Friday, February 29, 2008

Phil Ivey Wins L.A. Poker Classic

One Phil is considered by his peers to be the best poker tournament player in the world. The other Phil is the SELF PROCLAIMED best NL Texas Hold 'Em player in the world. Yet neither of them has ever won a World Poker Tour title. Check that. Neither of them had ever won a WPT title. That was, until a Mr. Phil Ivey out lasted not only, the poker brat, Phil Hellmuth, but a field consisting of some of the top professional poker players in the world. Achieving not only his first WPT title, but a cool 1.6 million dollar payday.

The annual Los Angeles Poker Classic, held at the Commerece Casino, draws some of the biggest names in the game, and this year was no exception. But as the field began to dwindle down and the final table was set, all eyes were on the Phils. And they didn’t disappoint.

The televised final table (6 players) action began with Phil Ivey as chip leader with 4.1 million in chips but he took an early hit, as Charles Moore moved all in on the very first hand for 1.5 million and after thinking it over for 5 minutes, Ivey made a questionable call with Ad 5c as he found himself dominated by Moore’s As Kh.

Ivey couldn’t improve and he now found himself with 30% less chips with only one hand into the action.

Meanwhile, the other Phil wasn’t faring much better early on as his stack was crippled when he moved all in on a board of Jd 6h 3d Kh with Jh 8c and Nam Le made the insta-call with Kc 3c good for two pair and a nice double up, while leaving Phil Hellmuth with less than 1 million in chips.

He would eventually be eliminated a few hands later as his short stack all in move with Ad 9s was ineffective against Moore’s Ah Qd. The board ran out for the poker brat and he was eliminated in 6th place earning himself $229,820.

Any poker player will tell you that to win a tournament, you have to get lucky a few times. And even a poker genius like Phil Ivey needs the help of lady luck once in a while. After Scott Montgomery was eliminated in 5th place, Phil Ivey and Nam Le found themselves all in, with Ivey’s pocket threes seemingly crushed by Le’s pocket aces. Things weren’t looking much better after a flop of 10s 6s 2d, but the turn brought the miracle 3d for Ivey giving him a set that held up on the river.

Only five hands later Ivey eliminated Moore when his two pair held up against an open ended straight draw.

And just like that, Phil found himself heads up for his first WPT title, and with a commanding chip lead of 10.82 million to Quinn Do’s 2.48 million.

Ivey's reputation as one of the most feared heads up players in the world was only more so proven as he made quick work of Do. Just two hands into heads up play, Ivey made a 700,000 bet on a flop of As 8s 6s. Do made the call, leaving himself with only 1.02 million in chips behind and when the Ac paired the board on the turn, Ivey put Do all in for his remaining chips. Four minutes later, Do made the call, only to realize he was drawing dead with his 9h 8h against Phil Ivey’s aces full of eights.

The win gave Phil Ivey his first WPT title, $1,596,100 and a $25,000 entry in to the WPT Championship. It also propelled Ivey’s career tournament winnings to just over $8.7 million dollars.

Congratulations to Phil Ivey, from the Crooked Straight.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Phil Ivey Hold Chip Lead in LA Poker Classic

Down to 18 players, Phil Ivey holds a slight chip lead heading into what looks like it will be the final day of this WPT event. Other notables are Jennifer Tilly, Phil Helmuth, and Nam Le.

1 Phil Ivey 1,543,00

2 Blair Hinkle 1,541,000

3 Phil Hellmuth Jr. 1,399,000

4 Nam Le 1,254,000

5 Michael Carson 1,029,000

6 Michael Watson 987,000

7 Charles Moore 921,000

8 WeiKai Chang 751,000

9 Quinn Do 695,000

10 Matt Brady 497,000

11 Jennifer Tilly 417,000

12 Jeffrey Schwimmer 413,000

13 Theo Tran 410,000

14 Scott Montgomery 386,000

15 Peter De Best 291,000

16 David Singer 285,000

17 Brian Taylor 228,000

18 Yury Parad 214,000

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bursting the Bubble - Peter Feldman

One of the keys to becoming a successful Sit & Go player is learning to master bubble play. The last thing anybody wants is to be the Bubble Boy, which means you need to get the most out of every hand you play during this critical stage. If you make solid moves from good positions and manage your chip stack wisely, you’ll find yourself in the money before you know it.

Let’s say that you’re short-stacked with just five or six big blinds. How you play your hand in this situation depends less on your cards and more on your position and the size of the other short stacks at the table. For example, you’re in the small blind and the hand is folded around to you. If the big blind doesn’t have you covered by very much, it’s time to jam. This play makes it really hard for him to call because he’s risking his tournament in a very tenuous spot. You put him in a position where he’s the one who has to call you, and that’s a big advantage.

Now let’s change things up a little. Say you’re sitting on about eight big bets on the button and the chip leader is in the big blind. If the action is folded to you in this situation, you can be much more selective about the hands you play. You still have plenty of chips to work with before the blinds come back around, which means you can afford to try and pick your spots. Personally, I’d fold hands worse than Q-10 here, but I’d probably play KJ, KQ, any Ace, and all pocket pairs.

