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Daniel - Poker Journal

Caesars Cup a Major Disappointment for Team Americas

25 Sep 2009

Here is my full report on what happened along with analysis:

The structure was fast with shallow stacks which made mathematics the most important aspect of the matches. Many of the players on team Americas excel more so with deeper stacks and a slower structure, and that definitely hurt us in a few of the matches. Luck was still the #1 factor as to why we lost, but we also made more mistakes than the European team did.

Match #1 Alternate Bet Format: Huck Seed/Phil Ivey vs. Patrik Antonius/Zigmund

We lost the high card so I had to throw out the first team and they had a chance to match. I went with our absolute strongest team, Phil Ivey and Huck Seed and thought there was a good chance that Annette would counter with the qualifier, but instead, she threw out a very strong team also.

With the blinds at 1000-2000 and 100,000 starting stacks, on hand #1 we won a big pot and that gave us a healthy lead, 140,000 to 60,000. As the blinds increased, the European team got more aggressive and gambled more, which enabled them to crawl back into the match.

Ivey made three questionable plays that the team discussed after the match. Ivey doesn't play a lot of events where he has to play that short stacked and he was cleraly unsure about whether he played it right:

Hand #1, Ivey limped with Kd 9d and Zigmund moved all in for close to 60,000. It was a borderline decision, but Ivey ultimately folded and I think he'd want that hand back after he saw what they were doing. They kicked it into high gear aggression wise because the blinds were really high.

Hand #2: They limped from the button and Huck checked the A-5 suited. The flop came 10-2-3 and Ivey checked to Patrik, Ivey just called. Huck felt like that put him in a bad spot on the turn and maybe moving all in was the better play. The turn was a 7 and Huck check-folded to Zigmund's bet. We found out later that they hit the 7 so we could have won that pot with a bit more aggression.

Hand #3: Patrik limped and Ivey checked the big blind with Q-2 diamonds and 5000-10000 blinds. They both agree that it was probably better to move all in there before the flop.

The final hand the blind were huge and it was the longest match of the day. 8,000-16,000 blinds, Ivey moved all in from the button with 10-6 and Patrik called with K-2. We lost the hand and were down 0-1.

Another key hand from the match was Ivey moving all in with A-3 and getting called by A-7, a split usually. They lost that hand and that would prove to be the theme for the matches.


Match #2 Alternate bet format: Daniel Negreanu/Phil Hellmuth vs. Elky/Qualifier

In match two Annette threw out Elky and the qualifier for the second alternate bet match. Phil and I had already decided we'd be playing the alternate format match, but when they threw out that team we considered switching it up to the Doyle/Jenn team, but in discussing it with the team, we all agreed that Hellmuth would be able to best exploit the qualifier so that's how we matched up. My thinking was that I would play it safe vs. Elky and allow Phil to pound on the amateur by being aggressive against him.

Hand #1: We won a couple small pots early and then Phil min-raised with 8-9 off suit from the button. The amateur re-raised to 10,000 and Phil said, "Daniel is so good with these hands after the flop." Since Elky speaks, and understands English that comment would give away the fact that we have some kind of suited connector. I hadn't seen the hand yet, but was really hoping that Phil was doing a reverse on them and that we had a big hand like KK or something. Phil called the raise.
The flop came 10-8-6 rainbow. Elky bet out 13k. leaving him with about 50k left. Folding is never an option here, so my decision was to call or raise. the standard play, when you are this shallow, is to raise and go with the hand. That is the best play with so much money out there. However, with the qualifier in the mix a case can be made for smooth calling on the flop and reassessing on the turn. I felt calling was too risky here, in case Elky had a hand like A-Q or something, and raised to 41k, Elky moved in and I obviously called assuming I had 9 pure outs.
Elky tabled K-10, a bit of a surprise and a pretty unlucky flop. In this situation, so short on stacks, a hand like this is a cooler essentiially. The only way we could have got away from that was to fold the 8-9 to the re-raise. The team all agreed that considering we should have had an edge in the match, it was a mistake to call with the 8-9 before the flop, because we weren't deep enough and we could find better spots.
We missed everything and were left with 16k.

Hand #2; We'd doubled up at this point with 77 and also with AA and sat at atout 35k before this hand. Blinds at 2000-4000 I limped on the button with 6-7, hoping Elky wouldn't raise and that Phil would be able to take the pot on the flop against the amateur. The flop was good, J-10-10, and the amateur checked while looking totally disinterested. Hellmuth checked! I was hoping he'd bet 4000 there so we could move on.
The turn was an Ace and Elky checked. I assumed they were weak and couldn't hit that board, so I bet 4000 expecting Phil to fire again if we missed the river. Elky called. The river was a 7, the amateur checked and Phil checked. The amateur showed Q-7 so we split the pot.
We should have won that pot on the flop. I figured it should be easier for Phil to bluff the amateur than it would be for me to run a bluff through Elky. That only cost us 4000, but that was a decent pick up for us with our stack size and we needed every chip we could get!

Hand #3: With the blinds at 3000-6000 and us sitting on about 45k, Phil limped from the button with KJ off suit, essentially "trapping" in the hopes that the amateur would go all in so he could "snap call." The flop came 3-5-6 with two diamonds and Elky bet 6000. I had no pair, no diamond, and no draw, and not a lot of chips to maneuver with so I folded on the flop. I felt like that was a hand we should have raised before the flop because at that stage the chips were too valuable and we couldn't afford to give them any free flops.

