Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles
Showdown at the Sands — Part IPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
Not too long after my last disappointing trip to the East Coast — you remember, the one where I played like a donkey and blamed it on an overdose of caffeine — I found myself back in Atlantic City, but this time there would be no excuses. No caffeine, and no cockiness, I was going to play my best this time.
Actually, this column was supposed to be about the World Poker Tour event at Foxwoods, but that tournament was too uneventful for me to dedicate an entire column to it. Sure, there were a few hands of interest, but overall, I just never really had many good things happen for me. I could sum up that tournament in one simple paragraph: I played pretty well most of the way and had my table all set up perfectly. I picked up J-J and moved all in on a flop of 10-7-4. My opponent called with A-10 and spiked an ace on the river. Big surprise, I got knocked out with jacks once again; it’s clearly a hand that is becoming a big problem for me in these WPT events.
So, anyway, here I was again in Atlantic City, staying at the Borgata. I just love that casino, as it has a real Vegas feel to it. Rather than fly from Foxwoods to Atlantic City, a few of us decided to rent a limo for the trip. The limo we got was more like a bus than a limo, as it fit 21 people comfortably — and there were seven of us. This worked out great for me, because I slept on the couch for most of the way.
We got to Atlantic City in time to play the $5,000 buy-in event at the Taj, but I decided I’d rather be fresh and ready for the championship event at the Sands, since it was going to be a monster tournament, with $1 million for first place.
That left me with a day or two to kill, so I played some live-action poker and basically just kicked back, for the most part. The night before the first day of the tournament, I couldn’t sleep! It was totally strange, as I had avoided caffeine and am not normally nervous, but for some reason I had butterflies in my stomach and was really anxious to play.
I tossed and turned until, finally, I gave up. Picture this: I have no idea how to properly iron anything, yet it was 3 a.m. and I was ironing my clothes! How bizarre is that? Me ironing at 3 a.m. — or for that matter, me ironing at all!
After I finished ironing every piece of clothing in my bag, it was time to get some sleep. Of course, everything I ironed looked more wrinkled than it did before I ironed, but that’s another story. I got into bed and tossed and turned again; I just couldn’t sleep. If I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I had to do something productive, I thought, so I pulled out my trusty set of WPT tapes to do some last-minute studying of my potential opponents.
I watched the Foxwoods show and the Reno show, which I hadn’t spent too much time on previously. Overall, I think I picked up some pretty valuable information on some key players, but, obviously, there was no guarantee I’d play with any of them in the tournament.
I was able to get about 30 solid minutes of sleep before it was time to get up and head over to the Sands. My first-table opponents included Phil Ivey and E-DOG (Erick Lindgren), and both were seated to my left, which could make things difficult for me. I did watch Phil on the Foxwoods show, but he is so good that I picked up very little. I decided to throw a curveball and started out playing extremely tight (for me, anyway). During the first three rounds, I played only three hands, picking up the blinds each time. My stack remained at its starting point of $10,000.
I was happy when this tough table broke rather early and I left it unscathed. Things at my next table went extremely well. I was able to hit some flops and steadily built my stack. Before I knew it, I was up to almost $32,000 and cruising, when the following hand came up:
Joe Cassidy, a fantastic young player whom you will hear more about in the future, raised from first position. The blinds were $300-$600 with an ante, and Joe made it $2,400 to go. In third position, Paul Phillips decided to call the $2,400. I looked down at 4-4, sitting to Paul’s immediate left, and decided to take a flop to try to get lucky. Our three stacks were all relatively equal, but I had them both covered by a hair.
Here came gin: 4-3-3. Joe bet right out, $4,000. It smelled like an overpair to me, and I was really excited about possibly busting him right here. Then, to my surprise, here came Paul moving all in! Sweet. Now, my only dilemma was whether or not I should bother doing a little Hollywood to entice Joe to call as well. After all, if he had A-A or K-K, he might decide to overcall, thinking he still had the best hand; 4-3-3 is usually a good flop for A-A or K-K in a situation like this.
I decided to go with a little Hollywood. I was trying to sell Joe on the idea that I had a hand like J-J or 10-10. I mean, once I call this bet, Joe is going to know I’m not bluffing, but calling with what I hope is the best hand. I hemmed and hawed for a little while, counted my chips, and so on. I think I even muttered something out loud to throw them off a little bit. Actually, I know I did: “Well, this is a close one.” I think I might have added, “I’m pretty sure I have Paul beat,” or something to that effect.
Obviously, I was lying, as I knew I had Paul beat, but my goal was to also get Joe. Finally, I said, “All right,” and put the rest of my chips in. Joe thought for a moment and finally called. In retrospect, I didn’t really care that much if he called or not. I figured to have Paul dead to two outs, and if I could fade that, I’d have approximately $60,000. While winning with Joe in there would get me to about $90,000, it also would mean there were probably four outs against me rather than two.
Joe turned up K-K, Paul flipped up 10-10, and I of course turned over my full house. Blank, blank came on the turn and the river and I knocked out two extremely tough competitors; more importantly, I was now in the penthouse as far as my chip position was concerned.
With literally 20 minutes left before day one was complete, though, I lost half of my stack to a wild, aggressive player. That one stung. The board was J-5-3 and I was sure that my A-J was golden. Based on my opponent’s tendencies, I was certain he didn’t hold a pocket pair, thus ruling out a set. I figured it was my A-J against his jack-junk.
We got it all in on the flop, and I couldn’t outrun his two pair, fives and threes. Oh well, I went from being one of the chip leaders to the middle of the pack. It was obviously a tough pill to swallow, but worse things could have happened.
It was time for me to get some much needed rest. I played day one on virtually no sleep and absolutely no caffeine. On day two, I got involved with a close friend of mine in a very entertaining pot. He also happens to be my favorite target when it comes to needling.
Stay tuned for my next column, in which I’ll give you the play-by-play of an insanely sick hand that Mike Matusow and I played on day two.
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Card Player Poker Articles
With over one hundred poker articles spanning the last five years and a new poker article written every two weeks and published in Card Player magazine, Daniel Negreanu brings the world of poker to the tables of countless poker enthusiasts and poker players alike.
As a regular Card Player columnist, Daniel's poker articles have helped many readers learn the game of poker from the early days of an upcoming professional poker player to the realization of a true poker champion last year as Daniel became the 2004 Card Player Player of the Year, as well as, one of the most successful tournament players in history with 36+ worldwide wins and bragging rights as the WPT All-Time Top Money Winner.
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