live tournament earnings to $355,032, although he makes the majority of his money playing online in STTs.

‘My main strategy for the final table was to enter a lot of pots and be aggressive in Razz, where I felt I had a big edge throughout the tournament, and to keep the pots small in Stud and Stud Hi-Lo where I lacked the experience of some of the other players.

Even before the final table I’d identified Kirk Morrison as the main threat. He’d impressed me the day before with his strong and aggressive play and I knew this would come into play even more when we got short-handed.

No pressure

‘Early on I didn’t get any cards at all and was happy to hold a steady stack by staying out of trouble and stealing the antes and blinds here and there. I knew the good cards would come sooner or later and with a medium stack and a fantastic structure there was never any real pressure on me to force anything. In fact the structure was perfect throughout the tournament – three days of play for a 105-runner field proves that, as much as the 350+ hands we played on the final table.

‘As the table progressed Kirk Morrison – as I expected – was the most aggressive player by a long way. In short-handed limit poker aggression is a big factor, whereas on a full table it’s not. When the action’s short-handed you can’t wait for premium hands and you’ll see a lot of semi-bluffs and aggression, especially in position.

‘The momentum changed several times but I feel that the four best players reached the late stages (Jennifer Harman, Kirk Morrison, Chris Ferguson and Thomas Bihl). I think we all played a high quality final table and I don’t think any of us made any major mistakes. Having said that I was a bit surprised that Kirk Morrison wasn’t able to keep up his outstanding play from earlier in the day. He seemed to tire or weaken a bit later on and that proved decisive.

One on one

‘The heads-up took more than two hours to play – further proof of the good structure – and it was a real seesaw battle. We started almost even in chips and initially I was able to work myself into a small chip lead.

Then the tide turned and I fell way behind, at one stage trailing with 170,000 chips to Jennifer’s 880,000. At that point she put a lot of pressure on me and I had no cards to stand up to her. But I refused to panic and stuck to my game plan. I made one small adjustment, deciding to three-bet most of her button-raises to take control of the hands.

‘I also kept peeking at the bracelet that had been placed on the table and said to myself, “Man, this will be your best chance for a while to get your hands on one of those.”

‘I was able to slowly work my way back into it and eventually drew level. Then I caught a rush of cards and hit some flops to close out the tournament and win the bracelet.’

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