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Daniel - Poker Journal

Three Hours Short of "The Cycle"

14 Dec 2005

I came into day two with 21,450 in chips and felt fresh, ready, and focused on making a big move in the tournament. I came in with a solid game plan: wait for strong hands, play them strong, yet avoid marginal situations where I'd have to guess.

Hand #1: I raised to 2200 with As Ks from early position, Barry Greenstein called as did the big blind. The flop was Q-9-6, 10, blank, and Barry won the pot with 77.

Hand #2: I raised to 2200 with 88 from early position, two players called, and the button made it 20,000. I folded.

Hand #3: I raised to 2200 with Kh Qh from early position, one player called, another raised, another went all in. I folded.

Hand #4: I raised to 2200 with Kh Kd from early position, one player called, Barry moved me all in for my 12,000 with Qs Qd. The flop came Ac 3h 2h. Turn Qh! I got lucky on the river, though, when another heart fell (2h) and I won with a flush.

Hand $5: I raised to 2200 with A-8 from the cut off seat, and the big blind moved all in for 6000 with Ac 3s. I called, and the flop came Qc 8c 3c. The turn was an 8...and the river, 2c! Oh man, that one hurt.

Hand #6: I raised to 2500 with A-J from middle position, two players called behind me. Flop was 8-3-3, I checked, one player bet and I put him on a hand like 66. I folded, and he showed 44.

Hand #7: I raised to 2500 with Kc Jc from middle position, and the SB called. The flop, 8-7-3. He checked, I checked. The turn was a Q, he checked, and I checked. The river went check-check also, and he won with 9-9.

Hand #8: I raised to 2500 with Ah Qh from early position, the "A-3" guy moved all in for 12,000 with A-K and I called. Lost that one, and was down to 5600.

Hand #9: I raised all in for 4800 with A-5 from middle position. Big Blind called with 7-8 and I doubled to 10,600.

Hand #10. A player raised from late position, I went all in with A-K, he called with K-3. I won that one, and was back up over 20,000 again!

Hand #11: I raised to 3200 with Ad Jd from late position, and all folded to Barry Greenstein in the big blind. He moved me all in for 15,000 more, and my instincts were telling me that he had 77. With so much money in the pot, me short on chips, and trying to get back in the game I made the call. Barry had 88. The flop came 2-3-5, Q, 9. Done deal.

So that was a pretty accurate synopsis of how the day went for me. I fought really hard and tried my best, but just wasn't connecting. It hurt to leave the room, but that's a good feeling for me to have. It means that I truly cared and gave it everything I had.

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Not having played much live poker recently- most of my play has been as "KidPoker" over at www.fullcontactpoker.com- I decided to play for "a while."

I sat in a $2000-$4000 mixed game: Hold'em, Omaha H/L, Stud, Stud H/L regular, Stud 8 or better, 2-7 triple draw, with the likes of Lyle Berman, Jennifer Harman, Abe Mosseri, David Benyamine, Ralph Perry, Eli Elezra, and Chau Giang.

David Oppenhiem, known from here on in as "Opie" dropped into the game soon after taking Lyle's seat. He was sick, apparently, and just took some Thera Flu that made him drowsy. In fact, in the first hand he played in triple draw he threw in the wrong card, quickly realized it, and snatched it back before the dealer could scoop it up.

Then a few hands later in stud, he totally misread his hand and inadvertently slow rolled somebody when he found two pair! I joked with him that the cold medecine was messing with his head, and he said, "This Thera Flu is some strong stuff man, It's got me all high."

Opie started out losing and no one seemed to mind that he was sick. Then he scooped a monster, and I mean a monster stud H/L hand that was capped five ways on several streets!

All of a sudden Jennifer starts a petition, "David, don't you know you should stay home when you are sick? You're going to make us all sick. When you are sick you're not supposed to come to work. This is brutal, we need to get you kicked out of the game," she continued, "Floor!!! What's the rule on a guy getting everyone at the table sick? Can we vote him out of the game?"

At that point I chimed in, "Funny huh David, when you were losing every hand nobody minded that you were sick, now that you are winner everyone is trying to run you out of the game!" We all got a good laugh, and Jennifer was obviously kidding about getting Opie kicked out. If you are in that room you better have some thick skin because no one is immune to getting needled.

I played one fun hand in that game, and I promised Eli that I would post it in the blog. In fact, after he made the play he said, "You better write about that hand tonight!" Well, here goes:

The game was Omaha H/L, one player limped, Eli raised, and I called on the button with 2-3-4-5, and Able defended his big blind for a four handed pot.

The flop came Q-9-4 rainbow, Abe bet, and Eli called. At that point I put Eli on a backdoor low draw also, but decided to call and try to catch a good one on the turn.

The turn was a 5 giving me two pair, an open ended straight draw, and a 2-3 low draw. Abe bet against representing the high hand, Eli quickly called, and I called.

