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Inside the Tour, Vol. 101: More from New Zealand

Inside the Tour, Vol. 101: More from New Zealand 0001

"Put Charles Darwin, Claude Monet and J.R.R. Tolkein in a room with six bottles of vodka and a party pack of recreational drugs and, combined, they could not come close to the concept of New Zealand. If nature had a design studio, full of her most surreal and stupendous ideas, it would be 'The Land of the Long White Cloud' or more recently, 'Middle Earth'."

That's the quote from early on in my Footprints guide. Footprints are the best (in my opinion) travel guides sold to the public. I have been to New Zealand three times and am truly in awe of the beauty found here. If one has a few years to bum around, one could cover most of the two islands that comprise this country, along with all the Kiwis who live here. Go to Takaka and Akaroa and Christchurch (how did this missionary name happen here, amid all the Maori names; I mean even Akaroa — a French community — has a Maori name) and Hanmer Springs and Rotorua and Coromandel and Wellington and Queensland and more villages than I can tell you about here. Swim with the dolphins and hike endless trails and snowboard down glaciers and try to capture the magic in a camera. It doesn't matter how many pixels your machine can grasp, most of the presented awesomeness goes uncaptured. For the rugged there is Harwood Hole and Pupu Springs and mountains that bring gushing rivers and falls to life.

I thank the manager of Sky Casino, Ejaaz Dean for his time and the advertising that he did for the seminar we gave in Auckland, that was headlined by Joe Hachem and Lee Nelson, and assisted by Tysen Streib, Tony Dunst, and me.

Auckland has more coastline then most other shore cities can claim. Numerous islands exist that are serviced by ferries and other boats. In Auckland itself there is the SkyCity Casino that hosted the recent APPT ( Asia Pacific Poker Tour) stop. Sky also is where the highest building in New Zealand exists, or so it is said. That would be the casino's signature tower, or space needle, that can be dove off of if one is tethered up to the safety gear and pays the price. Who are they kidding? Safety gear? Adrenaline rush supreme, that's what's guaranteed as one plummets 192 meters (630 feet for the Americans) and, so far, all that have plunged… have survived.

In the main event I plunged to the depths without even a parachute, sigh. I was at a table where no one knew what they had, therefore how could anyone else tell what they held? Hmmmmmm. I lasted five levels and then just plunged to my oblivion. No hands and no hope. The main event was kicked off by a haka that acknowledged the Maori influence and background presented here. Other carvings and boats are on permanent display here, welcoming one to the lobby.

Two hands illustrate the hopelessness of my day. In hand one, at level one, I raised from the hijack seat to 150 off a starting stack of 10,000, which had grown to 11,200 with the cutoff and button away from the table and the big blind not having been seen as yet. So I had to only get past the little blind, who was the greenest of amateurs… but he called. I had {2-Clubs}{6-Hearts} and the flop came {q-Spades}{10-Diamonds}{5-Hearts} and it was checked to me. I foolishly ignored my own advice and fired 250 into the pot. He called again and it came {10-Clubs}. He checked with disgust, I bet 450, he called, and I was done with it before I caught a {6-Spades} on the river, as I can still beat some straight draws, but it is hopeless to imagine a win here, and his disgusted check on the turn was a tell a mile wide, or so I thought. Actually he held {9-Spades}{9-Diamonds} and I was a loser, as he would have likely called a third barrel if I fired again. After all, he started the hand with a pair.

At my next big blind I held {a-Spades}{10-Spades} and 10,300 in chips, the button shook a bunch and raised to 150, I called. It came {k-Spades}{j-Hearts}{4-Clubs} and I checked and the button bet 150 again. This would be suspicious for sure, but given that the player was unable to even know what a bet was I was not sure and was drawing to the nuts, and I called. It came {6-Clubs} and we both checked. The river brought the {5-Hearts} and I bet 350, whoops, he called and showed me {a-Hearts}{a-Diamonds} after examining my ace-high…. My fault for trying to play poker at this level. This was a mistake. I never saw 10,000 in chips again.

I did have one hand on Day One that was a proud bearer of my made-hand standard, {10-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}. From the big blind, I called a raise to 150 from the hijack seat, and the flop brought {j-Clubs}{k-Spades}{10-Spades}; I bet out 300 with my opponent calling. The turn brought {j-Spades} and I checked, intending to raise, but my opponent also checked and the river was the {k-Hearts}. I didn't have much of a hand now but bet out just the same, for 750, and the kid immediately made it 1,800. I could only conclude that he held a king and had to punt my hand.

Later on this same person on the river turned his hand up with {k-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} after calling a bet from the small blind with a board of {q-Clubs}{j-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{8-Clubs}{4-Spades}, his opponent seemed startled and looked his hand over before turning up the {a-Spades}{k-Diamonds} for the nuts. If I had seen this hand first would I still muck the previous hand? The answer is yes, yes, and yes!

Until next time play good… and get lucky!

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