The departure of Pratyush Buddiga leaves seven players in the final table, Buddiga, one of the short stacks, leaving in the early stages.

Buddiga’s story is a fascinating one, not just in his past life as a National Spelling Bee champion, but for his use of coaching from former EPT winner Mike McDonald.

McDonald has been talking with Buddiga at each break throughout the week and was on the front row as his man took the stage. Alas, it was not to be a win for the teacher, but an eighth place finish is a pretty good start; the leather arm patches cannot be far off.

“I’ve been doing a decent amount of poker coaching, mostly over Skype,” said McDonald. “Usually we’ll just review hand histories, talk about pots and play. Either reviewing a hand history he’s played with questions he has or a tournament I’ve played describing why I did what I did.

“Also, as far as live coaching over the course of tournament, I’ll write down hands I thought would be interesting from a teaching point or view, or he’ll right down hands he was uncertain about what to do and we’ll discuss those. That’s what we’ve been doing for the last three or four months ago.”

The effects have been obvious but Buddiga was already a solid player when he sought out McDonald.

“He was still pretty good,” said McDonald. “He was doing well playing mid-stakes online, moving up to higher stakes. He wanted to invest in some coaching , make sure he’s making the right move before playing a lot of live tournaments. I think he’s improved tremendously during that time.”


The pupil: Praytush Buddiga

The coaching, which including McDonald being ever present for Buddiga this week, almost took him all the way. But while it would have been nice for the teacher to get the win, the result is still impressive, with little to do before the start of play than wish him well.

“Today there wasn’t that much (to say),” said McDonald. “Sleep well, eat well in the morning. There wasn’t anything too noteworthy .He was one of the shorter stacks. I would say this final table was relatively straight forward. I think that in the end there wasn’t much advice to give.

“If you get ace-queen go all in, try not to let the guy hit a ten, but maybe that’s in the next lesson.”

An unlucky departure for Buddiga but the first of what could easily be a large number of high profile results.

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