If you’re sitting on just four or five big blinds in this same situation, you’ll have to open up your game a little and play more hands. You’ve got to take some chances here and get your chips in, even if you may be no better than 50-50. Waiting isn’t an option because the blinds will eat you alive if you let them.

If you’re playing a medium-size stack, you have more room to play, but still have to be careful about when – and from where – you put your chips in the middle. Making a standard 3x or 4x raise with 15 or 16 blinds can still be risky because there’s a good chance a bigger stack will re-raise and try to force you all-in before the flop. You really can’t afford to make that call without a premium hand like Aces or Kings.

You definitely don’t want to call with something like AK or AQ because you’re just a coin-flip against any pair and are dominated by pocket Aces or Kings. Folding here is a smarter move, especially if there’s a short stack left to play behind you who is likely to call with a much wider range of hands and give you a better shot of making the money.

Of course, nothing is more comforting than having the big stack when you’re sitting on the bubble. As the chip leader, you can practice selective aggression and apply pressure to the smaller stacks. You especially want to focus on the players in second and third place, as they aren’t going to want to put their chips at unnecessary risk.

Because the shorter stacks are going to try to double up through you, you need to be careful about making loose calls just because you think you can afford them. For example, let’s say the small stack raises 5x the big blind from the button and the small blind folds. You’re in the big blind and it’s only four more bets for you to call, which means your odds are slightly less than 2-1. While calling here may in fact be the right decision, it’s not automatic as far as I’m concerned.

I recommend taking a few seconds to really think through the situation, even if you’re holding a pretty strong hand like A-8 or up, KQ, KJ, or any pocket pair. Think about your opponent and how he’s been playing. If he raises every time he’s in that spot, widen your calling range. But if he’s a particularly good Sit & Go player or playing tight, he may not play many hands and you shouldn’t call as frequently.

More often than not when I’m the big stack in this situation, I’m not just flat calling here. Instead, I’m moving all-in. This is particularly effective because it puts all of the other players at the table to a tough decision. Again, the players in second and third aren’t likely to get involved without huge hands, which lets me isolate the smaller stack.

In the end, winning a SNG is about using whatever edge you’ve got. When you’re down to the final four, take advantage of position and play your stack aggressively. Know when to back off and when to go for it. You’ll still be at the table – and in the money – when the bubble bursts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Funny Story From Commerce

Posted by Dank Stax at 2+2:

"So I had just busted out of the 1500$ event LAPC and was playing 5/10 NL and eating some kung pao chicken at Commerce Casino in LA.

Two asian guys (I don't know either of them- we will just call them asian #1 and #2) had played a pot and were making borderline ******* comments to each other after the hand and being really sarcastic with each other. They kept calling each other down etc. and had an obvious rivalry at the table.

About an hour later Asian #2 gets into a pretty big hand with some other random guy who has been donating to the table for a good 45 minutes. The board is A877x and asian #2 checks the river and the other guy bets 300. After debating for a while....asian #2 shows A8 and ASKS the dealer "I'm unsure about this rule - if I call and he has AK, I still win with a higher 2 pair, right?" The dealer stays silent and seat 1 says 'yeah obviously'. Asian #2 makes the call but loses the hand to a flush. Someone in seat 9 then says 'Come on man you can't ask for advice during the hand that is ridiculous - you are lucky you weren't in the pot with me or I'd be pissed'. Asian #2 says "Chill out man we are keeping it friendly I was just confirming the rule - I lost the hand anyways".

Then Asian #1 insta defends seat 9 and is like "he is right - seriously you cant be talking about that **** during the hand ... how can you not know what hands beat what? Just play on your own"

Asian #2 - "shut the **** up man stay out of it you weren't in the hand - just shut the **** up"

Asian #1 - "**** you - then do something about it"

Asian #2 - *Picks up a chip and hucks it as hard as he can at asian #1's face"

They both stand up and asain #1 RUNS around the table and jacks asian #2 in the forehead and breaks his hand on his face. He got a clean shot to the head but punched him with his ring/pinky finger and his hand was 100% broken. They fought for 2-3 minutes throwing blows/knocking over a floorman/chips everywhere/yelling in broken english.

Eventually like 10 commerce security guards came and escorted them out - it was the sickest thing I have witnessed at a poker table - the floor guy claimed it was the worst fight ever at commerce."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jonas "Nebuchad" Danielsson, an Anti Semite? Hardly...

Over the weekend, Daniel Negreanu had a chance to host the Scandinavian Poker Awards and as he presented online poker pro Jonas "Nebuchad" Danielsson with the award for Online Player of the Year, Daniel asked what seemed like a simple enough question. Where did the name "Nebuchad" come from?

Well, what Daniel received was less than a simple answer. Jonas Danielsson explained that he got the name from the ship in his favorite movie The Matrix, but that it had been brought to his attention that Nebuchad was also the name of a Babylonian King who was the first King to deal with the "Jew Problem."

Exactly what Jonas Danielsson meant to say was open for debate across various online poker forums within a few hours of the video showing up online. But not many people took it as a serious anti semitic remark, and rather, either a bad choice in grammar or a an ill attempt of a joke.

