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Daniel - Poker Journal

Sick of Hold'em

17 Apr 2006


The High Stakes Poker show was another bust for me, but I was lucky enough to get out of the weekend ahead a little bit of money thanks to props and a blind poker session at Bellagio.

The next night I went into Bellagio and noticed a seat open in a juicy $1500-$3000 game. Kirk Morrison, back in the U.S., was down there sweating me for a little while after we celebrated his and Carlos' birthday over and Shintaro. Kirk is actually keeping my mother company while he is in town staying in one of her spare bedrooms.

I think he was a little surprised at just how good the game was. I was playing very well and don't think I made even the slightest mistake during the entire session. After a 4.5 hour session I won $90,700 and headed home.

There was one interesting hand I played in Stud 8 or better that Kirk disagreed with as far as how I played it. It was an interesting enough question that I decided to turn it into Quiz Question #15 in the forum.

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The next night I headed back to Shintaro to have dinner with my agents, Grinder, and his crew. At dinner I was telling them all about this book called Freakonomics. I can't wait to read it, because from what I saw on 20/20 it seems amazingly interesting.

The one thing that really blew me away was the author's findings for the key reason why crime in New York city has gone down 39% over the last 18 years. Politicians like to claim that it's an increase in the number of police officers, and several other factors, but I think the author figured out the most pressing factor.

Now, it's important to note that the author offered no opinion on abortion at all. Frankly, his study shouldn't lead anyone to think abortion is ok because of his findings. Anyway, he found that the most likely reason for the drop in crime is that the people with the highest propensity to become criminals- never made it.

He claims that children born out of unwanted pregnancies are more likely to become criminals, and that people ages 18-25 are the most criminally active group.

How does that relate? Apparently, laws were passed to allow abortions 18 years ago, meaning that a lot of those unborn children who were more likely to become criminals than the average person- never made it.

Personally, I'm pro-life, but I thought this study was very interesting and I don't really want to debate whether or not abortion is a good thing or a bad thing. I do believe that the author is likely correct, though, in his findings.

Anyway, that's just one of many interesting findings in the book. He also explains why beauty pageant participants have a lot in common with crack dealers, and how Asian males have to make more money in order to marry good looking white women.

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After dinner I headed into the poker room and noticed a $4000-$8000 mixed game going with a seat open. I jumped right on it, excited to play something other than hold'em. I'm running terrible in hold'em and frankly, it's causing me to play the game poorly also. So many cold decks, one after the other, makes me wonder what I have to flop to win a pot?

Playing hi-lo poker, it seems like you have so much more control over "bad luck." Plus, I think I'm just better at it than I am at hold'em. Most of you would probably be surprised to know that I consider my best game to be Stud 8 or better followed by Omaha 8 or better. I don't suck at hold'em or anything, but a lot of guys are good at hold'em these days.

It was such a pleasure playing the game. I enjoy it so much, it made me realize that I just don't play enough. It's even more enjoyable when we get guys like Hamid Dastmalchi to join us.

Hamid won the main event of the WSOP years ago and doesn't play much poker these days. If he does, it's just cash games. He is a really bizarre dude in so many ways. He could go from happy go lucky smiles, to a cursing psycho in the matter of seconds.

He could be up a million dollars, but even the slightest bad beat will set him off a la Phil Hellmuth. I love putting beats on him, I absolutely love it, "You are so dumb. What a stupid idiot you are. All of these ---- idiots can't beat me with these ---- hands. How can I lose to these mother ---- with the best ----- hand every time. You have no clue," Hamid will often say after I suck out on the river.

Nothing, and I mean nothing is more fun that setting him off. Clearly, Hamid thinks I'm a complete idiot and we played heads up years ago. I beat him back then, and I think I would absolutely crush him today.

I don't dislike him at all, he makes me laugh so hard with his tirades. He has said to me point blank, though, that he predicts I'll be broke soon and that I have no clue how to play poker. It doesn't bother me or "hurt my feelings" if you will. He talks a lot of smack which makes me comfortable giving it back to him.

