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Daniel - Poker Journal

Down to 18 in Tunica

24 Jan 2007

Iíve used the term flow in the past in an article I wrote about limit holdíem. Flow could also be called feel, but itís a little more than that. When your flow is good, you are randomizing your play at an optimal level and itís causing your opponents to get really, really, confused, while all the while you are playing a pretty effortless game.

When Iím feeling the flow, many of my decisions arenít really conscious. For example, should I make my standard raise with this Q-10 or should I just limp? When your flow is good you have a good feel for the table and how your opponents perceive you. Also, you just can just sense when your opponents miss the flop, and/or when they are trying to steal the pot from you.

Iíve talked about small ball a million times, but I have never fully explained it in writing outside of my book that Iím working on. Well, one of the keys to being able to apply small ball properly is the ability to sniff out bluffs. Thatís something Iím good at, and is one of the things that would also be the most difficult to teach anyone else.

I missed one yesterday. Actually, I donít think I missed it at all, but didnít follow through with the call for an unrelated reason. I was at a table with Kido Phan, probably the most creative player on the tour, and he had a mountain of chips while I spent most of the day below par. Here is how the hand came down:

I limped for 4000 with Q-10 from early position. Victor Ramdin also limped in from late position. Kido called from the small blind so four of us took the flop: Ad Qs 6c. Everyone checked the flop and the turn paired the 6d.

Now, Kido fired out 20,000, which was approximately a pot sized bet. I had 180,000 at this point and felt like Kido was bluffing- I called. Victor thought for quite a while and folded. The river brought the 5d and Kido went into the tank. The longer he took, the more I was leaning towards calling even a very large bet. He started cutting out some chips and it looked like he planned on betting 80,000.

Then he asked me, ďHow much do you have left?Ē and I told him about 160,000. When he asked me that, it dawned on me that he was asking me how much I had so that heíd know how much it would cost him if his bluff didnít work out. After a long hesitation, he finally said all in.

At this point, my Q is as good as an Ace. He certainly wouldnít bet it all with just an ace. He either had squat, a 6, a full house, or possibly a flush. The 6 isnít what worried me, it was the flush that made me hesitant. My instincts were telling me to call, but my brain was telling me that I was still in good shape with 160,000 in chips and Iím one of the best players left. I play a short stack as good as anyone for long stretches and I never give up.

Then my instincts would chime in with, ďYou know he is bluffing. If you make this call youíll finally have some chips to play with.Ē I had this discussion in my head for a little while before finally erring on the side of caution and I folded what I felt was the best hand. Kido decided to show me his hand, 33. Like I said, the guy is very creative!

As it turned out, I was able to make a few hands after that hand and started catching some flops as well. I ended up in 5th place with 18 remaining. Not only that, I broke the record for most consecutive cashes on the WPT with 4 straight, and I also tied John Juanda with the most WPT cashes with 14. Iíve probably played about 50 WPT events now, so Iím cashing roughly 30% of the time while making six final tables in that span, not including a 7th place finish in Paris.

Iím really in the groove now with these WPT events and this may seem ridiculous, but I know for a fact that my headphones have helped me out a lot. They help the time go by quicker and that keeps me more patient which is important in these events. When Iím not doing well, itís usually because Iím either pushing the action too hard, or basically just looking to gamble a little too much.

When Iím at my best, I let the play come to me. I wait for the scenario that I know is likely to come, without panicking.

I watch guys around me self destruct on a regular basis. Some really great players too that take themselves out of tournaments prematurely. If Iíve learned anything about tournament poker during this stretch itís that you donít need to be a monster chip leader throughout the entire event. All that matters is that you are in a position to win in the end, and then look to ride a rush to the final table.

In all four of my consecutive cashes I didnít really hit the leader board until the very late stages, living in the middle, or slightly below the pack for most of the way. Kind of like a cyclist who stays with the pack until the stretch run when he breaks away from the pack and sprints to the finish line.


Iíve been on a very bizarre sleep schedule, waking up between 5:00am and 7:00am each morning. Last night play was over at 6:00pm and while I was trying to watch the State of the Union address, I dozed off at about 8:00pm. At about 1:00am Iím wide awake, which isnít so bad.

I decided to watch the first two episodes of Lost on my computer. After watching two episodes, Iím still not sure what to make of the show or whether or not Iím sold on it just yet. Iíll give it time. Itís 3:30am here now, and since I donít get internet access in my room, Iím going to head down the food court area to send this blog and then check on a few things. After that, Iím hoping the gym will be open by then so I can workout, and then get in a quick nap before play today. Getting from 18 to 6 could take a while, Iím guessing about 7-8 hours. Weíll seeÖ