30 September 2007

A Big Hit and an Interesting Miss at Million

As many of you might know, I was involved in some monster pots a few days ago in the ‘Million Dollar Cash Game’. I will start with the one that I won. First I will go through the hand and then give an analysis at the end.

Blinds are $300-600 with $100 ante. Phil Ivey limped UTG and I limped behind him. Brian Townsend (SBrugby) raised to $3,600, it was folded around to Ivey and he folded. I called with 66.

It was a beautiful Q 5 6 flop for me, rainbow. I checked to Brian and he bet $7,300 and I took a few seconds and called.

Brian and I have played quite a bit of NL Hold ‘em together, both online and live in the Bellagio ‘Big Game’. We know each other’s game inside and out. Brian is a very smart and deep-thinking player, which is why he is one of the best NL players in the world. He can probably remember every hand we have ever played together.

The turn was a K of hearts which put two hearts out there. I checked and he bet $20,000. Normally I would raise my set here, but I decided to play it differently this time. I just called his $20,000 bet.

The river brought a 4 for a board of Q 5 6 K 4 and I checked. Brian bet $40,000 and I check raised to $150,000 after thinking for a while. Brian was not happy about it, which was a good sign, because that eliminated him from having the nut straight. He finally called and Brian had QJ which he was value betting the whole way.

This hand is very interesting for many reasons. Phil Ivey and I were playing props, and Brian knew that. When Brian raised pre-flop $3,600 and I was the only one to call, I looked at my prop score sheet just to see if Phil or me was on for a double or triple in props. Brian probably picked up on this and knew I might be playing a weaker hand than normal.

I checked called the flop, which is standard, but check calling the turn was something I have never done against Brian in the hands where we were heading to a showdown. It was very hard for him to think I would play my set this way.

When the river came 4, it was a great card for me. I would not call an 80 per cent of the pot bet on the turn with an open ender. So Brian knows I did not have 7 8 for the straight.

I checked the river to give him a chance to bluff or bet for value. Luckily he took the bait and bet $40,000 on the river. Now, there was a small chance he had KK or QQ or even 78. But I decided to value raise to $150,000 with my set of sixes.

I know Brian thinks very deep into each street and how the hand was played. By playing the hand the way I did, it was nearly impossible for him to put me on a set. He called with QJ, which would beat a bluff, but thankfully I had a hand this time.

The props that Phil Ivey and I were playing are quite confusing. Basically, we were betting on the flop being red or black. If the flop is all one suit, you win double. Being the gamblers we are, we do not stop there. We each have three cards, and if one of those cards hit the middle card on the flop, you win more.

As you can see in the following hand, it can create some bizarre and interesting situations. We both had Aces, Kings, and Queens as the bonus cards, I was black and Phil was red. When playing with props, it can definitely make you play a little different than normal.

The end result in this following hand is not great, but it was a very interesting and deep-thinking hand. I am sure Phil and I will be talking about this hand for a long time. It was one of those moments that you can appreciate even though I did not win. It was great poker and we were both thinking on very deep levels.

I was up quite a bit in the game going into this hand. Ivey raised from the cutoff to $2,000, a very weird raise amount. Almost all day the standard opening raise was $2,100-$2,700. I was on the button and called with Ad Tc, Brian also called in the SB. There was $7,400 in the pot and the flop came AAJ with two spades and a club.

I said to myself "Mamma Mia!” This was a great flop for me for many reasons. The ace of spades was the middle card on the flop, second it was all black, and finally, I flopped trip aces! To make things even better it was a near certainty that Phil Ivey did not have an Ace. Because I was on for a triple in props, Phil would not want to see a flop having a red ace in his hand.

Brian checked and Ivey bet $6,000 into a $8,000 pot. I was very happy at this moment and was thinking to myself, how could I make more money on this hand. I decided to put a little teaser raise out there and raised to $15,000. Brian mucked and Phil re-raised to $50,000. I was more than happy to call the $50,000.

The turn was a 5. Phil thought for a while and bet $100,000 and I called. I was very happy the way the hand was going at this point, even though I started to think he might have pocket jacks.

The river was a Qh and Phil took a long time, hard to tell, but it felt like five minutes, before betting $250,000. Now I was not happy at all. Maybe Ivey forgot about the props? Could he have played AQ? I was 99 per cent certain that he did not have an Ace. So the only hand which would make sense is JJ.

My mind was all over the place trying to figure out what was going on. After thinking for a little while, I thought I was beat, my mind was racing and thinking about so many things. A quarter million dollar bet on the river is usually a sign of someone with a hand. But Phil Ivey is one of the best NL players in the world and if there is anyone capable of pulling a bluff off, it is him.

I could not help but think that Ivey was down $300,000 in the game and had just lost $30,000 on this flop alone. Was he steaming or did he really have JJ? I decided that if I did not call, I would not be able to sleep. I counted out $250,000 and slid it toward the middle of the pot.

He had JJ. So I lost but I do not regret the hand; it was one of the most interesting hands I have ever played.

After the game, I spent Friday in Monaco looking at places to live. I found a beautiful flat on the 33rd floor right in the middle of city center and after seeing it with my own eyes, it was better than I could have imagined. I will go back in November and Monaco will be home. I flew into Nice very early that morning and then caught the last fight out to Munich.

I went to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest and for some business meetings, I cannot talk about details, but my Presidential Suite of the nicest hotel in town, was comp’ed. The room was simply amazing. I have some exciting news that I can hopefully share with you soon.

On Monday I flew back to London for the EPT London. It was not too exciting. I survived Day One with more than average in chips, but lost a coin-flip during the second hour of Day Two. If my 99 would have held up against my Finnish friend Ville "Isokala" Wahlbeck's AJ, I would have had a very nice stack and a chance to go deep.

Anyone who loves tournaments should try their best to play some of the EPT's. They are very well run tournaments, and they are in beautiful cities, so it's a great trip no matter what.

I just arrived back in the States. I am excited to play the WCOOP main event today. I will be back in town for six days and then heading over to Europe for the EPT Baden.

Good luck at the tables.