Hand #4: The amateur moved all in from the button, we had 6000 in there and about 42,000 behind. I sneaked a peak of Phil's cards and was excited to see paint! He had K-J again and studied for a while. I reminded him that we are on a 10 minute clock and need to play fast, because the blinds going up doesn't help us at all. He then folded the K-J... and his opponent showed A-4 off suit. I would have called with K-J, even knowing that ace rag was a very likely hand for our opponent. We aren't in bad shape against that hand, and we are in great shape against any K-rag hand. Most importantly, time was not on our side and we needed to gamble a bit to get back in the match.

Hand #5 We got down to 26,000 and the button moved all in with A-3... Phil looks at just one card, an Ace and calls. We look at the other card, and it's also an Ace! The flop came K-2-4... turn 5. Yuk. Bad way to go out.


Now down 2-0 the format switched to alternate hand. For this format the button would stay in the same spot for two hands in a row and the button would play each opponent once.

Match #3 alternate hand format: Doyle Brunson/Jennifer Harman vs. Dario Minieri/Annette Oberstad

All I can say is, we needed a win! Doyle and Jennifer really played the format very well, pushing back and clawing out a lead which was important, because in their first altercation they'd need it.

Hand #1 We already had a decent lead, Dario made it 20,000 on the button and Doyle moved in with A-6. Dario studies for a while and called with A-8. Again, this hand will chop usually. Going into the river they needed a 2-3-5-7 or an 8 to win, we needed anything but that, or obviously a 6-ball. A 5 on the river hit and we were down to 40,000.

Not too long after that, Jennifer doubled through Annette with JJ vs. 55 and before we knew it, Team Americas had their first win, so we were down 2-1 and felt like we had some momentum.

Match #4 Alternate Hand format: Barry Greenstien/John Juanda vs. Gus Hansen and Peter Eastgate

Considering the format, I really liked our chances in this match because both John and Barry know the math and understood that they couldn't sit on their hands and had to gamble.

We got off to a bit of a slow start, being down about 15k early, before the following hand: Barry raised on the button with K-J, Gus re-raised from the big blind, and Barry moved all in. Gus called with A-8 and we lost that one too. Even though we were an underdog in a lot of the all-in confrontations, it was always close to coinflip situation and we didn't fare well at all.


So now down 3-1 we had to run the table in the straight heads up portion. Since we were losing, team Europe had to nominate first. Team captain Annette Oberstad elected to play. I'd spoke with my team about match ups, and felt like Huck, our ace in the hole had a good style to contrast Annette, not to mention that Huck Seed is the most successful player in history with this format. I was already thinking about who we''d throw out next hoping that Huck would win and was thinking something like:
If they throw out Elky, I'd match with Juanda.
If they threw out Patrik, I'd put Doyle in there.
If they threw out either Peter Eastgate or Dario Minieri, I would play.
If they threw out Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey would be our man.

There could only be three total matches so we had all of our bases covered. The match ups were based on past history and playing styles and I really think we had it exactly right in terms of match ups.

Match #5: Annette Oberstad vs. Huck Seed

Huck Seed got off to a blazing start, playing very aggressively in the early going and seizing a bit of a lead.

Hand #1: Huck called 3000 more from the big blind with 10d Jd and the flop came Kd Jc 2d. Huck checked to Annette who bet out. Huck check-raised, and Annette put herself all in. She showed Ad Jh which was a bit of a disaster because it took away three of our perceived outs, the Ad and the two remaining Jacks. We'd need a diamond or a 10, but bleh, blank, blank again.

Hand #2: Now short stacked we finally got lucky with K-7 vs A-4. The flop came 9-5-5, but the turn brought a King and Huck doubled up.

From there, Huck climbed his way all the way back to about even, with around 93,000.

Hand #3 Huck moved all in from the button with A-3 and Annette tanked for a bit before calling with A-7. We had done awfully bad in these spots so far, so we were hoping we were due for a suck out or at least a chop! Never mind that, we were dead on the flop: 9-9-7... the turn brought another 7 giving us a chop out with a 9, but nope, that's it. A 4-1 drubbing.

I'm still very happy with all of Huck's moves, I think he was the right guy to have as the ace on the team and would throw him out there again.

I was very impressed with how serious everyone took it. No one was being a prima donna, no one mailed in their performance, and all seemed genuinely upset when losing despite their being no money on the line.
Hellmuth behaved like an absolute gentleman from start to finish. He was obviously disappointed we didn't win our match and we both wish we could have that one back, because should have been decent favorites in that match.
Ivey, who as most of you know, doesn't care too much for "TV events" did everything asked of him and he was clearly trying his best in his match.


Ultimately, though we lost for two key reasons:

#1 Luck. We got demolished in coinflip situations and it wasn't even close. We won with K-7 vs A-4 one time, but other than that we never won a pot when we had say, 45-55. Losing with AA to A3 was also a bit unlucky...


#2 The Americas team, while more experienced, wasn't necessarily more experienced than the younger online players with short stacked heads up matches. There is little room for creativity when you are playing a 10 blind stack. It's all about math.
If you are used to playing deep stacked big buy in tournaments with slow structures, there are major adjustments that need to be made when you start with 50 blinds and they go up every 10 minutes. In fact, a structure like this is something you could say is close to a "solved game," in that, there are plays that are clearly correct and there is little room for reads and stuff like that.

I had a lot of fun with it, but was disappointed in the way it turned out. I look forward to the next one, where the Americas team will have a chance to play on home soil.











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