"This is my road game," said pro player Sirous Baghchehsaraie as he scored an easy win in the second event of the Legends of Poker tournament at the Bicycle Casino, the $300 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo.
It is his fourth Omaha victory this year and his third at the Bike, the other coming at Tunica. Playing an assured and aggressive game, Baghchehsaraie steadily built up his chips until he got heads up with Tim Fu. At that point he had 82,500 chips to 51,000 for Fu, and they made a chip-count deal.
Fu, a software manager, had his biggest cash-out to date at the World Series this year when he finished fourth in stud hi-lo. Like Baghchehsaraie, he favors split games.
The final table began with $1,000-$2,000 limits, 38 minutes left. Shig Nakayama arrived lowest-chipped with $3,500 and lasted four hands. He went all-in with three-way action holding A-2-6-9. A flop of A-2-K counterfeited him, and Fu and Sammy Marcos ended up chopping the pot and leaving Nakayama ninth.
Next out was Mike Woo, a real estate developer. On hand six, he went all-in with A-5-6-9 double-suited. Leo Davis, a high school football coach, had a great low starter: A-2-4-9. The board came K-J-8-Q-2, giving Davis nothing but a pair of deuces, but that lowly holding was enough to put Woo out of action.
As play continued, William Hamilton reluctantly folded after a flop of 5-4-3 with only $3,000 left. A few hands later he called from the small blind holding A-4-5-6. A flop of K-Q-7 wasn’t of much use to him, but he had only $1,000 left, so he bet it. When a 6 and then a deuce came, he made the number two low, but Davis and Mike "The Hat" Longo both had the nuts with A-3. They split the low while Baghchehsaraie, with two pair, took high and Hamilton took the exit.
Right after limits went to $1,500-$3,000, Baghchehsaraie built up his stacks when he took a big pot with a nut-nut hand. He missed his open-ended straight draw but settled for a wheel and ace-high flush when a perfect deuce of clubs hit the river.
On hand 23, it looked like Davis would be eliminated. He was all in when the board came 7-2-2-4-8 with three hearts. Fu had a nut low and ace-high flush, but Davis survived with quad deuces. Instead, it was James Ha who departed next. He went all in on the button for $2,000 with J-J-5-5. A board of K-Q-2-3-6 didn’t help him at all, but it gave Fu, who had 2-4-J-Q in the big blind, a winning queens-up.
Longo, meanwhile, almost unrecognizable without his trademark straw hat ("It got crushed," he explained) became low-chipped when an all-paint hand got nowhere. Later down to $500 in the big blind with A-6-9-10 and put his last chip in with a double belly-buster straight draw. He made aces-up, but it wasn’t good enough because Sammy Morcos, a real estate investor, made a set of 8s, while Davis took the low end. Longo, a familiar face at local tournaments, cashed out fifth.
After a break, the four finalists returned with limits now $2,000-$4,000. Baghchehsaraie was the chip leader with $57,500, followed by Fu with $31,500; Davis with $23,000; and Morcos with $21,500. A lot more hands and a lot of split pots went by before Davis split the scene in fourth place on hand 59. He had pocket kings and got blown away when Baghchehsaraie made aces-up.
Two hands later it was over. Morcos raised all in with with A-3-5-J. No low came, Baghchehsaraie’s pocket 10s did the trick, and he and Fu made their deal.
For all his poker successes, this is Sirous Baghchehsaraie’s first Legends of Poker win, though he has come close before with a second and a third. And it’s no surprise that it came in Omaha hi-lo, which he calls by far his favorite game. "When I play Omaha, I’m comfortable with my hands and I always know where I’m at."
He says he is also able to get very good reads with Omaha, probably because the twists and turns, ups and downs of the game bring out more emotions in players than in any other.
At one point, he was down to $400 with 23 players left. He scooped the pot and kept building, never going all-in again. When he got to the final table, he was the most aggressive player there. "I tried to attack," he said, and felt that the key hand for him came when the deuce of clubs on the river gave him nut-nut against James Ha.