Monday, July 31, 2006

July Top 15

15. Black Crowes - Jealous Again
14. Refreshments - Banditos
13. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Snow
12. Oasis - Keep the Dream Alive
11. Booker T and the MG's - Green Onions

10. Oasis - Turn up the Sun
9. Oasis - Mucky Fingers
8. Cake - Satan is My Motor
7. Hootie and the Blowfish - I Get High
6. Black Crowes - Gone

5. Oasis - Lyla
4. Cake - Alpha Beta Parking Lot
3. Guster - Satellite
2. Oasis - The Importance of Being Idle

Song of the Month: Oasis - Part of the Queue

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day One Hands

Yesterday was the most frustrating day of poker I've ever had, I think.

It was not frustrating for the usual reasons. I had plenty of starting hands. I had aces five times and won all five times, four for pretty solid pots. I had kings and won a large pot.

The table was pretty damn good. The starting table went like this:

Seat One: Billy Baxter (loose, pretty aggressive, a constant nuisance)
Seat Two: A loose, terrible Australian, busted in level three and replaced by a tight short-stack
Seat Three: A straightforward Scandinavian
Seat Four: A weird-playing, fairly readable, and fairly awful older fellow who went broke about seven hours in, replaced by an annoying, normal-playing tool
Seat Five: A stunning Norwegian princess who played pretty solid but appeared to be a bit lacking in creativity
Seat Six: A tight, easy read
Seat Seven: Some guy who I don't remember who busted, replaced by a very solid player at night
Seat Eight: One of the weirdest-playing maniacs I have ever encountered. For the most part, his play was patternless. Position and pot odds meant nothing to the guy. He wasn't super into blind defense, like many maniacs. He wasn't a thief or a bludgeoner before the flop. He wouldn't raise a bunch of limpers, or reraise. When people reraised him, he almost always folded. At times during the day he seemed to be playing about two thirds of the hands. At other times he may have folded thirty straight hands. A couple times he limped, then folded for a 3x BB raise. Other times he coldcalled a raise and a reraise out of position with cruddy hands. On a flop of KJ5, he called a bet and a raise of half someone's stack with AT, then bet huge on the 5 turn.

A lot has been written about how it is preferable to sit to the left of maniacs, so you can see what they do before your decision. You can limp with marginal hands if the maniac limps, or you can raise to isolate him and try to play the hand heads up. In general this is pretty accurate, but I think my seat to the left of the maniac was actually pretty problematic. When he limped into a pot in early or middle position, I had the rest of the table to worry about. If I limped behind him, Baxter or one of the aggressive players would often make a large raise, forcing me out of the pot. I didn't have the chips to play big pots with hands like suited connectors and small pairs. If I'd had some more chips, I could have played some big pots and maybe really gotten something going. As it was, I couldn't really afford to gamble, and I wound up siphoning some chips trying to see cheap flops against the maniac.

The other problem was that you had to have a hand to beat the maniac. When a guy bets 2500 into a pot of 1000, you sort of need to have a hand to call him or play back. When he is calling bets and raises with gutshots, it's unwise to bluff with him lurking in the pot. One hand he limped for 300 and I made it 1100 with AT, just trying to isolate. Everyone folded and he called. He actually limp-folded a ton, which made raising his limp a pretty desirable play once the antes kicked in). But he also limp-called and refused to fold on the flop, which made it pretty scary. In this hand the flop came Q97 and we both checked. The turn was an 8 and we both checked. The river was a king, he checked, I knew I shouldn't do it but I just had to, I bet 1500, and he called with pocket sixes.

The maniac was responsible for much of my early troubles. A hand in the first level was raised to 150, called by the maniac, and called by me with 8d7d. The flop came QcTd9d. The preflop raiser bet 200, the maniac made it 700 (this was before I knew just how wacky he played), and I just called. Normally I would play the hand much faster, but in the first level of the main event, I was determined to play conservatively. It was possible I could be up against the nuts, and I had a bad stack size (too many chips) to commit myself to the pot with a third raise. I also thought I might raise on the turn to get some more chips out of it and represent the nuts. The preflop raiser folded, the turn was the 4c, and the maniac bet 1500. After long thought I decided to just call. The river bricked, we both checked, and to my disgust, the maniac turned over Kc9c. At first I was very upset, thinking I could have won the pot at any time with a big bet. But after observing what the maniac was capable of the rest of the day, I think I may have gotten knocked out of the WSOP on this hand if I had played it more aggressively.

After this hand, I raised the maniac a couple more times with hands like AJ and 99, and had to fold to his gargantuan checkraises on the flop both times. Before I knew it I was down to 3000.

Seat Nine: Me
Seat Ten: A poor, fairly aggressive, somewhat bothersome player. The kind of guy who is very easy to abuse if you have position, but can be a thorn in your side when on your left.

With 3000 left I limped in with AhJh after the Australian limped UTG and the maniac limped. Against normal players and/or with a decent sized stack I would have raised in position, but with my short stack I decided to just limp. After the blinds checked and the flop came J54 with two diamonds, the 'Stralian bet 700 into the pot of 300, and the maniac called. Sometimes when a bad aggressive guy does this, especially after limping early, it means an overpair. Sometimes it means a pair under top pair. Sometimes it means a draw. Occasionally it means absolute shit. After some thought I decided I wasn't getting away from it and moved in for 2900. The blinds folded, the Aussie quickly called, and the maniac quickly folded. The Aussie had ace-seven of diamonds, which I was okay with especially after his immediate call. The board came 3-2 and we chopped it.

A bit after that I picked up one of my five pocket aces of the day after the maniac limped for 100. I made it 400, as I often did after the maniac limped. To my disgust, I received three flat-callers behind me and no one ran the squeeze play which has become the hallmark of the 2006 WSOP. The maniac called as well and I had to see a 5-way flop with aces and a short stack. The flop was a very bland J73 or something and everyone checked to the Australian, who made a moderate bet. I moved in when it got back to me and everyone folded.

In the 100-200 level I was fortunate enough to pick up aces against the maniac, have him call my preflop raise, flop top pair, and not suck out. The very next hand I won a solid pot with tens and I was no longer in danger of busting at any moment, solid with around 11k. I got it up to around 16k and was at 13k at the dinner break.

The 100-200 25 level was easily my best of the day. I really got going when the princess raised my big blind and I defended with Ah9h. The flop came 776 with two hearts and I bet 800 into her, intent on pushing after her inevitable raise. I got kind of a bad vibe when she made it 2000 to go, but pushed anyways. After a long thought she folded.

