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NBC Heads Up Championship: Day One

04 Mar 2006

If you asked me which one player I would have least liked to draw in the first round, that player would be Evelyn Ng. Just the other night we had dinner at Noodles and "caught up" a little bit.

Many of you might not be aware of this, but I've known Evelyn longer than any other person in the poker world. I met Evelyn when I was a 17 year old pool player from the Palace Club Billiards, while she was a 16 year old pool player from Studio Billiards back in Toronto.

A couple of my best friends, Reggev and Oren, and I, decided to go play in Studio's pool tournament one night. That's where I met Evelyn.

That week we ended up dating. At the time, I was a total jerk when it came to relationships. I really was. In fact, one day she came to my high school at lunch to do something nice for me. She walked three miles through three feet of snow to bring me lunch.

It was a Big Mac combo that she carried through the snow and the brutally cold winds. So what did I say when she gave it to me? Well, I said, "What the... the fries are cold? Man, so is the Big Mac... oh man, and you spilt the drink."

Nice right! WOW. I still can't believe I did that. I ended up breaking up with her not too long after the McDonald's incident.

After that, we didn't speak for probably a year and a half. By that time, I was playing in the charity casinos, making my living at cards. One night, after a long session a few of the guys went to a late night restaurant for dinner.

I looked over a few tables down, and saw... Evelyn! She was wearing a dealer's uniform, and by that time I felt bad for what I did and wanted to apologize. Instead, I just said an awkward hello.

A week or two later, Evelyn was trying her hand at playing for a living so I got my chance to apologize. We ended up getting back together, both of us grinding it out, trying to build a bankroll.

For most of that time, she lived at my place, with my mother, and father who was alive at the time. Eventually, we split again. Both of us were too young, stubborn, and competitive to say the least!

In fact, I made yet another crucial error in judgment one night at a private club we were playing at. We were playing $10-$20 hold'em and I was just killing the game, up over $2000. Evelyn, on the other hand was getting drilled. Rivered left, right, and center, and she was stuck well over $1500. These numbers were HUGE for us back then.

So anyway, I bet the river against Evelyn with absolutely nothing, no hand at all. She thought for a while, and then laid it down. So what did I do? I showed the bluff!!!

How insane and stupid was that? Evelyn was just fuming. She got up from the table and went to the bathroom. All of a sudden we heard, BOOM, BANG, BANG, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! coming from the bathroom. She must have destroyed the place!

I tried to apologize and asked her if we should get a cab together. She fired off a few expletives, basically saying, "No thank you, it might be best if you get your own cab." Of course, the version I heard wasn't so sweet!

We did make up after that fight, but eventually we broke up badly. We didn't speak for quite some time after spending a month together in Windsor as friends. That's a long and ugly story that would get this blog way off on a random tangent so let's not go there.

Even after all that, we made one more go of it about a year later. That's when we realized, that we were better off as friends. Since then, we have remained very good friends. I hardly see her anymore, but we try to stay in touch as much as we can. She's busy, I'm busy, you know how it is.

So there you have a little background as to what I was facing here in this match. I didn't want to beat her. I mean, I wanted to win, but I didn't want to beat her. I root for her, and I want her to do well. She is playing so well right now, but just hasn't been able to break through in a tournament lately. I would have much preferred meeting her in the finals.

I was genuinely worried about the match since she's been getting so much experience playing heads up online. In fact, we've played each other several times online and she is ahead for sure.

Her aggressive style is tough to deal with. It handcuffs my style a little bit. The funny thing is, I taught here how to beat guys like me and here it looked like that advice was going to bite me in the butt!

Of course, I know what I told her, and I also know to play several different ways. I had a plan against Evelyn, but for it to work, I'd have to depend on getting some hands.

Well, I got some hands. I picked up AA, KK, and QQ, the only problem was, she folded pre-flop on the button each time! Yikes.

Eventually I won the key pot where I turned a flush against her top pair and went on to win the match after being down 38,000 to 12,000. She played very well, aside from one significant boo boo. In no limit hold'em, that's all it takes sometimes.

When I won, I was just relieved that it was over. As much as I absolutely love the NBC Heads Up tournament, I dreaded this match the whole time. It felt like a "lose-lose" situation no matter how I looked at it.

Now that that's over, though, I have to focus my energy on Greg Raymer. Greg apparently sucked out on Layne on some monster pots after being heavily out chipped and came back to win.

I have some ideas on how to approach playing Greg, and I'm going to practice with E-DOG tonight. E-DOG is facing Huck Seed, so the plan is to mimic our respective opponents styles.

For example, when I play Erick I'm going to try to play like Huck does, and when Erick plays me he is going to try to play like we think Raymer would. A fun way to practice.

Aside from that, I'm going to call it another early night so that I'm well rested for tomorrow's Raymer match, and hopefully future matches!

Here are my predictions from here on out:

Round One is in the books, and here are the match-ups for round two. My picks are in brackets:

Clubs Bracket:
David Chesnoff vs. Dan Harrington (Harrington)
James MacManus vs. Mike Sexton (Sexton) (Sexton)
Josh Arieh vs. Eli Elezra (Arieh) Arieh) (Arieh)
Chris Ferguson vs. Chip Reese (Reese)

Spades Bracket:
Erick Lindgren vs. Huck Seed (Lindgren) (Lindgren) (Lindgren)
Scott Fischman vs. Dee Leong (Fischman)
Mike Caro vs. Amir Vahedi (Vahedi)
Barry Greenstein vs. Tuan Le (Le) (Le)

Hearts Bracket:
Phil Laak vs. T.J. Cloutier (Cloutier)
Greg Raymer vs. Daniel Negreanu (Negreanu) (Negreanu) (Negreanu)
David Grey vs. Carlos Mortensen (Mortensen)
Doyle Brunson vs. Shawn Sheikan (Brunson) (Brunson)

Diamonds Bracket:
Ted Forrest vs. Chad Brown (Forrest) (Forrest) (Forrest)
Paul Phillips vs. Ernie Dureck (Phillips)
Barry Shulman vs. Sammy Farha (Shulman)
Howard Lederer vs. Michael Mizrachi (Mizrachi) (Mizrachi)

Negreanu over Forrest
Lindgren over Arieh
Negreanu over Lindgren


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