Daniel Negreanu – Poker Articles
Taking a StandPoker article written by Daniel Negreanu and published in Card Player Magazine
I was recently in Toronto for a couple of weeks, and aside from playing one night in a casino in Niagara Falls, the only other session I played was at the http://www.fullcontactpoker.com/ launch party. At that party, I announced the launch of http://www.fullcontactpoker.com/ (FCP) as a full-fledged online poker room, as well as a community to help improve your game. I also announced Daniel Negreanu's Protege, a promotion you will find only at FCP.
That's not what this column is about, though, but if you want more details on the promotion, they are up on the site. In this column, I want to discuss a hand that I played that evening in the tournament for the invited guests.
A total of 250 people were randomly chosen to attend the launch party in Toronto, and 49 also would have a chance to play in a sevenhanded shootout, with the chance to play with me at the final table. It was a fast structure, with 10-minute blinds, and most of the shootout winners won their respective tables in about an hour.
Along with the seven table winners, one additional player was chosen in a random online drawing, while one more would win a seat at the final table in a live drawing.
The action was very tight in the beginning, as it seemed nobody was willing to be the first one out! I was all in early with A-10 on a 10-8-6 flop and was desperately hoping the others would fold! Luckily for me, they all folded, and I was hitting some hands and was able to make it to the final two players.
On hand that night were two of my childhood heroes, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour, former NHL players who became fan favorites in Toronto. Earlier in the evening, Wendel gave away a signed jersey, and when we got heads up, Gilmour showed up in World Poker Tour style with a bag of goodies that would go to the winner. It was a hockey bag full of autographed merchandise. Since I was one of the final two players, my opponent, Terrence, wearing a Leafs jersey and all, won the prizes by default.
When we got heads up, the blinds were rather high and the chip counts were close to even, with me holding a very slight chip lead. In the very first hand, I was dealt 9-4 offsuit on the button and folded. On the next hand, Terrence decided to move all in, and I mucked my 7-2.
On hand No. 3, I limped in with Q-6 offsuit and Terrence went all in again! So, in three hands of blinds and antes, Terrence had taken the chip lead.
Hand No. 4 was decision time for me. Once again, Terrence moved all in and it started to feel like he'd planned on moving all in hand after hand. This time, I looked down at K-9 and had a real dilemma on my hands.
The blinds weren't so high that I couldn't wait for a better situation, but I had to ask myself the question: Will he ever stop?
It brought back memories of playing in the Caribbean Adventure, my first-ever WPT final table, with Hoyt "All-In" Corkins. Before making that final table, I had the pleasure of watching Hoyt work over Phil Hellmuth and Mohammed Ibrahim by using the all-in move with some weaker hands once he built up a sizeable lead.
Without ever seeing a flop, Hoyt continued to push and push, and frankly, he went on to win because he was the only guy willing to play. By the time Mohammed and Phil realized what Hoyt was doing, it was too late! He'd built his stack up so much by that point that they were now forced to try to outlast each other for second place.
So on that day, I called Hoyt all in with a very marginal hand, A-3, and doubled up when he flipped over 9-7 and didn't improve.
So, here I was now, in a familiar situation. While my plan was to outplay Terrence after the flop, it didn't appear as though he was going to give me the opportunity. My instincts were telling me that he was going to keep coming all day long, picking up blind after blind, essentially whittling me down.
So, I thought it would be best to gamble with the K-9 immediately before I got too low on chips. I called, and Terrence turned over A-4 offsuit. All things considered, I wasn't all that disappointed about being a small underdog in this situation; a king or a 9, and I'd have him on the ropes.
The flop came A-8-8, and that's about the worst flop I could have imagined.
Terrence busted me on that hand, but I still feel good about my decision.
You see, at the poker table, you have to be willing to change strategies quickly if you are presented with new information. I had a plan to outplay Terrence on the flop, but it quickly became obvious that my enemy wasn't going to allow me to implement that plan. Had I stuck with the original plan, I likely would have bled my chips off and allowed
Terrence to grind me down slowly.
That point will happen to you in virtually every poker tournament you play. The most difficult task, though, is figuring out just when that breaking point is? When does it become correct to take chances in marginal situations to avoid being anted off?
Well, that depends on your motivation for playing in the tournament, I suppose. If you are looking to move up the ladder and inch up the payout scale, your breaking point may come much later than someone who is playing to win the tournament.
Either way, a decision has to be made, and it's important for you to know what to base that decision on. The key element is your stack size versus the blinds. If the blinds are too high in relation to your stack, that will force your hand and make you gamble more. Not gambling once you hit this point is a lot like giving up, as backward as that may seem.
The second key element is understanding your table composition. If you find yourself at a liberally aggressive table, they will never give you a break, and they also will never let you steal a chip! Conversely, if the table is playing very conservatively and you can still pick up a pot with an all-in raise if nobody has anything, that will afford you the luxury of waiting it out.
In the end, I can't make that decision for you. All I can do is lay out for you the importance of your decision. It's what makes poker fun, but it's also what makes it so difficult.
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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