26 August 2007

Mixed Fortunes Online; Barcelona Beckons

I finally got back to playing online this week and my results have been up and down. I have played everything from Razz to NL and even some HORSE. I have been playing $100-200 and $200-400 NL, $200-$400 PLO, Limit Hold ‘em, and HORSE. The Limit Hold ‘em a few days ago was a roller coaster ride. My stack went from 20k to over 100k, back down to 20k and then up again.

I played earlier this week with the new rising star of Internet poker, 'KaiBuxxe'.

Last week in London I met ‘KaiBuxxe’, he really does exist. Contrary to what everyone has been telling me, he is beatable, at least in Chinese poker. I won 11k in a short session with Roland de Wolfe, Ilari aka ‘Zigmund’, and ‘KaiBuxxe’ playing $500 per point. Pretty impressive that he is only 19 and beating the online games for so much already. It will be fun battling him at PLO online.

David Benyamine has been doing well the past week and it's great to see. A lot of people were counting him out, but I have always believed he is a great player. When he is hot, there is no one better than David. He can play for 20 hours straight online; he has the best poker stamina of any poker player I know. When the games are good at the Bellagio, David can put in marathon sessions, sometimes lasting three days.

I started yoga this week to try and make my back more flexible. I have been in the gym a lot and got to play tennis twice. I want to get my back as healthy as possible before I leave for Europe on Sunday. I am really looking forward to Barcelona, it is a beautiful city and my room at the beautiful Hotel Arts has a spectacular view of the sea.

There is a million dollar cash game in London after the WSOPE. I will be playing alongside Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Mike Matusaw, etc. I really enjoy the cash games on TV and have had good results so far. Make sure to check out the videos on my website from previous cash games.

Good luck and I will write from Barcelona. I am scheduled to play on day two and will have updates on my website.



ps. In Denmark they have already set the betting lines on my tennis match with Gus Hansen. Right now we are trying to decide what surface to play on, my personal favorite is clay. But we would also like to play the match during the big ATP event here in Las Vegas in early March, which is on hard courts.

20 August 2007

Big win in London - and an online review

On my flight into London from Rome, I was really looking forward to getting back to what I do best, playing poker. I had just spent eight days in Italy without placing one bet, which could be a record for me. On all my previous visits to London it has been raining and I have just never had any fun. I was hoping that this trip would be different.

After landing at Heathrow I caught a cab and headed for my hotel, the Montague at the Gardens. I had a nice room and unpacked my things and headed to dinner with my agent. We had a great meal with Liz Lieu and Shannon Elizabeth, two of the nicest girls in poker.

The next morning, I was more than ready to play some poker. The game was to be played at the TV studio with blinds of $100-200 with a $25 ante. The minimum buy-in was $25,000 and the max buy-in was $50,000 so it was going to be some deep stack poker, my favorite!

Once the cards got underway, I found my groove. I was playing a lot looser and more aggressive than normal. I was going to mix it up for awhile and apply the pressure.
We were playing six handed most of the day and sometimes four and five handed. I ended up a winner the first day. There were quite a few big pots and a couple of huge bluffs. I was fortunate enough to win the largest pot of the three days.

The game was full of good players and two online qualifiers who rotated in and out throughout the day. Tony G was also in the game. His behavior has sometimes been a little over the top, but I think he is a very intelligent player and businessman. He has always been nice to me and we get along quite well.

My very good friend Ilari "Zimund" Sahamies, Martin de Knijff, Juha Helppi, Jan Sorenson, Tobias Person, former CEO of 24 Hour Poker Per Hildebrand, and Rene Mouritsen were in the game. Rene finished second in this year’s $10,000 PLO when I got third place at the WSOP.

It was a lot of fun to play with old friends from Europe, especially Ilari, one of the funniest poker players I know. He pulled out a couple of moves; if you have heard about his recent play in the Bellagio "Big Game" he is never afraid to put his money in the pot.

He managed to play very well against me, and he got me at least one time to lay the best hand down on the river. Tony G immediately said, "show a bluff, it’s good for the game," and Ilari showed the table the bluff while he raked in a nice-sized pot.

As I promised, I am going to review a hand I played online against ‘sbrugby’ a few months ago. A little background first. Before this session, we almost never played HU NL Hold ‘em for more than 30 or 40 minutes at a time. We were finally playing for a while and I was up two buy-ins when this hand developed.

I started the hand with $212,033 and he had $99,297. Brian was on the button and made his standard raise to $1,800, I re-raised out of position to $5,400 with the 5 6 of clubs, he put in another raise to $16,200. I felt very strong that he did not have a monster hand like AA or KK. I decided to call and see if I hit any piece of the flop. I was also ready to try to bluff him out of the pot.

The flop came 3c 8h 6s. I obviously liked the flop since I hit a pair with two backdoor draws. I checked with the intention of check raising all in if he bet. Even if he had AA or KK I had a backdoor straight and flush draw and five outs to hit two pair or trips, and if he had two big cards I was ahead.

He bet $18,800 into the pot and I came over the top all in and he called with – I could barely believe it – 8 9 off suit. So he raised me pre-flop to $16,200 with 8 9 off suit and I called with 5 6 suited. It is pretty funny we managed to get over $30,000 in preflop with nothing better than 9 high. I just caught enough of the flop to keep me in and caught my flush to take a nice pot of $198,593.

