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Daniel - Poker Journal

The Poker Bug

26 Oct 2009

My sleep schedule has been a bit off and the main reason for that is that I've been playing poker in Bobby's room at the Bellagio. After I was eliminated from the tournament, I felt like playing so I stopped in and played till about 6am that first night. It was a good game, with most of the players drinking wine. Good wine too, one of my favorites, Caymus Special select. It's not as expensive as other wines, but it's my favorite Cabernet by far.

Since that night I got the poker bug. I've already considerably stepped up my hours online at PokerStars, playing regularly in the $400-$800 8-game mix and running really hot. I only play two hour sessions normally, but I've only taken one loss in my last 14 plays in that game.

This week I played three nights at the Bellagio also and plan on going back again today at 4pm since some of the guys are starting early. Last night, it was a 10 game mix:

Hold'em
Omaha 8 or better
Stud
Raz
Stud 8 or better
2-7 triple draw
Pot Limit Omaha (cap)
No Limit Hold'em (cap)
2-7 NL Single Draw (cap)
Stud H/L regular

The limit games were $1500-$3000 and the big bet games were played with $500-$1000 blinds and a $30,000 cap. That's a much smaller cap than normal, and I found it a little odd, but I'm not complaining. I actually think it benefits me in that particular lineup for several reasons.

Last night I played a hand of no limit hold'em that ended up causing a bit of controversy: I raised to $2500 with 6s 8s and the big blind called me. The flop came K-10-4 rainbow. The big blind checked, and I bet $3000- he called. The turn was a 7, he checked again, and this time I bet $8000. The river was the 9, and after he checked is where things got a little funky.

I started counting the pot in my head to try and figure out how much was left to bet. We'd each put in $2500, $3000, and $8000 thus far, leaving $16,500 left to bet. I said, "I'll bet the pot," then threw out $13,500, miscalculating how much was left. So my verbal action was "pot," but the amount of chips I actually bet was $3000 less than it was supposed to be.

My opponent called the bet, and as the pot was being pushed towards me, the hand still face up on the table, I realized that the bet was supposed to be $3000 more since I actually verbalized the word pot. What do you think? Should I get the extra $3000 or not? I think there are decent arguments on both sides.

Anyway, I've really been enjoying playing poker lately. I feel like a lot of distractions I may have to deal with aren't as pronounced lately, which allows me more time to focus on poker. It's kind of fun feeling like a professional poker player again. Let's face it, in the last couple years I haven't played much poker outside of the big tournaments. I haven't been a "regular" in any game at all. I decided after the WSOP that I would start playing more poker again during the Bellagio tournament, but I expected that to be in December. I didn't think I'd have time until then, but I decided to make the time.

To really keep your game sharp and play at a high level it takes genuine sacrifice. It's a sacrifice I'm not so sure I'm willing to make wholeheartedly. With all of the other things I do that are poker related, on top of my addiction to golf, I don't think I'll reach my peak any time soon. A few years ago I was a regular in Bobby's room, but a lot has changed since then. Golf is a big deal to me, but also, being a part of PokerStars Team Pro has me traveling a bit more and doing lots of other things.

I love my life. Absolutely, I'm a happy camper and have the opportunity to live a stress free life. Having said that, I also have a thirst to be a better poker player. I've always done very well playing in mixed games. Before the poker boom, that's how I made a living.

I look back sometimes on my career path and I see major differences between where I went, and where my buddy Phil Ivey went. At the time when I spent less time playing poker, he became an animal, playing both online and live regularly. A crazy work ethic, with absolutely no distractions. There is no question in my mind that all of that experience helped Ivey become the player that he is today.

Thinking about that motivates me. I know I'll never be in a spot where I have complete freedom to play poker ALL the time, but that doesn't mean I can't play more than I have in the last few years and I think it's important for me on a personal level that I do.

Now, when I say play more poker, that means mixed games. It does not mean no limit hold'em cash games at all, because games like that just don't regularly happen at the highest levels. You'll never, ever, see Bobby's room turn into a no limit hold'em cash game. Most of the high stakes players in the world at least play a few of the other games, and more and more I see the younger guys playing the mixed games.

For a while I was worried that big mixed games would die out, but the obvious truth is that mixed games have longevity that a no limit cash game could never have, despite that being the game of choice among most new players. Eventually, all true poker players try to learn all the games. Playing just one game becomes monotonous and boring.

So I'm 3 for 3 this week at Bellagio and plan on going down there again to play for about 6 hours or so. There is one negative side effect to going down there for me. When I stay home at night, I'm usually up at like 10am, workout, golf, and live a healthy lifestyle. Going to Bellagio brings out a bit of the degen in me. Staying out late, drinking, then waking up too late to golf. It's a difficult balance that requires a good amount of discipline. I'm sure I'll get it all figured out eventually, in the meantime, I'm going to just ride the rush and see where that takes me...





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