Props to Daniel Negreanu, who handled the situation in a superb manner and turned something that might have gotten ugly, into a light hearted situation. He later made a statment in a post on the 2+2 forums explaining exactly what happened.

"When he went up on stage he was visibly nervous in a big way. I threw him a softball question about his screen name, of course, never expecting Hitler and Jews to be involved with the answer!My reaction was to try and defuse the situation quickly, thus I took the mic from him. It seemed clear to me that is was just a bad choice in grammar, but because he was so nervous I was worried about what he may say next. I felt like if he tried to explain himself at that moment he would have a tough time doing under the circumstances and might likely stick his foot in his mouth. I wanted to let him off the hook and move on.I'm very happy with the way I handled the situation and most people agreed that I handled it well.I felt bad for the kid, because it was obvious to me that he has no problem with Jews, and that he was explaining a story and used a poor choice of words. He is a good kid."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Two Prodigies Heads Up

Phil Ivey and Stuey Ungar. Recognizable names to anyone who knows anything about Poker. Two of the greatest poker minds within their own time. But just how exactly do these two players compare and contrast. And who would come out on top in a series of Heads Up matches amongst the two prodigies?

Let’s first take a look at just how each player’s accomplishments compare to each other:

Phil Ivey

WSOP Bracelets: 5

Main Event Bracelets: 0

WSOP Cashes: 26

Total Tournament Earnings: $7,889,408

Total Tournament Wins: 15

Stu Ungar

WSOP Bracelets: 5

Main Event Bracelets: 3

WSOP Cashes: 13

Total Tournament Earnings: $3,318,796

Total Tournament Wins: 11

Undoubtedly, both players clearly possess an impressive résumé of tournament wins and cashes and although Ivey surpasses Ungar in total tournament victories, Stu holds the upper hand in Main Event Bracelets.

Then again, Stuey wasn’t facing the massive tournament field that’s become the Main Event in recent years. His last Main Event victory in 1997 came against a field of 312 entrants. Compare that to last years field of 6,358 and it’s clear to see why even the top Pros such as Ivey are a slim 200-1 shot at best to win the whole thing.

But regardless of how these two compare in bracelets and cashes, they’ve both become legends of the poker world. Ungar was a living legend all the way up to his unfortunate death in 1998 as is Ivey today. Event their style of play has been found to be very similar.

Top pros who had the chance to play Stu in his days of glory are quick to note the similarities displayed between Stu and Phil’s game. Chip Reese, who recently passed away and was considered by many to be the top cash game player in the world, said in an interview,

I think Phil and Stuey have some similar styles. They’re both aggressive players, they both play a lot of hands; they play more than the average amount of hands. Both of them aren’t afraid to bluff.” Erik Seidel another top Pro, added “Stuey was very good at reading people and he had incredible card sense, obviously, because he was the best gin player ever. I think Ivey is very similar. I think he is very good at analyzing the psychology, he thinks extremely well at the table.”

Yet even though their styles might be similar, they aren’t completely identical.

I think Stuey was really an active player, but I don’t know if he had as many gears as Ivey. Phil’s presence at the poker table is very stable and focused, where Stuey had the focus but I don’t think he had the same table stability that Ivey has.” said Seidel.

What they do have in common, without a doubt, however is their hunger for action. Both have been described by fellow poker players as “action junkies” although with a key element: Ivey knows how to apply the breaks. Stuey? Not so much. Mike Sexton, a good friend of Ungar’s, said

I would say ‘addicted to action’ is a very good description of both of them. I’m not sure Ivey is as addicted as Ungar was, but I don’t think anyone was. Certainly Phil is an action-oriented guy. Whether he’s betting on a prize fight, whether he’s playing golf, whether he’s playing in the pit, he definitely likes action and big time. The same could be said of Stuey. Both were very high stakes gamblers.

Ok, so the guys are different, but the same. But just who would win a series of Heads Up matches between the two? Here’s what a few pros had to say in the matter as published in a recent article in All In magazine:

Erik Seidel

That’s a tough one. In Stuey’s prime and with Ivey playing well, I would go with Ivey for the stability factor.

Mike Sexton

If you’re talking about No Limit Hold ‘Em, I don’t think anybody in the world would come out on top playing against Stu Ungar.”

Chip Reese

Either one of them could win because playing heads-up No-Limit Hold ‘Em is a very volatile game. I think in general Phil has more character than Stuey does at the poker table. Phil’s character alone, he would out-manage Stuey and figure out a way to beat him

Yosh Nakano

If all things are equal, then I think Stuey would be a better player.”

David Grey

Well, heads-up so often comes down to one big cold deck. I guess though, I would have to say Phil

Verdict: 3-2 decision in favor of Mr. Phil Ivey.

But all in all it really is a shame Stuey Ungar passed way before Phil Ivey ever hit the poker scene, because a heads up match between these two, is something you wouldn’t want to miss.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

There's No "I" in Poker - Eddie Scharf

I recently competed in a televised tournament where several players lost focus on their game. They were either trying to gun for a particular opponent at their table or making some ill-advised moves to show off for the cameras. In every case, these players were making the same mistake – letting their egos get in the way of their game.

