By day, Jeff Platt is a sports reporter in San Antonio, Texas. He spends most of the fall, winter and spring covering the San Antonio Spurs for Time Warner Cable News where he’s up close and personal with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and head coach Gregg Popovich. It’s a dream spot for many.
During the summer months – at least for the last couple of years – Platt heads to Las Vegas to play the WSOP Main Event. It’s also a dream spot for many.
Platt had a strong Main Event run last year and it all started with a runner-up finish in a $235 buy-in Daily Deepstack event at the Rio just a few days before the Main Event began.
“I didn’t chop and I should have won. Let the record show that I should’ve won. But I’ll take second for $31K, especially in that kind of tournament,” said Platt, who then got right into poker’s biggest tournament and ran deep, eventually busting in 203rd place. “Rolled that into the Main Event, which turned into $44K.”
Platt originally had a backing deal for last year’s Main Event but used it this year instead.
“I buy-in for a little piece of myself as far as the actual buy-in goes and then I keep a decent amount of the profit. So I’m really fortunate to have that deal to play in the Main two years in a row,” said Platt. While most poker players would be happy with getting close to the top 200 in the Main Event, Platt is back this year and hoping for a much better finish.
He got into the money and now sits with a-better-than-average stack on Day 4. Even with the invaluable experience he got last year, Platt’s finding the second time through to be really challenging.
“This year’s just been really intense. I feel like the grind hit me this year much earlier than it did last year. Last year on Day 2 I just ran super hot. I ran 40K up to 250K in a couple of hours,” said Platt. “I know it’s cliche but I was running like God. I was flopping quads, I was turning full houses, I was flopping flushes. Poker’s a really easy game when you catch cards. When you always have the nuts it makes things much simpler.”
This year saw Platt ride a chip count roller coaster on Day 2. He started the day with 83,000, dropped to 70,000, rebounded to 100,000, fell again, all the way to 60,000, and then all the way up to his peak of 125,000. He finished the day with 83,000. Day 3 was a different ride altogether.
“I was fortunate enough to get it in with aces against kings, pretty early on. That got me to about 160K. I was at about 160K at the dinner break,” Platt said. “After the bubble burst I won my first few hands, I was probably at 325K. I took a little hit to drop me down to 250K and the second to last hand of the night was intense to say the very least.”
Tangling with a former November Niner is a pretty good way to see your Main Event run come to an early conclusion. Rob Salaburu, who finished eighth in 2012, opened to 10,000. From the button Platt looked down at K-J offsuit and raised to 23,000. Salaburu, as he’s known to do, quickly called and the two went to a flop of K-T-3 with two clubs. Both players checked. The turn was the 8 and Salaburu checked.
“I bet 23,000 and right as my chips hit the felt he says ‘I’m all in’ and so I get a count. He’s got about 200,000, I have about 215,000 so it’s effectively for my tournament life,” said Platt. After tanking for just under two minutes Platt called and held his breath when Salaburu showed J 4. The river was the 9 and Platt eliminated Salaburu and nearly doubled his stack. He finished the day with 499,500.
Platt says he was never close to folding to the all-in bet.
“The reason I took so long is because this is the Main Event and it’s the world greatest poker tournament by far and I just wanted to be 100% certain that I was going to risk my tournament life with one pair,” said Platt. “A part of me does think ‘hey if I do fold I go into Day 3 with 200K and that’s still 40 big blinds, that’s huge’, but I’m not playing the next jump in the money. I’m playing for the win. If I play for the win then I have to make the call. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t make that call.”
Returning for Day 4 means another shot at bigger money, but it also means that the ESPN cameras and feature tables are in play for the first time. Considering Platt spends a good amount of time in front of a camera, he’s got a bit of an advantage over other amateurs that might feel the weight of the moment when the bright lights come on.
“I was at the feature table last year for a little bit and I felt that these guys that had such great personalities when I was playing against them before. Then we moved to the feature table, and besides Maria Ho who kept her great personality the whole way, they really tightened up and I think that tightened up their play a little bit when the ESPN cameras were on them,” said Platt. “It almost made things a little bit easier for me because I’m just really comfortable with the cameras around. I just think it’s fun.”
Another fun side of a deep run in the Main Event for Platt is the support from friends, family and the general public who are cheering from home.
“I never realized that I have this many people that liked me, you know Facebook posts and the Tweets. Even on Twitter from random people. I have some followers through what I do, who I’ve never met before because they’re big sports fans or big Spurs fans,” said Platt. “So when they reach out and say ‘best of luck, we’re really rooting for you, go get em’, that means a lot and I think that’s really cool.”
Platt finds the support a little bit overwhelming, but hasn’t even considered turning the phone off because he actually enjoys the pressure that comes with a shot at winning the Main Event.
“I think you should be nervous going into this. Because it should really mean something. Winning the Main Event shouldn’t be easy,” said Platt. “I love having this huge rail, whether it’s live or a virtual rail via Facebook and Twitter, I think that’s an amazing part of this tournament and it’s something that I’ll always remember when I look back at this experience.”
The experience is far from over though. There’s still four full days of poker left before only the November Nine are left. For the working set, making the November Nine presents another small problem; getting days off to return in November. Platt’s got that covered.
“That will not be an issue because I gave the sports staff one percent of the action. So they’re invested,” joked Platt. “They each threw in like twenty bucks so I think they’ll be okay with me leaving in November.”
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