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Daniel - Poker Journal

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No Limit- A Search for the American Dream

29 Nov 2006

Before I get to that, I'll give you the obligatory "What did I do today" deal. I woke up at 1:00pm for a conference call concerning the Protégé 2 final table in Bahamas. That took me till 2:00pm when guests arrived.

I've worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation before and they contacted me again letting me know that they had a couple poker fans that wanted to meet me.

There was Zach, who is 12 years old, and Matt who's just 16. They arrived with their families and made themselves comfortable. There were snacks and stuff so we hung out in the kitchen for a bit getting to know each other.

I had the X-BOX 360 set up so the other kids could play while the poker was going on.

Despite these guys being so young, they seemed to know a lot about poker. After everyone finished snacking, I set up a 3 handed tournament with 10 minute blinds and 10,000 in chips. I made sure there was lots of play using the following structure:

100-200 (25 ante)
200-400 (50 ante)
300-600 (75 ante)
400-800 (100 ante)

Zach came out firing, betting lots of flops and playing pretty well. Both Matt and Zach knew how to play. They raised to three times the blind, they took stabs at some pots, and also got away from some traps.

Matt was holding his own early on despite running into my nut flush in a hand where he could have lost more. Zach was getting killed, though, and was down half his stack. The chip leader? That'd be me. No one, and I mean NO ONE comes into my house and beats me :-)

I ended up picking up AA to bust Matt's 44 when we went all in pre-flop. Then, heads up with Zach, the lady from the Make-A-Wish foundation informed us that time was up. Fat chance! You can't quit in the middle of the tournament.

I instructed Zach to deal fast and he was firing the cards out top speed. I can't believe I'm about to write this... but the kid punk'd me on a big pot, bluffing the river with squadoosh! I couldn't help but say aloud, "I can't believe I just got bluffed by a 12 year old!" How embarrassing!

Anyway, that just made me a hot sucker and I put the peddle to the metal. On a flop of 8-4-3 we got it all in when I had 8-10 to his 8-9. Yeah baby, still champion of my own house!

The limo was waiting patiently so we had to say our goodbyes. They were good kids and I can totally tell that Matt is dying to be 21! He promises me that I'll be seeing him at a final table in 5 years... I'll be waiting.


After the kids left I jumped online and sweated the hockey games. I've been doing that a lot lately and really enjoying it.

After the games I tried to be somewhat productive and decided to tackle my e-mail box. I noticed one from Susan Genard who did a documentary and had asked me to watch it... like 10 times! I just have so much stuff to watch that I'd been putting it off. So I finally decided to pop it in the VCR and here was my take on it:

Right off the bat the thing that struck me the most was the different vibe this documentary had in comparison to anything I'd ever seen before. The producers and writers were also... the main characters! It definitely had the feel of watching the "making of" the movie…during the movie?

It was actually refreshing. You see camera guys in the shot. They openly talk about the camera crew, the sound guy if often in the way, etc. I've done lots of TV over the last few years and this was the closet thing I'd seen to what it really looks and feels like.

Not overly polished, just real. I like the fact that they didn't try to fool the audience like many other reality shows do today. By now, we should all know that stuff is a little bit staged and in order to get the right shots you might have to film the "reality bits" more than once. Well, in "No Limit- A Search for the American Dream on the Poker Tournament Trail" it's as real as it gets.

Susan starts out at the Four Queens, playing in a $500 Omaha H/L tournament and doesn't last very long. Same thing on day two. She comes off as visibly frustrated and if I were to give her any sort of a tip it would be that she is a little too emotionally attached to each tournament.

In fact, at the risk of possibly offending her, she can be a little too whiny about her tournament exits. She took some bad beats , but while obviously competitive and driven to win, she seemed a little too shocked about it all. I know this is so cliché, but Susan, THAT'S POKER!

Actually, I think I know why she was dealing with the exits the way she did and it might even surprise her. After watching the film, I strongly believe, and this is actually pretty natural, that she was being a little whiny because that's the only way she could convey to Tim, her ex-husband and partner on the film, that what just happened to her was outrageous. Had Tim played, or even understood poker, she wouldn't have had to explain to him how brutal it was to lose with the nut low draw, nut flush draw, and top two on the flop.

Any poker player would know it was a tough loss, but how frustrating would it be if your partner didn't understand that, it wasn't your fault? I think we've all been there. I know I've found myself in a similar boat with Lori. I might come home and tell her, "It was kind of brutal. I had AA and was up against A-4. The flop came A-9-4 and then it came 4 on the turn, 4 on the river." Now, if I didn't show her with my emotions that it was a bad thing, she might say, "Good job honey!" or something like that.

The film takes you on the poker circuit, the one that existed before the huge poker boom. Susan appeared to be a H/L split specialist and those were the only tournaments she played in at the various locations traveling to Foxwoods, LA, and Vegas. So while the title of the film is "No Limit," that's slightly deceiving since you won't see any no limit poker in it.

As I watched the film I started to root for her. She got less "whiny" as she got more comfortable and she became an easy character to root for. Thy dynamic between her and her ex-husband who, I believe, shares custody of their 4 year old son, is remarkable. Frankly, it's really difficult to see what doesn't work about their relationship. Despite a few minor tiffs, they seemed to work very well together and even seemed to like each other and enjoy each other's company.

A couple of my favorite tidbits from the film:

1. The Thor Hansen story. This is one of my all-time favorites. A while back Thor was asked a question before playing at a final table, "What will you do if you win the million dollar first prize?" to which Thor replied, "Well, I guess I'll probably pay off some bills and some debts."

The interview followed up with, "So what will you do with the rest?" Thor's reply was classic, "Well, I guess I'll just tell them that they have to wait."

I freakin' love that response, too funny.

2. Superstitions are stupid, but $50 bills are unlucky. That's just a well known fact and I was glad to see that Susan understood that.

3. When talking about going broke, Doyle Brunson claimed to have been broke over 500 times in his life. So to those that think you are somehow less of a man if you've been broke before, if you take a look at where Doyle ended up now, I’d say he's done alright for himself.

I have to say, that watching the film made me miss the old tournament trail. It was draining, exhausting, and stressful... but it was also fun. It was also great to see how beautiful the tournament trail was just a few short years ago. Susan, a split specialist could travel the tour and find split game tournaments at every venue. Unfortunately, in the last few years many of those tournament spots have gone to straight no limit hold'em.

It was kind of sad to me. I really feel as though it's a huge mistake for poker's future and will have negative long term effects on the game. We need to do everything we can to put pressure on host casinos to offer all the games so that people like Susan can chase their "American Dream." The problem is, host casinos generally care about their bottom line and no limit hold'em attracts more players. It's sad, but true.

Anyway, I'm getting off track here a little bit. I'm glad I watched the film and I think you'll enjoy it too. It has a slightly nostalgic feel to it, because the trail they take you on is one that represents the old poker world. The one that I grew up in. I hate to say it, but I think that world is long gone now. I'll miss it.

You can find the DVD at www.nolimitmovie.com


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