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Daniel - Poker Journal

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Poker's Greatest Night

17 Feb 2006

February 15th, 2006 will go down in poker history as a very special day. It was the night of the inaugural "Poker Oscars" if you will.

Bodog threw an awesome party which they are known for, and Barry Shulman and cardplayer.com helped put together just an awesome evening.

Who would have thought? I mean seriously, poker is getting big and all, but I never imagined this. I can't imagine how big of an event we'll be looking at next year.

The evening started out with Brad Garrett just going to town on everybody. Trashing all of the poker players and keeping everyone in stitches. His comedy is "on the edge" to say the least and he didn't seem to be too worried about offending anybody.

To Amir Vahedi: "Hey Amir, haven't seen you since flight school." He went on and on with Amir making fun of his heritage, and Amir was laughing right along with him.

Then of course he turned to Mike Matusow and made light of Mike's jail time. He cracked on Hellmuth, of course, as well as that "one hair" sticking out of Men's face saying, "What's with the one hair Men? Either pluck that one or grow one on the other side too, to even it out!"

He was pushing the envelope for sure, and there was one joke he told where people just kind of went, "Ooooooh," unsure if they should laugh.

He started the joke by referencing Jennifer Tilley's "rack" saying it was the nicest rack in poker, but then changed his mind and said, "Actually, hers is nice but she's got nothing on Greg Raymer's rack."

See what I mean? Makes you go, "Oooooh."

He introduced me by saying something like, "Losing a pot to Negreanu is like getting bitch slapped by that kid from Home Alone." He stayed with the theme of me being young by referencing my paper route, etc. It was pretty funny.

I was supposed to present the award for, "Most Underrated Poker Player," and the nominees where excellent: Todd Brunson, Allen Cunningham, and David Benyamine.

I didn't look at the envelope early because I wanted to be shocked... "and the winner is, ALLEN CUNNINGHAM!"

All three of the nominees I consider friends, but I've known Allen longer than any of them and was really happy for them. What people might not know about Allen, is that his poker knowledge base is vast. He'll read Sklansky, Caro, or whoever, and instantly find the mistakes. He "knows poker" better than anybody else in the world. Chip Reese might just be the best all around poker player in the world, but in my opinion, Allen is the man with all of the answers.

Don't get me wrong, Sklansky is a brilliant poker writer and theorist, but he wouldn't do well in a poker debate with Allen. No one would. Not Ivey, not me, not Chip, not Juanda, not anybody.

So anyway, Allen wasn't there and I had no idea. I was a little stumped as to what to do as no one prepared me for this so I had to think fast, "Allen couldn't be with us tonight so I'll be accepting this award on Allen's behalf."

"Allen would like to thank the people that have been of great help to him in his poker career. First and foremost, he'd like to thank me for discussing poker with him over the years and teaching him everything that he knows. Without me, he never could have made."

"So thank you all for this award, but most importantly, thank me!"

People got a kick out of that as I tried to have a lot of fun with it.

Most of the night was the 'Phil Ivey show" as he walked away with three awards on the night. I was nominated for five awards and finally got a win when they announced the people's choice award for, "Favorite Poker Player." That poll was done at www.cardplayer.com and apparently I received the most votes. Of one thing I'm certain, I definitely owe a big thank you to you guys, the FCPer's in the forums who voted for me. It genuinely means a lot!

After the awards show was over we all went over to the Geisha House for cocktails and some sushi as Calvin of Bodog had the whole place set up for us.

There, I ran into Phil Hellmuth and was privy to the little intro that he'd apparently given to about 10 people already throughout the evening:

"Where you stayin' Danny Boy?"

"Oh, I'm staying at the W hotel, it's a nice place and they are cool with having Mushu there," I said.

"Ah, nice. I'm staying at the Lowes. You see, Tiger Woods stays there so I figure I should stay there too. By the way, I was in Florida recently talking to Michael Jordan (he's a big fan of mine) and he was asking me to go golfing but I had to turn him down. I was invited to the Sundance film festival so I couldn't play with him... and then last night I was over at my boy Roddick's house... etc."

I love Phil, but this guy is one goofy dude, man, seriously. If there was a Card Player Award for "Name Dropper of the Year" Hellmuth would win outright, blowing past the competition (who I won't name).

Call me crazy, though, but Phil is one cool guy to hang out with. I was drinking Dom with him and the boys from Poker Royalty till pretty late. Phil drinks nothing but "Dom," lol.

We ended up closing the place and Lori and I got back to the hotel pretty late. That decision breaks several of my cardinal rules in terms of tournament preparation:

1. No alcohol
2. No socializing with people
3. Good Night's Sleep

This night was just so special, though, that I decided to make an exception. Bad idea.

I woke up in time for the 3:30pm start and left my hotel at about 2:40pm figuring I'd have ample time to get there. Of course, I forgot that I was in Los Angeles!

OK, seriously, what are all you people doing in this city? Why do you all live there? Are you guys nuts or something? Spread out! Can't you see that there are already too many people there?

It boggles my mind. I called my buddy Oren on the way and said to him, "Oren, you are a complete idiot."

He seemed puzzled, "What do you mean?"

"Why in the world do you live in LA? Are you dumb or something! Move man, there are too many people here. What's wrong with Israel? Go home! Get out of here!" I went on quite the rant, all tongue in cheek of course :-)

I ended up being about 20 minutes late for the tournament, but was able to start with a full stack of 10,000 as they were opening a new table.