A bit after that she raised UTG and I found aces for a third time and tripled her bet. She called and I was a bit unhappy to see an AJ3 flop. We both quickly checked. The turn came a 4, putting two two-flushes on board and she bet small into me. I thought she had no hand but decided to raise it in case she had a draw or an ace or a set of jacks; she quickly folded.

Then a hand came up where a weak player limped and the maniac finally got out of the way. I decided I was raising with any two but then I found pocket kings and made one of my patented super-weird limps, expecting the guy to my left, Baxter, or the big blind to raise (all had been heavily pouncing on weakness). No one did raise though and we took the flop four-handed. It came a very safe Q73 flop and Baxter bet 800. I made it 2000 after the other two players folded and Baxter called. On the turn (some low card) he check-called my 2750 bet, and then folded to my bet of 4000 on the river.

At this point I was at 27k, the largest at the table, and pretty confident I would end the day with at least 40. Baxter had gotten pretty short and the maniac appeared to have taken a horse-tranquilizer at the dinner break. The table feared me and I was ready to bully them unconscious.

I then had four consecutive steal attempts reraised. The first I raised with A2s, Baxter called, the Scandinavian put in a large reraise, we both folded, and he showed AK. The second I raised UTG with QJo and the small blind reraised. The third I raised in the small blind with J7o and the big blind put in 70% of his stack. The fourth was the very next hand, I raised on the button with 87s (my first button raise of the entire day), and this time the small blind only put in half his stack.

The very next hand things began to spiral out of control. The Scandinavian limped from early position (which always meant a mediocre hand from what I had seen). In the cutoff I decided to limp with A6o. Normally I would raise but after what had happened the last two hands and Baxter lurking in the blinds I elected not to. In retrospect I should have Hollywooded a bit and then made a pissed-off, here-we-go-again sort of raise. I think it would have taken quite a hand to come over the top of my third straight raise.

In any case the others checked and the flop came 553. It was quickly checked to me and I was fairly sure nobody had anything. I casually threw in a 500 chip, ready to reraise if anyone checkraised. The blinds folded and the Scandinavian called in a manner that made me sure that he had just overcards. The turn came a 2 and for some reason I checked after he checked. Looking back this was one of my worst plays of the day. I was very confident he had crap and I either had the best hand or he had a better ace-high. There was no reason to check. If I bet and he raised, I should have been ready to come back over him. The river was an 8 and he immediately bet 2000. I was so sure he had nothing, I immediately called. It was my fastest action of the day. To my complete disgust he turned over AJ and scooped the 6.5k pot. His bet is completely retarded. If he thinks I was folding a pair to that, he was obviously mistaken. This is the kind of crap that had me on tilt all day long. He calls a bet with no hand, thinking he can win the pot by making a hand or bluffing it later. Both are incorrect. On the river he thinks he is bluffing, I think he is bluffing, I call, and he wins anyways. If he has KQ the hand goes down the same way I think.

After this hand I was tilting pretty hard. Usually that's not an issue for me but that hand kind of pushed me over the edge after an already frustrating day. I was upset with not making hands against the idiots, as had been going on all day, but that one I screwed up myself. There were about 1000 scenarios in which I could have won the pot, and only one in which I would lose anything substantial on the hand, and I managed to find the worst result.

Luckily I picked up aces against the Scandinavian right after that debacle. I limped in early position for 300, as I had been doing all day with medium to weak hands (with the strong hands rarely getting shown down). The Scandinavian made it 1200, I made it 3700 when it got back to me, he made it 7700, I pushed after long thought for 17,700, and he said "nice hand" and folded.
A few hands after that the good player in seat seven made it 1000 in late position, I made it 3000 on the button with AK, and he called. The flop came 982 and he checked. I bet 4200, and after a long staredown, he raised to 12,500 leaving about 10k behind. I really had no idea what he had and folded. He later claimed jacks.

The last two hands really showed where I screwed up yesterday. For whatever reason, no one was ever willing to give me credit for a hand. When I had a hand, they would bet or raise or call and I would get paid off. When I didn't have a hand, they would bet or raise or call and I would lose the pot. Bluffing got me nowhere. If I had never made a bluff yesterday, I might have finished the day over 30k. There were times where I felt I "had" to bluff, like the last hand and the AT against the maniac, but it just was not working against these guys and weak-tight play really would have served me much better.

After losing that pot I lost a couple other small ones and blinded down to 11.5k. After that I won the blinds uncontested with QQ, 99, and AA. Then, with only ten minutes left in the night, the annoying guy made a standard raise to 1500 from early position and I looked down at AK aka "The Boneyard" in mid-late position. I had about 13k at this point and a lot of options. I did not have much of a read on the guy's strength and also had the rest of the table to worry about. The guy had me covered, but only slightly, and seemed like the type who would prefer making day 2 to racing. Eventually I decided to make a somewhat risky all-in shove. When the others folded and he took more than ten seconds, I knew I was okay. At this point I really would not have minded him calling with a pair, as it was an excellent time in the tournament for me to double up or go home. After about four minutes he threw his pocket queens in the muck.

On the second to last hand of the night, I raised with JTs in second position and the big blind (the good player) called. The flop was roughly 852 and he checked. I made a continuation, making sure I changed my body language from the AK hand. After long thought he folded pocket fours face up, acting like it was an epic laydown. That may have been the first hand I won the whole day without the best hand.

So I'm lucky to be alive, I'm lucky the structure of the this tournament is fantastic, I may be lucky to have a new table, and I'm lucky to have two days to recover from the stormiest day of poker I've ever had.

WSOP Main Event Day One: Animal Farm

I was on tilt basically all day. Most of the players in this thing were pretty horrendous, which inspired the Gambler to refer to the tournament as an "animal farm." However, I got off to a very poor start. The first two levels I didn't catch any cards, I failed to pounce on some pots that could have been won with a bet or a raise, and I missed some huge draws (including an open-ended straight flush draw). I was down to 3000 in level two, then got all in with AJ against Ad7d on a J54 flop with two diamonds, and it came 3-2 for a chop. With an unreadable maniac to my right and Billy Baxter to my left, the outlook at this point was bleaker than Orwell.

I got all the way up to 27k not long after the dinner break after a double-up, a semi-bluff, and some other big hands. At this point I was fired up, confident, and ready to go on a dominant run. Then things fell apart and I went down to 16k (four consecutive steals ran into monsters), got it up to 26k after a nice take with aces, fell down to 11.5k after losing 6k with AK and some other very frustrating hands, and grinded up to my final of 17,925.

It was not the day I envisioned; in fact it was the most frustrating day of poker I've ever had. But I'm still in.

