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Daniel - Poker Journal

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I'm not all there...

07 Dec 2004

At the beginning of this race with Juanda for Player of the Year honors I was very excited about the whole thing. After a week of horrible performances I’ve considered giving it all up basically every day. I thought I would be able to motivate myself to play my best in the smaller tournaments but that hasn’t been the case at all.

At the WSOP I had no problem getting up early and getting excited about the tournaments. The WSOP is prestigious, and that’s what drove me. The daily tournaments at Bellagio while profitable just don’t hold that same prestige in my eyes. It’s “just another tournament” and I haven’t been able to shake that outlook as much as I’ve tried to.

Yesterday was the stud hi-lo and I actually was pretty focused on playing my best. I didn’t, but I wasn’t playing horribly either. I felt in my heart that I was “trying to try” I lasted for a while but then couldn’t get lucky at the right times and was out at 5:00pm. My normal routine at that point would be to go home and get caught up on “stuff.” However, since that routine didn’t seem to be working to well I thought I would try something new.

So I went into the poker room looking to play some side action. There was nothing big going on in the top section but I noticed that on the floor there was a 1000-2000 hold’em game. That’s as odd as it gets, I haven’t seen a straight 1000-2000 hold’em game at the Bellagio since… well, since forever.

Gabe Kaplan who you all may remember from Welcome Back Kotter fame was in town and his game of choice is limit hold’em. So if that’s the game, that’s the game. I sat down at a short handed table with them that quickly filled up:

Seat 1: Jennifer Harman
Seat 2: John Hennigan
Seat 3: David Oppenhiem
Seat 4: Gabe Kaplan
Seat 5: Rick Chase
Seat 6: Unknown
Seat 7: Me
Seat 8: Allen Cunningham
Seat 9: Barry Greenstein

In this game I was looking at five of the best limit hold’em players in the world and felt like this sort of a challenge may spark something inside me. It didn’t. Again, I didn’t play horribly, but my mind was foggy and my level of patience was questionable. I made great decisions after the flop, but was too loosey goosey pre-flop.

After a couple of hours there the game was breaking down and a new 1500-3000 HOSE game was starting. At that point I was $7000 loser and moved over to the HOSE game. Again I was hoping to spark some inspiration, but again I just wasn’t all there.

By about 9:30pm I decided to go to dinner with Allen and Melissa since we rarely spend anytime together anymore. Allen has always been one of my best friends and I really miss hanging out with him like we used to.

So I quit the 1500-3000 game $6000 winner, for a total -$1000 day. Considering how poor my focus was I feel like I escaped just in time. So we head over to Fixx and I have my usual, the pasta. After dinner I ran into Hellmuth at the bar. Jennifer, her husband Marco, Hellmuth and I chatted at the bar for a little while. Phil explained to me that he also isn’t very motivated right now since he has so many “projects” in the works with his books, DVD’s, reality series, etc.

After Phil left, I had to go check on Juanda. There were only 10 players and he was still in there as usual! Man that guy just never dies early. I looked away for about five minutes and heard Juanda call out, “You’re safe Danny, they got me.” Phew, yet another bullet that I was able to dodge.

At that point I’d planned on heading home but ran into some more friends from Toronto. Hung out with them till about 2:30am and then once again planned on hitting the sack. On my way out I ran into Marcel Luske and we ended up chatting until after 5:00am about poker, poker’s future, poker in Europe, etc. It was starting to feel like I was never going to get out of there.

I had a friend call me from LA telling me he was driving into Vegas for the tournament. That was hours ago. Wouldn’t you know that on my way out he was just getting in! He didn’t keep me long and I was finally in bed by oh… about 6:30am.


My alarm clock went off at 10:30am which would give me enough time for a shower and some breakfast before the tournament started. Of course, I just shut that off knowing full well that I had no plans of showing up on time.

The tournament starts at noon, and I finally decided to roll out of bed at around 1:00pm. I walked the dog, and was at the Bellagio almost two hours late, with just 9 minutes remaining in the second level. We started with 6000 in chips for this tournament and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still had 5250- I’d only anted off 750. Cool.

The second hand in I raised it to 250 with 7-7 from next to the button. “Miami” John Cernutto on the button moved all in for 3800, “What in the world is that John? Why would you do that? That’s a bad play buddy, I know you’ve got nothing.”
John laughed a little and replied, “I know it is but I’m steaming right now. Hurry about and throw that A-Q in the muck already.”
“Oh John I don’t have A-Q, I have the best hand for sure. I know you have A-K.”

I wouldn’t needle John like that if he wasn’t a friend. In the spot I’m in here under normal circumstances it’s an automatic fold. I can’t justify racing here with 7-7... “I call.” Well so much for that, lol. John did have AK and I flopped a 7 to send him home.

I was there less than two minutes and I had my chips up to 9800! The break hit and while I was pumped up about having some chips, I still didn’t have the focus I needed… literally 30 minutes after the break, I was a goner. “What a waste, I could have just stayed home if I was going to play that poorly.” I thought.

When I left John had a ton of chips. John’s already had an 8th, 14th, and a 10th place finish while all I’ve mustered up is an 11th place finish. For all John’s efforts though his near misses have added up to a total of 84 points, still over 300 points behind me with less than 10 events to go.

Now tomorrow is a big day. A prestigious event that I’m actually looking forward to in a big way. No, not the $2500 pot limit Omaha, but the $25,000 buy in heads up limit hold’em tournament. Now that will be fun and something I’m up for… or at least let’s hope so.


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