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Inside the Tour 0001

I have two hands from Harrah's Rincon [San Diego] [a four day 10,000 dollar buy in event] to share with you before we move to the final [televised] table of the PPT event.

On the second hand of the event Rich Brodie of big events fame [] limped under the gun with 9s8s and three others limped to TJ Cloutier in the little blind and he made it 425 to go [the big blind was 50 at level one, and we all started with 10,000 in chips], Rich called and the other players passed. The flop came Q-J-10 and TJ held QQ and bet 1100, Rich raised it to 2800 and TJ moved all-in with top set. Rich called with the smallest possible made straight and after a 4 and an ace came off TJ was gone!

Until the year 2004 I had never gone broke on the first hand dealt of any event, but when I said that I must have failed to knock on wood because it happened to me four different times in one year! A much more astonishing fact was that on three occasions I held exactly the same hand in exactly the same position! All three times I held 5c4c on the button behind four limpers, and with five or six of us taking the flop it came K54 each time. Each time it was checked to me and I bet, was check-raised by someone holding a King [twice a KQ and once an AK], and I moved all-in [At this point I am a 74.5% to 25.5% favorite over the KQ, and a 72.9 to 27.1% favorite over the AK. Erick Lindgren made me look this up as I was just guessing that I was a three to one favorite and he wanted me to be more exact.]. Should I wait until one more card comes off to move all-in? I do not think so! My argument for moving all-in with bottom two is that I want to bet all I can when I imagine that I have a clear and substantial advantage. If one is so paranoid as to expect to lose this type of match-up then I recommend not playing poker at all, after all it is recognized as a form of gambling!

The segue is to the next hand, also played at the Rincon 10,000 dollar event. Erick Lindgren limped in first position at the second level with a big blind of 100. The button also limped and I checked the big blind, holding Ac4c. The flop came down 2c3cJs and I was willing to gamble at this point in time although I am out of position. I bet 250 into the existing pot of 350 [off of my 10,200 stack that I started the hand with], Erick now made it 500 to go [from his stack of 6800], the button mucked, and I re-raised it 1200 more to 1700 total. Erick called. The turn came off the 9 of diamonds. What should I do now? If I check am I willing to call a large bet? If I bet am I willing to call a large raise? With only one card to come can I make a large bet and hope to win via a semi-bluff even though my opponent showed a lot of strength on the flop? I checked and Erick checked. Off came the lovely [from my viewpoint] Q of clubs, making me the absolute nuts. How should I play the hand now? I have an exact opinion but will wait until the next column to answer this question.

Also at Rincon one of the toughest starting tables I have ever seen in any event was next to mine. If any of these names are unfamiliar to you, look them up! Starting in the one seat Billy Baxter, two Gus Hansen, three Toto Leonidas, four Chip Reese, five Thor Hansen, six Andy Bloch, seven seat was the only player I did not know, [Now exactly how would you like to be looking at this lineup? Good moment to gather a few autographs.], eight John D'Agostino, nine Eric Seidel.

At the final table for the Professional Poker Tour played on February 25th, 2005 at the Commerce Casino I did not hold very exciting cards but we will see what the television editors choose to do with what they were given. Erick Lindgren's parents were seated behind him and I felt that he had the most focus and tangible desire to win of any players at the final table. Daniel Negreanu seemed to me to play to the cameras and the situation a lot more than being totally focused on winning the event. Chris Bigler seemed to me to hold quite a few good sized pairs when players moved in in front of him, although he told me this was not the case. A perception gap? Perhaps.

On the third hand dealt at blinds of 3000-6000 with a 1000 ante the following hand came up; the action was passed to Erick on the button who made it 12,000 to go [off a stack of about 380,000], I was in the little blind holding A-10 off-suit [with a stack of 173,000 plus the 3,000 in the blind]. I would have been much more comfortable if he had made it 18,000 or 20,000 to go. At this point in time we are still six handed and I did not like any of my three choices [pass, call, or raise]. If I were to call I am letting the big blind in cheaply and not gathering any new and useful information pre-flop about Erick's hand while having to act out of position with the smaller stack throughout the hand. Calling did not seem like a good idea. If I raise it how much do I raise it? If I make it 32,000 and he calls I still have lousy position throughout the hand, and if he re-raises I will be forced to muck my hand after wasting precious chips. What would the reader do? I thought for a while and got no 'read' on the strength of Erick's hand and decided it was too early to gamble and hating this hand in big-bet poker I mucked it. Asher Derei called the 6,000 more [from his stack of about 140,000]. The flop came down 10-8-2, Asher checked, Erick bet about 20,000, and Asher moved all-in. Erick mucked, remarking that it was likely that his only path to victory was the running [backdoor] flush. Asher now showed the 8-2 of clubs. To recap this hand I would probably win it if I played it perfectly [re-raising, and not being pushed off the hand, before the flop], but also might have easily gone broke with it if I played the hand in a compromised manner by just calling the small raise before the flop.

A few hands later Allen Krell self destructed. He raised up front to 20,000 with 6-6 and Chris Bigler called from the big blind with 5-5. the flop came 7-5-2 and Chris checked and Allen bet 20,000, Chris called. The turn was a 10 and Chris checked again and Allen bet 20,000 again, but this time Chris raised it 100,000 more. While Allen was thinking someone in the crowd yelled out, "You can't get anywhere without taking any chances!" and Allen half turned to answer, "I really think I have the best hand here!" and then called. Before the river card came off Chris bet out in the dark and Allen, even without catching a six, had only one stack to call with, and was gone, although he had won 25,000 and defied all odds he was certainly disappointed to leave the stage so quickly.

A few hands later Erick raised and Asher moved all-in for less than 100,000 and Chris Bigler called, after getting the count, as the new chip leader. Chris had 9-9 and Asher had A-Q. Before the flop came off Erick told me his holding had been QJ, and there was the magic Jack on the flop, Daniel now mentioned that another Q had also been mucked and Asher said, "that's alright, I still want to see a Queen!" and off it came on 4th street, keeping Asher alive. One round later Asher moved all-in again, this time with A-J off-suit and Bigler, once again, asked how much is that in his distinct accent. It was a lot more this time but Chris called again, holding 10-10 this time, and won. Asher collected 30,000 and was gone.

An hour or so later Dennis Waterman moved all-in with A-Q of hearts was called by Daniel Negreanu who held J-J and Dennis was gone with a 45,000 dollar payday.

Soon thereafter Daniel was crippled in a big hand with Erick and left with 60,000 cash soon thereafter. Just enough to buy a Lexus, Danny!

Erick then got some big pairs heads-up and Chris Bigler had his second consecutive second on the PPT and 100,000. I know Chris was hoping for more but two seconds on the PPT is very impressive.

Erick Lindgren won the 225,000 first place and made his folks proud! Hard to compete with the party he hosted last year on the Party Poker Cruise when he won first place but this win is more impressive to many of his peers.

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