Gambler is out, Fish has 38k, PiMaster has 51k.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

All-Time Leader

One thought rises above all others for me the night before playing in the biggest poker tournament in history. Whoever wins this tournament will be the all-time leader in lifetime tournament poker winnings.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Grand

Today five of us took a helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and the Strip. It was pricey but spectacular, and an excellent way to clear the mind in preparation for The Colossus. 8000 is the number most commonly thrown out as the over/under. We wound up with 7 horses from the House of Pain: myself, Paul, Toph, Gambler, MasterJ, PiMaster and Matt. Nick was in, then out, then in, and finally decided his head was not clear enough and his bankroll not big enough.

I will be playing without bankroll pressure or fear of losing. My mind will be focused entirely on the tournament and little else. I was talking to someone today and realized that I have come to believe that I now have all the tools necessary to win this tournament. I believe I can do it. If it's not me, then I fully expect someone or someones from the house to get very deep in this thing.

I played some more 25-50 tonight. I was cruising along, bludgeoning my opponents, playing wonderfully, until I slowplayed KK and lost about $3k to GetPunked83's TT on a 443T2 board. Again I thought I was one of the best players at the table, but then again, the tables were around 90% rounders. I do think the lower limit greener pastures will be more lucrative, but my ego wants me to play the highest game available.

Tomorrow begins the highest game in the history of games. Matt is our only horse launching in heat one.

Tonight 25-50: 1.5 hrs, +1535

Year to date: 173,862

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Playing Big

Things didn't go well for me in the second day of the $1500 NLHE. I got reraised after opening a pot with AQ and decided to lay it down, I had my blinds stolen, and I wasn't able to pick up any cards. I managed a double up with KK against 88 to hit my high-water mark of 42k, but the cards completely went to shit after that. I made a desperation all-in move with 86, ran into AQ, made a straight, and doubled again, then folded about two rounds until my final hand. It was one of the most painful hands of my life.

With the blinds at 1500-3000 and a 400 ante, I moved in for about 19k in second position with 7s6s. I took my time and clearly said all-in, but didn't move my chips into the middle. The one seat was not paying attention and threw in six yellow chips (6000) when it got to him. He was alerted that I was all-in and would have to complete my bet, or fold and leave the 6000 in the pot. When he hesitated, I was devastated, knowing he had a crap hand like J9 or something and would now have to call with it and likely send me packing. To my shock and glee, he eventually threw his hand away despite the incredible pot odds he was now receiving. I guess he was afraid of someone behind him picking up a monster.

Two or three guys behind him considered the bet for at least a minute, but each eventually folded. Finally it got to the big blind who thought for about three minutes, then said "I'll gamble", called, and turned over a worst-case scenario, the 9-6 of clubs. He was getting almost exactly 2:1 and had about 100k. Most players would quickly fold here, but I think a call is pretty reasonable in this spot. We both made a pair of sixes and his 9 kicker played to win the pot and send me home in 67th place for $7652.

That puts my lifetime live tournament winnings above $100,000, although my live tournament expenditures are also above $100,000.

Congratulations and good luck to Jason Strasser, formerly Shavlick on Party, who made the final table which finishes up today.


At night, I woke up from a nap and immediately felt an urge to play 25-50 NL online for the first time. I got on the waitlists, and soon I was 4-tabling easily the highest stakes of my life. This was literally the first hand I ever played at 25-50:

Seat 2: DoomSwitched ( $1566)
Seat 5: APotIsAPot ( $5000)
Seat 9: AA505 ( $1000)

unknownpp posts small blind (25)
tindlaiso posts big blind (50)
AA505 posts big blind (50)
APotIsAPot posts big blind (50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to APotIsAPot [ Ac, Ks ]
AA505 checks.
The_Czar folds.
DorsVenabili folds.
DoomSwitched raises (250) to 250
Sh00teR folds.
Razor_Edge folds.
APotIsAPot raises (688.89) to 738.89
slowrolls folds.
unknownpp folds.
tindlaiso folds.
AA505 calls (688.89)
DoomSwitched folds.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ Jc, Qh, Jh ]
AA505 checks.
APotIsAPot bets (50) (a misclick, I was trying to bet the pot)
AA505 calls (50)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 4d ]
AA505 checks.
APotIsAPot bets (1899.78)
AA505 calls (211.11)
AA505 is all-In.
** Dealing River ** : [ 7c ]
Creating Main Pot with $2322 with AA505
** Summary **
Main Pot: $2322
APotIsAPot balance $4000, bet $2688.67, collected $1688.67, lost -$1000 [ Ac Ks ]
AA505 balance $2322, bet $1000, collected $2322, net +$1322 [ Ts Js ]

This was literally the second hand of 25-50 I ever played:

Seat 5: APotIsAPot ( $4000)
Seat 9: AA505 ( $2322)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to APotIsAPot [ Jh, Kc ]
The_Czar folds.
DorsVenabili folds.
DoomSwitched folds.
Sh00teR calls (50)
Razor_Edge folds.
APotIsAPot calls (50)
slowrolls did not respond in time. slowrolls folds.
unknownpp folds.
tindlaiso calls (25)
AA505 raises (349.90) to 399.90
Sh00teR folds.
APotIsAPot calls (349.90)
tindlaiso folds.
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 7h, 4h, Kd ]
AA505 bets (599.99)
APotIsAPot calls (599.99)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ Th ]
AA505 bets (1322.11)
AA505 is all-In.
APotIsAPot calls (1322.11)
** Dealing River ** : [ Ah ]
Creating Main Pot with $4741 with AA505
** Summary ** Main Pot: $4741
APotIsAPot balance $1678, lost $2322 [ Jh Kc ]
AA505 balance $4741, bet $2322, collected $4741, net +$2419 [ Kh 8d ]

The good news was that an idiot or two had found his way to 25-50, the bad news was that I was immediately stuck a little over 3k.

After I made a flush against top two and a moron decided to put $4000 in preflop with pocket threes against pocket kings, I was up a decent amount for the session. I then got into some pretty serious battles with Razor_Edge, who was not backing down to anyone and playing as if on steroids. The pissing contest culminated in this:

Seat 8: Razor_Edge ( $11072.06)
Seat 9: APotIsAPot ( $12150.47)
masa9 posts small blind (25)
Force_of_Will posts big blind (50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to APotIsAPot [ Qc, Ah ]
OMor1529 folds.
Razor_Edge raises (200) to 200
APotIsAPot raises (652) to 652
AA_Legend folds.
masa9 folds.
Force_of_Will folds.
Razor_Edge calls (452)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ Jd, Jc, As ]
Razor_Edge checks.
APotIsAPot checks.
** Dealing Turn ** : [ 4d ]
Razor_Edge checks.
APotIsAPot bets (800)
Razor_Edge calls (800)
** Dealing River ** : [ 3s ]
Razor_Edge checks.
APotIsAPot bets (2172)
Razor_Edge calls (2172)
** Summary **
Main Pot: $7320
Razor_Edge balance $14768.06, bet $3624, collected $7320, net +$3696 [ Jh 9c ]

Against many players I would check the river, but the Edge has been known to make some very thin calls against me and other players, and I didn't want to lose value to his ace-rag.

