Inside the Poker Tour - 33 - From Bellagio
What an interesting event this was. 555 runners from all over the world put up 15,300 dollars and we were off and running. For me, just back from Europe, that extra 5,000 seemed like too much and I was going to pass until the last day when I realized that over 400 people had already signed up!
Some players really stood out for me.
I played a lot with Alan Goehring on day three and found his play very interesting, as always. He showed more emotion on losing a key hand early in day two [holding AA versus JJ] and then winning another one late on day two [this time making running tens for quads versus a flopped flush] than I have ever seen from him before. Next I must mention that a few years ago Alan is the first guy I saw constantly making it two times the big blind as a raise on entering the pot, later on I came to think of this as the "internet" raise because it was so common online and so uncommon in a brick venue. I call this bet the "freeze" raise because it tends to freeze the action and another player that has used it a lot is Marcel Luske. When this raise happens [especially when I make it] I often mutter the witticism 'it ain't a raise, folks, it's a pot-builder!' Mathematically it has been proven wrong, jaja, but those of us that use it have our reasons. I notice that Erick Lindgren is the latest highly rated player to make it a part of his arsenal.
Darrell [Gigabet] Dicken is quite a good and fearless player, his psychological set is very interesting, and I have two hands that illustrate this. One is that while many players seem to hope to avoid confrontations with the big stacks Dicken seems to seek them out, apparently with the hope of being able to double up. He won the first million dollar pot of the tournament fairly early on day three when he called Patrick Antonius's late-position raise from the big blind when he held 75. The flop came down J75 with two diamonds and Dicken bet with Antonius raising and Dicken moving all-in. Called by Antonius this was as close to a true coin-flip as you are likely to ever come across with Antonius holding KdJd for top pair and a flush draw, for over a million in chips.
On the final hand of day three he made JJ Liu the chip leader by handing her a pot that totaled almost two million in chips. He raised from the cut-off with AQ off-suit and she re-raised from the button with KK with Dicken calling. The flop came K66 and he checked and she bet something like 60k with Dicken calling. On the small turn card Dicken bet 150k and Liu called, another blank on the river and Dicken bluffed all-in! JJ called and was a chip leader for much of the rest of the event. This left Dicken 316,000 to do battle with on day four but he was not shaken by it, cavalier even. He told me right afterwards, and in good humor, that it did not bother him at all! His reason was that occasionally his opponents have a hand they are willing to risk all their chips with, but the rest of the time they have to give it up. Indeed he came all the way back to have good chips going to the TV table.
I have watched the unveiling of Mike Gracz with interest this past 8 months and went from thinking he had one lucky event to be truly impressed by his play and finally got to play with him, and he is as stable and as focused player as I can imagine. He had to get to fifth to win Player of the Year but said that the WPT event we were in was much more important to him than any such standings. The most impressive thing about these young players is their patience. They are patient and thoughtful in a way that is not only amazing in itself, but belies their age.
Antonius is an over-the-top aggressive young player whom we are likely to hear a lot more from over the next years. He used his big stack like a club, raising pot after pot after pot, and then firing a big bullet on the flop. If you played back at him he would stop and evaluate the situation and often make the right decision. If you did not play back at him you would surely bleed to death.
Joe Cassidy is another young rising star that I played with and he was at center stage for two remarkable hands. In the first he took on Antonius, who with 1.8 million in chips was pounding on the table, Joe had 1.2 million in chips and they were among the top five in chips as day three wound down. In this particular hand Antonius raised it to 35,000 (over a big blind of 8000) from mid-field and Cassidy called from the little blind. The flop was 9c5d4d and Joe checked, with Patrick now betting 90,000 and Joe calling; both checked after the Qh came on the turn; the river brought the Jd. Joe thought for a while and bet 140,000 and now Patrick thought for a bit and raised it to 340,000 and the ball was back in Joe's court. Joe thought for several minutes, really focused, and called! The hands were Ah3d for Patrick and Ad7h for Joe! Awesome reads and great play. It is my hope that someone besides Dennis feels this way!
Soon after this Beebe raised it to 37,000 from the cut-off and I thought he had a strong hand, as he had been making it 45,000 or 40,000 every time that he raised, but Joe correctly read him for a weak hand and made it 237,000 to go from the button. Beebe thought long and hard and moved all-in for a total of about 500,000. Joe thought for a minute and called, the hands were KsJd for Beebe, and 7h2h for Cassidy! It came QQ572 and Beebe was disgusted and gone.
Bengt Sonnert, yet another tall young aggressive player who placed 4th in the Monte Carlo Millions, was moved to our table, replacing Beebe. The first time he had the button his play was showcased as he made it 45,000 to go and Cassidy re-raised him to 175,000 from the little blind and Bengt moved all-in without hesitation. Joe called the total of 530,000 rather quickly and they turned up AJ off-suit for Bengt and A-10 off-suit for Joe, with Bengt doubling into the millionaire's club just that quickly.
Many of us know about how much energy and stamina a multi-day event of this nature takes and so I have to mention how impressed I am that Doyle Brunson can get to the final six, the television table, one more time. Forget the possibility of winning it, or the fact that Doyle took the lead late in this event, just getting there is incredible. Playing well on top of that is almost too much to ask for, but Doyle continues to answer the bell.
Til next time, play good! And add that essential ingredient, getting lucky!
Ed note: Party Poker have multiple tables available at every limit, 24 hours a day.