Monday, September 29, 2008

POKER NEWS:Online Whizz Kid David Benefield Talks about Live Tournaments and his Playing Style

Despite only being 23-years-old, David Benefield has been tearing up the biggest no-limit hold'em cash games online for some time now. In 2008, he branched out onto the tournament circuit and threatened great things before suffering at the hands of lady luck in the later stages. Benefield finished 77th in the World Series Of Poker main event before a cruel outdraw at the hands of Brandon Cantu cost him the opportunity to play down to the final table as one of the chip leaders. Nonetheless, he arrived in London undeterred for the World Series Of Poker Europe, presented by Betfair, and finished Day 1B of the main event right at the top of the leader board with a massive stack of 126,775 chips. Card Player caught up with the young Texan at the dinner break to discuss how he managed to get all those chips, his unique style, and the significance winning a big tournament would have on him.

Shane Gittes: How has the day been going so far David?

David Benefield: I've got about 100k, and I've been running really good. Every time I get it in, I win. It's pretty tough to lose when you keep getting the nuts and it holds up!

SG: So most of your chips have simply come through having big hands then?

DB: Yeah, I've had a bunch of big hands. I've actually been playing pretty tight but when I've had a hand I've been re-raising and flopping big. Better yet, people just aren't folding to me. It’s good to have big hands and get paid off on them.

SG: Talk us through some of those hands.

DB: Really early on I had 9-9 on the button. I had re-raised probably three or four times already and this was in level one with the blinds at 50/100. Anyway, middle position makes it 300, and he'd been playing pretty tight. Somebody else called and then I made it 1,200 with the 9-9. It gets folded back to him and he makes it 3,000. The other guy folds and I call.

SG: When he makes it 3000, do you see his hand as essentially being face-up as a big pair?

DB: Not really, he seemed like he was getting kind of fed up because I had been re-raising a fair bit compared to the rest of the table, so he could have had nothing. I'm just hoping to, you know, flop a nine and if not, get lucky! He had 16k behind. Anyway I flopped a set, he bet out 5,000 and I called. The turn was an off-suit deuce, he checked and I bet 4,000. He had like 6k behind. River was a king, he shipped it with K-J and I obviously called, so that was a big one. Another big one was a bit later with 150/300 blinds. I had 60,000 at this point and Julian Thew in the small blind had probably 25-30k. I raised to 800, Thew makes it 2,500 and I just call with K-K. The flop comes 6-5-2. He bets out 2,500, I make it 7k pretty quick and he ships it for 20,000. I call. He actually had a set but I turned a king! I'm really running good! I mean I've had big hands and when they aren't the best I suck out so what can you do.

SG: I've been watching you do this, but I know something that you emphasise a lot is the importance of the button in no-limit hold'em.

DB: Yes, I've been playing really aggressively on the button all day. I had a cool hand recently actually with the guy on my right. He made it 1,100 to go which was a pretty big raise and so I made it 3,500 with 4 4 on the button. He called and the flop came down Q 8 7 with two spades. He checked, and I bet 2,600 which was really, really small. He called super-fast and the turn was a 6. So the board read Q 9 8 7. He checked to me and had about 36k left. I bet 7,600 and I was going to put him in on the river pretty much whatever card came but luckily he folded.

SG: So you said you were going to put him all-in on the river, but what's your thought process there with just a pair of fours?

DB: I felt like he had a pair and a spade but not the ace of spades. He could have had a hand like K-Q, or maybe even as strong as A-Q. But it's such a scary board that he can't call if he checks it. Obviously if he bets anything, then I am snap-folding but I just felt the way the hand went down I'd be able to three-barrel and get him off his hand.

SG: You have a very unique style as far as betting patterns go. Often you make very small 'Raptor' bets as they've been coined online. How do players in the live arena cope with these?

DB: It really depends on the person. A lot of people really hate folding so a lot of the time I get really angry quick calls before I take it away on the turn.

SG: Do you get a lot of people trying to come over the top of you because they are confused by your small bets?

DB: I think actually a lot of people just don't really know what to do with it. My whole philosophy is to put people in situations that they're not used to dealing with and to get them out of their comfort zone. They'll give something away when they do that and play a hand really badly because of that.

SG: You played quite a few tournaments in the US WSOP this summer and now you're here. Is it important now for you to do well in tournaments?

DB: I don't play them for the money aspect so much. Well, obviously I play them to make money but realistically I could make more money sitting at home in front of my computer. But it's fun to get out and mix it up a little bit. I've always wanted to win a big live tournament but I just haven't got lucky enough yet.

SG: So do you share that same sort of passion as someone like Phil Hellmuth, for success and glory?

DB: It would be cool to get a bracelet but really I just want to win a live tournament. EPT, WPT, WSOP, it doesn't matter, I just want to have that on my record.

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