Poker pro learns games on the fly to earn first bracelet
June 24, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Despite being very inexperienced at a couple of the games in the mix, Matthew Schreiber won the $3,000 HORSE event on Saturday night for $256,226 and his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
"I'm absolutely elated," said Schreiber after the win. "It's almost surreal it really hasn't hit me yet."
Schreiber is a poker pro from California that has a fairly successful resume, but most of his cashes came in no-limit hold'em events. He was very new to a couple of the stud variants in the mix, as well as Omaha Hi-Lo, but that didn't stop him from coming into the table as the chip leader and putting on a dominant performance.
"I have been playing a lot of mixed cash games," said Schreiber. "But in this particular event, I'm very inexperienced in Stud and very inexperienced in hi-lo. So, it's coming as a shock to me as well."
Limit hold'em was his most comfortable game by far and in his own words he is "functional" in Razz. In a weird way, knowing his deficiencies worked out for him. It forced him to learn about the games throughout the tournament and pick up things from other players that were better than him.
"I kind of just learned on the fly to be honest," said the 34-year-old poker pro. "Day 1 was just a huge learning experience and I was just accumulating more and more knowledge on the fly, at least as far as the studs go. I played maybe 100 hands or less lifetime. I kind of was figuring things out and it just worked out for me."
Schreiber has a background in athletics, having played collegiate golf at the University of California, Berekely. The former member of the Golden Bears golf squad battled with former professional golfer, Phil Hui heads-up. It was a battle of former golfers for the bracelet, but it was the former collegiate golfer that bested the former professional.
Like many former athletes, Schreiber uses poker as a way to continue to compete even after life on the golf course.
"I just like competition," said the Laguna Nigel native. "I've been in competition my whole life from golf and now poker. I just like the competitive edge. I like competing. This has kind of take over for golf. It's the next step. I can still get my competitive juices going."
The final day of play started with 18 players all vying for their shot at a WSOP title, with Tom Koral and Hui at the top of the counts. But things changed rapidly throughout the day.
Schreiber emerged as a force to be reckoned with and when they formed the final table with eight players remaining, Schreiber was on top of the chip counts at a final table that featured lots of poker talent.
Having the big stack at the start of the final table allowed Schreiber to use his style to his advantage and continue to chip up.
"Once we made it to the final table, I had a very favorable stack," said Schreiber. "I was the chip leader and once a few players were knocked down, I really felt like I was in my comfort zone. I was able to exert some pressure on them and kind of lean on them a little bit. I excel short-handed, so being short-handed, once we got down to four and five-handed, I felt really good about being able to finish it."
The field combined to one table with nine players remaining, but after nine-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Valentin Vornicu hit the rail in ninth place the final eight players were all credited with a WSOP final table.
Schreiber was at the top of the counts, but still needed to get through a table that featured Brendan Taylor, Matthew "Hanks" Honig, David Steicke, Koral and Hui.
Taylor was the first player at the final table sent packing. He was eliminated in eighth place in his second final table of the summer. Taylor was eliminated by Ryan Himes in Stud Hi-Lo to hit the rail in eighth place for $21,007.
Ryan Hughes finished in seventh by Steicke before Honig took a bad beat at the hands of Himes in sixth. Honig, who is a high-stakes cash game pro from New Jersey, got the last of his chips into the middle in Omaha Hi-Lo with against Himes' .
Himes flopped a queen to take the lead, but Honig still had a flush draw, straight draw, and two aces to retake it. The turn and river bricked out for Honig and he added $37,892 to his tournament resume.
Himes was eliminated in fifth by Phil Hui in limit hold'em, which left the table four-handed. Even though Schreiber hadn't officially knocked anybody out yet, he was still chipping up and was the runaway chip leader with four left. Regardless of how big his stack got and how close he got to the bracelet, Schreiber stayed focused at the task at hand.
"I was really at ease," said Schreiber about his play throughout the final table. "I was calm. I didn't get ahead of myself. I stayed in the moment. In the past, I kind of rushed things. I'd have a setback and I would press and it would snowball on me. I would often times just shoot myself in the foot, so to speak. I was proud that I was able to just kind of stay the course when it went against me."
Koral was eliminated by Steicke in fourth place in Stud Hi-Lo. They got all in on fourth street with Koral having king-high and three low cards against Steicke's split deuces. Steicke had a full house on sixth street and had Koral drawing dead to half. Koral couldn't hit a low card and Steicke scooped the pot.
Shortly after winning that pot, Steicke lost the last of his chips in limit hold'em to Hui. Hui's pocket aces bested Steicke's pocket fives, leaving Hui heads-up with Schreiber.
Schreiber started out with a nearly 3-to-1 chip advantage and won most of the pots during the short heads-up match. Hui got all in on third street in Razz, but ended up with a full house. Schreiber won the pot with an 8-7 low and earned his bracelet.
"This is the pinnacle for any poker player," he said about his bracelet win. "I made some deep runs and could never really finish the job, but I felt really good about this one at the end."
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Final Table Results:
1st: Matthew Schreiber - $256,226
2nd: Phil Hui - $158,361
3rd: David Steicke - $107,458
4th: Tom Koral - $74,382
5th: Ryan Himes - $52,542
6th: Matthew "Hanks" Honig - $37,892
7th: Ryan Hughes - $27,910
8th: Brendan Taylor - $21,007