On the very first hand dealt I beat Phil Ivey's personal trainer John out of a decent pot and was up to about 23,000. It looked like I was set for a good day despite going through a traffic nightmare.

Over the first three levels, though, I lost a few key pots with KK twice and QQ once and was sitting from about 15,0000 to 20,000.

By level 4 I finally doubled up in a sweet pot. I'm going to save the hand for a Card Player article, but I can tell you that it was a three way pot where I flopped the third nut flush.

My next key pot was the one I really needed. With about 35,000 in chips I played a 55,000 pot with As Js on a 9s 8d 3s flop.

It was a five way action pot with me having position. Everyone checked the flop to me so I bet 1200. The small blind moved all in for 24,000! I knew this player, though, and knew that he was weak. He either had a pair of nines or a worse draw than mine, either a flush draw or 10-J. I was certain that I had the best hand, as even if he had a 9 I was a decent favorite to win.

I called, and he turned over a red Q-9! "Sweet," I thought, "When I win this one I'll be up over 60,000 and cruising." Nope. I blanked off twice and was down to 8700.

I fought back, though, doubling up later with a set of 88 against Blair Rodman's straight and flush draw.

I was definitely tired, but was actually making good decisions for the most part. I lost several key pots on the river that went like this: I raise with KK, and the big blind calls.

The flop comes: 8-5-2. I bet, they call. Turn a J, I bet, they call. River a 6, they bet I call. "Two pair, eights and sixes."

Sigh... "You win."

I was back at around 9500 in chips when I made the biggest mistake I've made in ages. I can only attribute this crucial error to fatigue:

With blinds at 150-300 with a 50 ante I raised next to the button with Ac Qs. Phil Laak looked at his chips on the button like he was going to play and I was prepared to go with this hand against him since he plays like a nutcase for the most part.

Unfortunately, Phil just called and the small blind, the same guy with the Q-9 earlier made it 3000 to go. This guy played goofy, but normally in this situation it's an easy lay down.

I think I was just a little bit frustrated, and called the 2200 raise- Phil also called.

Now, the flop came Qc 8s 5c. The "Q-9 guy" bet 5000, and I went all in for my last 6700. The guy hesitated, asked how much the raise was, and then took a pause.

At that point I was feeling pretty good about my hand. He finally called and turns over... pocket QQ! Nice slow roll.

The turn came the 7c, though, so I needed a club on the river to stay alive. Nope... see ya.

I was pretty disappointed in myself. Despite being tired from hanging with Hellmuth the night before, I was really trying to just get through the day. That A-Q hand, while it might not SEEM like a monumental error is a mistake I just don't make. It's a pure rookie mistake and was rather embarrassing.

Sure, I did have a ton of bad luck in the tournament, but if I didn't make that one mistake I'd still have a chance. I didn't "fight" as hard as I could have and that upsets me more than losing. I've been on short stacks many a time where I've come back to win the tournament. Unfortunately, this time I took that chance away from myself with a very sloppy play.

It's a day later now, though, and I'm over it. Probably the biggest thing that I've been able to change over the last few years is what I choose to do about these types of things. In the past, before I had a faith, I was WAY too hard on myself and would look to self destruct.

Now, though, I realize that I am human and will make stupid mistakes sometimes, but that's ok. I need to forgive myself and move on from it.

So on that note, today I played a little online poker at www.fullcontactpoker.com. Some guy named "AllTheWomen" was seated in the $500-$1000 game so I decided to join him.

Right off the bat I took control and busted him for his $30,000 buy in. He bought in for $50,000 more and I busted him out of that too.

He threw down another $50,000 and I had him down to about $40,000 of that before he started the inevitable comeback.

I put an end to the comeback after a three hour session and won a little over $35,000.


The plan for the week is to spend some time with Lori here in Los Angeles. I want her to get caught up on "24" so we can start watching the second season together. We also plan on doing "stuff" around town.

Tomorrow night, we are actually going to dinner with Rob and Brendan from Amazing Race 1. It's kind of strange how that came about. Apparently Rob is actually an FCP charter member who plays a lot of poker himself and also reads the blog.

He noticed that I mentioned that I'd recently watched the first season of the Amazing Race so he shot me an e-mail.

From watching the season, they seemed like pretty "normal" guys in comparison to some people you'll see on reality TV. In a game like the Amazing Race you don't have to be friendly with the other contestants, but Rob and Brendan seemed to be cordial to the other competitors while always saying the "right things" on camera.

What was most impressive, was how they never seemed to get on each other's nerves or even fight at all. It's not a surprise that they won.

I've met a lot of "celebrity types" in the last few years, but me being a big reality TV fan, it makes me more a fan of "real people" than entertainers or athletes.

With reality TV, you feel as though you are really getting to know the people you are watching as opposed to actors or athletes. So frankly, I'm curious to see if Rob and Brendan are anything like the two guys I saw on the show.

Lori and I will have dinner with them at around 8:00pm and then probably meet up with E-DOG and the boys later that night and hit the town.

Aside from that, I have a ton of writing to catch up on and also plan to play online and possibly drop by the Commerce to play if there is a big game going.


FCP NEWS: The Winner of Seat #1 of the Daniel Negreanu Protege final table was Justin Lester. Justin lives in Venice, CA. and you can read his bio at: Justin's Bio


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