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Daniel - Poker Journal

Catching Up on the WSOP Main Event

03 Nov 2008

It seems that every year at the WSOP people go bonkers at some point and act, well, just randomly bizarre. I assume it's the pressure, but man, some of these outbursts are downright awkward and annoying. You got one 'classy' kid yelling, "Who's the bully now," after busting a Russian who speaks little English, than you have another guy yell, "You are an Idiot," to an opponent four times while pointing right at him aggressively. Then he proceeds to act like a pompous arrogant jerk. Some people just completely lose composure and let their emotions take over. When the amateurs do it I can give them a pass, they have likely never been in that kind of situation before, but when a longtime pro does it, it's just totally inexcusable and pathetic.

From the hands they showed on the coverage, I did think the play wasn't very good. Loads of just stupid mistakes. Again, I think it comes down to pressure. When people play for that many days they'll often just crack and lose their minds on one hand and usually go broke.
Aside from the play, I did see a hand come up which involved a pet peeve of mine. Losev pushed forward 3 million in chips, took it back, and then cut out just 1.5 million in chips. The floor was called over and they ruled that the bet should only be 1.5 million instead of the 3 million that was originally pushed forward. It's a dangerous precedent to set, but the procedure used at Bellagio is by far the absolute worst of anywhere in the world. The set up there is absolutely designed to help cheaters and angle shooters.

At Bellagio there is a betting line. Unless verbally declared, only chips that cross that betting line count as a bet. There are a million ways to take advantage of this rule, but here is one good one:

You are on the river and your opponent bets 100,000. You have a marginal hand and aren't sure if it's good. Here is what you do: take four 25k chips, splash them forward but not far enough to touch the betting line. Your opponent will likely turn his hand up. If you can beat his hand, just take the pot, if he shows you his hand and you can't beat it, just take your chips back and tell the floor he should get a penalty for turning his hand face up in the middle of a hand! If the floor says you have to call the bet you just say, "Nope, my chips did not cross the line and I did not say call." That's cold blooded! According to the awful Bellagio rule, though, it would be considered perfectly legal to do that. You can even take it one step further:

A guy bets 30,000 on the turn. You have a calling hand. Cut out 130,000 and push it forward. Just make sure it doesn't touch the line. If the guy folds, take the money honey!


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Cash Game Players vs Tournament Players

I had a chance this week to play in an exciting poker game against some of the world's best no limit hold'em cash players. Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and Tom "Durrr" Dwan.
When playing against a lineup that tough, the truth is, the small ball approach is exploitable. Small ball is the best way to play tournaments, no question about that whatsoever, and it also works extremely well in cash games with lesser players. Against the best, though, you have to raise your level of play and you simply can't bank on the idea that your opponents will make mistakes against you. More risks are necessary, and you have to take some more chances to stay afloat against great players. The game play is super sophisticated and every value bet, every bluff, every re-raise pre-flop has to be well thought out. Perceptive players pick up on everything.
I'm not foolish enough to think I'm a favorite in a game with the likes of Ivey, Durr, Patrik Antonius, and Gus Hansen. I thoroughly enjoy the challenge, but the truth is that each of them has more experience than I do and play a lot more regularly which puts me at a disadvantage. I am certain that I am a winning no limit hold'em cash game player, but against those four, I'd rightfully concede that I'd be an underdog. Not necessarily forever, mind you, if I practiced, and focused hard on playing more hours, I think I'd be able to compete. I'll probably never know though...

Tournaments, well that's a completely different story altogether. In that arena I have the utmost confidence that my approach is ideally suited to most tournament fields which contain those types of players that do make major mistakes. Watching the WSOP main event only reconfirmed that for me!
Tournament poker simply doesn't require, better yet, should not include overly sophisticated types of plays that are regularly used by the world's best no limit hold'em cash game players. The best tournament players are more risk averse, while cash game players aren't concerned with a play causing them to "go broke." It's survival versus optimizing value. The best cash players do that very well, but they make major errors in terms of tournament strategy that often knocks them out prematurely.

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The Real Deal

I really had a blast doing out last show at the Venetian. The show has been going nightly at 5:00pm at the Venetian and things are picking up in many ways. The marketing of the show is picking up, the show is getting better each time we do it, and the people that attend seem to really enjoy the concept.
I'd say my favorite guy to do the show with is Scotty Nguyen. I feel a bit bad for Scotty actually after his ridiculous performance in the $50k HORSE. There is simply no excuse whatsoever for his behavior that night. I know he was drunk, but that night is something that he'll never be able to live down. I truly don't think the public will ever see that side of him anymore, at least I hope not!
Outside of that one night in the last 20 years on the tour, Scotty has been nothing but a fan favorite and a true showman that really knows how to work a crowd. He's one of the best we got.
I have good chemistry with him on stage and it makes for a good show I think.

After the show, the host Vinnie Favorito, heads to his other gig at the Flamingo and he invited me to see his show. It was brilliant, exactly my kind of humor. A lot of racial jokes and I'm a fan of that type of comedy. On top of that, he show is loosely scripted, it's mostly him cracking on the audience. It's a really funny show, my friends absolutely loved it.

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On that note, today is the election and I'm pretty excited to see how it all unfolds. After that, I'll head to Foxwoods and see if I can make another run.









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