Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles
Party Poker Million III — Part IIPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
After a pretty tough struggle on day one, day two went about as smoothly as it possibly could. I started the day somewhere in the middle of the pack with $25,500 in chips. I stayed aggressive on day two and was able to avoid any huge losses. With 27 players left going into day three, I had turned that $25,500 into $475,000, which was more than good enough to take the chip lead.
In fact, other than Chris Hinchcliffe, none of the other players had even $300,000 in chips, so it was a pretty sizeable lead. Of course, it was limit hold'em, so I was far from a cinch to make the final six, but I obviously liked my chances.
We started the tournament with 576 players, the majority being online qualifiers. Frankly, I recognized very few players at my table on day one, but with just 27 players left, there was a host of familiar faces. Erick Lindgren, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda, Steve Zolotow, Scotty Nguyen, and Howard Lederer were all still alive in the tournament. I found that truly amazing, considering how outnumbered the pros were at the outset.
Of course, none of the above-mentioned players gave me much trouble; it was an online qualifier I'd never played with before who gave me the most trouble: Chris Hinchcliffe. From a chip-count standpoint, Chris was my only real threat with about 20 players left, and when I added his unpredictability to the mix, I knew that I would have to focus a lot of my energy on him.
In the very first hand I played against Chris, he made a very unorthodox play and got lucky to win a nice pot from me. Knowing very little about him, seeing that hand helped me get a better read on what he was capable of doing, which could help me later.
By the time we got down to the final 10, Chris had gone on a monster rush and taken a sizeable chip lead, surpassing the $1 million mark. I was still doing fine, but I was no longer in a dominating position; I had about $400,000. Playing $30,000-$60,000 limit, that didn't leave me too much room for error.
However, I was going to stick with my philosophy and stay aggressive. From middle position, I raised with the Qclubs 6clubs. Everyone folded to Chris in the big blind, and he defended. The flop came 7-5-3 rainbow, giving me a gutshot-straight draw and a backdoor-flush draw.
Chris decided to take the lead and bet into me. As I said earlier, from what I had seen of Chris, he was pretty unpredictable and played in a little unorthodox manner. With the pot laying me about 5.5-to-1, I decided to take one off.
The turn card brought an offsuit king and Chris came off the lead and checked. "Hmm," I thought. "Is Chris setting me up here or is this a good spot to bluff?"
Finally, I decided to give myself the free card and see what happened on the river. Now, this is where things got interesting: A king hit the river, and here came Chris, betting $60,000. Immediately, I said, "Now that is a bluff for sure. Absolute guarantee!" Chris didn't really flinch.
My instincts were screaming to me that Chris was bluffing, but my dilemma was that he could be bluffing and still have me beat. After all, I had only Q-6.
While raising was an option, it just seemed too risky at this point of the tournament, and I believed he would call with any pair. After all, what could I possibly represent by raising? A king? If so, how could I have checked the turn?
There is a lesson to be learned here. When bluffing, it's extremely important to make the play look realistic. In this situation, it would be tough to sell the idea that I actually had a legitimate hand that was worthy of a raise after I had checked the turn behind Chris. So, I ruled out the raise completely.
The way Chris played the hand, I felt very strongly that he was on a straight draw and had missed. I thought 9 high or 8 high was very likely. I had to wonder if Chris would actually value bet with, say, a pair of fives on the river. Based on his play up to this point, I really didn't think so.
As I'll often do when faced with a big decision, I started yapping big-time. Finally, I said to Chris, "There are only three possibilities here. You're either bluffing, bluffing, or bluffing. It's A, B, or C, and I'm going to go with B. I call."
Chris immediately shook his head and said, "Good call," to which I replied, "I'm not so sure, what do you have?" "Oh, I have nothing," Chris said, so I of course said, "How nothing is your nothing?!"
Finally, Chris turned over 8-6 offsuit, a busted straight draw, and my read on the hand had paid off. This hand was extremely crucial for me in so many ways. For one, I won a nice pot and had a healthy stack once again, but more importantly, I'd just taken a bite out of Chris' confidence and had a psychological edge over him.
When somebody sees right through a play that you make and calls you with queen high, it has to make you wonder if you should ever mess with that opponent again! I've been on both sides of the coin many times. Getting called when bluffing has never bothered me much, but if someone calls me with queen high on the river and wins, well … I take my hat off to him and stick my tail between my legs.
Chris was really in a zone, though, and he didn't let that hand affect him too much. He recovered nicely and had a dominating chip lead over me and a pack of pros at the final table. John Juanda just missed the TV show, but the other four players also were very well-known.
Here's how the final table looked (with chip counts):
Chris Hinchcliffe — $1,765,000
Erick Lindgren — $595,000
Daniel Negreanu — $560,000
Steve Zolotow — $380,000
Scotty Nguyen — $310,000
Barry Greenstein — $220,000
To find out what happened at this star-studded final table, check out the final chapter of this trilogy in the next issue.
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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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