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Daniel - Poker Journal

The PPT and Little Matt

11 Feb 2005

I'm the chip leader at the final table of the PPT. Wow. I;m certain that I've been playing well over the last couple years, but the run I've been on I would have deemed virtually impossible.

How do I explain it? Well, I think the key difference between what I'm doing in the tournaments that some of the other pros are not is simply, "Not doing anything stupid." Basically, waiting for others to blow up and make big mistakes while I stick to the game plan I have faith in.

As I mentioned in my last blog it was mind boggling to watch some of the other pros just absolutely blow it. It dawned on me late on day one that sure I've been ridiculously lucky to do as well as I have, but there is also a legitimate reason why. I don't think the other pros try as hard. It's really that simple. I love winning, I wouldn't play if I couldn't win.

At the final table is my good buddy E-DOG who's second in chips and to my immediate left just like he was on the PPM cruise where he beat me heads up. To say I'm looking for revenge would be the understatement of the year!

As much as I'd like to play the event right now we'll have to wait till the 25th to play the final table, giving me two weeks to study Chris Bigler and Erick Lindgren using past WPT footage.


Writing about the PPT was just a sidebar into what I was really excited about and wanted to share with you all. Yesterday I finally had a chance to head to Ventura to visit with "Little Matt."

Little Matt's father (Big Matt) e-mailed me a while back and told me a rather touching story about his 12 year old son. He explained to me that Little Matt was in a car accident two years ago and suffered burns to 40% of his body. He lost sight in his right eye but the doctors are hopeful that they can fix the eye so that Matt will be able to see out of both eyes.

In the e-mail, Big Matt explained to me that Little Matt was becoming quite the poker player and fan. Before the accident he was an avid basketball player but because of the accident he had to ride the bench for a while. In that time Big and Little Matt watched poker together on tv and Big Matt noticed how excited Little Matt was about it. The kid loves poker.

Big Matt noticed that Little Matt really liked to watch me play and asked if they could bring Little Matt out to Vegas to visit with me since his doctors are based in Los Angeles. I told them I could do them one better and come out to visit with Matt since I'd be in LA in February anyway.

So, February 10th was the big day. The plan was for Little Matt to buy me lunch (he wouldnt let me pay) and then we were going to go whale watching. Something I'd never done before but it sounded like a ton of fun.

Although Little Matt warned me to dress warmly, the e-mail he sent was lost in a sea of e-mails that I get on a regular basis. So I showed up in a Nike sweatshirt and a T-Shirt... big mistake! Once the boat started to really move I was freezing my butt off. So we moved towards the center of the boat where it was less windy until we got closer to where the whales were.

As we approached the hot spot the boat slowed down and the sun came up which was a welcome relief. We weren't having much luck spotting whales though, so the captain made a detour to a spot where there was a large gathering of birds. Apparently when you see a large collection of birds it means that dolphins are in the area.

This was crazy, hundreds of birds circling and diving into the water. As we approached, we must have seen over 100 dolphins swimming near the boat and jumping in and out of the water. I was doing my best to take pictures of as many as I could but by the time I took the shots the dolphins had already hit the water. So then I made like a photographer and just starting snapping madly like machine gun fire. I got some great shots and I'll put them up on the site soon.

After seeing the dolphins we tried once again to find some whales but weren't lucky on that day. Oh well, Little Matt was kind of bummed about not seeing any whales but I'm sure we'll get another chance this summer. I'm looking forward to it.

I was really impressed with this kid, he was a real trooper. To suffer through what he's going through with such a positive attitude is truly inspiring.

Next time you think you are "so unlucky" because youre aces got cracked... get a grip! Poker is a great game and I take it very seriously, but when you look at the bigger picture it's just a game. You see a kid like Little Matt all bandaged up yet smiling nonetheless and youd be embarrassed about feeling blue because you are "unlucky" at cards.

Little Matt if you are reading this I want you to know that I had a great time whale watching, or more like dolphin watching with you yesterday. You have a great attitude and I look forward to making some final tables with you... in about nine years of course!


Right now Im in the Burbank airport waiting for a flight home to Vegas. I drove out to LA on the 7th but since Im coming back to LA on the 17th I figured Id leave my truck here and then drive it back again at the end of February.

Ill be home for six days but they wont be relaxing days at all. A film crew from W-5, a Canadian version of a 60 Minutes type show is doing a story on me. They followed Matt and I around on the boat yesterday and will be with me for the next couple of weeks. They even got in touch with an old school teacher of mine who once told me, If I keep up all that nonsense Id end up a hopeless garbage man. More than enough inspiration to prove Mr. Howe wrong!

Anyway, looks like the plane is boarding so I better get going. If any of you are interested Ill be playing over at PokerMountain.com later tonight, probably around 8:00pm PST.