The river was an 8 making me a 2-3 low. Abe bet again, so I now figured that he must have 10-J for the straight making my two pair dead. Now Eli raised, and I was facing a difficult dilemma:

I couldn't beat A-2, or A-3, but my instincts told me that if Eli had A-2 he wouldn't raise there. I even said, "Why are you doing that Eli? You could get a call from me too?"

Something about the play seemed strange, but I was "in the squeeze." If I call two bets, Abe, if he had the straight would make it three bets, and then Eli could make it four bets!

I finally decided to muck the hand reluctantly, and Abe showed J-J-10-5, while Eli turned over A-K-Q-6! Oh man, Eli moved me off the low with his raise trying to make his A-6 a winner and it worked like a charm. The only thing I regret, was that I freakin' knew it! It made no sense for Eli to raise in that spot unless he had a hand like A-2-6-7 for a straight or something like that. In hindsight, I should have called, but it was no easy call. So there you go Eli, you da man!

Eli and I talked a little bit about the blog and discussed how it relates to the big game. I explained to him, that it's important for the young kids today to understand that poker, at it's highest levels, is a game that has may different variations. If they ever want to reach the true "Mecca," the true peak of being one of the best in the world, hold'em skills alone just won't cut it. I explained to him and the rest of the crew that other than Gus, Ivey, Benyamine, and myself, there aren't a lot of young guys looking to play in the big mixed games.

That is changing, however, as the $1000-$2000 and the $2000-$4000 games are full of 21 to 24 year old players like Jdags, Madcaddie, Aaron Katz, and others these days. It's nice to see that poker isn't dead amongst the younger guys.

After a 5 hour session in that game, where I lost $142,000 in poker but beat David B. out of $28,000 playing props, the $4000-$8000 was about to get underway.

I locked up a seat, and sat with Chau Giang, Gus Hansen, Sammy Farha, David Benyamine, Johnny Chan, and Ming Ly. This would be a different mix of games to please Sammy as he doesn't really like limit all that much. We finally decided on: Pot limit Omaha, No Limit Hold'em, Omaha H/L, and Stud H/L. It's a fair mix for Sammy, as he is a good pot or no limit player, but frankly, he could use some work on his split game play.

In the first 1.5 hours at the table, I'd won precisely 0 pots! In fact, I didn't win an ante or even split a pot. That run cost me a couple hundred thousand and had me stuck about $250,000 in the game.

Then, I finally caught the break that I needed: In a five way action, raised pot I was dealt Ac Qc Jd 3d in a pot limit Omaha hand where Chau made it $9000 to go.

The flop came Qh 10c 3h, and since I was in the small blind I thought I'd check to see what developed. Chau, the pre-flop raiser, bet the pot, $46,000, and Lyle Berman, who'd joined us by then called as well.

I had two pair, but that was a very dangerous board. We play the game with a cap, which means that if I called the $46,000 I could only raise an additional $45,000 to complete the cap.

Knowing nobody was going to fold after putting in $46,000, I decided to just call and see what came on the turn. If it was a heart, I could save myself $45,000. If it's a good card for me, I could bet right out.

The turn was a very good one, the 5c, giving me the nut flush draw, Queens and 3's, and a gutshot straight draw. I bet the $45,000 and both players called:

Me: Ac Qc Jd 3d
Chau: Kh Ks 9h 8s
Lyle: Ah 8h 2c 4d

I was in great shape here, and when the 8d hit the river I'd won a $300,000 pot and got myself "unstuck."

The game was really rocking, as several top players had "lost their cool" at that point and were playing wildly. I called my wife Lori to let her know not to wait up, as I'd be there for the long haul.

At about 7:00am, Chau quit and the remaining survivors were Gus, Sammy, David B., and myself. While David was falling asleep at the table, when he was in a hand he was playing fantastic. David is used to playing 40-50 hours straight so this was nothing for him. He maintained awesome focus throughout.

I was happy with my play also, but felt like David was being a little more creative that night and was totally zoned in. He made some highly sophisticated plays that had me thinking, "Wow, this guy can play." I always knew that, but he really impressed me last night.

So anyway, I was up and down like a yo-yo. Up as much as $300,000 in the game, and down as much as the same. By 9:00am I finally decided to leave the boys and quit after a 13 session in that game where I'd won $148,000 in that game without playing any props.

So the final tally was 3 hours of tournament poker, 5 hours of $2000-$4000, followed by 18 more hours playing $4000-$8000. I won $28,000 in props, lost $142,000 playing $2000-$4000, and won $148,000 in the $4000-$8000 game.

All told, I left $34,000 richer which is what you call breaking even at those limits.

I got home at 10:00am and hit the sack hard! I finally woke up at around 5:30pm and will be up all night playing a little online poker at www.fullcontactpoker.com, checking some hockey scores, returning phone calls, surfing the FCP forums, answering e-mails, and trying to get some relaxation in as well.

Tomorrow, I will be playing in a special tournament that will air on FSN which pits U.S.A. versus the "World." Being a proud Canadian, I'll be on the world side in what promises to be a fun format. More details to follow...

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