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Daniel - Poker Journal

Niagara Falls

25 Oct 2006

You never know what to expect when a new facility runs a major tournament- in another country for that matter. I was a little bit nervous frankly, not really knowing what to expect and feeling somehow responsible since this event was taking place in my home country.

Well, I'm nervous no more:

The Dealers: No joke, some of the best dealing staff I've ever seen as a whole. Obviously there are going to be mistakes made, but the dealers at Fallsview are really paying attention, know how to make change, and seem to have an understanding of the game which always helps.
Humberto Brenes and the "Costa Rican Connection" had great things to say about the dealers.


The Floor Staff: They listen. They really listen. What more can you ask for really? The tournament has been extremely well run thus far and anytime a decision is made that may seem a little bit odd, the tournament director has done an excellent job explaining the reasoning behind it.

The Satellites: They give you more play than any satellite I'd ever seen. The one table satellites generally run from about 3.5 to 4 hours. That's the good news.
The bad news, is that the wait to get into one of the satellites was excessively long as the facility available didn't meet the demand. They ran the satellites in the regular poker room and could only make six tables available which meant the waiting lists were often 60 names long.
There was a reason for that and it was out of the hands of the floor staff. They weren't given clearance to run satellites in the tournament area which is something that will likely be corrected in the future.
In fact, if they were able to run super satellites into this event I genuinely believe that this location has the potential to break WPT records for number of entries. Canada is poker crazy!

Tournament Room: Excellent. Very quiet, the tables are spaced far apart so no one feels crammed. At the back of the room there is a spread of food and drinks available all day and night at no cost to the players. They even had veggie wraps!
Players were given a badge to enter the tournament area, so while there is room for fans to watch the action it's not intrusive to the players.

Tournament Structure: It is without a doubt, the slowest structure in WPT history. Almost a little bit too slow actually. Each player starts with 20,000 in chips, and unlike the Bellagio event where they start the blinds twice as high at 50-100, in this event, the blinds start at 25-25! That starts players out with 800 bets... wow.
In my opinion, the first level should have been skipped and started at 25-50. While the 25-25 level was added to the structure, there was an important level taken out. A typical tournament goes 50-100, 100-200, then 100-200 with an ante. This one goes 25-25, 25-50, 50-100, 100-200 with an ante, skipping the 100-200 level.

Hospitality: It seems that to a man, every one of the top pros that made the trip out to Fallsview have been treated very well. The rooms are fantastic and I only wish you could see my view. When I wake up in the morning and look out the window, I have a birds eye view of the Falls. Imagine the view you'd get from a helicopter hovering over the falls, and that's how close I am.

Nightlife: I've had an absolute blast! Probably too much fun actually. The night club is hopping and if you are more of a bar person, the Bar 365 is a cool place to hang out. In fact, I think Gavin Smith is hosting a party there tonight. I'm all partied out, though, and plan on getting some rest so I can be fresh and ready for tomorrow.

A couple other random notes that should also be mentioned:

-Satellite wins were transferable. That's not good for the event. Not only that, if you lose your voucher that shows you've paid, you could potentially lose the value of the voucher ($10,000). I'm certain that will be addressed next year.

-Accepting entries after day one. It should be standard practice to close entries after the first two hours of play. Allowing players to sign up after day one could potentially give them an unfair advantage.

-MP3 players and I-POD's were not allowed in the tournament area. I believe this was a Canadian gaming issue.

Nearing the end of the first day one, it appears as though the leader board is littered with professionals. Notable names doing very well include:

Steven Ambrose (A Canadian WPT champion)
Amnon Filippi
Thomas Wahlroos
John Juanda
Alan Goehring
Liz Lieu
John D'Agostino
Dan Harrington
Eli Elezra
Barry Greenstein
Victor Ramdin
Isabelle Mercier
J.C. Tran

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

As for me, I played in the first $2500 tournament and tried by best but made two poor calls after making two good lay downs (both lay downs would have won). So bizarre, really, because if I wasn't "trying" I probably would have called with one of those hands, but instead I decided to make the correct decision rather the one that was more of a gamble.

Basically, I had Ac 10d and the flop came Jc 6c 2c. I bet the flop, one guy raised, and another guy makes a big check-raise. I figured I had seven outs at best and could be up against a made flush and a set. I was, one guy had JJJ while the other had 9c 10c. The turn was the 7c and I would have won a monster pot. So much for trying to play good!

Before making it out to Niagara, I actually did a little "boot camp" of sorts at George Brown University. It was surreal, as there were about 60 people there with notepads and laptops ready to listen to me teach them poker in a classroom setting for... 5 hours!

I was a little nervous going into it since it's difficult for anyone to talk for that long, but I made it through the day and I think things went pretty well.

A major confidence booster to do something like that on a grander scale. I have some pretty cool ideas as to how to teach people the game, and maybe when I'm finished writing my book I'll start putting some energy into something like that.

Speaking of books, I actually have two books set to be released. One book is the one that I've been working really hard on. It's going to be a "big book" with several contributing writers. Another book will also be released soon that is more of a compilation book putting together some of the columns I've written specifically on Texas Hold'em. Very different books, but I think both are worthwhile.

What else? Oh yeah, my "Cheap Thieves" fantasy hockey team is really starting to click on all cylinders. If you truly understood how much of a fantasy junkie I am, you'd know that when the Cheap Thieves do well, that makes me a very happy man!

Good night all, time for bed.

(I won't have a video blog up until I return from Niagara Falls)

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