While most players will never have the opportunity to try and take down a big name pro or make “fancy” poker moves in front of a TV camera, far too many people still let their egos get in the way of playing solid poker. Once that happens, they lose sight of their long-term goals and start playing for purposes other than winning.

So how do you keep your ego in check at the table? I recommend you start by identifying the kinds of situations that can throw you off your game, and then learn how to deal with them or, better yet, avoid them altogether. To give you an idea, I’ve outlined three common situations that I’ve come across over the years:

- The grudge match – In my experience, this is one of the most common situations that happens at the table and, with practice, one of the easiest to avoid.

Oftentimes, one player will lay a particularly bad beat on another or make a play that a competitor thinks cost them chips. Rather than writing it off as what it is – a single hand in a game or tournament – the aggrieved player goes on tilt and focuses on playing back at their new “nemesis” as if he or she is involved in a heads-up match.

By letting their egos get in the way and focusing on a single opponent, these players often end up doing themselves more long-term harm than good. They lose track of the other people at the table and end up missing opportunities to replenish their stacks or, even worse, give those opponents the chance to take the last of their remaining chips.

Instead of falling into this trap, my advice is to do everything in your power to let the hand go. If this means getting up from the table and walking around the card room for 10 minutes to blow off steam, so be it. In the long run, it’s a cheaper and less stressful solution to a problem that doesn’t need to exist in the first place.

- Fighting the table bully – Some players feel like they’re always being picked on by their competitors, especially when they’re sitting on a short stack while other players at the table have many more chips at their disposal.

Instead of playing smart poker and looking for opportune times to collect some valuable chips from these bigger stacks, these players often end up fighting back in an effort to show that they won’t be picked on. As is often the case with an underdog in this kind of situation, they walk away defeated.

While there’s value in playing back at aggressive opponents with larger chip stacks, you have to pick your battles wisely. Instead of pushing with any two cards to prove that “you’re not gonna take it”, look for opportunities to get your chips in the middle when you think you have the best hand. Patience is the key to surviving these kinds of situations rather than rash and overly aggressive play. Stay committed to playing your game and the bully problem will take care of itself.

- The glory seekers – For some players – especially online – there’s nothing more satisfying than bragging about how they took a pot from a well-known pro.

Yes, it’s fun to play at the same table as a Phil Ivey or Chris Ferguson, but it’s a big mistake to do so at the detriment of your basic game plan. By gunning for the glory of “beating” these pros, many inexperienced players leave themselves open to being run over by their competitors.

If you really want to impress the pros – and your fellow competitors – keep your emotions out of the game. Focus on playing the best cards in the best situations possible and those big pots you’re hoping to win will happen on their own.

These are just a few of the ways that your ego can get in the way of playing solid, winning poker. When you get caught up in these mind games your long-term goals, whether they be winning a tournament or building up a bankroll, will suffer. This may not be a team game, but it’s always good to remember that there is no “I” in poker.

From Full Tilt

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When $300k is 'nothin to a boss'

From today's play on Full Tilt:

Full Tilt Poker Game #5244295268: Table Ivey Deathmatch - $500/$1000 - No Limit Hold'em - 19:54:20 ET - 2008/02/13
Seat 1: Phil Ivey ($177,184.50)
Seat 2: trex313 ($152,097)
trex313 posts the small blind of $500
Phil Ivey posts the big blind of $1,000
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
trex313 raises to $3,000
Phil Ivey raises to $9,000
trex313 calls $6,000
*** FLOP *** [Qc Qh Ts]
Phil Ivey bets $14,000
trex313 calls $14,000
*** TURN *** [Qc Qh Ts] [Jh]
Phil Ivey has 15 seconds left to act
Phil Ivey bets $31,000
trex313 has 15 seconds left to act
trex313 calls $31,000
*** RIVER *** [Qc Qh Ts Jh] [2s]
Phil Ivey has 15 seconds left to act
Phil Ivey bets $123,184.50, and is all in
trex313 calls $98,097, and is all in
Uncalled bet of $25,087.50 returned to Phil Ivey
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Phil Ivey shows [Jc Js] a full house, Jacks full of Queens
trex313 mucks
Phil Ivey wins the pot ($304,193.50) with a full house, Jacks full of Queens
trex313 is sitting out
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $304,194 | Rake $0.50
Board: [Qc Qh Ts Jh 2s]
Seat 1: Phil Ivey (big blind) collected ($304,193.50)
Seat 2: trex313 (small blind) mucked

What it Takes - Paul Wasicka

There are four types of people out there. Those who posses natural talent and pick things up very quickly, but lack motivation. Those who have a tough time grasping things, but work their ass off and try their best. Those who have both; and those who have neither.
I fit into the first description. After much self reflection, I’ve never really worked all that hard at anything in my life. Whether it came to school, athletics, friends, or just everyday life; things just made sense to me. I never had to over think things or put in hard time to accomplish my goals. One of my sisters is the complete opposite. She fits into the second category. She works really hard and gets what she wants. Nothing comes easy, which probably makes attaining her goals that much more gratifying.

I view my situation as both a gift and a curse at the same time. A gift because I can take on any new pursuit and do fairly well at it. I learn very quickly. If I like it, I’ll often become obsessed, and won’t stop until either I get sick of it or until I move on to my next obsession.