This disaster, against an unknown player who had just sat down, put me back down for the session:

DoomSwitched posts small blind (25)
paul8wang posts big blind (50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to APotIsAPot [ 5h, 5s ]
DorsVenabili folds.
tindlaiso folds.
Force_of_Will folds.
Razor_Edge folds.
APotIsAPot raises (150) to 150
boat69 folds.
ComeOnPhish folds.
DoomSwitched folds.
paul8wang calls (100)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ Jc, Qh, 5d ]
paul8wang bets (450)
APotIsAPot raises (1307.94) to 1307.94
paul8wang calls (857.94)
** Dealing Turn ** : [ Ah ]
paul8wang bets (2000)
APotIsAPot raises (4732.06) to 4732.06
APotIsAPot is all-In.
paul8wang calls (751.06)
paul8wang is all-In.
** Dealing River ** : [ 4h ]
Creating Main Pot with $8440 with paul8wang
Creating Side Pot 1 with $1981 with APotIsAPot
** Summary **
paul8wang balance $8440, bet $4209, collected $8440, net +$4231 [ Kh Tc ]

After that I ran a patented Moon limp-reraise/squeeze with QQ, had an AK shove on me, called, and won the 10k coinflip. The session ended on a sour note as I failed to get away from 85 on a A85 flop and doubled up a shortish stack's 55. I finished down $1790, essentially a break-even four-tabling these stakes. Overall I felt the game was very beatable, and thought I was the second best player behind the Edge at all four tables. Still, I doubt I will be playing much 25-50 in the future. I think my future lies in 10-20 ring (although the 25-50 has sort of killed those games on Party), 10-20 shorthanded a la Kwickfish, and 5-10 shorthanded. I really believe playing a bunch of 5-10 shorthanded tables might give me the best profit margin, without the ulcers of playing higher.

The main event starts tomorrow, and I play on Saturday. I've never been this focused, determined, and confident about a poker tournament. I've also never been this good.


$1500 NLHE: +6102
Wednesday night, 25-50: 3.5 hrs, -1790

Year to date: 172,327

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Number Five

I'm deep in a tournament yet again, in the $1500 NLHE. With 157 players left I am 28th in chips with 37,300 going into day two. This is my fifth cash of the World Series. There can't be more than half a dozen players who have cashed that many times at the WSOP this year, and maybe none who have done it in only seventeen events. I'm very proud of those results and felt today I played the best middle/big stack play of my life.


50-100 blinds. A fairly short stack makes it 325 and I somehow knew he had AK. I feel like this sort of thing has happened many times in the last month. Some guy will raise a hand and I will just know what he has (especially if it's AK). I look down at TT on the button and call. I'm jettisoning the hand if an A or K hits, and if it doesn't, I'm not folding. The blinds fold and the flop comes Qd2d2c. He checks, I bet 500, he moves in for 450 more, I call, he has AK, it comes diamond-diamond, he has a diamond, I am down to 275. After this hand I was pretty upset, but also excited. It's rare to own someone so thoroughly playing short-stack poker.

50-100 blinds. A player limps UTG, another guy limps, and I decide to ship in my 275 with AJ. The small blind calls, and then UTG isolates all-in with pocket fives. A very nice spot for my short stack, and I win the race and more than triple up.

50-100 blinds. Four guys limp in and I call the extra 50 in the SB with 43o. The flop comes 852 and I bet all-in for about 800. One of the limpers moves in behind with a set of twos, and then the button calls all-in with a set of eights! The turn bricks, the river is an ace, and I more than triple again.

50-100 blinds. The very next hand an older fellow limps and I make it 375 on the button with Ad2s. He calls and I have him on a QJish hand. The flop was not what I wanted, JT7 with two spades. He checks and I fire a bet just in case he has pocket sixes or something. He doesn't, and quickly calls. I probably would have given up on it but the turn was the Ks and he checked. I quickly went all-in on an overbet and he folded.

100-200 blinds, 25 ante. I win a decent-sized race with TT against AJ.

100-200 blinds, 25 ante. A player limps from early position, another guy limps in late position, I limp in the cutoff with J8o, the SB folds, and the BB checks. The flop comes JJ7 with two diamonds and the big blind bets 500. The late limper calls and I weirdly call. I'm not sure if I have both, one, or neither of them beat and calling disguises my hand. I thought I'd find out more on the turn. I was pretending to have a flush draw myself, so I wasn't too worried about a diamond hitting. If a diamond hit I might even "bluff" it. The turn was an offsuit ten and the big blind quickly moved in for over 2000. The other guy thought for a long time and folded, and I called. The big blind turned over a ridiculous 43o and couldn't catch the zero-outer.

150-300 blinds, 50 ante. Nath Pizzolato, who has been raising a lot of hands, makes it 800. I flatcall with pocket kings and the big blind calls. The flop comes 446 and the big blind moves in for about 2000. Nath quickly moves in for about 6000, and I call. The big blind had either 55 or 56 and Nath had JJ. I fade them both and find myself at 18k.

I had 21k at the dinner break which was one of the largest in the tournament. After dinner I did not play a big pot and never once showed down a hand. It was an extremely weird day as the only solid hands I had all day were 88 (limp-folded to an AQ and KK), 99 (folded with a short stack), TT (which lost most of my stack), KK, and AJs. I didn't have AQ or AK all day long, which is very odd. Basically I only had one big starting hand all day long but my steals never ran into big hands, I never hit a cooler, I hit some flops with hands like 57s and 95s, and I played very well.

I have kind of a bad draw with Phil Laak and some other large stacks to my left, but I'm extremely excited about tomorrow. There are many strong players left but most of the world-class pros were in the Stud 8 or the Deuce. Having gone from 275 to 37,000 with only one big starting hand says a lot about how I'm playing, I'd like to think.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I ran KK into AA yet again yesterday in the 2k NLHE, although I did not have many chips when it happened.

