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Daniel - Poker Journal

World Cup Action Through Three Heats

06 Sep 2007

So far so good in every way. Team Romania is kickin’ butt and Canada is solidly placed in second which means it’s all but a certainty that both teams will be in the final tomorrow. The Romanians have taken a very similar approach to the Canadians in this event and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both teams are sitting pretty:

Romania 36
Canada 32
Ireland 23
Iceland 18
Germany 17
USA 16
Portugal 13
Mexico 7

Romania: Their strategy has been all about points and playing as a team, sacrificing personal goals in favor of what’s best for the team. Very conservative early in the matches, but once they were able to make it to the final five they quickly changed gears and used that tight table image to make it to the top three in each and every heat thus far. I’ve been very impressed by their passion for the event and the amount of time they put into thinking about the correct strategy.

Canada: We got off to a great start when “SirWatts” won the very first heat against the Romanians. He played very conservatively early while others splashed around a little bit, and then played super aggressive in the late stages to command the chip lead and never looked back. In the second heat we had “Papiyapi” perform as we’d hoped notching a fifth place finish which was the minimum we asked of him. That set us up nicely for heat three where I tried to play a Johnny Chan like trapping style to the finish, and it worked well despite losing four all in races in the end to the winner in a rematch, Romania.

Ireland: Very impressive. The two young players that played in heats 2 and 3 played excellently. I especially thought that Ireland played flawlessly in heat #2. I expect to see them in the final and they will be a real threat.

Iceland: Thanks to their star player, Iceland is now in a playoff position despite a poor start after their lead man made some questionable plays that cost the team. The star player in heat two went on to nab 15 points, but they’ll need a couple good finishes to hold off the other teams.

Germany: This team hasn’t had a lot go their way, really, despite an approach that appears to be the right way to go. In heat 2, Germany made some big comebacks after potentially going out early thanks to some aggressive play. They still have Katia Thaler left to play which should help them a lot.

USA: This team got off to a great start and looked to possibly lock up a nice chunk of points in the first three rounds, but it took until heat #3 to get a 4th place finish. The US team thus far approached the event very differently from the other teams, often taking on the role of busting short stacks in marginal situations. Losing those pots jeopardized not only their chip lead in those events, but also their spot in the final. Word of mouth has it that the US has saved their best players for last, with two young internet stars playing in heats 4 & 5.

Portugal: Not much good has happened here. A few questionable plays thus far that may have possibly cost the team a few points in a couple of the heats. Trailing six other teams, they need both Canada and the Romanians to continue doing well so that they’ll have an opportunity to make up some ground on those fighting for the fourth spot.

Mexico: A very unlucky start saw their first player go out in sixth place despite, in my opinion, making no mistakes at all. Things got worse when their second player also fell in sixth place, thus putting added pressure on the remaining players. In heat three Mexico came out guns a blazing going for a big point score, but ultimately they’ve made it near impossible to qualify after a disappointing 8th place finish in heat three. At minimum, they will need at least a first and second in the final two heats.

The final two heats should be interesting. While team Romania is essentially just playing for pride now and some additional prize money, there is a bit of work to do for the rest of the teams remaining. An interesting wrinkle in this particular event adds even one more strategic though: if there is a tie for fourth place both teams will qualify for the final. It’s highly unlikely that this will happen, though, as teams like Romania and Canada could essentially control that type of situation by thinking outside of the box. It could even mean sacrificing a heat to ensure no tie for fourth place. We shall see…

As for me, I’ve been having a blast. Last night team Romania and team Canada went out to celebrate out early successes (Romania had to pay this bill since Keke won). After that most of the teams were around the hotel talking a bit of strategy, etc. It’s really exciting and a lot of fun. I feel like with Romania and Canada both being alive, that it’s a kin to choosing between your mother and your wife! Not an enviable position to say the least.

Having said that, I’m committed 100% to seeing Canada win in the end and feel confident that we have the strongest team. Another heads up match between the two countries would be ideal since those Romanian kids are tough, so it make for an amazing final. Of course, there are lots of great teams left, including the Irish and the dangerous Americans fighting for a spot.

On that note, time to go sweat the matches, more on the WCP later. Or if you want to watch it live on the internet you can do that by going to www.pokerstars.tv/wcp/