However, because I usually do pretty well at things from the get go, I rarely fail and this is my curse. Sometimes failing is good because it makes you want to succeed that much more. Maybe failing is what lights the fire under those people who fall into the second category. I feel as though I’m stuck in a place where I have had some success, but in order to truly excel I need that fire, that motivation, that drive. Natural talent alone isn’t enough to make the cut.

There are a few things that I’ve decided I need to improve in order to attain that third status - someone who has both the talent and out-works their competition. Motivation, self image, discipline, willpower, and balance.

The biggest obstacle I’m always trying to overcome is motivation. There are a few reasons why it is really hard to get motivated to not only play, but to be the best. First off, I live a comfortable life right now. I have the means right now to go out and buy whatever I feel will make me happier. At first this sounds really cool, and believe me I’m not taking this situation for granted. But after a while material possessions become boring and most of my stuff just sits around and gets dusty, not to mention being a complete waste of money.

Part of me feels as though I’d truly be happier if I had nothing and had to work my ass off to get something I wanted. As I said before, the hard work one puts in to reach goals is a huge part of what makes attaining those goals satisfying. When things come and go as you please, there’s no real enthusiasm or excitement. Not only that, but I think that having nothing would make me want to improve my situation and that in and of itself would give me all the motivation I needed. However, I’m at a point where success won’t change my lifestyle all that much, and that is hindering my mentality.

Also, knowing that I’ll probably never again accomplish what I’ve accomplished in the past is depressing. The logical part of me knows that mathematically the chances of me seeing another final table of an event as large as the 06 WSOP Main Event are probably worse than the Rockies ever winning the World Series - pretty bleak to say the least… That is not how a champion should feel, which brings me to my next point.

Before the 2006 Main Event, my goal was to make the final table. Now, if you were to ask someone what the odds of me actually doing that, maybe I would have been 2,000 to 1. However, in my mind I was already there. Throughout the tournament, when I took a bad beat or cooler, etc. I wouldn’t be upset at all because I knew that I was destined to make the final table. It felt as though I already knew that I was going to be there and nothing else mattered. Other people believed in me and, more importantly, I believed in myself. I truly believed that I was the best player in the world. Whether I was or wasn’t didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I believed with absolute conviction that no one stood a chance against me.

I used to play mainly online, and that might be where my confidence stemmed from. Instead of worrying about what other people thought about me, I would talk trash to the little icons on the computer monitor. After I felt I had outplayed someone, I would very arrogantly proclaim, “owned…” Owned!! That would basically sum up how the hand played out. There was no need for poker tracker or shark scope or any other fancy software to tell me how good my opponents were. All that mattered was that I knew that I was the best player at the tables (as did my opponents). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to turn into some Humberto Brenes and constantly remind people of how good I am... maybe in my head I will ;) The fiiiiiiiishhhyyyy!!! The fiiiiiiishhhhhhyyyyyyy is huuuuuunnnnnnnggrryyy!!!!

I’ll be the first to admit that I lack discipline. I never stick with anything for very long. I’m always inclined to take the easy road. Maybe it’s all that math and science that’s been implanted into me that makes me want to take the path of least resistance. Honestly, I don’t really know why I feel the way I do, but that’s not what’s important. Knowing that it can pose a problem and wanting to change is what is crucial.

I can’t really explain my reasons for doing some of the things I do; I know that it doesn’t make sense to any ‘normal’ person, but sometimes I have a tough time with priorities. When I see a $25 late fee on a cable bill I freak out and throw a temper tantrum. But then I’ll go lose $5,000 in a tournament and feel fine. Before my score at the World Series, I entered a $14,000 tournament and slept through the second day of play. Eventually I was blinded out of the tournament because I stayed up all night playing a $1/$2 no limit cash game the night before.

I know that this makes absolutely no sense, but I can’t control doing irrational things sometimes. In college I studied for many hours in preparation for a final exam in which I needed at least a 70% to maintain my “B” in the class, but then never took the exam. I even wrote a nine page essay for another final and didn’t turn in the paper because it wasn’t exactly how I wanted it - even though I only needed a 60% on the paper to maintain my “A”.

I’ve also been lacking balance in my life. Running bad, playing bad, and depression seem to go hand in hand. I find that when I start running bad, inevitably I start playing less and less optimally. Playing bad, in turn, leads to me feeling guilty and depressed that I didn’t have the discipline to stop. That negative energy then attracts ugly situations such as coolers, bad beats, etc. that are uncontrollable and even more infuriating because they are now continually happening. And so goes the cycle - a nasty downward spiral that can devastate a bankroll.

When this situation starts to show it’s ugly face it’s important to maintain discipline and walk away. Degeneracy has a natural affinity towards this downward spiral, and I’ve noticed that the more I focus on more important areas of my life, the easier it is to break the cycle.

Furthermore, recently I’ve been playing under the wrong conditions and for the wrong reasons. One thing I’ve learned from watching my favorite athletes is their brutal honesty. They call it like they see it and I respect them for it. Often times I try not to hurt people’s feelings. I tell them that they played great, even though I thought they played terribly. For a while I thought this was the right approach because I didn’t want them to feel any worse than they already were. However, I’ve come to realize that one can be honest without rubbing it in.