The Fish found himself in a nightmarish situation - card dead at a table of superaggressors, most of them to his left. It was very hard for him to pick up pots knowing he would constantly get reraised and have to fold if he did not have the goods (no big stack was letting go of AT preflop no matter what the action). At one point he had it over 200k after sucking out on Juanda's kings and then letting Vanessa Rousso bluff off a bunch of chips with nothing, but then he went completely card dead four-handed, lost a race, and expired in 11th place. The Fish was very pleased with his play though and felt he played a near-perfect tournament. All of us know that an enormous breakthrough will happen very soon, probably before the end of the year.

Alex was not as happy with his play and finished a disappointing 5th for 77k.

In this World Series, some of my best friends have finished 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, 9th, 11th, 14th, and 16th in tournaments, along with my 11th. It's obvious we are playing great poker and constantly contending at the highest level.

I was getting pretty exhausted and didn't think I could play my best game, so I elected to skip today's 5k pot limit. I will only be playing one more tournament (a 1.5k crapshoot) before the wildly anticipated main event.

2.5k PLHE: +2024
2k NLHE: -2000

Year to date: 168,015

Friday, July 21, 2006

Big Things

I didn't get anything going in day 2 of the pot limit. I played insanely tight, probably too tight. I was at 19k when Theo Tran opened a pot for just 2.5 times the big blind. The big blind was a tight short stack and so was I, in the small blind. Tran had a large stack, so the chance of him making a steal was pretty good. I was certain he had either a monster or a crap hand based on the bet size and the way he bet. I looked down at A8s in the small blind and moved in. He quickly called with KK and flopped me dead.

Alex Jacob is the monster chip leader going into the final table and I have a small chunk of him.

The Fish is 9th in chips with 36 left going into day 2 of the shorthanded event. I watched him for a while after I busted out and he was an absolute juggernaut. He looks very fresh and bloodthirsty after taking a week off from the madness at the Rio. I would be shocked if the Fish does not final table this thing, although most of the players left are excellent.

Nappy got into town tonight and will join us for the 2k NLHE tomorrow.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another Chance

I'm deep again in a WSOP event. With 40 players left in the $2,500 PLHE I have a slightly below average stack. My friend Alex Jacob is the chip leader. Thursday at 3 PM we resume and play down to the final table (ESPN!) of nine.

I picked up a lot of huge hands. KK vs QQ, QQ beating AKs, QQ doubling through an overaggressive blind defender, QQ doubling through 99 on a Qxx flop, and a few others. I was also very lucky to beat AQ with KJ and QQ with 55 on a 643 flop, both for key pots.

I played with a diverse collection of likable personalities, including

Juha Helppi and Surinder Sunar (both out very early)
Bracelet winner of the 2k NLHE earlier this year, Mark Vos (who seemed very talented)
FinalTheory (sent home with AA by Alex's 75 on a 77x flop)
Tony Hachem (Joe's brother and a nice guy)
Evelyn Ng (busted by the Moon)
Paul Wolfe (still cracking jokes despite eons on the tournament trail without a major breakthrough)
Danny Fuhs (always a major factor at the table and one of the best non-famous players)
House of Pain favorite Jason Sagle aka "GQ"
Kyle Wilson (the man, the myth, the legend, the woman, the 23-year old kid "queenkris" aka "kristelita" aka "AliKings"). I've probably played more hands of poker against this guy than anyone else except hotmark, and today was the first time I found out who he was. Seemed like a nice guy.
Vanessa Rousso (no comment)
Toph (who may actually be leading the house in profits due to online play despite not yet cashing at the WSOP)
Kent Washington (always fun to have at the table, and always fiending to play hands weirdly)
Matt Matros (a very solid player, a nice guy, and a certified "do not bluff")
Canterbury nemesis Joshua Turner (crippled right before the money in a monster pot with 42 of spades against AK)

It just seems like during the WSOP I pick up QQ and KK whenever I need them, and they usually hold up. I don't think I'm doing anything special at all.

The blinds go wild right at the beginning and it figures to be a pretty big crapshoot. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Although I plan to play a ton of hands in the main event and in future big buy-in, deepstack tournaments, I have generally been playing pretty tight here in the preliminary events at the WSOP. I don't think there's usually much value playing suited connectors and small pairs -especially in early position - when the average stack is twenty big blinds. In the past I've siphoned chips defending my blind with hands like T9o or A4s, so I've cut that out of my game (unless the other players in the pot are particularly weak). I'm probably winning around 10% of hands. In all three of my cashes, I spent most of the tournament playing extremely tight.

I think most of my opponents decide after an hour or two of playing with me that I am a basic weak-tight rock. The reality is that I am playing few hands, but playing them very hard when I do. Several players - including Joseph Hachem - have tried to bluff me in huge pots knowing I did not have a strong hand. They have underestimated my hand-reading ability and willingness to make a brave call for most of my chips.

I also play hands very unconventionally before the flop sometimes. In the shootout the other day, a guy limped in late position and I elected to just limp in the cutoff with AK. The plan was for a player behind me, most likely David Pham, to raise, allowing me to go all-in. I had a stack in which a raise would leave me in an awkward spot after the flop, but it was a perfect stack to reraise all-in. Although this time the pot was not raised and I ended up missing the flop and quietly folding, there have been many times when I have played a hand like this with favorable results. Last night in our house freezeout, the most important hand at the final table went like this: Kevin (in town to make the documentary) limped on the button. I just called in the SB with ATs, expecting Matt Viox in the big blind to raise this obviously weak situation. Sure enough, Matt raised and Kevin folded. I quickly pushed all-in and Matt beat me into the pot with A9, unable to put me on any sort of a hand after I just called in the small blind. I won that huge pot and went on to win the tournament.

Another advantage of playing very tight is it allows me to make critical blind steals and resteals, especially late in the tournament when I really need the chips. Often my steals come from early position, and I've even raised under the gun in the dark. When a guy goes two straight orbits without playing a hand, you have to give him credit for a gigantic hand when he raises under the gun. You also have to give him credit for a hand when he reraises you.

I feel comfortable playing this style, and think it suits me well. There are times to play fast, and I need to hone my higher gears for those times. I am still struggling to play a medium stack. My game still needs a lot of work. But I am very confident in falling back to this default, tight strategy.

No matter how tight you play, there's no folding KK preflop in one of these $1500 events. For the second time in the WSOP I ran KK into AA, and for the first time, I lost the hand. Today is the 2.5k PLHE, my best remaining chance to win a bracelet.

