WPT bestbet Scramble: An Orbit between chip leaders

Paul Oresteen
Posted on: November 13, 2023 06:20 PST

Tournaments are often highlighted by big hands, tough calls and huge pots, but the truth is tournaments can be won in the little moments, the small edges and in the seemingly mundane action. We took an inside look of an orbit at Table 56 where the two chip leaders, Gege Gocaj and Ian O’Hara, are seated across from each other.

The setup

We pick up the action with 15 players in the field with blinds at 10,000/20,000 and a 20,000 big blind ante. The players are also on a pay jump bubble with 15th earning $17,700 and 14th laddering up to $21,300. Here’s how they’re seated and stacked:

Seat 1: Tom Weaton – 1,050,000
Seat 2: Michael Fierson – 1,250,000
Seat 3: Chad Gardner – 300,000
Seat 4: Gege Gocaj – 3,270,000
Seat 5: Heng Zhang – 1,610,000
Seat 6: Manuel Fritz – 260,000
Seat 7: Ethan Cahn – 420,000
Seat 8: Ian O’Hara – 2,165,000

Hand 1: Heng Zhang opened to 40,000 from under the gun, Ian O’Hara three-bet to 120,000 and the blinds mucked. Zhang called, the flop came A♦️️6♠5♠ and he checked. O’Hara bet 85,000 and Zhang folded after a moment.

Hand 2: Michael Fierson opened to 40,000 from the cutoff, Gocaj folded his small blind and Zhang’s cards followed them into muck from the big blind.

Hand 3: Chad Gardner opens to 40,000 in the cutoff, Zhang folded his small blind and Manuel Fritz folded his small blind with the shortest stack at the table.

Hand 4: O’Hara opened to 40,000 from under the gun, Gocaj called from the cutoff and action passed to the blinds – also short stacks. Fritz and Ehtan Chan muck their blinds and the flop fell 8❤️7❤️6❤️.

O’Hara led out for 30,000, Gocaj called and the turn came 4♠. Both players checked, the river came 5♦️️ which put a straight on the board. O’Hara bet 380,000 and Gocaj let the Action Clock wind down before he folded his hand.

Hand 5: Gocaj opened to 45,000, Cahn folded his small blind and O’Hara called from the big blind. The flop came A♠9♦️️5♦️️, O’Hara checked and Gocaj bet 40,000. O’Hara took a pause to think before kicking his cards back to the dealer.

Hand 6: A new dealer pushes in, greats the table and gets mostly nods from the players. He washed the deck, pitched the cards and Zheng limped in preflop. O’Hara called from the small blind and Tom Wheaton checked his option from the big blind.

The flop came T♦️️8♦️️7❤️, O’Hara was first to act and bet 50,000. Both players folded and O’Hara picked up the pot.

WPT bestbet Scramble

Hand 7: Gocaj opened from early position to 45,000 and Fritz moved all in for 315,000. Gocaj let his hand go after using most of the Action Clock and Fritz chipped up.

Hand 8: Cahn opened to 40,000 and Gardner called from the big blind – which brought another two short stacks to a flop. The board came J♦️️T♠5♠, Gardner checked and Cahn bet 20,000.

Gardner called, the turn came 9♠ and both players checked. The river came 2♣, both players checked again, Gardner tabled T♦️️8♦️️ for second pair and Cahn mucked.

The finish

WPT bestbet Scramble

Post Orbit counts

Seat 1: Tom Weaton – 1,005,000
Seat 2: Michael Fierson – 1,505,000
Seat 3: Chad Gardner – 355,000
Seat 4: Gege Gocaj – 2,320,000
Seat 5: Heng Zhang – 1,115,000
Seat 6: Manuel Fritz – 415,000
Seat 7: Ethan Cahn – 330,000
Seat 8: Ian O’Hara – 2,515,000

Following the hand the field went on their second break of the day and returned to action at 15,000/25,000. On the first hand back from break Fritz doubled up Cahn and was left holding less than a big blind with 10,000. Then on the other table Caleb Larsen was eliminated in 15th place, allowing Fritz to ladder up to 14th place when he was knocked out on the second hand of play.

Images courtesy of WPT