Daniel Negreanu Poker Articles
World Poker Tour Caribbean Adventure Part IPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
My next stop on the World Poker Tour would see us aboard the beautiful Voyager of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean. Easily the most beautiful cruise ship I've ever seen, it had everything; there was just so much to do. Of course, the ship was so big that it was also pretty easy to get lost! In fact, on one of the many times I did get lost, I happened upon an ice rink! How cool is that?
While this was a vacation of sorts for my girlfriend and me, like all the other vacations we've taken, it was also a business trip. A total of 221 players threw down $8,000 to play in this event. Well, actually, not everybody put up the $8,000, as the majority of the players were online qualifiers. Considering the fact that many of them had never played in a live tournament, that made for some good value.
Day one started choppy for me, as it often has in these WPT events. My starting stack of $8,000 quickly went down to $3,500 after I missed a couple of draws and got outdrawn, as well. I finally caught a break, though, against Bill Seymour, a veteran tournament player.
With the blinds at $75-$150, an online qualifier raised the minimum and Bill called from the button. With the 8clubs 6clubs in the big blind, I was happy to call and take a flop. It was a good one for me, 8hearts 7clubs 4hearts. Since my stack was in jeopardy, I felt that I had to go with this hand and couldn't afford to let a free card come off. I went ahead and bet $1,500 of my remaining $3,200. It was a big bet that should have told my opponents I was ready to put all of my chips in if raised.
The first player folded and the action was on Bill. I've always known Bill to be a very careful player who doesn't do a lot of "dancing." So, when he studied my bet, it had me worried. I was worried that he may have a hand like 9-9. Regardless, if he raised me, I'd have no choice but to call. After much deliberation, he finally raised me my last $1,700 and I called. No one was more shocked than I was when Bill turned over the 6diamonds 5clubs! He had flopped the absolute nuts. Had he had the hand I suspected (9-9), I would have had nine outs, but against a made straight, I had only three outs to tie, or runner-runner to make a flush or a full house.
The turn card gave me a little hope, as it paired the 4. Now, an 8 or a 4 and I would double up. Boom! Off came another 4 and I was back in the game. With newfound life, I was now able to steadily increase my stack by using my positional advantage against some of the weaker players.
There was one key hand from day one that I thought was very interesting. It may give you some insight into the artistry of no-limit hold'em.
With the blinds at $100-$200 with a $25 ante, an extremely tight player raised from first position to $600. In the cutoff seat (next to the button) I was the only caller with the 9diamonds 8diamonds. I felt that my opponent played quite straightforwardly, so even if I flopped nothing, there was still a chance that I could win the pot.
The flop came Aclubs Kspades 10clubs. Well, this obviously wasn't the flop I was looking for, so if my opponent bet here, I was done with it. He checked. Hmm I thought that was very suspicious. It seemed to me that he had flopped three aces, or that he possibly had A-K. His check screamed of strength, and I wasn't going to bite, so I also checked.
The turn card was the 7clubs. Now, this was an interesting card. It gave me an open-end straight draw, but there were three clubs on board, and if I made a jack-high straight, I'd lose to any queen. If my opponent bets here, I should surely fold, right?
I'm not so sure. Remember now, I put my opponent on a big hand on the flop three aces, actually. If he had the hand I was thinking he had, another club on the river wouldn't help him. Also, if I made a jack-high straight, it would be good, since I didn't think he had a queen in his hand. So, basically, I was pretty sure that I had eight pure outs to win the pot (four sixes and four jacks).
My opponent bet $2,000, which made me feel even more confident that he didn't have a club. Still, a $2,000 bet into a $1,725 pot wasn't the right price. The odds of my hitting the straight were 4.5-to-1 (36-to-8; I am assuming that I "know" he has two aces, so there are 44 "unseen" cards), but the current price was only about 1.9-to-1 ($3,725-to-$2,000).
Wait, there's more. What if the river brought a club, or a queen? Was there any chance that I could win the pot anyway with a bluff? That was my dilemma. On the turn, I took more time than I normally do, because I was also thinking about what I would do on the river if I called this bet. I finally decided that if one of those cards came, I would go ahead and try to bluff it.
So, now I had eight outs to win the pot legitimately, and an additional 10 outs to potentially bluff the pot: three queens and 7 clubs (the Kclubs wouldn't be a good one, and the 6clubs and Jclubs would give me the straight). So, of the 44 cards I don't know, I believe that 18 of them will help my hand.
That still makes the play a very close one. Why? Well, what if I'm wrong and he calls my bluff? That has to be a real consideration. Of course, on the other hand, what if I catch a non-club 6 for the straight? That card may win me a monster pot.
Since I felt that I had very good control of my opponent, I went ahead and made the marginal call. The river brought one of my "outs," the 4clubs. My opponent visibly didn't like that card, and checked. Sticking to my plan, I went ahead and bet. There was $5,725 in the pot, but I thought $4,800 was more than enough to bluff my opponent, and that's exactly what I bet.
My opponent (disgusted about his bad luck) turned his pocket aces faceup and sent them to the muck! That pot helped me stay afloat during the early stages of the tournament when I really wasn't getting any real hands to speak of. So, with a lucky hand (the runner-runner full house) and a well-timed bluff, I was off and running, looking forward to day two. Going into day two, I was in great shape with $49,525 in chips, good for third place overall behind Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch.
Stay tuned for my next column, in which I'll share with you two hands from 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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