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Daniel - Poker Journal

Happy Tortured and Murdered Bird Day!

24 Nov 2006



Growing up in Canada Thanksgiving is just nowhere near as big a deal as it is here in the U.S. I must have received 20 text messages from friends saying "Happy Thanksgiving." If I were in Toronto, I don't think I would have gotten two.

It's not one of my favorite holidays. Frankly (I can use that word if I want, it's my blog!), I just don't get what we are celebrating? Not so sure it's even worth celebrating, but I don't want to get into that. I'm sure I'd be offending someone if I did, lol.

Anyway, I'm here in Grand Rapids, Michigan right now with Lori and the family. Yesterday we did the whole dead bird thing, of course I had a "special meal" consisting of Tofurkey. If you've never had it, you'd be surprised to know that it tastes a lot like turkey, except you don't have to chop it's head off and pluck any feathers, lol.

Yesterday we sat around and watched the football games. I have an important fantasy football match up against E-DOG's team this week. Erick has Tony Romo on his roster, but man, did I luck out since he threw 5 TD's but Erick started Eli Manning instead. 5 TD's would have just buried me.

Later there was some live poker on television and some of my friends were playing. They happened to all be, like, the first guys out of the tournament, lol.

Watching live poker is kind of neat and it gives you a much better read on your opponents tendencies for sure. Not to be mean, but I don't know how else to say it, there was some piss poor poker going on late in that tournament! Yikes, the play was pretty bad and so easily exploitable.

Toto Leonidas, an excellent player, wasn't playing his best on the day due to the prize payout structure. Basically, with a seven man one table satellite, you needed to come in second to get paid. Down to three, Toto really tightened up and played rather weak, hoping that Roland deWolfe would get knocked out first. In the meantime, that gave chip leader, Phil Gordon, the opportunity to just chop away like a madman.

Then Phil makes a bonehead move, and he actually knew it, you could tell. Roland, makes a baby raise on the button and Phil moved in with A-3 off suit. You could see the wheels turning in Phil's head before making the play, almost like, "Hmm, I know that must mean he has a legit hand and I shouldn't be doing this, but ALL IN!" Roland had 99 and doubled up which was a crushing blow to Toto and it jeopardized Gordon‘s lead unnecessarily.

Toto misplayed several hands in the small blind against the chip leader. He was limping with raggedy aces which I liked, but then was too easy to push around after the flop.

Frankly, all of the players major errors came post flop, and all of the remaining three players were guilty of post-flop mistakes. They just seemed to give up way too easily. In obvious bluffing situations, players who bluffed, got away with it virtually without fail.

I felt bad for Toto, I really did. In his exit interview, his face told the whole story. He was trying to adjust to the major pay jump, 0$-$250,000 and wasn't sure exactly what to do. It wasn't a typical three handed situation where Toto would have felt free to play his game. He seemed totally out of sync and his play was erratic.

Roland seemed to be playing well to get there, albeit a little too fast, but he made a bad read on Gordon. In an interview during the event he had Gordon pegged as a conservative player that wouldn't push back at him without a hand. That read ended up costing Roland as he allowed Phil to get away with some very obvious "rookie bluffs."

There were some very distinct and obvious betting patterns on display and it seemed as though the players weren't picking up on them. I don't want to share too much of what I saw, but had I been at the table, I would have been approaching play very differently than they did.

I think the most amazing thing about the three handed play, and there is a lesson in here somewhere, is that when a player didn't hit the flop solid, they would fold to a bet as small as the minimum. That play worked WAY TOO many times.

At one point, Phil folded 7-5 on a 10-8-5 flop facing a baby bet. Toto, on several occasions folded Ace high on ragged boards against Phil's baby bets on the flop.

In order to play well after the flop short handed, these are the types of hands that make the difference between winning and losing. It's not the all in moves with Ace rag, or the big coin flip wins with a pair versus two overs.

I've seen players win tournaments using an aggressive pre-flop strategy that is based on a lot of guesswork, but I have never seen a player use that approach and have any sort of consistent results in tournament poker.

Of today's top tournament players that do well consistently, not one of them rely on this approach. The Grinder does his damage after the flop. So does Nam Le, Tuan Le, Phil Ivey, and any other top tournament pro out there today. Even John Juanda, well known for his excellent pre-flop play, is the consistent tournament performer today because of his excellent decisions after the flop.

Anyway, I really enjoyed watching the show. It's become a yearly tradition on FSN apparently, to air a live poker show on Thanksgiving and I think it's a great idea. If you are a true poker fan it makes for some of the best televised poker out there, especially not knowing the outcome!



Tonight, about 12 of us are headed out to the hockey game. It's funny, the last time I saw the Grand Rapids Griffins play they hosted the Chicago Wolves, and this time, they are once again hosting the Wolves. The Wolves have an even better record this time around while the Griffins, who've had just one losing season in 10 years, are off to a slow start. It should be fun.

Tomorrow we head back to Las Vegas. When I get back home I plan on playing some more poker at FCP and possibly heading to Bellagio to get in some hours. That Foxwoods event really got my juices flowing and I'm pumped up to play again. It all came together in Foxwoods. Even though I was NEVER above average in chips during that event after level 5, I felt like I was playing with extreme confidence and had an epiphany as to what I'd been doing wrong lately in some of the tournaments I'd played.

I can't really explain how excited I am about where my game is at right now. It's almost like, "Duh!" this game is so much easier than I was making it on myself. Anyone at my table in the next few tournaments is in for some serious trouble. No more messing around, it's time to win some tournaments again, I'm hungry!

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