World Poker Open (London)

I’ve just arrived Paris for the WPT. I was back in London playing the World Poker Open yesterday. Last year, in this tournament, I finished fourth. The tournament is sponsored by Party Poker. The format is you go in with 6 players, and you have to win your heat to get to the next round. It’s a very nice tournament, and I love the structure. You start with 100,000 chips, and the blinds are 1,000/2,000 – which is pretty good for a TV event.

In my heat I had Roy ‘The Boy’ Brindley, and Barry Hearn, the great TV promoter of Poker, Billiards, Snooker, Darts, Horse Racing, and many other events. He’s the guy that does all the TV broadcasting, and he’s a really great guy. He needs to work on his poker skills a bit, but he played pretty well today.

So, it was a lot of fun to be back in London, but I am getting ready for WPT Paris this week.

Anyway, back to the heat in the World Poker Open. The very first hand of the tournament, I picked up AQ, and there was a raise before me, and I re-raised. It’s kind of a tough hand to play because if you put in 20% of your stack in the first hand, its not a hand you call with if the guy comes back over the top. Its certainly a hand you can re-raise with, but I guess you can re-raise with anything. You could re-raise with 10 5, but it doesn’t really matter if you are going to fold the hand to another re-raise. Once you have been re-raised again, you can think of AQ as 10 5 – it’s a very weak hand. But, this time, I did not get re-raised, in fact Roy the Boy dropped his hand. I picked up 8,000 in chips, and it was a nice start.

Not much happening for a while, and I was up to about 130,000. A little while later, Roy the Boy limped in from the small blind with J 9. I looked down, and found two Aces. The blinds were 2,000/4,000, so there was 8,000 in the pot. So, what do you do now? I raised 8,000 – the size of the pot. I like to raise the size of the pot, I find it to be a good indicator.

So, he calls with his J 9 suited. Still, it’s about 7% of his chips to see that flop. The flop comes J 7 3, he checks. I bet the pot, he raised me, and committed himself to the pot in the process. I went all in, he called, and he was in trouble. He had 5 outs, plus a backdoor straight draw. The turn was another 7, which made my hand pretty safe. He needed a jack, and it didn’t come. So, I doubled up and took firm control of the tournament. I had 250,000 of the 600,000 chips in play.

The next player to go was Barry Hearn. I picked him off with A 10. The blinds were 3,000/6,000, and he had 60,000 chips. I was in the small blind, and I figured I would just go all in, and not try to get fancy. I thought, I’ll go all in – if he has a decent hand, he’ll call me. If not, I don’t want to play something like J 7 against my A 10. I hoped he would call with a weaker ace – which is exactly what happened. He had A 9, and my hand held up, and now I had over half the chips on the table.

So, we still had a German, and Austrian, and an English guy. All pretty good players, but I had the experience edge. The German guy was in his first off line tournament, so I felt pretty good about my chances.

The next hand I played was against the English guy. He is a good player, and I got very lucky here. I picked up K 10 on the button, blinds still at 3,000/6,000. I make it 16,000, and he re-raised me. He had re-raised me a few times, and I don’t like being re-raised. So, again he raises me – he makes it 46,000. I am thinking I want to knock this guy out, so I play the hand. The hand is marginal, but I figured I will make the call.

The flop comes with an Ace, and a Queen. He quickly checked, and he trapped me. I figured I could move all in, as I still had outs to the nuts with a jack. I got really badly trapped here. I made a mistake, and went all in. He happily calls right away. I know I made a mistake, but you have to be really aggressive to win these types of things. The turn comes a King, and the river a Jack, giving me the nuts. The guy was really upset, and he lost it a bit. I feel really bad for him, but he’s not the first guy I have taken care of in this manner. You need a bit of luck on your side in poker – you need big breaks in big tournaments.

So, it was down to me, and the German, and the Austrian. These boys didn’t really have much of a chance. They played very quiet. The German took out the Austrian, and he had a total of 100,000 left.

I talked him out of his money here. When I got to heads up with him, I was coaching him, nursing him along, telling him to play good hands. He went from 105,000 to 45,000 before he played a hand heads up. That’s not the way to beat me heads up, I don’t think. Finally, he decides to play Q 7 suited for all his money. I had A 3 suited. The board came 5 blanks, and I had won my heat.

I’m very excited. I hope I do really well. I’m doing something special with the money this time. I’ll let everyone know after this tournament. I’m not keeping any of it. I just hope I can win.

I come back to London after the WPT to play in the Poker Millions. Then I go to the WSOP. I’m going to play all the WSOP events. It’s going to be a long summer, but I hope I do well, and have fun.

I ran into Phil Hellmuth today. We talked about how we were both pretty disappointed in that we were supposed to go to play a poker tournament in Iraq for the troops. But, it didn’t work out, and it was very disappointing.

Anyway, I will keep everyone updated on my progress here in Paris. Maybe I can make my third final table in five tries here. We’ll see.

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