I think caring about what other people think has long been a weakness of mine. When I look back at some of my previous blog posts from a couple years back, I couldn’t care less what other people thought, and that was one of my strong suits. Being a nice guy doesn’t win tournaments. Feeling bad for someone doesn’t win tournaments. Killer instinct is what brings about success.

There are two kinds of pissed off. There’s the killer instinct pissed off and there’s the tilt driven pissed off. One of these moods is what I feel when I’m playing my best – I’ll let you decide which… When I get into a pot with someone, I want to hurt them. Bad. I want them to know that if they are in a pot with me, they are putting themselves in a very dangerous position where they will likely go broke. Lately, however, I’ve been playing too much under the latter guise.

Playing for the wrong reasons can also be a huge detriment. Right now it feels as if I’m in a spot where I need to post some results or fade into the realm of mediocrity. I believe that pressure can either force people to rise to the occasion or choke. I also believe that there are two types of pressure - public and personal. Public pressure is when there is a momentous occasion to be decided by who wants it more. Personal pressure, on the other hand, is living up to your own expectations and blocking out the fear that inevitably looms in the background. I usually thrive under public pressure. When I’m an underdog I tend to over perform and rise to my potential. Mainly because I love to prove others wrong. However, when I’m expected to win, at least by my own standards, I often choke. I guess this goes back to not caring what other people think.

Lately I’ve been playing to make money. Obviously I wouldn’t play if I didn’t still enjoy the game, but the primary focus of each tournament and each cash game has been to make as much money as possible. This mentality is not healthy for a few reasons. First, when things aren’t going well, it’s easy to fall into the destructive cycle as described above. Conversely, when everything seems to be going your way, it’s easy to overlook spots where you could have extracted more value.

Some of the sessions that I’m most proud of have been losing sessions. Obviously you can’t control how the cards fall. All you can do is put yourself into situations that are positive expected value and know that over time it will pay off. I find that when I try to climb out of a hole and back to even for a session are the times when I end up losing even more money and becoming even more frustrated with the game.

Instead of trying to win money, it’s time to focus on trying to own fools. This will make the game more about fun and entertainment and less about success and tying that success to self worth. It’s easier to recover from a broken ego than it is to recover from a loss when all you’re thinking about is how much you could have bought with the money you lost.

This whole article has been about what I’ve been doing wrong or have neglected to do right. I guess I’d like to wrap it up by mentioning the steps that I’m going to take to turn things around. Meditation, preparation, and visualization are the three main things that I’m going to focus on for the next chapter in my poker career (and in life for that matter).

I realize that I’m up against people who are just as talented as myself. Therefore, what will distinguish the winners from the losers at this point is who wants it more. It’s one thing to know what it takes to succeed, but it’s completely different to actually do it. To be world class in any endeavor, you must be talented and hardworking. I know that I have the talent; I guess at this point, the only question left is, “How bad do I want it?”


Monday, February 11, 2008

Interesting Post From Daniel Negreanu

Since poker news is pretty slow, here is an interesting 2+2post by Yuv:

Not that long ago, DN signed some contract with Wynn and as a promotion issued a HU challange to anyone in the world. I think it was anywhere between 100k and 500k, and the challanger picked the game.

I can't remember all the matchups he actually played, but the only "online" player to step up back then was Joe Cassidy, who played DN hu limit holdem and won 500k.

Lets assume DN issues the same challange today. How many online players will play him? How many 2p2ers would play him? Naturally playing live will hurt some of the edge of the online players, but will guys like aba, durr, jman, genius, larsluzak, krantz, urin, trex etc still step up?

And since Daniel is reading these forums, do you still feel comfortable enough playing these players HU today?

Daniel Negreanu's reply:

May 13 Limit Hold'em 2000-4000 200,000 David Oppenheim 0-1
May 16 Limit Hold'em 4000-8000 500,000 Mimi Tran 1-1
May 23 Limit Hold'em 2000-4000 200,000 Joe Cassidy 1-2
June 4 7 Card Stud 4000-8000 500,000 Barry Greenstein 1-3
June 15 7 Card Stud 4000-8000 500,000 Barry Greenstein 1-4
June 16 PL Omaha 1000-2000 500,000 Barry Greenstein 2-4
June 17 Stud 8 4000-8000 500,000 Barry Greenstein 3-4
July 15 PL Omaha 1000-2000 $500,000 Tony Bloom 4-4
Currently in Progress Pot Limit Hold'em vs JD -$491,000 after 32 hours

Totals +$109,000

1. 5 vs. DO LH
2. 10.5 vs. MT LH
3. 7.5 vs. JC LH
4. 13.5 vs. BG S
5. 18.5 vs. BG S
6. 3.5 vs. BG PLO
7. 17 vs. BG S8
8. 32 vs. JD PLH
9. 4.5 vs. TB PLO
Total Hours: 112

Hourly Rate: $973.21

Record in $500,000 Matches: 4-2 +$509,000
Record in $200,000 Matches: 0-2 -$ 400,000

Record in Limit Hold'em: 1-2 +$100,000
Record in 7 Card Stud: 0-2 -$1,000,000
Record in Pot Limit Omaha: 2-0 +$1,000,000
Record in Stud H/L: 1-0 +$500,000
Record in Pot Limit Hold'em: 0-0 $-491,000

I was sick about losing to the business man in PLH, I ran so bad it was creepy. As for the LH matched I was distracted against Oppie and he played well and ran even better. Versus Joe I was way down early and made a comeback to even. Then I made a strategy error and got too aggressive which is a style is is very used to.

