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Daniel - Poker Journal

West, East, then West again in less than 24 Hours

13 Jul 2005

The night before last I attended a private party at Fix and then spent some time at Light after that. While at the club, I ran into a potential challenger for $500,000 in pot limit hold'em.

I'd never met him before, but knew that he'd played high stakes poker against some top players. He was talking about playing right there on the spot, but we both finally agreed that it would be better to start fresh the next day.

Show I showed up on time right at 3:00pm, but there was only one problem: I forgot my safety deposit box key! It was rather embarrassing really. I worried that maybe the guy thought I didn't have the money or something.

Luckily Travis was able to grab my key and bring it to me and we got underway at about 3:30pm. Since my opponent was a smoker, one of his stipulations was that he would be allowed to smoke while we played. Well obviously there was no way he could smoke in the poker room, so we played at a table in the corner near the rail so that he could puff away in between hands.

It worked out fine. In fact, I think I'm going to play all of my future matches at that table since it made it much easier for spectators to watch.

In the early going we were feeling each other out like boxers having never played with each other before. I started cautiously, not wanting to play any big pots until I had a better read on him.

I struck first blood in a big pot that went down like this: I raised to $3000 with 5-6 suited from the button and my opponent (John Doe from here on in) called.

The flop came down 9c 7s 4c and John Doe checked. I bet the pot, $6000. John Doe quickly check-raised the pot making it a total of $24,000. I called.

The turn brought the Qs and John Doe fired away, betting $54,000. Notice I haven't told you which suit my 5-6 was? I'll get to that.

After thinking about it for a while I decided to call the bet. The river came the 10c and John Doe quickly checked. I knew he had to have something strong, but that he also hated that card. I bet $150,000 and after thinking for quite some time, John Doe finally folded.

All I can tell you is that I either had:

A) 5-6 of diamonds, or
B) 5-6 of clubs

I can't reveal any more than that. He claims to have slow played two kings, which begs the question- would YOU have called me?

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I started to roll for a little while and had him on the ropes up as much as $360,000. Then I lost a few key big pots where I made some bad calls and he got all the way back to even.

In one pot I flopped top pair with an ace kicker vs. a straight, and in the other I had A-Q on an A-9-6 flop vs. 66. Both times I had him all in, and both times I was in bad shape.

I had already told him that I couldn't play too late since I had a 1:10am flight to catch. At 11:20pm we dealt our last hand and after 8 hours of play I am ahead $26,000.

I'm uncertain when the match will resume since he lives in L.A. Plus I still have matches scheduled with Barry Greenstein, Tony Bloom, Aaron Katz, Ted Forrest, and Dustin Wolf just to name a few.

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Since I was only traveling for one day I had no bags to check, just a knapsack with my I-POD, some magazines, and a new book I'm reading called Blink.

I was already wearing my suit so there was no need to change, but I did forget to shave so I asked Travis to pick up my toiletries from the house.

I made it to the airport in time and recognized the person waiting in line ahead of me. It was Joe Dumars of Detroit Pistons fame. It was rather odd what happened next:

There were two security guards at the check point. When Joe walked through one of them says, "Hey man, you're Joe Dumars! Oh man, sorry you guys didn't win this year." They exchanged pleasantries and then it was my turn to walk through.

The first guy had no clue who I was, but this time the second guy says, "Wow, you're Daniel Negreanu! I love watching you play on TV, you're awesome."

The first guy looked puzzled. He had that, "Watch him do what on TV," look on his face. I was a Joe Dumars fan myself, but I didn't bother him. It's just not something I do.

Once through the gate I'd realized that I forgotten to eat and there would be no food available on a red eye flight. Most places were closed by that time, which for me didn't make much difference anyway since I won't eat most of what they offer.

I walked into the pub and noticed that they had salads. When I walked in, the girl at the bar did a double take, "Oh...uh...err...umm... I am a HUUGE fan," she says, "It is an honor."

I thank her and let her know that I'd like a salad. She gives me the salad and when I try to pay she won't let me. Now I'm not exactly in need of a hand out and pleaded with her that she didn't have to do that. Of course she insisted so I didn't want to be rude and accepted it. I know she reads the blog, so again, "Thanks for the free salad!" Who says celebrity doesn't have it's privileges :-)

***************************************************************

I had a lay over in St.Paul and finally made it to Grand Rapids at 9:22am. Lori picked me up from the airport and I had just enough time to shave and freshen up a little bit.

The funeral service was scheduled for 11:00am. Lori's aunt Leona had just passed away at the age of 83. I met her briefly, but know her more from what Lori has told me.

At the service I was lucky enough to learn even more about her. From what everyone had said it seemed as though she had a great big heart and loved God and her family above all else.

While funerals are very somber occasions generally, this one had a very inspiring aura about it. The pastor's speech was very touching, explaining how she's cried her "last tear" and that she is going to a better place where she will feel no pain or sorrow.

It seemed to me that she lived a very full and rewarding life. She was never preoccupied with material wealth, rather she derived great joy from spending time with her family. She will be missed.

***************************************************************

After the funeral we headed over to Leona's son Russ' house for lunch. I was genuinely worried- as I always am in these situations- that there would be nothing for me to eat. I was pleasantly surprised to see all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables since I was still pretty hungry.

There I met Russ' 11 year old grandson Austin. I would have guessed that he was 17 years old so when they told me he was 11 my eyes nearly popped out of my head!

This kid was huge. Apparently he is quite the hockey player already so I made a note to draft him in my fantasy hockey pool next year. Hey, might as well get em' while they're young!

It started to rain so we headed back inside the house. The house was full of aunt Leona's friends and family and with the rain comes humidity. If you've never been to Grand Rapids when it's humid and dont like humid weather, you are in big trouble!

I thought Toronto was humid in the summer, but I was just dying with sogginess. Oh my, how I love the dry heat in Vegas. Everyone keeps telling me that they "usually" have great weather in Grand Rapids. From what I can tell so far, it's either too cold or too hot! Of course, they keep reassuring me that I've just been unlucky with weather there. Sure, sure, I'll believe it when I see it.

***************************************************************

Totally exhausted, I just had to take a nap. When I woke up, it was time to head straight to the airport to make my 8:00pm flight back home. I made it just in time and was back in Vegas before midnight.

The craziness doesn't stop there however, as at 8:00am I have to be at Wynn to play in a live tournament that will air on Fox Sports Net. It's a $20,000 buy in invitation only tournament being thrown by the people at Full Tilt.

An additional fun twist to the already unique live event Im told, is that while Howard Lederer won't be playing in the event as he doing the commentary, he will be playing a heads up match at the conclusion of the tournament.

Who he plays depends on the voters. Apparently this is how it works: there will be a poll conducted throughout the event where you can vote for who you want to see Howard play!

I don't know all the details about the match as I just learned about it tonight, but I am told that the match will likely turn into a one hour show of it's own which could be a lot of fun.

So in other words, (fake cough, fake cough, stuff the ballot! Fake cough, fake cough) let me at em' FCPer's! :-)

Either way, you should definitely check your local listings and tune in tomorrow for what promised to be some great poker action. If you liked what you saw at Turning Stone, chances are you will love this! Time for bed.

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