2k Shootout: +2805
1.5k NLHE: -1500

Year to date: 167,991

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Round Two

I went out 7th in the second round of the 2k Shootout. The third hand I lost half my stack to Vanessa Selbst aka fslexcduck, who extracted revenge on me for dissing her skills in my blog six months ago. She raised to 1200 in the cutoff, the button called, the SB called, and I made it 4400 in the BB with AhQc. She called and everyone else folded. The flop came a horrifying Ts9s7s and I elected to bet out 5300. This flop was so ugly for my hand, especially considering the preflop action, that my best course of action may have just been to check and fold. Of course that would be a horrible play if she held a red AK or a red pair of sixes or something, but I think I was going to get played back at by most hands and blowing 5300 on a continuation bet may not have been the wisest play in a freezeout.

I got down to around 8500 with 7 left with the blinds at 300-500. Everyone folded to me in the SB and I looked down at 88, Mike Sexton with a 10k stack in the big blind. I decided to just limp, hoping he would raise so I could move all in. I could have raised but that would have put me in an undesirable spot if he chose to move all in or call. To my surprise he just moved all-in. I immediately told him that he was supposed to raise so I could move in, and that I was certain I had the best hand. With a short stack I always try to avoid calling bets for my whole stack so I was very disappointed that he had moved in. But his hand in this spot will usually be a smaller pair or an ace with a crappy kicker, and he will almost never have a big pair (although 99 and TT are possible). So I called, he had A4 of hearts, and he won. He went on to get heads up with David Pham and the Dragon demolished him.

The MasterJ33 also got off to a rough start, but he caught fire and came back to win his table. Tomorrow he represents the House of Pain at the final table.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Sit ‘n Go World Championship

Contrary to the extremely vocal protests spewed forth from Harry Demetriou, I personally loved the structure the WSOP team threw together at the last minute for the $2k NLHE Shootout event today at the Rio. With 600 players in the tournament they elected to play 100 6-man tables today, with the 100 winners receiving a solid paycheck and advancing on to round two (10 10-man tables). The round two winners go on to the 10-man final table on Tuesday. It was a nice feeling knowing I’d get to go home and relax before dinner if I got the job done.

I’m not a world-class sit n go artist along the lines of ZeeJustin or Gigabet, but I managed to win my table today and I deserved it. I had a plan and stuck to it, and it worked. Basically my goal was to avoid risking my stack playing big pots before the third level. These things are rarely won before the blinds get big (although one fellow somehow managed to win his table in just 45 minutes). When the third level hit, I picked up some nice hands and busted two of the four remaining players. The heads-up battle was a see-saw, arduous affair. I finally won it after rivering a flush with QQ against KK for most of the chips.

There are tons of quality players left, and my table tomorrow figures to be a lot tougher. I plan on playing some of the tightest poker of my life for the first two hours, then opening up the guns as the blinds rise and players depart.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I declare I don't care no more
I'm burning up and out and
Growing bored

I'm not growing up,
I'm just burning out
And I stepped in line
To walk amongst the Dead
Apathy has rained on me
Now I'm feeling like a
Soggy dream
So close to drowning but I don't mind
I've lived in this mental cave
Throw emotions in the grave
Hell, who needs them anyway

- Green Day, "Burnout"

I'm running out of gas. There are about eight hundred people in the house right now and there's no room to breathe. It's poker talk 24/7 in the house, in the car, on the town, at the Rio. Today was the first day since I've gotten here that I didn't have the fire in my belly. Still, I played flawlessly, but lost a large coinflip with 88 against AJ and then the rest of my stack with AQ against a moron's 75s.

Far more important than anything going on at the WSOP is the long-awaited opening of higher stakes NL tables ($25-$50 5k max buy-in) on Party Poker. Right now there are only four of them and they look pretty tough. Not unbeatable but tough. I don't know if I'm going to launch right into 5k NL as I always thought I would when Party opened it up. I may just stick with 2k NL, or perhaps forage into the bigger game with joint sessions with others.

Speaking of Party Poker, here is a recent email correspondence with them I found amusing:


Date: 2006-07-08 15:32



Subject: Some of Party Poker's Finest Making Runs on Tournament Circuit

Hello. My name is Thomas Fuller and I have been a regular on Party Poker for almost three years now. For the last two years I have consistently played the highest-limit cash no limit tables available on the site. Although I am a professional player who plays mostly online, I play exclusively on Party Poker.

The reason I am writing this email is to inform you that my group of friends and I have started playing frequently on the live tournament circuit, and have been very close to some major successes. Three days ago my friend Paul Wasicka finished 14th in the 5k NLHE at the WSOP, and I finished 11th in the same event. Paul placed 15th in the WPT Championship main event two months ago.

My friends and I have rented a home in Las Vegas for the World Series and are playing almost all of the NLHE and PLHE events, including the main event. The players staying at this house are all Party Poker regulars, including

Thomas Fuller (tfuller, GnightMoon, APotIsAPot)

Paul Wasicka (kwicky, Kwickfish)

Christopher Moore (gcnmoo, schnie23)

Jason DeWitt (TheMasterJ33)

Joel Patchell (gamblegambel)

Nick Saxon (hostileblue)

Chris Viox (PiMaster)

As the 5k NLHE got down to the last two tables Wednesday night, Paul andI began talking to potential sponsors about a licensing deal if we made the final table. I feel that each of us on the list above could make a major breakthrough at any time, and wanted to give PartyPoker the "heads up" on sponsoring us. Like I said earlier, I've never played on any site but Party, and would like to give PartyPoker the opportunity to sponsor us before another site swoops in and steals us away.

Thank you for providing the games that have made this all possible. I hope to hear back from you soon.


Thomas Fuller


I received a prompt response from Party which read as follows:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for contacting us.

We would first like to congratulate you for your performance at the events! We thank you very much for your continued patronage. We have added an amount of $25.00 to your account in goodwill. We do acknowledge that this might not completely justify the kind of bonus you might deserve. However, we just thought we could express our gratitude!!

We have forwarded your e-mail to the marketing department so that they can look into the matter. We request you to write to for matters such as this in future.



PartyPoker Customer Care


About a week later the marketing department finally responded:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your kind email. I am glad you are enjoying our games. Online poker is a good platform to hone your skills and I am glad we could contribute to your current offline success. Unfortunately we do not sponsor any players "in advance". After a successful major event, we will be happy to negotiate a very attractive deal, but not at this point. Good luck in the main event. I hope you will be joining us at our Party at MGM.

Kind regards,

Irina Evita Cornides

VIP Marketing Manager


The double exclamation mark is my favorite part, even more than the $25.00 which shall immediately be donated to charity (please give me suggestions).


1k NLHE: -1000

2k PLHE: +685

2.5k Shorthanded: -2500

2k NL: -2000

Year to Date: 166,686

Thursday, July 13, 2006


It's poker madness now and I might be starting to lose focus - I don't really know. Yesterday might have been the most fun day I've ever had in Vegas, as the "House of Pain" supported PiMaster all the way to his third place finish in the 2k PLHE for $86,914. I really think we had the rest of the table on tilt as every pot Chris won about nine of us would roar with approval and shout various puns on the name/concept "Pi." The house is getting almost as crazy as the Rio as we have something like 11 people staying here right now.