Against Mimi Tran I made a ton of hands and ran really well. I felt like I had a chance in Stud against Barry but he ran good in the first match. I chose to play Stud again and then realized that he was just more experienced in the game than I was and he beat me again.

He then chose PLO heads up and I pwned him there. He won three huge all in pots, all of which were between 52-60 favorites. Yet still I had the lead and was able to win that match. Barry then chose stud 8 or better, I think assuming that he'd have a large edge there also since he pwned me in Stud. Heads up I think Stud 8 is my best game. Barry was never ahead for even one hand in that match.

I then played Tony Bloom heads up in PLO and assumed I would lose that match. However, he made a pretty crucial error in a hand where we both had the nuts straight but I had a straight flush redraw and he had no redraw, yet re-raised me all in on the turn. I hit the straight flush.

My last match was versus a businessman who played very weak. He didn't raise pre-flop and and never check-raised. How I lost... I'll never know, LOL.

All told after playing so many matches live I feel like it improved my heads up mind. Heads up poker is so much more about psychology than it is about the cards. Keeping your cool, recognizing when your opponent is tired or tilting, picking up tells, changing gears, recognizing when your opponent is changing gears, etc.

By the end of it I improved immensely and ended up winning a little bit. I might do something like that again in the future, but not at the moment.

The idea behind these matches were that I knew I could never be as much as a 2-1 underdog in any of the formats. That would be close to impossible. Also, I figured that I would get some action from lesser players as well, which I did. When you propose a challenge that says "I'll play anyone" you can't refuse anyone. I did say, though, that if someone beat me in a game, I no longer had to play them in that game again if I felt I was outclassed. If they wanted to choose another game, they could.

The higher the stakes the more play we actually had. The structures were decided by me:

500k 4000-8000 limit (62.5 bets)
200k 2000-4000 limit (50 bets)
100k 1500-3000 limit (33.3 bets)

This made sure there was enough skill in every match, but not so much that the best player would be guaranteed to win.

For the PLO matches I played, we used 1000-2000 blinds with 500,000 (250 bets).

Speaking of Erick Lindgren...

He just won the FTOPS Event #9 (earlier today) on Full Tilt for $292k.

Pretty impressive.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive - By Erick Lindgren

You can learn a lot by listening. You can learn almost as much by talking, if you ask the right questions. The following occurred at a tournament at Bellagio in 2004.

I draw a very good first table and recognize only two faces. They are solid pros, neither of whom is very aggressive. I know I can take control of the table and quickly look around to find the best targets. I notice an older gentleman in a cowboy hat who's involved in too many pots and decide he's my mark. My plan is to bluff him at first opportunity and do anything I can to get under his skin. I want him to view me as a young hot-shot, with the hopes that he'll bully me later when I have the goods.

I chop away at some small pots and my $20K starting stack is now $43K when Cowboy and I finally get to lock horns. I've been raising a lot of hands and splashing my chips around a bit. In this case, the blinds are $200-$400, and I bring it in for $1,200 with pocket jacks. I get three callers, including Cowboy, in the big blind. The flop comes 7h 4c 4h and the small blind checks. It's Cowboy's turn, and he pushes all in. He looks proud, firing his $37K into a $5K pot.

I'm completely befuddled. What's going on? I can't make any sense of it. There's a player to act behind me, but he's only got $3K - he isn't going to matter at all in this hand. My best bet here is to get Cowboy to talk. "Why'd you bet so much?" I ask. He tells me to call and find out.

I make a list of his possible hands: A-x hearts for the nut flush draw. Pocket eights, maybe. Or a random berzerko bet with a pair of sevens. After a minute or two of deliberation, I call. He flips up T-7c for one pair! He fails to improve and I now have $80K, and am ready to roll.

It's important to know who your weaker players are. Concentrate on playing against them and finding ways to get them to make a big mistake. You can't count on the pros to make those mistakes. In this particular case, I knew he was getting tired, and through a few verbal jabs, I was able to make myself his target.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Putting a Rumor to Rest

Here's the rumor from 2+2 poster Stranger123:

Apparently Ivey was playing baccarat for 300K a hand (table limit). He started at the table with a 100K but was quickly up to 3 million.

The next day he starts to play again when a Lebanese mobster with the name 'Cousin Joe' walks up to the table. He asks if Ivey wants to lower his bets to 270K so he can bet 30K himself. Ivey tells him to **** off when the gangster get's angry and threatens to get him whacked and it wouldn't even cost him $ 500.

After using the N-word he get's kicked out of the casino and Ivey leaves Australia the next day. Word is he dropped around 10 million at the baccarat tables.

I just talked to my boy, apparently there is no truth to this rumor. Let it rest!

