Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles - 2006
An Awesome Read in AustraliaPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
My second major stop on the tournament circuit for 2006 was the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, home of World Champion Joe Hachem.
I flew in the day before the main event, the Aussie Millions, from the Bahamas, which is quite the trip. The flight overseas was as smooth as any I've ever taken, as they offer what they call "sky beds," whereby your seat fully reclines so that you can sleep comfortably. Seriously, I'd prefer taking that 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne over a four-hour flight in the United States in which I'd be crammed into a middle seat in coach!
So, anyway, I was extremely impressed with the place. The staff there took great care of the players who came from the U.S., understanding how much of a sacrifice it is for the U.S. players to come down there during such a hectic tournament month. Things were first-class all the way, from the accommodations to the food. I loved the food! There were all kinds of healthy options, which is right up my alley.
My first table was full of players who were new to me, outside of Tony Bloom, about whom I've written, and Kenna James. Both of them were conveniently located on my immediate left.
I was rarin' to go, refreshed, and totally focused on starting off 2006 with a bang. But there was one problem: Someone forgot to mention to the cards that I was playing very well and could use some help! The cards spit in my face and kicked me in my privates repeatedly.
We started with $20,000 in chips, and while I was already down to $4,150 by the $100-$200 (with a $25 ante) level, I still felt poised to make a comeback. The following hand would play a key role in whether or not I'd be able to recoup:
In first position, I limped in with 2-2. Everyone folded to the player in the cutoff seat, whom I'd been studying rather closely. He had some very distinct patterns that I'd picked up in a rather short period of time.
When he was in early position, he simply never raised. Whether he had A-K, A-A, or even 7-6 suited, he would just limp in.
From late position, though, it was a very different story. He would raise and reraise with rather weak holdings. From what I had noticed, he was playing aggressively with hands like A-J, A-10, and A-9, whether players ahead of him had limped in or even raised. However, if he had a middle pair, he chose to limp in.
So, when the action got to him, he made it $800 to go. Everyone folded back to me, and I decided to call the $600 raise, getting more than 2.5-1 on the call and believing my deuces were the best hand at the moment. I chose not to reraise because I was pretty confident that my opponent would call with a holding as weak as A-10.
The flop came 9-8-5 rainbow. I checked to my opponent, hoping to get a read on him. He fired out $1,200 rather quickly and sloppily, and it screamed to me of A-K or A-Q. The dilemma I now faced was whether to risk my whole tournament on a hunch. I thought long and hard, and finally decided to smooth-call.
You might ask, why not move all in? Well, this player was obviously a novice, and I was pretty confident that if I raised my measly $2,150 more, he would say, "Oh well, I guess I have to call," and throw in the call. By just calling, I could accomplish one of two things: (1) If an ace hit the turn, I could escape going broke, or (2) If a blank rolled off, I could possibly force him to fold on the turn for my last $2,150.
The turn card was a 6, which seemed like a great card for me. Chances were that it didn't change anything. If I was in front, I was still in front. It also gave me another hand to represent, hoping that he would fold the ace high. Why would I want him to fold if I had him beat? Well, because it was a tournament, and I would much rather avoid the risk of going broke and lock up a nice pot than try to earn an additional $2,150 with my life on the line.
Before making my move, I wanted to be sure that my read was accurate. Before making my bet, I studied him for what seemed like two minutes. The vibe I got from him certainly wasn't strength. He looked almost disinterested, and it reconfirmed for me that I should go with my initial read and push.
Finally, I took my shot and went all in. He looked at me and said, "I don't think you've got it." Normally, if someone said that to me, I'd be very worried that I was dead. However, remember that this was a novice, so anything was possible.
He took some time and finally called me with A-J! Yikes, I would have preferred a fold, but his call wasn't so bad after all. I now had a chance to double up if I could fade an ace or a jack.
Well, the river wasn't an ace or a jack, but it was almost just as bad. A 7 rolled off, making it a split pot! It was extremely disheartening, because I read the hand perfectly and felt like I gave myself every chance to win while at the same time giving myself maximum protection from going broke.
I combined a good read that I got from being focused with caution, aggression, and patience. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I thought it was one of my best-played hands ever, I busted out shortly thereafter when my top pair was run down by a flush.
The good news was that Tunica was right around the corner. The bad news was that I'd be going from a place with a bevy of healthy food options to a city where I generally starve myself each and every year. I'm simply not a fan of lard-soaked veggies, grits, bacon, and fried everything!