Inside the Poker Tour - From Legends of Poker
Day one of the World Poker Tour event (5150) at the Bicycle Club, season IV, is over. 839 entrants with two day ones, we will see when we get to the final table how many of those players started on the first day one, thereby having a day off before the official day two on Monday, August 29 at 415pm. One irony to me is that the first day one starters complained about the alleged advantage of the day twoers and the second day one players complained that the first day ones had a built-in advanatage! Haha! Which proves that many folks are well trained in the art of complaining and that many a pro player sees that glass as half empty!
Some memorable hands from the first day one at my table.
This time I got the down side of the big hands as I picked up AA about 20 minutes into the event (the levels were 90 minutes each) and made it 150 over a big blind of 50 and only the little blind called, it came K86 and I bet 300 with him calling, now a K and he checked and I checked behind (I could bet to define my problem but what is the point? What is he going to call me with that lets me win? 10-10 perhaps? And what if he check-raises me? The river is a 2 and we both check and he turns over a K7offsuit! Ah, well somedays it is just plain hard to win with AA! A few hands later I pick up KK on the button and a player with 16,000 (I have 8525) raises it to 200 up front and the cutoff calls, I make it 1,000 (this is more than I recommend in my writings where I present 600 as the right amount for a baseline) and the upfront player calls. Now there is 2350 in the pot and the flop comes AQ6 and after he checks to me I bet 1625, which is about the right amount if you choose to bet this pot (checking is a reasonable alternative, but if you do check and it comes a 9, or almost any other card except a king, and he bets 1000 or more you will have to give the hand up without having any idea of what the real value of your holding might be). He called without much thought and it came 9, check, check, and the river brought a 4 and he bet 2,000 and I mucked the hand leaving myself with 5900.
5900 is plenty of chips at that stage of the tournament, but as we all started with 10,000 and it was well below par and not a desirable number to have.
I have tried to explain the psychology of this more than once. When you have 2400 in chips and win a pot that more than doubles you up and you have a total of 5900 in chips you tend to feel not only lucky, but ready to do battle, even if you are still well below par. On the other hand if you lose a big hand with a straight, or pocket aces, or a set, most especially with a river card, and end up with that same total of 5900 chips, you feel that the glass is half full and you have to fight to get your head on straight! Amazing how strong our attitude can be, and how it shapes the same reality from clearly opposite perspectives.
At the second level (50-100 blinds) I have only 4800 in the little blind when an upfront player makes it 300 and three others call and I look down at JcJs. Now everyone in the pot has me covered and I felt that it was a little early for the knee-jerk of moving all-in to win a 1300 dollar pot. Now the 1300 would be a welcome addition to my stack but there is no guarantee that I will win the pot by moving in. Re-raising less than all-in seems silly as I can compromise my stack and then have difficult decisions to make after the flop against any opponentsand in this case all my opponents already have called a raise with a hand that will test the upfront better. Hmmmmmm. So I just call, leaving myself 4550, the big blind calls and the flop comes AsJh7s, a lovely flop and one that leaves me hoping that one of my opponents has an ace. If I am against a flush draw and it gets there and knocks me out then so be it, right now I am just looking to get all of my chips into the pot. We check to the button and he aggressively bets 1100 with only me calling him. The turn comes a 3s and I bet 2400 at him and he immediately sets me in. I am happy to see him turn over 7h7d and I return to a healthy stack when the river is a 4s.
Players are going broke at the rate of about one for every 100 seconds so the field is getting smaller on a regular basis.
At the third level the blinds are 100-200 and I have crept up to 16,000 against a rather weak table when the button makes it 600 off a stack of 7300 and I have QQ in the little blind and I make it 2100, it is back to him and with only a brief hesitation he moves all-in. I call and he shows A7off-suit! The layout now becomes 973K7, oh well, back below 9,000 in chips we go (does this sort of whipsaw happen to Negreanu? Or Mizrachi?) - well maybe it does, at the next level Mizrachi comes to the adjoining table with a mountain of chips and sits to the right of Jerry Buss and raises with AA and gets all-in against Dr. Buss who holds QQ and it comes Q so Jerry ends the day with about 55,000 and Michael with about 13,000.
About five years ago Phil Hellmuth says to me "the difference between you and me, Dennis, is that when I take a horrid beat I will still be in the tournament!" For all my criticism of Hellmuth this insight of his caused me to re-evaluate my game plan.
I think that it is clear the professional players that are doing well these days are the great "donkey-killers". Players like myself often struggle against players that do not know what they have as they keep making the mistake of thinking.
At the fourth level (back to the WPT at the bike) Phil Ivey has had his chips go up and down like they were on an elevator and finally he is out the door. In the table in front of me Doyle Brunson has short chips for an hour and then goes broke. I hit my peak of about 27,000 and then do not win another hand the rest of the day, finishing with about 13,000. I do not notice many European stars on the scene, but perhaps they are clustered into the second day one. Mel Judah from Australia is here and Simon Trumper from England (and yes I had a talk with Simon, the problem I have is more related to what I perceive to be an abuse of the rules, not the letter of the rules, but the intention of the rules. Bottom line is we still disagree on etiquette in the situation discussed in past columns. And let me repeat myself here, DO NOT THREATEN HIM, threatening him is silly and childish,).
Etiquette can be vastly different on the left side and the right side of the pond. I remember going to London in the late seventies and having two strong impressions. The first was that you could actually see the tennis ball in tennis matches on television there (I assume this was a precursor to the high definition TV that is now available in America, for sure it was related to how many pixels could dance in front of your eyes...) and the other was that at that time the Europeans would complain bitterly if an American were to actually think about their move in backgammon, no matter how high the stakes were! It was considered very discourteous to think even if you were playing for thousands of dollars! This surprised me immensely at the time.
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