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Daniel - Poker Journal

Poker has Gottten Really Hard

01 Oct 2009

Poker just isn't what it used to be. Not even close. This is the second year in a row where I've made the final table here at the WSOPE and last year was the toughest final table I'd ever been at... until this year.

In the "old days" the percentage of excellent players to amateurs was much lower. With 20 players left, you always had at least 7 or 8 who were just happy to be there and didn't play very well. That just doesn't happen in an event like this. It is without a doubt, not even close, the absolute toughest annual tournament on the schedule. A field comprised of mostly pros with a very deep structure. Flukes are few and far between.

I've always said that the more amateur, or bad players, there are in an event, the more it can skew the amount of skill in an event. The key reason being, that those bad players are going to usually make big mistakes and dump their chips to some pro. There is some luck involved in terms of who gets those donations, and there's also luck involved when one of them suck out against a pro and eliminate them.

When each table in a tournament is comprised of mostly pros with a few bad players sprinkled in, you simply can't get "lucky" to win this event. You have to be able to play at a very sophisticated level.

I thoroughly enjoy this event. I know going in that in order to compete I have to bring my A game. In a typical tournament, my strategy is generally to wait for them to make dumb mistakes. When you play in an event like this, that just doesn't really happen very often so you have to find a way to force your opponents into making mistakes.

In the "old days" the biggest difference was the play in the later stages. I hate to say it, but it used to be easy to build up a chip lead and dominate the tournament with two or three tables remaining. Not so anymore. People got better. A lot better. They don't let me get away with walking all over them anymore, I have to find new and creative ways to get some chips.

One of the things I started doing in this event, something I haven't done in years, is adding the limp to my repertoire. I've been mixing it up, small raises, limps, some re-raises here and there, etc. Just really trying to add MORE layers to my game and add more psychology as well as manipulating the game dynamics to one that suits me best.

Lately I've been really enjoying playing poker. I haven't golfed in quite some time, and have logged more hours on PokerStars leading up to this event. Not no limit hold'em, the 8-game mix, but still, it's poker and it gets my brain working.

I'm coming in as the short stack at this final table sandwiched in between two November 9ers. I have 438,000 and the blinds will be 10,000-20,000 with a 3,000 ante. When we resume I'll be in the cut off seat so there is plenty of time, no need to rush it. I don't feel all that far behind at this point. I could use a little bit of luck obviously, but I certainly feel like I can win this thing and look forward to making a run at it... in about two hours. DOH! Better get ready.