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Daniel - Poker Journal

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14 Jul 2005

By 8:05am I arrived at Wynn Las Vegas in time for the 8:30am start time. Probably the earliest start time in poker tournament history!

23 tough players faced off in a fast structure trying to make the final six which would be televised live on Fox Sports Net.

Early on I planned on playing my best at a table with Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel, John Hennigan, and Phil Gordon. Then I got tangled in a pot with Erik Seidel where I bluffed off half of my stack.

It was a pretty bizarre hand too. I raised Erik on the turn and followed through on the river, but Erik made a good call with third pair as I once again missed my straight flush draw.

I was able to claw my way back despite missing another monster hand against Erik with Ad Kd vs Q-6 on a flop of Qd 7h 4d. The turn was a 4 and I needed an A, K, or a diamond. Missed that one too. Those hands in particular have been the difference in my year this year vs. last.

Playing the hands is unavoidable, but if you never hit one it's impossible to win. Plain and simple.

I "finally" hit one when I got moved to Hellmuth's table and he was... well, not so happy about it! LOL. I literally laughed out loud as I always do when he goes crazy. Funny dude.

When Clonie Gowan made a flush on Johnny Chan, he was sent to the rail in seventh and I made the final six with the chip lead.

I had lunch at Red 8 with my agent Brian, then did a few interviews before the 3:00pm start time.

I was really tired all day, but playing pretty good. When the final table started I had a plan for each of my opponents that I developed on the break.

Specific plans for Ted, Kristi, and especially Phil Gordon. Unfortunately, in the first 30 minutes I played ZERO hands and only folded one that was marginally playable against a raise. I laid down the old Q-8 of clubs- big hand.

In fact, this was one of the most amazing final tables I'd ever played at. I genuinely feel like I played awesome, making no major errors whatsoever. In fairness, it's not all that difficult to play J-2, 9-3, 7-2, etc.

During the entire final table, guess how many hands I won at the showdown? If you guessed zero, you guessed right!

I found it a little humorous that the commentators felt like I was playing a different style or something like that. What in the world could I have done differently with the rags I was being dealt?

I don't go to the "move all in with 9-2" school of poker. I like to have a little something when I enter a pot and got no tickets to the show on this day.

Oh wait, I did pick up KK against Clonie's A-2, but she flopped one Ace and turned another. Oh, and I did pick up A-Q vs. Ted's aces and made sixes full of aces vs. Ted's aces full of sixes.

Throughout the whole drought I felt like I kept my composure throughout. In fact, my heart rate seemed to be very calm and I never made a "stupid" play the whole time.

In the end, I was frustrated with my finish, but not at all with how I played. No need for excuses, because if you Tivo'd the event you would see that I was dealt junk and played each hand the best I could- except for the last one.

Most pros you ask would say that, "there was nothing I could do," but I beg to differ. I absolutely KNEW Clonie had a strong hand for reasons I mentioned in my post game interview.

The problem with that, though, is that K-Q suited, K-J, Q-J, etc. all qualified as strongish type hands. Here was the other problem: with A-7 of clubs and just 36,000 in chips, it felt like it was a little too late to see a flop. It was raise or fold, but when you looked at the cards I looked at during the tourney it's hard to imagine folding in light of the structure.

So I moved all in and my first instinct was dead on- she had AK. I should have listened to the advice in the book I'm reading called Blink. I just knew she had me, but still put my chips in.

All in all, it was very frustrating for me, but that's how poker goes sometimes. You just have to fight, fight, fight, and eventually things turn around. I have faith.


There was another fun twist to the event that I mentioned in my last blog entry. At foxsports.com there was a poll with a simple question: Who would you most like to see Howard Lederer play heads up?

Well thanks to a monster push by the FCP Army I took a big lead early garnering 49% of the vote. Things started to get close as a major push came in for Annie Duke. At one point she took the lead, but a late surge put me back in the lead for good.

First of all, thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. I swear, I feel like I won Prom King or something! It does really feel good to know that I have so many people in my corner. Again, a sincere thank you to all who voted.


I was told that the results weren't supposed to be revealed, but when I got home I noticed that the results of our heads up match were already posted on various websites.

Both Howard and I put up $20,000 of our own money and Full Tilt added an additional $10,000 to the mix for a $50,000 prize pool.

As many of you already know, I was able to beat Howard. I won't share any details as I don't want to spoil it for you. The plan is to turn the match into a one hour episode that will air sometime in the future.


On the way home I met with Jenn, Marco, and a few of their friends for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I had Evelyn's Favorite Pasta. No not Evelyn Ng's favorite pasta dish, that's actually the name of the dish!

After dinner I headed straight home to watch the show. 9-3... 2-5.... 2-6... yuk! Man, that was pretty rough.


I've had several straight days that were full of activities. As much as I'd just like to sleep for a week, it's going to be more of the same tomorrow:

10:00am- A film crew is doing yet another "day in the life" shoot at my house.

11:30am- Leave the house and head towards Wynn Las Vegas.

12:00pm- Meet with a Swedish Poker Magazine for a photo shoot.

1:00pm- Start a Challenge Match with Tony Bloom for $500,000 in Pot Limit Omaha.

6:00pm- Finish interview with Swedish magazine.

7:00pm- Head back to the house to shoot more with the film crew.

Then the next day I've committed to doing some audio broadcasting of the final table at the WSOP.

The day after that, I've committed to doing three shows with the Ultimate Poker Challenge filming from 10:00am to 1:00pm. After that, I will continue the Challenge Match with Tony Bloom (if necessary.)

In the meantime, I have several writing projects due. Both for my syndicated newspaper column as well as Card Player magazine (Im working on it guys!). I have other interviews to schedule, phone calls to return, and e-mails to get to.

The good news? I'm planning on hibernating on the 17th! Unless of course I receive a Challenge Match that day. I am working way too hard right now and I honestly don't like it.

Man, I always thought when I had money I'd be a free man! So much for that. I'm thoroughly looking forward to my honeymoon scheduled for late August. With more to do with STACKED, MTV, a trip to Toronto, my book, Full Contact Poker stuff, and a host of other responsibilities it might be the first chance I'll get in the near future to breathe.

Good night... and cancel my wake up call!


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