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Daniel - Poker Journal

The Commerce Rocks

25 Feb 2007


No kidding man, the Commerce is just the nuts for a poker player. No, they aren't paying me to say that, lol.

Anyway, I decided to fly out on the day of the event since it wasn't scheduled to start until 3:30pm. The reason they do late starts in LA is so that they can accommodate the many people in the area who actually have a day job!

I flew into Burbank at around 1:30pm and my high school buddies (Regev & Oren), and best men at my wedding along with Erick Lindgren, picked me up at the airport. I was so stoked that Regev won a seat in the main event. He doesn't play poker for a living and I've known him from before I started playing. In fact, the first poker I ever played was with him in his basement.

Regev is a wicked smart dude that could be a professional poker player if he wanted to. When I first moved out to Vegas, he was out there too grinding it out. It just wasn't for him though. It wasn't a lack of talent that killed him, I think it was just the lifestyle that didn't suit him.

Anyway, so we drove to the Wyndham to check in, then I needed to go "on the borrow." I was late leaving for my flight after taking Mushu over to my mother's house, so I didn't have enough time to go to the Bellagio and get money. I arrived in LA with a grand total of $500!

As I was checking in and random people were saying hello, my only comment was, "You got $10,000? Anyone got $10,000?" When I made it over to the Commerce I was asking some more random people for $10,000 when it literally flew at me from about 15 yards away. Brad Booth threw a $10,000 brick high into the air towards me from behind. I saw it just in time and had myself a buy in! By the way Brad, you suck at counting money! There was $11,200 in that bundle, thanks for the tip.

Anthony Mak drove over with me, Regev & Oren to the Commerce from the Wyndam. Anthony was given a copy of my notes for my upcoming book and we discussed that a little bit. He had a few concerns but we got that all squared away. I can't share with you all what we talked about as I don't want to affect his chances in this tournament or in upcoming tournaments.

I started out in the tent, but after a few levels our table broke and I made it back into the main room. The structure at Commerce was excellent:

20,000 in starting chips and 90 minute levels
25-50
50-100
100-200
100-200 (25)
150-300 (25)
200-400 (50)
300-600 (75)
400-800 (100)
500-1000 (100)
600-1200 (200)
800-1600 (200)
1000-2000 (300)
1200-2400 (300)
1500-3000 (400)

Attention all tournament directors... THIS is how it's done. Forget all about the 75 minute levels, all that does is cause for longer days with less play. Meaning, if you take a break after ever 75 minutes you end up taking more breaks during the day. A break after 90 minutes is more than enough and doesn't stretch out the day longer than need be.

Matt Savage actually likes to add even one more level, a level we say at the Borgata as well (another good structure), the 250-500 level. I obviously love the additional level, but if it means switching to 75 minute levels I'd rather not have that level.

As for the tournament, I played well. I was reading weakness in my opponents exceptional well and made several "plays" taking pots from opponents that were on the steal. Everything was cruising right along.

I flopped a flush against a set and was up to 38,000. Then I lost a few small pots here and there where my opponents hit the flop. Then disaster hit. With blinds at 100-200 I made it 500 to go with AA. Nick Schulman called on the button as did the big blind.

The flop came Qh 9c 8h. The BB checked and I bet 1000. Nick called, and I was pretty sure he didn't hit the flop solid. I felt as though he had a piece of it, but that my AA were still good.

The BB folded and the turn came the 6s. I wanted to protect my hand against all of the potential draws out there, so I bet 3000. Nick immediately raised me to 9000. Now I was in a very tough spot as I could easily be drawing dead. However, there were also a lot of hands that Nick could have where he wasn't there yet and I had the best hand. A pair and a flush draw. A pair and a straight draw. A straight flush draw, or even a pair, straight draw, and flush draw.

Looking over at Nick's chips I noticed that he had about 19,000 left. Feeling like I was ahead, I decided to put him all in. He called instantly... oops! He turned over the 10-7. That off suit 6 on the turn was my death card. No other card could cost me all of those chips. A Jack and I check the turn. A heart and I probably check the turn. The 6 only filled one possible hand, and wouldn't you know it, that's what Nick had.

The very next hand I folded. The very next hand, with just 1025 left in chips, I picked up AA again! This time I limped in for 200 under the gun, hoping to get some action and either double or triple up if possible. Another player limped in from middle position and both blinds were in. The flop looked "ok" for my hand... As 6d 4h. The blinds checked and I checked to the limper who bet 450. The small blind called, so I went all in for 375 more-both players called.

The turn was a 9 and both players checked. The river was a 2 and the SB checked to the limper... he reached for chips and I almost got up and walked away... he bet 2000 and I knew. The SB folded and the limper turned over 3-5 for the straight.

In hindsight, I could have played the AA against Nick more cautiously, but I couldn't exactly just fold on the turn when he raised me. I should have probably smooth called and maybe saved a bet on the river. In fact, had I played the hand like I normally would, I'd probably still be in. The river was a 7, so it would have been impossible for me to call and I'd still have an average stack. Overall I'd say it was a mistake. Thing is, you are just bound to make more mistakes against great players since it's more difficult to put them on hands. Nick is a great player and has shown a willingness to bluff in all kinds of situations, so he really earned those chips from me.

Now, I would have posted this blog sooner, but I've been having some serious issues over here at the Wyndam:

1. Internet Connection- The high speed in my room wouldn't work. I called Wayport, nothing. I called the front desk and they had a technician come to my room...nothing. They just couldn't get it fixed at all.

2. Water Machine- I went to go get a bottle of water out of the machine. The machine is rather finicky, it won't take bills and it won't take coins. It only takes credit cards. I had three cards with me.... and none of them worked. The machine was broken.

3. Room change- at 8:30am this morning another tech guy walked into my room, waking me up. He tried fixing the internet... but nothing. Finally, they had me change rooms. I requested a room change last night, but they had no rooms available. I get to my new room and the internet works.

4. Television- I was laughing at this point at how ridiculous things were getting. While the internet worked in my new room, the TV was busted. The tech comes out again, me and him are like buddies now although I don't really understand him very well. His English isn't very good and my Spanish is pretty weak. Anyway, he fixed the TV so now I'm all set.


I'm planning on staying in LA. My buddy Regev is out of the tournament, but Anthony Mak has made an excellent come back and is now sitting on about 25,000 in chips. He was down to about 7,000, but didn't quit and caught a few hands just in time.

We had dinner together and went over some of the key hands he played. He described each hand to me and he has played everyone perfectly. Kid is like a sponge. To really grasp what's going on here, it's important to note that this kid won the protégé contest through the .net site, beating out a ton of players. Then, he moved on to a tough final table and won that too.

What's his level of real experience? Virtually non-existent! He has played micro-limits occasionally, but has zero experience against the top players. The creepy thing from my perspective, is that despite his lack of experience, he has positive equity in these WPT events. His knowledge base is far beyond what it should be for such a beginning player.

The only think he is lacking is the lingo! At dinner he was describing a hand to me like this, "Everyone checked to me so I raised 1200." He really doesn't "sound" like a player, but man can this kid play. No joke, no exaggeration, this kid is pretty sick.

Today I plan on heading over to the Commerce periodically to check on him. I'll have a look at his table, see who I know and what I can share with him. Mak's chip count isn't spectacular, but with so much play in this event he doesn't have to make any drastic changes to his strategy. His stack is still relatively healthy in relation to the blinds.

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