Similar to me and Mike the Mouth. I've called Mike a complete idiot on live television. I've looked him in the face and told him he was flat out stupid. He comes back at me with his jabs and we exchange punches.

You'd never know that we were actually really good friends! My trash talking rules are simple: I only dish to those that I KNOW can handle it and will dish back. I can smack talk Mikey, Hellmuth, and guys like Hamid because they are obviously comfortable dishing it out and taking the blows.

So on that note:

Mikey, you are a complete donkey! Hellmuth, do you even play poker anymore movie star? And lastly, Hamid, what do you do for a living again? Man, it must be a good job the way you play, yum-yum!

Anyway, for most of the night we played four or five handed. It was me, Barry Greenstein, David Benyamine, Gus Hansen, and Hamid Dastmalchi.

Not surprisingly, if you asked any one of those players (including myself) who the best player was, I think each and everyone of us would have said themselves. The only person I wouldn't be 100% certain would say that would be Gus. He might, but I'm not sure.

All of these guys are world class players, but I feel comfortable in that game and think I'd do just fine in the long run. If I had to pick a game where I'd have the most difficulty reading my opponents, it would be a six handed game with the following players:

Chip Reese
Doyle Brunson
Phil Ivey
Ted Forrest
John Hennigan

Now, I'm not saying these are the players that I think make up the best five players in the world, but these are the five players that I have the most difficulty playing against.

Anyway, I was running well in the game and was playing well also (unless of course you ask Hamid :-) LOL. I ended up playing until 10:00am, a 12 hour session and won $591,000. My peak was close to $700,000, but I lost a few pots late and felt like I was getting sloppy.

Besides, I had to get home in time to change clothes, pick up Lori, and then head to church. As much as we both want to make it every Sunday, frankly, we haven't been very good about it due to various reasons.

Before I left the game, though, Lyle Berman sat down in the game and told us a funny story that had us all on the floor cracking up:

Lyle was on a cruise recently and stopped by a blackjack table where a lady was playing. He noticed that she was dealt A-5 (for 6 or 16) and decided to stand. "Why didn't you take a card," Lyle asked?

"I don't want to bust," she replied. Lyle then explained to her that she couldn't bust if she took just one card. Her reply was priceless, "Yeah but if I take one I'll want to take another." LOL LOL LOL. C'mon, that's pretty funny, no?

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After church I finally took a nap before having dinner at Paymon's, an awesome middle eastern restaurant we recently found, along with a couple friends.

Dinner was awesome as usual, as was the conversation. In fact, I added a new weapon to my goofy repertoire that came from the conversation:

The next time I go to a Walgreen's or something like that, I'm going to pull the following prank just for giggles. If the bill comes to say, $8.56, I'm going to hand the person $12.13 and say something like, "Here, I actually have some change. Let me help you out." The look on that person's face when they are trying to figure out the correct change should be priceless, lol. Hey, what can I say, I'm a child at heart :-)

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What else... oh, the NBC Heads Up Poker Championships just started airing on NBC. I swear, watching that show I feel like a giddy fan boy. It's so much fun to watch I've actually seen the first episode twice.

I thought Paul Phillips’ impression if Phil Laak was hilarious. He put on Phil's famous hooded sweater, fist pumped the air, and even got down on the floor to do some push ups. The whole show is so well done in every way. Let's hope NBC takes on more poker programming.

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Today was a day of catching up. The problem with playing lots of hours at the table is that I get behind on other responsibilities (e-mail, writing, etc.). It's tough, it really is tough to do both.

I struggle sometimes with my choices. Even this blog. I could give up the blog, give up the writing, give up all things poker related that aren't actually playing poker and that would allow me to play more regularly in the big game.

Sometimes I think that's what I want, and other times I remember how much I enjoy the writing and all things poker related.

After doing some serious thinking, though, I could see myself spending a lot more time at the tables in the future. I am a gambler at the core. It's part of who and what I am. I don't think that'll ever change, and I don't see any reason why it should.

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Tonight I’m going to Bellagio to buy in for the WPT Championship. Whether or not I actually sit in the big game tonight depends on whether or not I draw day one or day two. This year, day one is broken down into two days.

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