Daniel - Poker Journal
Weekend With Daniel a Success11 Aug 2008
I always feel a bit of pressure when teaching poker. Not that I question my ability to help people improve their game, but more so because I take it very seriously and really want each and everyone attending to feel like the trip was worth it- and more.
The weekend was supposed to be an intimate group of 12 people, both PokerStars qualifiers and those who paid their way to the weekend, but one of the participants wasn't able to get away from work so we had 11.
They all arrived at my house around 7:00pm Friday night for BBQ, drinks, and a little welcoming party. I showed them around the house, the golf simulator upstairs was a big hit as was the Jack Niicklaus designed green in the backyard. While I personally don't eat the BBQ, I wasn't about to impose my eating habits on the others so there was all kinds of flesh available for consumption.
I spent most of the night just trying to get to know a little bit about each of them as I floated from inside the house to the backyard and back. Most people ate outside and some very casual Q & A started out there. After that, I decided to show them my collection of bracelets. The four WSOP bracelets and the two gorgeous bracelets I won on the WPT at the Bellagio and the Borgata. The Bellagio bracelet getting the award for most beautiful.
After a while people started gathering in the living room and I threw on some High Stakes Poker. Again, lessons didn't officially start till Saturday but I watched with them and analyzed most of the hands. At about 10:15pm the driver came by and picked them all up.
We started the day off at 10:00am at the Venetian Poker Lounge. Breakfast was served and we got right into the lessons. The set up was me at the front of the room with all of them in a semi-circle surrounding me. They all had note pads handy and I just rattled off lessons regarding pre-flop play and flop play, allowing for questions and interaction along the way. We had a little break for lunch and then we headed over to the poker room at 2:00pm for some live hand analysis.
This was a valuable opportunity for me to watch them in action at one 11 handed table. I gave them tons of info on pre and post flop play so now I'd be able to see who was paying attention! The process went like this: they would play a hand to the end and then we'd turn everyone's cards up. I would analyze and critique the play and we'd move on to another hand. We did this for two hours and used the following format:
They started with 10,000 in chips and played with 25-50 blinds for about an hour. 50-100 for about 30 minutes and finally, 100-200 with a 25 ante to help simulate some tournament scenarios.
At 4:00pm we went back into the lounge and covered turn and river play. That took us to 6:00pm and a much needed break. Everyone has a pimped out room at Palazzo and I assume took a nap for two hours until dinner at 8:00pm.
The plan for dinner was just to have a good time. We ate at, I think Moreno's or something like that, I forget the name of it. It's a steakhouse at Palazzo. Luckily we ordered ahead and they took care of me with an awesome celery based soup. a watermelon salad (awesome) and a stir fry that was a bit too salty.
After dinner, at about 10:30pm, we all headed over to Tao Beach, a night club that is so much better than Tao. Tao is often overcrowded but Tao Beach was just perfect. I invited my boys along too and they brought their wives/girlfriends along. We also, as is the norm at most clubs, had a group of random girls join our booth and hog all the booze! They were actually a good addition to the atmosphere of the booth and I was ok with it.
Champagne and vodka was flowing pretty hard and everyone let loose and seemed to have an awesome time. I even decided to show everyone a few of my new moves for an upcoming project called, "DanceVT" where I plan on teaching white people how to dance. Kidding of course :-) In all seriousness, though, I'd gladly do a dance off with the likes of Phil Hellmuth any day.
The partying went pretty late, but I knew that I needed to be prepared for the next days lessons so I left at about 2:30am while many people stayed.
We started things off on Sunday a bit later, right around noon. The play for this day was to rip apart some hands from High Stakes Poker and also profile some of the players. Specifically, I gave them tips on beating Hellmuth and Matusow and gave them some tells on Jamie Gold. I also showed them why I never, ever make a mistake against Sammy Farha. If you watch HSP over the years, you'll see that every time Sammy has me beat- I fold. When he is bluffing, I either raise him with nothing or call him with the best hand.
We cut a bunch of hands together than illustrate those players strengths and weaknesses. For example, how getting under Phil's skin affects his play. Why Matusow's style of poker lends itself to blowing up. How Jamie Gold tries to talk you out of your money but also gives away lots of information himself. To of course Sammy, and a few physical tells that are as good as gold.
We also, of course cut up my Gus hand, and several other of the best HSP hands. I think the participants enjoyed this part the most. It was the most interactive and I think the best teaching tool of them all.
We took that to about 5:00pm and then broke for an hour before their big finale. A tournament with three prices: first, a $12k package to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, a Cartier watch, and third place got a free WSOP Academy. The structure of the tournament, designed by yours truly, was expected to last between 3.5 and 4 hours of play:
10k in chips and 15 minute levels"
4. 100-200 (25)
5. 150-300 (25)
6. 200-400 (50)
10 minute break
7. 300-600 (75)
8. 400-800 (100)
9. 500-1000 (100)
10 minute break
13. 1200-2400 (400)
14. 1500-3000 (500) tournament ended here
15. 2000-4000 (500)
16. 3000-6000 (1000)
By the time the tournament started my work was done but I hung out anyway and watched the action. I felt like a proud Papa watching the improved play from just one day before. They played like real poker players! It was a very rewarding feeling. Some mistakes were made, of course, but we crammed so much info into their heads it was hard to process all of it.
To help refresh them, they were all given a copy of my newest book, Power Hold'em Strategy as well as a subscription to PokerVT.
The weekend took a lot out of me, including my voice. I was planning on recovering today at home, possibly golf, but I don't feel up to it. Besides, it's E-DOG's birthday today and they are all partying it up already. I just don't know how much party I have in me at the moment.