MIKE LEAH IN FOCUS: Reflecting on the 2015 WSOP, Hopes for a Strong Finish

It's all come down to the 2015 WSOP Main Event for Mike Leah, who started off the summer with a bang but ran into a rough patch towards the tail end of the summer as he stayed frozen at nine WSOP cashes.

It’s all come down to the 2015 WSOP Main Event for Mike Leah, who started off the summer with a bang but ran into a rough patch towards the tail end of the summer as he stayed frozen at nine WSOP cashes.

The 2015 World Series of Poker started out looking bright for Mike Leah, with deep runs in the Colossus and final tables in both the $10,000 Razz Championship and the $1,500 No Limit Deuce to Seven.

Leah made more deep runs in the $3,000 HORSE and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Championship, but fell just short of final tables in both of those tournaments as a second WSOP bracelet loomed ever out of his reach. Leah pushed for a different kind of record, for most cashes in a single summer, but in his mind things all swung on one hand in particular in a big spot in the Pot Limit Omaha Championship.

“Probably close to the bubble in the $10K PLO,” said Leah. “I had well over average chips and had the nuts on the flop and the turn. I knew I was up against a big draw but the card that hit it on the river was kind of like the only card that he would’ve actually got paid off on, because it was kind of a hidden straight. I went from being way above average chips on the bubble to [basically] bubbling the $10K PLO.”

This came right on the heels of busting out of the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, along with tough runs in a handful of other big events Leah was looking forward to.

“That would’ve been my 10th cash at that point and I would’ve pretty much cinched breaking the record,” said Leah. “Since that, I’ve bricked everything. That definitely stands out as sort of the turning point of my summer, where it could of really been a positive thing to now where I’m pretty disappointed overall.”

Leah made one last big run with a brief surge in the $10,000 Dealers Choice event, briefly taking the chiplead on Day 2, but things went south quickly and he once again fell out before the bubble burst.

With opportunities for a pre-Main Event bracelet exhausted, Leah went into grind mode with a couple days to spare before his desired Main Event flight on Tuesday. He took a shot in the turbo session of the WPT 500 at the Aria at 8:30 am Sunday, but after a long summer of grinding and an early morning Leah didn’t feel he was at his best.

“I probably should’ve just slept in because I went and just kind of fired it in,” said Leah. “If I had gotten a big stack then it would’ve been worth it. I probably didn’t give it my best effort.”

After busting out of that tournament, Leah rested up and turned his focus back towards the WSOP. With so many people trying to win their way into the Main Event, he saw value in satellites going on both at the Rio and on WSOP.com, where there was a 25 seat satellite run on Sunday afternoon.

“I played the Mega,” said Leah, “And I played that online Mega today and just one Sit & Go. Trying to put some work in but I don’t want to tire myself out for the Main like I’ve done in years past, killing myself in satellites.”

After going home empty-handed in a single table satellite to end the evening, Leah called it a fairly early night before midnight with intentions to get a good night’s rest. Monday will be a light day for Leah, but he’s still intent on getting a little more play in before Day 1C.

His experiences in pushing himself too hard just before the Main Event in years past has Leah prepared to take it as easy as he can on Monday.

“Tomorrow it’ll be one or two probably single tables and that’s about it, just trying to get ready and give the Main my best shot,” said Leah. “I’m disappointed with how I’ve done in the previous few years, not really feeling like I played my best. I definitely want to be on the ball.”

Leah has one more path by which he’s trying to wrap the summer with a bang – by buying up pieces of a number of players in the Main Event. It’s far from charity, as he sees a number of strong opportunities to grab a piece of a talented player, but he’s also trying to help give chances to those who might not otherwise be able to play.

“Yeah, just trying to buy where I think the value is decent,” said Leah. “Firing probably a little bit more than usual because I’m down on the summer. It’s a good shot to get even and try to have a positive summer on the backs of some friends or players that I know. Also, just helping out some friends, and buddies, and players that I’ve played with for years. Kind of a little bit of gamble, but also a little bit of just helping out while I’m doing well, for some people that are trying to get into the Main.”

Once he gets his last few Sit & Go’s in, it’ll be off to bed with plenty of time to spare Monday night, as there’s likely to be a ton of value early on during Day 1C of the Main Event, which is certain to be far and away the largest flight. Leah’s generally a pretty punctual guy when it comes to playing tournaments, but he’s certainly not lacking for motivation to get right in there early in the highlight of most poker players’ years.

“I think late regging for the Main Event is pretty silly,” said Leah. “If you really need to sleep, that’s probably important but it’s the biggest tournament of the year. If you’re going to start one tournament on time, this would be it. I don’t like to late reg anyways, unless I’m in a different event. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. If you think you’re a good player, you might as well give yourself the best chance possible, especially in the biggest tournament of the year.”

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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