Today was the 2.5k shorthanded event and I thought it was our best chance to win a bracelet. Five of us got off to flying starts and had over 7500 at the first break. I hit a couple sets early on and found myself at 9700 after two hours. Better yet I had an amazing table draw and I was ready to just annihilate La-style, but instead I lost a couple pots and then the table broke. My new table was almost as good, but I made a horrible misread and ended up blowing most of my stack with jack-eight of clubs. An orbit later I was gone.

Everything is just happening so fast and so intensely right now. It's kind of hard for me to get excited about going to the casino almost every day but I think my game is improving rapidly and at the very least I am getting the experience necessary to play strong 30x BB poker.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Champion, the Beast, and the Thief of Hearts

I made my second cash of the WSOP in the 2k PLHE, just squeaking in, but that's not what I'll remember about today. The more important facts:

I played my absolute best today. The best I've ever played I think. I was a short stack basically the entire day and I always had tough good players with lots of chips on my left. I didn't pick up many hands either. Somehow I outlasted 90% of the field. I was all in three times, each one as a huge favorite. I think my short stack play has gone from poor to superb in just one week. I'm still struggling quite a bit as a medium stack.

I played many hours with Joe Hachem, and I felt I usually knew where he was at. In fact most of my chips at my first table came from him, including a monster great read for my tournament life with TT on a board of AQ33. Hachem does play very very well though, and he's a friendly, enjoyable guy.

Far scarier than Hachem was none other than the legend himself, Hung "Beast" La two to my left. The La played savage poker, constantly took down pots with checkraises and reraises, almost never showed down a hand, and scared the living shit out of everyone at the table (including Hachem, who repeatedly lost pots to him and referred to him as "Master".

PiMaster is the chip leader with 22 left going into day two. Literally. Chris Viox.

The hottest girl I've ever seen at a poker table, a jawdropping blonde named Reva Alexander, sat down for a few hands before Hachem dispatched her. She was no match for Chantel McNulty, however, who was capturing hearts and chips at an equal rate en route to a 22nd place finish.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Coupon Day

There is this scene in Jurassic Park where they are discussing how profitable the park is going to be and Hammond says he doesn't want the park to be only for the super-rich and the lawyer says, sure, we'll have a coupon day, and laughs. Today was Coupon Day at the WSOP, aka the 1k NLHE. It seemed every home game superstar, every bar-league champion, every low-limit local cardroom hero and every country bumpkin who's ever watched Chris Ferguson on ESPN made the trip to Vegas for today's discounted tournament. The powers that be packed the tables eleven-thick and wasted no time filling the seats of the departed with fresh meat.

There were something like 2800 players out there and most of them played worse than the kids I used to play with in the basement of 32 Wheeler in Saint Paul. Of course it didn't matter because we were playing eleven handed so someone had pocket queens or better every hand and we had no starting chips so it was impossible to take flops. I got off to a great start bullying and bulldozing and picking up big hands and then the blinds got big and I ran out of cards and played a short stack game until my AQ ran into Greg Mueller's AA.

I could rant and bitch about the WSOP for 1000 words or I could just put up this link to Shane Schleger's blog about it. This is the finest piece of writing I've ever read on the subject, and I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything he says. I'd write about these issues myself but I don't think I could put down my thoughts as eloquently.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


On Friday I finally wore my contact lenses after a month and a half of frustrated blurry vision through my glasses and wounded eye. If there were leaves on the trees here in Vegas then I would have been able to see them again. Being able to see again, looking my best, and the recent result in the 5k gave me a jolt of confidence. I've never felt more powerful and controlling than I did in the 2.5k NLHE on Friday. Ted Forrest eventually showed up at the table and I didn't feel the trepidation I normally do when a big name sits down. This time I felt he was the one who had something to be afraid of.

After a good start, however, I played one hand very poorly and then lost the rest of my stack with AK against KQs all in preflop followed shortly by AK vs 88 all in preflop.

TheMasterJ33 rolled in a few days ago and later today the Gambler, Nick, and Brad arrive from a long trip through the South. PiMaster gets in tomorrow. It's going to be very exciting the next few weeks as there will never be more than a day of rest until shortly before the main event.

2.5k Shorthanded NLHE: -2.5k
2k NLHE: -2k
Sunday night: 2 hrs, +705
Monday morning: 2 hrs, + 9024 (Kwickfish co-op)
5k NLHE: +27,157
1.5k Limit Hold Em: -1500
2.5k NLHE: -2500
Friday afternoon: 2 hrs, +1435 (Kwickfish co-op)
Saturday afternoon: 4 hrs, +5642 (Kwickfish co-op)

Year to date: 171,501

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Day After

Today I played in the 1.5k limit hold em. It may have been the softest field in WSOP history as all the good pros were in the 5k Omaha Hi/Lo or taking the day off. I was worried it would be hard to play well making 25 and 50 bets the day after making bets for 60k but I found plenty of hands early to get me going. Frank Kassela was on a chip-dumping quest - literally - and I was his main beneficiary. He wanted to play in the Omaha and had a friend who wagered him $750 he couldn't bust out from the limit tournament in 2 hours. Mission accomplished, Frank, and I was over 4k when they broke the table. I played a few hands with Jan Sjavik who was clearly on a mission to win the tournament, making the rest of us look like children. Sjavik made the right decisions against me but I was able to continue to build with plenty of good hands. I got moved again and then finally ran out of gas after losing two large pots with AKs and busted with 90 left paying 73.

Tomorrow is the 2.5k NLHE and I think I might have another deep run in me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So Close

The Fish and I just hung in there all day long, picking up critical pots at key times and finding big hands when we got short. With 14 left I busted Paul and told myself to put his chips to good use, but I mistimed a resteal and doubled up the tightest guy at the table with K2s against his KK. A couple hands later I was out in 11th place.

It's so devastating to get really deep in one of these and not bring it home. Nine made the televised final table which would have brought endorsement opportunities and all kinds of fun and excitement, not to mention cold hard cash. For both of us to get this deep and not make it is extremely disappointing, but I believe it is an indication of good things to come. Plus we're now basically freerolling for the rest of the WSOP.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My First WSOP Cash

The Monkey is finally off my back.