I’ve just got home to Vegas, and am enjoying some time with my family. It was the first time being away from my daughter and it’s amazing how much she has grown in the past few weeks.

It is going to be a short stay at home before I head back to Europe for the EPT Barcelona and the EWSOP, both of which are going to be a lot of fun and hopefully very profitable! My whole family is coming with me to Europe, including our amazing nanny, who has turned out to be an incredible chef.

Even my mother and sister are coming to visit from Finland to see our baby Mila for the first time, so it will be a family affair.

Good luck at the tables.


11 August 2007

Time Out in Italy

Sorry for not writing sooner, but I have been vacationing on the beaches of Gaeta, a little town 90 kilometers north of Napoli. Marco Traniello and Jennifer Harman invited me to visit them in Marco's hometown. Marco has been telling me how beautiful Gaeta is and I have not been disappointed.

My life has been very exciting and stressful the past few months and a little rest and relaxation is exactly what I needed. My back has been very bad lately and it's finally starting to feel better. I got to play a little tennis yesterday, which is the first time I have played in a few weeks.

Many of you might know that Gus Hansen and I have a big tennis match coming up in near future. I will write more about that soon. But it should be a great event and everyone is invited.

Now, a little poker insight into what I believe running bad, really is. In the past when players or friends would tell me about ‘running bad’, I used to chuckle inside and think, there is no such thing as running bad. Especially when they would tell me they were running bad for six months or even one year.

What running bad really is, is getting unlucky and playing poorly. I was very fortunate to run good for almost three years. The last three months have not been my most profitable, but I am excited and ready to finish the year strong, live and online.

I have not had this long of a break from online poker since I first started playing. It has been almost a month since I played last. I have spent the last week wiring money to a few different sites and getting my accounts ready for action. I have heard that there are some new players crushing the games and the action is crazier than ever. I cannot wait to be back in the mix.

In my next blog I am going to review an interesting hand from my online play and discuss how and why I played the hand the way I did. The first one is going to be a huge $300-$600 NL hand against SBRugby. We managed to get $30,000 in preflop in what turns out to be over a $200,000 pot.

Good luck at the tables and next stop is the ‘Cash Game’ in London.

05 August 2007

$25,000 Poker Million VI

I was very excited after seeing my table draw for my first heat. The only players I recognized were Phil "The Unabomber" Laak and Howard “The Professor” Lederer. The other three players were unknown and my chances were looking good. But in fact, it turned out to be the toughest table in the tournament. I can't tell you the results yet as they are going to be on TV later this year, but I can tell you it was hard work!

I did not realize how amazing this tournament really was until I arrived. There were a total of 72 players each buying in for $25,000. Then the tournament sponsor added $500,000 to the purse. It would be so nice if this became standard in poker tournaments. I cannot wait for next year’s event.

I spent the past few days hanging out in London, then tomorrow I head to Italy for a little vacation where I am going to visit good friends Marco Traniello and Jennifer Harman. Italy is my favorite place to visit and should be a great place to rest and relax before the 'Cash Game' in London on the 14th.

My agent Stephen lives here in London, so today I had five interviews with European Poker magazines and one photo shoot. I have been in a lot of meetings and talking about some exciting possibilities for the future. My good friend Liz Lieu was also here playing the tournament and it was nice seeing her for the first time in a long time.

The new season of High Stakes Poker on GSN is coming out on TV soon. I am involved in a couple huge pots. One is an absolute sick hand where we get it all in on the flop for over $500,000. You will have to wait and see it on TV to see the final result.

I enjoy the TV cash games and think they are great for the avid poker player and fans. I watch a lot of clips of various games on You Tube. The one we are shooting on the 14th is a special for Scandinavian players. It will be fun to see some old friends and new faces. The minimum buy in is $25,000 and the max is $50,000. There is a $25 ante and the blinds are $100-$200. My friend Ilari aka “Zigmund” will be playing, and so there will be some gambling going on. I will buy in for the max and hopefully finish a winner in the game.

I got a new laptop and am going to start grinding online, since I have a lot of free time the next few weeks. Some of my best months of playing came when I was all alone in hotels. There are no distractions and I can really focus on the games. I am going to start playing on some of the European sites, since I am not in the States. If things get worse with online gaming, I am thinking of moving my family to Monte Carlo. Great for taxes and they have one of the most beautiful tennis centers in the world.

Will write from Italy.


01 August 2007

Heading to London

I've just arrived in London for my heat in the Ladbrokes Poker Million.

The tournament starts with tables of six. If you win your first table you advance to another six-handed table. The winners of round two will play in December live on TV for the grand prize.

It is an invitational tournament only and I just wired $25,000 to enter. So let's hope I can win some money!

My back has been giving me a lot of troubles the past few days, so I have not been able to play tennis or do any martial arts. But I have been able to get down to the Bellagio for a couple great workouts with Gary, my favorite Bellagio trainer.

I forgot to mention in my earlier blogs that I wanted to thank Daniel Negreanu and his beautiful wife Lori for letting me take over their living room for a few hours three weeks ago for my website's photo shoot.

When the photographer arrived at my house, he immediately asked where the poker table was. Well I do not have one in my house - I play enough poker as it is. I guess he just assumed that I would have one.

He wanted to take most of the shots with me sitting at the table so we had a little problem on our hands. Luckily, Nick an avid reader of Daniel's blog, knew that he has one at his house. I called Daniel and he invited us all over. So thanks again Daniel!