World Series of Poker Europe

Inside the Poker Tour (49)

Inside the Poker Tour (49) 0001

I saw Frank O'Dell at the Heavenly Holdem tournament and asked him where he has been the last year and he replied that it was time for him to come out and try to get in shape for the World Series of Poker. I suspect that he has been at home working in the internet gold mine. He has one of the coveted bracelets from the WSOP but wants another one!

I also asked Kevin "the snake" Blakely who this Blakely was that did well in the women's no-limit event and he said it was his daughter. Who says getting advice from someone else is not important?

I see that Al "sugar bear" Barbieri is continuing his assault on final tables. He is a dangerous opponent because he is fearless and relentlessly aggressive. I have written about some of his hands in the past and will likely have more to say about future hands that he plays.

The fields at the WSOP are so huge now that every win should count for two bracelets, lol. Well that won't happen, I can promise! There are still two 'buy-a-bracelet' events on the schedule; the 50,000 dollar HORSE event on July 12th and the 5,000 dollar Deuce to Seven lowball event with rebuys that takes place on July 25th. If you have a spare 100,000 laying around you can take a shot at these two events! Now I might seem to be a bit disparaging in my attitude about these two tournaments but the fact is that the 'old' WSOP was there to crown the best at quite a few poker games whereas these days it caters almost exclusively to the 'MIS' as Daniel Negreanu calls them—the move-in-specialists at no-limit holdem that have cut their teeth on television shows and used some internet experience to get in the hunt for a miracle bracelet. There was a day when the game of no-limit holdem played a lot more like its more skillful cousin—pot limit holdem. The one thing that most players cannot seem to keep in mind is that winners in cash games are not commonly amongst the best tournament players.

I can still remember when you used to go past the tournament area at Binion's on your way to a cash game when one of the less popular forms of poker was being featured and the microphone announcement would be, "this is your chance to win a bracelet, only 14 players registered for today's event!" Oh, how so many wish they had! Unless you could look into the crystal ball that held the future and see what a marketing plus bracelets had the cash games seemed a lot more important to your bankroll to have good results in.

One thing I always wish is that they would tell you what the scorecard really looks like—in other words how many events did Doyle Brunson enter with how many opponents in winning his bracelets? The same for Johnny Chan and for Phil Hellmuth and for the rest of the top twenty, or so, of course.

Over the decades I have had two big factors help me decide whether to play in events or not. On the math side I always looked to get a possible return of 40 to one—this number I arrived at by looking at the number which was exactly half-way between the payout for first and second divided by my entry. On the human side I always looked at how much smoke I would have to survive to get that money. The money was not guaranteed and compromising your health by having to do a lot of second hand smoking seemed like a very high price to pay—I did not have to see an autopsy to know that.

Captain Tom Franklin has a name for all those players that appear on ESPN one time and can do no wrong, but then we never hear from again—he calls them "one-time wonders".

The time-tested and very successful John Juanda told me a few years ago that it did not matter to him what game they featured as long as they have a tournament format. His contention is that he could learn any game and still be successful in tournaments because he knew how to play tournaments and that that was a lot more important then being able to play any particular game well! Now that is a very interesting perspective to have and comes from the brain and mouth of one of the most successful players on the circuit. It speaks (again) to the scorn that many good cash players have about tournament players—the truth is that most cash players cannot do well in tournaments just as most good tournament players cannot do well in cash games.

Eric Seidel is a guy who hated the idea of anyone seeing his hole cards but has slowly come around to it when he realized that just seeing some edited hands did not make it possible to play well.

Of course seeing hole cards makes it more possible to pour over the televised appearances and scrutinize them for tells, but the player gets to see himself and work on using reverse tells or getting closer to no tells. No tells is the ideal but how many can actually accomplish this? Most of us are human, after all, and we act or react to everything, even when we hope it is concealed under our clothing—remember that heart monitor they put on some players in some tournaments a few years ago?

I was in New Zealand recently and watched CD's of Lee "final table" Nelson knocking out every single opponent in three final tables. How did he get that nickname, "final table"? The tables were 6 players, 6 players, and 7 players—the 7 player final table was the one at the Aussie Millions this year which I worked on as part of the Fox Sports Net crew. What are the odds of knocking all of your opponents out on three important final tables in a row for over 100,000 dollars each? Hard to calculate I can tell you, but almost impossible to believe. If you beat 16 opponents in a row at heads-up play the odds would be over 64,000 to one, but what if you began each table against a number of opponents? By my approximation your odds would be over 40 billion to one, that is B as in billion. Is that possible? I hope a mathematician comes forward to correct my calculations because I cannot believe the number I see, and I was trying to be conservative. How about making a final table every third event you play for years? That does not seem possible either. Help! Is this guy playing above the rim? Is it a level playing field? Apparently not. He is the only guy older than 40 years of age that I know of that is knocking the fields of today into tomorrow. Perhaps he is the most unknown superstar on the planet. Don't look for him at the World Series of Poker because Las Vegas in summertime is not to his liking. But you might see him in European tournaments and certainly at the Aussie Millions again next year when he has a chance to defend his crown.

Until next time play good…and get lucky, real lucky!

Ed Note: Get real lucky. Play poker against the best at Full Tilt.

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