After 17 consecutive finishes out of the money at the WSOP, I finally cashed today in the 5k NLHE. I had plenty of hands (although I did not see aces the entire day), particularly when I got shortstacked and my blind got raised. I actually had something like 35k during level five after winning a couple gargantuan pots, one with a set against Tex Barch's flush draw, and one with KK against QQ and a short stack's AA. Shortly after that I lost a 20k coinflip with JJ against AQ and spent the rest of the day between 12k and 37k. I finished the day with 25,200 with the blinds at a ludicrous 1200-2400 and 300 ante.

The Fish also made his first WSOP cash and his stack is very similar to mine. Tomorrow we will be at the same table to start with both of us in push mode. Although we are short stacked, one double up will put us at the average of just 20x BB. This has to be the worst structured 5k event in poker history. I've played $30 tournaments on Party Poker with better structures.

Somewhere in there I called 6k on the river with KQo on a board of 76473 with three spades - and it was good - but that story will have to wait till after the tournament.

Monday, July 03, 2006


When I started getting really interested in poker and the idea of becoming a professional first entered my mind, my favorite player was Daniel Negreanu. I found everything about him appealing. His playing style was perfectly suited for me, I thought. Not wildly aggressive but pretty loose - more interested in tricking people than hammering them. Finesse rather than brute force. Cute rather than powerful. He wrote for CardPlayer magazine back when it had indie cred and his columns were the best in the magazine. The strategic ones offered such clear insight into the way he played, I still think they were some of the best food I digested while learning to play the game. I also identified with the stuff he wrote about the lifestyle - particularly his stories of coming up through the ranks, beating beaten down, and then his big breakthrough at the WSOP.

When poker exploded shortly after Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP main event, Daniel Negreanu was probably the best non-famous tournament player in the world. It's hard to remember now that he is one of the five or ten most famous players in the world, but he went through a dry patch of tournament results around the WPT's first season and never made it on television. It was during this period that I became particularly fond of Negreanu. Reading about frustrating struggles is more soul-stirring than reading about success and excess, I suppose. Before anyone knew who Daniel Negreanu was, I did, and that's one reason why he was my favorite player.

In 2004, the year I started making legitimate money playing poker, Negreanu had one of the finest years of tournament poker anyone has ever had. He made 11 final tables, winning two WPT events and finishing second in a third, won a WSOP bracelet and made 5 final tables there, and won CardPlayer of the Year by a wide margin. This also happened right at the moment televised poker went to supernova stage, and Negreanu became its brightest star. In addition to his incredible results, he displayed youthful enthusiasm and mainstream accessibility perfect for television.

It was also clear that Negreanu liked being in the spotlight. As Jerry Maguire would say, he would not rest until he was holding a Coke, wearing his own hockey jersey, playing a Sega game featuring him while singing his own song in a new commercial, starring him, broadcast during a poker tournament that he wins, and would not sleep until that happened.

Soon Negreanu wasn't my favorite player anymore. He really blew it for me when he wrote an article in CardPlayer hyping his video game. That was a clear sell out, and it disgusted me. Negreanu had "jumped the shark", poker had "jumped the shark", it was no longer about the game, and I mentally divorced the man I had once referred to as my "soulmate." I still read most of his articles and blogs, but more casually and condescendingly than passionately.

Last week during the shorthanded event I finally sat down at a poker table with Daniel Negreanu. I had gotten moved during the second level, I ambled over to the table, saw a few dudes I didn't recognize, and then I saw Daniel. He was wearing a turquoise shirt just like I have but his had a cheesy logo for his website. He was wearing a hat just like I was but his was for his website, mine for the Tar Heels. He was getting up from the table a lot just like I do but he would sign autographs whereas I just stare blankly around the sea of tables.

Daniel was in his element. He was hitting hands nonstop and there were plenty of fools to pay him off. There was no one at the table who could challenge him. No one had the game, and certainly no one had the cards. Every ten minutes a chip count reporter would ask him his count, and it was always more than the last time. Every twenty minutes a poker site would take his photograph. He was constantly making jokes, little barbs at the other players or the WSOP. And the rail was thicker around that table than any other, even though the rest of the players were as anonymous as the rail itself.

Not long after I sat down, a kid with a broken face came up to the rail wearing a hockey jersey for Negreanu's website. The poor kid's face was so disfigured people were glancing in his direction, then averting their eyes in shock. But Negreanu wasn't turning away. His demeanor didn't change at all, he was still smiling and cracking jokes and having fun with the rail. He was engaging the kid, talking to him, getting him involved in the conversation.

It turns out Negreanu has known the kid, Little Matt, for over a year, and hangs out with him from time to time. Negreanu was still the star of the show, still hungry for attention, but now he was doing something positive with that attention. He was deflecting it in the right direction, making the kid feel accepted and part of the action. And I looked at the kid, and even though his face was completely deformed and discontinuous, you could tell he was smiling broadly, and I smiled, and I thought, if Daniel Negreanu wants to sell out and promote himself and do everything he can to be the most famous poker player on the planet, then it's okay with me.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


The Bag got tenth place in the 2.5k shorthanded event. It was a volatile day where he won and lost a lot of big pots and finally Dutch Boyd trapped him with a weird button limp with JJ which paid off when Bag flopped top pair with 96 in the big blind.

I had 6850 in chips after level one which was pretty incredible but not as many chips as Nappy had. Naptown was chip leader of the whole 1800 player tournament for quite a while before losing a gargantuan pot which set him back to average status but he did make the money. The Fish and I both lost big coinflips shortly after the dinner break and missed the money. My hand was a bit strange as I raised in the cutoff with KQs and Kent Washington reraised about 28% of his stack in the big blind. I sort of thought he might be full of shit so I went all in and he instacalled with 77 which held up and I was out.

Despite missing the money again it was an encouraging day as I played a little more fearlessly. The very first hand I reraised in the dark and won the pot with 92o which gave me some confidence to trust my instincts and make some plays. I made one or two terribly weak plays later on in the tournament which cost me. I won't be playing again until the 5k NLHE on July 4th which is the marquee tournament before the main event at the end of the month.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

2.5k 6-man NLHE

For the second consecutive year, the Bag has made the money in the 2.5k shorthanded tournament. This year he's made it to day two, where the top ten chip count is this:

1 Daniel Negreanu 159,900
2 Gavin Smith 128,300
3 Craig Gray 124,000
4 Russ 'Dutch' Boyd 106,000
5 Mirza Nagji 101,700
6 Peter Hassett 99,300
7 Jeff Knight 87,200
8 Gioi Luong 80,000
8 Zach Sanders 80,000
10 Marcus Garza 79,300

Good luck to Sanders and Craig Gray (who I met at Canterbury) today as they go for the final table. The rest of us will be in the 2k NLHE.