On March 11th PokerStars was celebrating its 6th Anniversary. Over the last few years PokerStars has celebrated various achievements by giving back to the players, by creating insane promotions that all players can take advantage of. This time PokerStars upped the ante and gave the Sunday Million a whopping $6 million dollar guaranteed prize pool.
In total 33,732 players entered, and navigating all his way to the final table was New Zealand’s own Daniel ‘Hesbluffingx’ Francis. With 8 players remaining they made a deal that saw Daniel lock up 552,973.00$. Despite not taking the win, ultimately coming in 3rd place, it is an outstanding achievement.
We managed to pose some questions to Daniel.
Could you provide a brief poker intro (have you always played tournaments?)
I first started playing regularly when SkyCity, Auckland opened their poker room quite a few years ago. The games started at around 7pm and it was always full, so I’d usually get there around 6, put my name on the waiting list and then read poker strategy books until the tables opened. I’ve always played cash games and tournaments, both online and live.. I think being a specialist at one game would be more profitable in the short term, but if you can’t adapt to new environments you won’t last long in poker.
Do you play the Sunday Million every week?
Not if I’m broke… I’ve actually been travel ling around Asia for a few years and the Sunday Million starts at 3am here, so I don’t play it often.
How did the Sunday start out for you?
I was in Philippines at the time and the online tournament schedule is pretty harsh with the time zone difference. I remember pretty clearly getting ready this Sunday, because the prize pool was going to be huge – I wanted to play good. I spent most of the afternoon at the beach trying to make myself extra tired before having an early dinner at around 5pm and going to sleep. At 11pm my alarm went off, I got up and started playing a bunch of tournaments – The Sunday Million started at around 3am I think… and we kept playing until maybe 6pm? I really can’t remember anything about the other tournaments I played that day… I was pretty much just clicking buttons on 20 tables.
There was some crazy bubble action I hear from Brooke, can you give a hand history or two perhaps?
I don’t remember anything really crazy, the short stacks were playing tight trying to move up the pay ladder and some of the big stacks would have been abusing them. I was just making the plays I thought were best, after taking everything in to consideration.
t125000/t250000 Blinds + t25000 – 9 players
HesBluffingx is BB with 9h 9c
7 folds, SB raises to t5825567 all in, HesBluffingx calls t2319392 all in
Flop: 2h 4d 7d
SB shows Js Td (a pair of Threes)
HesBluffingx wins t5363784
This is a really easy call under normal game conditions, but when this hand took place there were about 13 players left with prize money of around $30,000 for 13th and $80,000 for 9th ? so you can understand why some people might opt to fold it and collect an extra $50,000 risk free. I definitely take all of this in to consideration, it would be a huge mistake to forget about the payouts and just play your normal strategy – but still a pretty easy call with 99 anyway.
When did you realise you could make the final table?
Before the tournament started I sent this message to Phillip Willcocks. “..ends up to be a 24 hour session if I go deep, will start a bit later today coz I plan to final table it”. There was never any doubt, but next time I’ll plan to win it.
What was your thought process for the deal?
Firstly, it seemed obvious that a deal would take place with 6, 7 or 8 players remaining.. so this influenced my play quite a lot heading in to the final table. I can’t say how exactly, but it was just another thing that I took into consideration when making decisions during hands. Regarding the money specifically, I wanted to lock up 350k.. so if at any point they could offer me more than that I would take it. I’m really happy with the way I played at the end, I feel like I manipulated the situation to get the most money with the least amount of risk.
How long did it take to sink in you had a big 6 figure score/how has life been since?
I had to wait a while for PokerStars to do security checks before I was able to cash-out the money, so that changed things a bit. I didn’t feel like partying or anything. Now, since receiving the money I’ve just had more time to relax and start learning other things. I’ve been reading a lot about different investment opportunities and looking more deeply into the real estate market.
Will you be playing the WSOP?
I won’t be playing any of the side events, not sure about the Main Event. I’ll decide about a week before, if I really feel like playing.. I’ll go.
What are the most important ingredients for a beginner tournament player in your mind to give them the best chance of success?
There’s a ton of strategy and math to learn, but if you just pay attention to what is happening at the table and think about things logically you’ll put yourself in a good position to get lucky. Poker is just so weird, two players playing completely different strategies can both be winners.. it’s stupid to try tell someone THIS is the correct play. The most important thing is to eliminate emotions from your decision making process – just make the play you think is correct.
There is some great insight there for players of all levels. We thank Daniel and hope that it can provide the foundation for another Kiwi to make a deep run in a massive event, either live or online.