Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles
World Poker Tour Championship 2004Poker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
Normally when I write columns about my tournament experiences, I try to keep them in chronological order. This column, then, was supposed to be published before the World Series of Poker, but it was a tough one to handle, so I put it off.
Going into the WPT Championship, I was right behind Erick Lindgren for another prestigious award, WPT Player of the Year. I had a pretty good run in season two with a seventh in Paris, a third in the Caribbean Adventure, and a second in the PartyPoker Million. A final-table finish in the WPT Championship event and I'd be the WPT Player of the Year.
Day one was one of the toughest I've ever had at a poker table. Starting with $50,000 in chips and $25-$50 blinds sounded like the most fun I could ever have at a poker table. Unfortunately, nothing, and I mean nothing, seemed to go right for me.
Hand after hand, I kept walking into the nuts! After a few levels, I was down to about $12,000. I honestly felt like I was playing awesome poker, but it didn't seem to matter. This tournament is unique, though, in that even though I'd lost more than 75 percent of my chips, I was still very much in the hunt. I spent the rest of day one just trying to get back to my original $50,000.
I came close, ending the day with $46,325. Of the 343 starters, I sat in 171st place with 255 players left. On day two, things really started to click, and by the end of the day, I'd shot up the leader board with $313,500, which was good enough for seventh place with 122 players remaining.
With such a smooth structure and so much play, I believed I'd get there if I just didn't do anything stupid. I played pretty carefully from there on down to 54 players, when things got crazy.
The tournament paid 50 spots, so we were nearing the money — a great time to really get busy and make a move. Unfortunately, one player took it upon himself to destroy the structure and significantly affect the outcome of the tournament.
Apparently, a relatively short-stacked player decided that he wasn't going to act on his hand. Before the flop, even if he had 7-2, he'd sit there and eat up as much of the clock as he could, hoping others would go broke at the other tables.
At this point, I was just happy that the human rain delay wasn't at my table! The rest of his table was furious. Finally, they got to the point of calling the clock on him immediately as he looked at his hand.
Then, veteran Tournament Director Jack McClelland made a decision that I wasn't too happy about. Now, I can understand Jack's thinking when he made the following decision, but if I were in charge, that player would have received a warning, followed by a 20-minute penalty.
Jack ruled that we'd start playing hand for hand with 54 players left! Now, I too was furious. I was at a great table and was really looking to make a big move. Instead, I'd now have to sit and watch a beautiful structure get destroyed as the clock ticked and we all waited.
It got worse. The angle shooter in question didn't understand that we all were playing hand for hand now, so he continued to stall when it was his turn. Nothing in tournament poker makes me more upset than this. I hope one day that tournament directors view this as cheating and penalize players accordingly for stalling.
A full level went by and the angle shooter finished on the bubble to thundering applause. I think everyone in the tournament was ecstatic that the player in question wasn't rewarded for his unethical strategy.
The hand-for-hand play didn't go all that well for me. I was still in fine shape, but I was no longer in a dominating position. With 42 players left and the blinds at $5,000-$10,000 with an ante, Russell Rosenblum raised from first position to $30,000.
Everyone folded to me on the button, and I looked down at the dreaded A-Q. It had been quite a while since I'd played with Russell, so I wasn't sure if I was playing with the same Russell. Since the last time I'd played with him, I'd noticed that he'd had some success, so I could only assume that he'd loosened up his play a little bit.
With about $240,000 in chips, though, I wasn't sure if I could get Russell to fold a hand like J-J or A-K, so I decided to take a flop with him. The flop came down A-A-3 rainbow. Russell quickly checked, and I quickly fired out a weak bet of $25,000. With almost no hesitation, Russell moved me all in for my last $185,000.
Yikes, did I just trap myself? It was pretty clear that Russell also had to have an ace here, but did he have A-K? I wasn't sure, so I started yapping away. "Oh no, that's why you're not supposed to call raises with this hand. What did I do to myself?" I said.
Russell giggled a little bit. He looked pretty happy about the agony I was going through. He seemed pretty confident that he had the best hand. I studied for what seemed like an hour, and was starting to feel like a human rain delay myself.
Finally, I had to start yapping again, I just couldn't help myself: "Hmm, I might actually have the best hand here." Suddenly, Russell's demeanor did a 180. He was no longer giggling, and no longer smiling. His face turned beet red, and I think it finally dawned on him that I might actually have him beat.
So, while I was initially concerned about A-K and ready to muck my hand, Russell's silence after that last comment made it an easier call. "I call," I said.
"You must have A-J, then," replied Russell. He didn't look happy about it, so even before he turned his cards up, I knew I had him right where I wanted him. He turned over A-10.
I was a little surprised to see his hand. This wasn't the old Russell I knew; the old Russell wouldn't play A-10 in first position. So, with more than half a million in the pot, I was back in action with just the formality of the turn and the river to come. The turn was a 6, and the river … a 10!
It took me by surprise, to say the least. My arms went up in the air and I lost my grip on my water bottle on the way up. It went flying a few feet, but luckily nobody was injured in the process.
It was a tough pill to swallow, for sure, but what are you gonna do? "That's poker," as they say. The funny thing is, losing that hand didn't bother me nearly as much as that one player at a different table changing the natural course of the tournament for everyone. You want to talk about pet peeves? Blatant stalling would go right to the top of my list!
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With over one hundred poker articles spanning the last five years and a new poker article written every two weeks and published in Card Player magazine, Daniel Negreanu brings the world of poker to the tables of countless poker enthusiasts and poker players alike.
As a regular Card Player columnist, Daniel's poker articles have helped many readers learn the game of poker from the early days of an upcoming professional poker player to the realization of a true poker champion last year as Daniel became the 2004 Card Player Player of the Year, as well as, one of the most successful tournament players in history with 36+ worldwide wins and bragging rights as the WPT All-Time Top Money Winner.
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