Jennicide to Appear in Playboy

Poker Players rejoice, the rumors have been confirmed. Jennifer Leigh, better known in the poker world as Jennicide (her online moniker) will be featured in the May 2008 issue of Playboy. The issue, which hits new stands in April will feature a 6 page editorial spread, plus an interview with the poker star. Jennicide, who is 24 made a name for herself playing some of the bigger online limit cash games. While she is most known for her online success she has had some tournament success, cashing in both WPT and WSOP events. Leigh has also been featured as a girl, which was released last May. With the issue coming out shortly before the 2008 World Series of Poker, you can bet that that a lot of poker players playing with Jennicide in the WSOP, will have a lot more on their minds then what hand she has.

From Bluff Magazine

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"That's one for the books."

Controlling the Pot - Paul Wasicka

One of the most critical aspects to surviving – and thriving – in deep stack tournaments is learning how to control the size of the pots you play. In short, your goal should be to play big pots when you have big hands and small pots when you don’t. When you and your opponents are deep stacked in a tournament, there are two vital elements to pay attention to when you enter a pot – your opponents’ playing style and the texture of the flop.

Before you commit any chips to the pot, you want to identify the types of players who are likely to be in the hand with you. If you’re at a loose table where your opponents are playing a wide range of hands, you’re going to want to play smaller pots unless you’re sure that you’re way ahead or, preferably, holding the nuts.

Say you’re in a hand with something big like pocket Queens and a player who’s been involved in a lot of pots calls your pre-flop raise. The flop comes J-9-7, and you’re out of position. You need to be very careful about betting here because a loose-aggressive player is going to put you to the test. I’d recommend check-calling or check-raising rather than putting out a continuation bet and giving your opponent a chance to re-raise you or, possibly, flat call with the intention of pushing you off the hand on a later street by making a large bet you can’t call if a scare card falls on the turn or river.

Having position against these types of players makes it much easier for you to control the pot, as you’ll be able to turn the table on them and call or re-raise their initial bets. If they come back over the top, you can get away from your hand and still have lost relatively little in comparison to what the hand could have ultimately cost.

When you’re facing a tight player in this same situation, you can make a continuation bet on the flop even if you are playing out of position because they aren’t as likely to make a move on you without a big hand of their own. If you bet and they raise, you can be sure they have something strong like two-pair, a set, or a nice draw.

The other factor to consider when betting is the texture of the flop. Is the board suited or paired? Are there potential straight draws you need to consider? Even if you’re confident your hand is ahead after the flop, take a couple of seconds to study the board before you act. Think about what hands could possibly beat yours, and then try to determine if any of your opponents could be holding cards that would give them reason to call your bet.

Let’s say you’re holding pocket Aces and the flop comes 9-8-7 with a flush draw on the board. Chances are that you’re ahead, but a canny opponent can easily put you in a tough spot by check-raising your continuation bet. If you think your opponent connected with this flop or may be holding a big draw, think about keeping the pot small by playing passively and letting him do the betting for you. If the straight or flush hits, you can get away cheap and look for a better spot later on. If the flop is more ragged - something like J-3-2 rainbow - you can bet out with no reservations and try to pump up the pot as much as possible.

These are all concepts that become easier with time and experience. Keep a sharp eye on your opponents and the flops the next time you play and quickly develop a feel for different situations and, more importantly, for when to bet or check your hand. Try your best to control the size of the pot and you’ll have more control over your tournament life.

From Full Tilt

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

2008 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star List

03-01-2008 to 03-14-2008
Bay 101
1801 Berring Drive - San Jose, CA


This is the list of the 50-$5,000 bounties in the upcoming WPT Tournament. Who do you think is missing and should be excluded? I will forward your comments to the Owner of Bay 101 for next year. This is the 12th Annual Tournament and Tom McEvoy has been there for all 12.

Allen Cunningham
Amir Vahedi
Antonio Esfandiari
Barbara Enright
Barry Greenstein
Carlos Mortensen
Chad Brown
Chau Giang
Cyndy Violette
Dan Harrington
Daniel Negreanu
David Pham
David Williams
Doyle Brunson
Eli Elezra
Erick Lindgren
Erik Seidel
Freddy Deeb
Gavin Smith
Gus Hansen
Hoyt Corkins
Isabelle Mercier
JC Tran
Jennifer Harman
Jennifer Tilly
Jerry Yang
JJ Liu
Joe Hachem
Joe Sebok
John Cernuto
John Juanda
Kathy Liebert
Kenna James
Kristy Gazes
Layne Flack
Men Nguyen
Mike Gracz
Mike Matusow
Mike Mizrachi
Mimi Tran
Patrick Antonius
Phil Hellmuth
Phil Ivey
Phil Laak
Robert Williamson
Scotty Nguyen
Sully Erna
T.J. Cloutier
Ted Forrest
Todd Brunson
Tom McEvoy

Four or five alternates usually get in every year and here is that list
1st Alt. Scott Clements
2nd Alt. Josh Arieh
3rd Alt. John Hennigan
4th Alt. Gavin Griffin
5th Alt. Vanessa Rousso
6th Alt. John Robert Bellande

Source: Matt Savage 2+2