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Poker: Mid-States champ overcomes an error

The second annual Wisconsin State Poker Championship, hosted by the Mid-States Poker Tour at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in February, attracted 489 entries and saw Andy Rubinberg, a 47-year-old computer consultant from Chicago, capture the title and the $120,808 first-place prize.

Rubinberg’s victory was all the more impressive considering that he had to recover from a botched hand late on Day 1B. It just goes to show that no matter how big a mistake you make, anything can happen if you keep your composure and keep grinding.

The hand in question happened in Level 14 (blinds of 1,200-2,400 plus an ante of 400) with less than 20 minutes remaining in the evening’s play. Rubinberg was sitting on a healthy stack of 190,000 when Josh Reichard, who won the 2013 MSPT Ho-Chunk main event, opened for 5,200 from middle position and local bar owner Grant Slayton called from middle position.

Rubinberg came along from the small blind, and three players took a flop of 7c 2d 9d. Two checks put action on Slayton, who moved all in for 92,700, a big over-shove. Rubinberg seemed perplexed and thought for a long time before making the call with his 6c 5c. Reichard quickly folded, and Slayton tabled a better flush draw with Qc Jc.

Rubinberg was understandably frustrated, having put so many chips at risk only to discover that he was so far behind. Much to Rubinberg’s delight, the 6h turn gave him the lead, but it was short lived, as the Qh river gave Slayton a winning pair of queens.

“It was the end of the day, about 20 minutes left on the clock,” Rubinberg said after the hand. “My plan was to check-raise Josh when he bet, but he checked. There was like 25,000 in the pot, and that guy just open-shoved 92,000. I’m going through my head, ‘What can he do this with?’

“I should have folded, let’s start with that. But here’s my thought process: Why would he over-shove four times the size of the pot? I had a lot of outs, and if I missed, I still had 70,000 left. I’m usually a short-stack guy, so if I won, I was going to be the chip leader. I thought about that a lot; that’s why I took so long. I just talked myself into it and thought it was worth the risk. I only hoped he didn’t have a flush draw, which is what he had.”

It was a calculated risk on Rubinberg’s part, but not a wise one. Remember, mathematically, you should be getting 4-to-1 odds on your investment to chase a flush draw. Even with his gutshot straight draw factored into the equation, Rubinberg wasn’t getting anywhere near the right odds. He simply decided to gamble, and it didn’t work out.

However, as Rubinberg pointed out, he was left with plenty of chips and proved a good enough player to compose himself, get back to work, and win the tournament.

Chad Holloway is a 2013 World Series of Poker bracelet winner and media director for the Mid-States Poker Tour. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadAHolloway.