Winter Poker Open Final Table

Bluff has announced the final six players who will be moving on to the televised World Poker Tour final table tomorrow at the Borgata Winter Poker Open. Players and their chip counts are as follows:

Joe Simmons 5,500,000
John Gale 4,830,000
John Hennigan 3,255,000
Chuck Kelley 1,610,000
Michael Sukonik 1,305,000
John James 535,000

The four players who rounded off the top ten but didn't make the final table were:

7. Joseph Cappello $221,548
8. John Racener $166,161
9. David Redlin $110,774
10. Davidson Matthew $72,003

For a detailed recap of today's play, as well as a look at the final six players, check out Bluff Magazine's coverage.

Borgata Winter Poker Open

Today is the 4th day of the Winter Poker Open Main Event at the Borgata in Atlantic City, and of the 27 players remaining only 6 will move on to the WPT televised final table tomorrow. Among those remaining are John Phan, John Gale, and Chip Jett. Also, one of my my all-time favorites, John Hennigan, is still in the running. Hennigan also cashed in event #9 of this series, $5000 buy-in No Limit Hold'em, placing 21/242.

As usual, the Bluff Magazine team is providing their outstanding live coverage, so you can check in with them for updates throughout the day.

Reminder -- WPBT Tournament Series Re-Starts Sunday Jan. 28

This is just a quick reminder today for this weekend to all you poker blogger types out there. That's right -- the World Poker Bloggers Tour returns for its spectacular kickoff tournament to the 2007 WPBT season, coming this Sunday night at 9pm ET on full tilt. Come join everyone who's anyone in the poker blogging community as the group's best and the brightest come out to play and mix things up in what is, in this blogger's view anyways, without a doubt the best concentration of poker blogging skill and mettle anywhere on the Internets.

The WPBT, conceived of by Byron and now this year managed as well by Columbo, is a series of poker tournaments, limited only to poker bloggers or at least players with some actual semblance of an actual blog. The series first ran in 2006, and Byron has conceived of a brilliant scoring script (B recently explained to me what a script actually is, so now I get to use that word and put it in italics too!) that enables them to award Player of the Year (POY) points to the top half of finishers in each event, and to keep a running tally throughout the year of all the players' performances. The semiannual live WPBT poker tournaments held in Las Vegas each summer and winter also count towards the WPBT POY scoring, and generally the live tourneys have the heaviest weight as well due to the higher live-casino buyins, so this only adds to the excitement already generated by this fun and hotly-contest series of poker tournaments among our little group. And the end result is the WPBT Player of the Year leaderboard, which will be hosted and updated regularly on either Byron's and/or Columbo's blog, where anyone can view the list of the top points-winners thus far in the year's WPBT tournaments. Personally, I found this to be one of the most fun aspects of playing poker with the bloggers during 2006. But then, that might have had something to do with the fact that I ended the year in 4th place in POY overall points among the 150+ bloggers who showed up to play in one or more of these tournaments last year.

In any event, this coming Sunday night at 9pm ET marks the first new tournament of the 2007 WPBT season, so all of you bloggers out there will want to make sure you get in early so as not to fall behind in the POY race for the year. Especially you guys who did poorly early in 2006, and a great number of you who started blogging later during 2006 and thus did not have the chance to gain enough POY points to make the top of the list, this is your time to get in there and make an early splash. This Sunday's event will be no-limit holdem, and bears a $26 (tier 1 token) buyin on full tilt, so not only are there the first round of WPBT POY points at stake, but also a nice amount of cash to play for as well. So be sure to come on out and join the crowd this weekend, and support your fellow bloggers as well as make your mark and show your skills for all to see for 2007. I am already registered, so I am definitely looking forward to seeing you all there. Best of luck though, as I always seem to get it up for these WPBT tournaments, so you'll want to watch out for me if I pop onto your table at some point along the way.

Have a great weekend everyone, and I'll see you on Sunday for the WPBT on full tilt. Also, go stop by Miami Don's blog today for a nice post detailing the odds-on favorites to take down the 2007 WPBT POY race. Don can always be counted on for the Vegas odds spin on things, and the WPBT is no exception.

Ultimate Blackjack Tour

The Ultimate Blackjack Tour recently held the Battle of the Superstars, a competition where some of the world's best blackjack and poker players competed for $100,000 in prize money. The winner was Robert Williamson III, beating Kenny Einiger, Hollywood Dave (who is well known throughout the blackjack world and hosts a number of card events on television) and Annie Duke, who placed fourth in the event.

The final six players competed in elimination blackjack, followed by No Limit Hold'em poker. The event will be broadcast as part of the second season of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour.

Lou Krieger Wins Binion's Author's Challenge

Poker Author Lou KriegerWhile we all sit here and try to decide if the sky is actually falling on Internet poker or not, there is still some real live B&M poker happening out there, including the Poker Author's challenge at Binion's.

It sounded like a lot of fun, and made me wish I'd collected all my WSOP writings from last year and put them into book form, so I could face off against John Vorhaus (whose homegame I donk around in regularly -- incidentally, even if you can't find the sucker, and therefore know you're the sucker, you're still the sucker) and other guys like Richard Sparks (Diary of a Mad Poker Player), Charlie Shoten (No Limit Life) and everyone's favorite author / blogger, Lou Krieger.

The tourney went off this weekend, and Lou Krieger emerged victorious. This pleases me greatly, because Lou is a great guy, a great friend to all poker bloggers everywhere, and has been a voice of reason throughout what I'm just going to call "the recent unpleasantness."

Lou has all the details of his championship run, in true self-effacing form, at his blog.

Mondays at the Hoy -- Results and 2007 Leaderboard

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!Mondays at the Hoy went off again last night at 10pm ET, at its regular home on pokerstars, and I showed up ready to play and to defend my current top spot on the 2007 money leader board for the MATH tournament. We got our usual 20 runners for this, the first of the weekly blogger tournaments every week, although the list of players last nght did include some new Hoy virgins in addition to many of the old standbys.

I started the Hoy off poorly, calling a preflop raise from steal position from Astin with a mediocre QTo myself, knowing Astin's tendency to bluff with nothing in these blogger tournaments (sorry to spoil your secret, Astin!). When Astin checkraised me on the turn on a board that missed my hand entirely, I had to fold, despite figuring that Astin had nothing, because I couldn't beat any pair, Ace-high or even King-high on this board. Luckily, I soon regained my chips and then some as I was able to make pocket Queens hold up (can you believe it?!) when my flop check induced an allin push from NewinNov with just A4o on a flop of 249 rainbow. This built my stack back over 2400 chips (starting stacks in the MATH are 1500), and on the very next hand I looked down to find pocket Aces.

Pocket Aces. How much do you love taking down a big pot in a no-limit holdem tournament, and then finding pocket Aces on the very next hand, when many of the players are apt to put you on an aggressive Doyle-esque attempt to raise with nothing just to try to make a rush for yourself? It's a rare opportunity, and while I pondered how best to milk as many chips as possible out of my tablemates, Fuel55 limped for the 50-chip big blind from UTG+1, and then relatively new poker blogger Julius Goat followed that up from UTG+2 with a 4x raise to 200. It's like McDonald's says: I'm Lovin' It!

No sooner had I raised this bet to 500 chips preflop with my pocket Aces from middle position, that Mattazuma quickly made it 1200 chips to go from right behind me in the cutoff. Yes! Could I have planned this one any better? Fuel and the Goat (wisely) folded their hands, and of course I moved in for my last 1680 chips. Mattazuma insta-called, and flipped up pocket Jacks. Probably a questionable play on his part, but as he explains on his blog this morning, he in fact thought that I was just making an over-aggro move on the hand following my pocket Queens and the big pot I was able to win with them. And he certainly did the right thing and re-reraised it up big with those Jacks, knocking out Fuel and the Goat, in support of what was basically a necessity to get the pot heads-up were he to have any realistic chance of winning such a high-action preflop pot with pocket Jacks. And he especially did the right thing when the board came Ten - Six - Eight - Five...

Jack on the river. IGH in 16th place out of 20 players. For the second time in the Mondays at the Hoy tournament, Mattazuma knocked me out of a hand from behind after making what I consider to be not such a great play preflop. That said, for the second time, Matt also managed to make great use of my chips, playing much smarter and more selectively aggressive poker from there on out, ending up busting on the bubble in 4th place for another strong showing for the guy who claims he is just donking off the rest of his money online in blogger tournaments due to the latest news from Neteller last week. So my night at the Hoy ended early, but I did stick around to watch most of the rest of the tournament, which was one of the better ones we've had recently on pokerstars.

In the end, after without a doubt the longest bubble period with 4 players left in any Hoy in several months, it was jeciimd ending in 3rd place for an $80 payout, and last week's winner VinNay finishing in 2nd for $120, bringing his 2-week Hoy money total to over $300. And winning the event was Fuel 55, using pocket Kings to call VinNay's pocket 5s preflop in the final hand to ice his first-ever Hoy title, and Fuel's second blogger tournament win in about a week's time. Congratulations to all three of our Hoy cashers this week, and following is the updated 2007 Chase for the Hoy leaderboard, including last night's results:

1. VinNay $310
2. Hoyazo $200
3. Fuel55 $200
4. Zeem $120
5. Ganton516 $114
6. PhinCity $80
7. jeciimd $80
8. Manik79 $76

You may note that three of the eight players who have cashed this year and found their way onto the early leaderboard in the Hoy tournament are non-bloggers, two of which are friends of friends of mine who have never blogged in their lives. So this should give some impetus to all of you out there who are not necessarily involved or even a part at all of the "blogger community" to come out and play next week and in future MATH tournaments, because as you know we always encourage new players to join and see what all the fun is about. I look forward to seeing you next week in the 2007 Chase for the Hoy, and thanks to everyone who came out to play last night as always.

Flopping a Straight Flush Draw -- Part II

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!Today I will conclude my earlier post on how to handle a flopped flush draw, specifically in this case (see screenshot at left) where I've got a minbet and a nice raise already in ahead of my action on the flop. We received a number of really excellent comments to the first straight flush draw post, which I will discuss briefly here.

For the most part, the readers were more or less in agreement as far as how to handle this play here. I guess I was just a tiny bit surprised (but not really) that no one suggested folding. I certainly would not fold here, but I do think it is important to remember that a big draw, even an open-ended straight flush draw, is still just that -- a draw -- and that right now at this time I technically have made nothing more than a pair of 5s. With the first player minbetting, he could easily be on a draw himself, but the second player's nice-sized raise I think makes it pretty clear that I am in fact behind here. Even with 15 outs twice, which does generally speaking make me the favorite to win the hand if I stay through to the river, it's important to remember that I'm only a little more than a 54% favorite. So, if you think about it from a glass-half-empty perspective, my odds situation here is not a whole lot better than when I have a medium pocket pair and my opponent has two overcards, one of the same suit as my cards, before the flop.

That said, the old OESFD is certainly the best individual draw that one can have at any point in a holdem hand, so this is not a hand where I would fold, and none of the commenters seemed to think so either which I think is a good thing. In fact, the only real debate among the comments seemed to be whether to push here or not. Almost no one recommended a smooth call here, another viable option in my mind. In the end it is not the option I chose, because my draw is in fact so big, but I do think for what it's worth that a smooth call here is a viable play given the first player's minbet, which smacks to me of a blocking bet or a weak-lead, typical of someone holding a draw of his own here. And if I'm up against another flush draw with the clubs, then my OESFD is really not nearly as good of a draw as I think it is. So I do think just smooth calling here would be a defensible play, check out what happens on the turn and then re-evalute things there.

All that being said, however, I am with the majority of the commenters who say a reraise is in order here. Seems like most of you ended up recommending the straight-out allin push here, which is a move I like because the relative chip stacks are such that this bet gives my two opponents a realistic and opportunistic chance to fold now, which deep down is what I'd really like most given the hand situation on the flop here. Because my draw is probably a greater than 50% favorite, I don't mind at all going to the river with the hand, but taking it down now is a perfectly happy outcome for me here, and one that I would aim for given the roughly 46% chance that I miss my draws entirely, and that nagging possibility (albeit unlikely) of a higher flush draw out there.

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!In the end, I looked at the relative chip stacks of myself and my opponent who put in the raise on the flop, and I determined that I had the ability to make a large enough bet that it put the pressure in the hand on him, and yet could still leave me with enough chips myself that I was not going to be bankrupt if I lost the hand (courtesy of poker author extraordinaire DoubleAs). I just didn't love the idea of putting everything in with a 54% favorite hand, on the assumption that my opponent was going to call no matter what I did since he had raised so much on the flop already. So, I went for a reraise to 1000 chips, which is basically the same thing as a push from my opponent's perspective. He in fact responded by pushing allin, which I clearly called, and we flipped 'em up.

Anybody want to guess what he was holding here? Rather than make you wait, I'll just post this link for your viewing pleasure. You will note that, as expected, I was behind there on the flop, and actually was facing a draw that could beat most of my outs already, so it was not exactly a great situation for me, which really illusrates again why I don't always necessarily want to get it all in on the flop even with an OESFD. But never fear, here is the final shot of the hand, where justice did, in the end, prevail.

Thanks again to everyone for the well-reasoned and insightful comments, as always. Have a great weekend, and maybe I'll run into you out on the virtual tables somewhere.

Losing Iron Status, Getting Back in the Game

I'd like to state for the record that NyQuil / NeoCitran and poker do not mix. Seriously, don't try it at home. I've been down with a bout of the flu over the past week which eliminated any hopes and dreams I had of reaching Iron Man status at Full Tilt for the month of January. In fact, I haven't opened a single poker client the entire time (less 3 or 4 SNG's that I completely tanked in) which was probably a very wise decision. The best I can hope for at this point is Silver Status in January, so I'll be working on Iron again once February begins.

I was hoping to play in the MATH and the WWdN this week (especially since Hoy is now keeping a leaderboard with the Monday night results) but had to put the kibosh on that plan as well. Damn flu - miss a week, miss a lot. However, I'll be relearning the game easing back into the online poker world tonight by playing in the Mookie, though it wouldn't surprise me if I donk out in spectacular fashion early on. If you are looking for easy money, come see me. I'll also state for the record that it is highly doubtful I'll be making an appearance at any blogger tables afterwards, but once my system has returned to "normal" I'll be back, and hopefully in fine form.

Details for the Mook tonight are as follows:

What: The Mookie - Ride That Donkey
Where: Full Tilt Poker
Time: 10pm EST
Cost: $10 + $1
Password: vegas1

And don't forget, there is a second chance tournament at 11:30pm EST, which will be turbo PLO. Yes you read that right: Turbo PLO. Oy. Over/under on the total duration of that game?

Flopping a Straight Flush Draw

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!Today I want to discuss one of the more fun (and yet still potentially perilous) situations in no-limit holdem -- when you flop a straight flush draw. Flopping the open-ended SF draw is always a fun thing for me, because I know that in most cases I have 2 cards to come, and 9 flush outs and 6 other straight-making outs to the nuts. And being the mathy guy that I am, I know that 15 outs twice actually makes me the favorite over any other made hand that is not a straight or flush, as is usually the case in these situations.

So today I'd like to solicit your opinions on how you like to handle a situation like this, because it happened to me last night in the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament on full tilt, which has a $109 buyin but which I satellited in to for $14 in the nightly turbo satellite at 8:45pm ET. As you can see from the screenshot above, I took a cheap flop with 6♣5♣, and the board came 7♣5♥4♣, giving me the open-ended straight flush draw. As I mentioned above, not even counting the other two 5s as outs to give me trips, I have to figure the 9 other clubs are going to give me the best hand, as well as any of six 3s or 8s which will make me a straight (I can't count the 3♣ or the 6♣ twice). 15 outs twice means I am a money favorite to win this hand, even though as of now I have nothing more than a measly pair of 5s in an unraised pot preflop.

As you can see from the action above, the first player minbet at this flop, moving in 40 chips into the 240-chip pot. One player in MP folded, and then the last player before me raised it up to 240 chips, basically betting the size of the pot, and indicating (I thought) some degree of strength, a good draw, something on this board. This faced me with an interesting decision: at least 15 outs twice, facing a 240-chip bet into a pot that now had 520 chips in it. As I pondered this decision (and took the screenshot, because I knew right away this hand would be up on CardSquad in the morning), I wondered how my fake internet poker friends would handle this flop in this situation.

Does anyone fold here? After all, you've got nothing but a pair of 5s made right now, and even though there are 15 outs, you still need to hit one of them in order to win this pot (most likely). Or, would you be tempted to flat call the 240 chips here, and see if the turn card completes your hand before committing more chips than that? Or, alternatively, do you raise aggressively with this big draw, try to chase everyone out of the pot now, and knowing that if you do get called, it's ok because you've got the 15 outs? How do you like to play this here, the open ended straight flush draw when you've got one minbettor and one raiser already in the pot on the flop ahead of you?

Please let me know your thoughts. I'll be back later with my approach in this situation, a discussion of the comments, and what actually happened in this hand.

Mondays at the Hoy Results

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot!It was another fun night yesterday in Mondays at the Hoy, as 19 bloggers and non-bloggers alike came together in the Chase for the Hoy. As I've mentioned previously, last week (the first non-holiday Monday of the new year), we officially began keeping the leaderboard for the 2007 money leaders in the weekly Hoy tournament, with me actually grabbing the early lead after taking down the first official event of the new year. Although I did make the final table, in the end it was a big blind special that eliminated me, as my A6s on the button in an unopened pot proved not enough to best the big blind who found AKo and a single Ace on the flop, easily enough to convince me to move in the rest of my chips right into the open arms of my opponent.

Overall, last night at the Hoy was another hard-fought bout, with 19 runners setting out to make their mark on the year's money list, and in the end it was a trio of relatively new players in the blogger games that took down the cashish. Winning first place and the $190 first prize was VinNay, with whom I've only played on a few occasions so far but who I hope to see more of in the future. Finishing in second place for $114 was Ganton516, whose blog I could not find on the internets for the life of me, and rounding out the cash spots was Manik79 in third place, putting in his second strong performance in the Hoy in just the last few weeks and winning $76 for his efforts last night.

All this all leaves our 2007 Hoy moneyleader board as of now looking as follows:

1. Hoyazo (yes!) $200
2. VinNay $190
3. Zeem $120
4. Ganton516 $114
5. PhinCity $80
6. Manik79 $76

I look forward to seeing you next week in the 2007 Chase for the Hoy, and thanks to everyone who came out to play last night as always.

Bill Chen on High Stakes Poker Premiere Tonight

I spent a lot of time this weekend watching classic WSOP final tables on the appropriately named ESPN Classics. It was stunning to see how much things have changed, from the obvious things like the size of the field and quality of the productions, to the things that haven't changed at all, like Scotty Nguyen's mullet and, uh, fashion.

I also had my opinion that Gabe Kaplan is the best commentator in the history of the universe reaffirmed, especially when compared to Dick van Patten, who preceded him, and frequently offered insights like, "Hey, what does he have there? Two pair? I think he has two pair. Oh. Wait. Maybe he has 7-4 and turned a straight."

There's no denying that the hole card camera has added drama and tension and excitement to the game on television, but there's also a certain magic and a different brand of excitement that builds up when we don't know what the hole cards are, especially when it's something like Stu Ungar pulling a massive bluff with complete bullshit cards on his way to the 1997 championship.

Anyway, I mention all of this because Gabe Kaplan provides the commentary for High Stakes Poker (which I've come to enjoy much more than when I first watched it) and on tonight's episode, my Team PokerStars teammate, fellow BARGEr, and not-quite-friend-but-I-still-really-like-him-a-lot double 2006 WSOP Bracelet winner (and three-time final tabler) Bill Chen is on the show tonight. Bill couldn't give us any details on how he played or if he won or lost, but he told the BARGE list earlier today, "I am anxious to watch myself to see what hands they show."

High Stakes Poker airs at 9pm Eastern, on the Game Show Network.

Mondays at the Hoy Tonight

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot

Don't forget, tonight is Mondays at the Hoy on pokerstars. Here are the details:

What: Mondays at the Hoy no-limit holdem tournament
Where: Pokerstars, "Private" tournament tab
When: Monday nights at 10pm ET
How Much: $20 + $2 buyin
Password: hammer

Although I've run Mondays at the Hoy every Monday since the Spring of 2006, this year we're starting something new as I will be keeping a running tally of the year's leading moneywinners at the MATH tournament. So far yours truly is in the lead, as I won last week's event in spectacular fashion for just my second career MATH title. I will definitely be looking for my first repeat tonight, so come on out and make a run at the yearly cash leaderboard, and try to dethrone me in the process. People love eliminating me from this tournament with just two crappy overcards, so why not come and give it a whirl in the battle for the $20 buyins? Last week we had 20 runners, and as always we're always looking for new Hoy players, and especially first-timers. So if you've never played a blogger tournament or just never played the MATH before, why not make tonight the night that all changes? Was one of your 2007 resolutions to play some poker with the bloggers? Then tonight is your night!

Also, I would like to congratulate Miami Don for taking down his own tournament, the blogger Big Game, last night on full tilt. Don put on quite a show, waiting it out when the action got fast and furious with many allins as soon as the 3 cash spots were reached, and then playing a smart and careful end game to capture all the chips in the end. Kajagugu won the second-place prize, and CC rounded out the cash spots with his third-place finish. I ended the event in 4th place, bubbling out of the primary cash spots, but not before securing a deal that got me back my $75 buyin from the top 3 cash finishers. In all, it was another fun night replete with lots of great poker players and great poker play. I'm looking forward to more of the same this evening, so I'll see you tonight at Mondays at the Hoy!!

Reminder: Big Game Tournament Tonight

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot

This is just a reminder that Sunday night at 9:30pm ET will be the latest Big Game tournament on Full Tilt, hosted by the one and only Miami Don. I cannot encourage enough everyone out there to play, if you have any interest in getting to know the bloggers, if you have a new blog that you are looking to get publicized, or even if you have no blog at all, or don't even know what blog is (or you just think blogs are ghey). As you can see from the banner at left, the game is tonight at 9:30pm ET on full tilt, under the "Tournaments" tab and then the "Private" tab. The password for all of the Big Game tournaments is "donkey", because that's what you are if you miss this event when you can and should have been playing.

Although there are a number of other blogger-hosted private tournaments out there, the Big Game truly has a unique niche among those other events, due mostly to its buyin amount. While mostly every other regular private game out there is for a $10 or at most $20 buyin, the Big Game features a Tier II token buyin on full tilt, or $75 cash from your account. This changes things for a few reasons. Not only does the larger buyin tend to attract the higher-bankroll players, but those higher rollers also tend to be more highly skilled in nlh tournaments. The result is typically a very well-played and hard-fought poker event, where the top finishers not only have to perform very well to get to that point, but also tend to be paid handsomely for their efforts.

Another great feature of the Big Game that Don has pushed hard to include is the Double Stacks. This means that each player in the tournament will start things off with 3000 chips, instead of full tilt's usual 1500 chip starting stacks. Again, this type of change tends to increase the likelihood of the skill players performing well, since double stacks provides the players with a lot more room to make some moves in the earlygoing, knowing that even if you are forced to fold your bluff, you've still got plenty of chips left to make some noise. Lord knows that I bluff early and often in almost any deep stacks event, so you might want to play just to try to pick me off and get off to a good start early thanks to some chips from your truly.

I cashed in 2nd place in the last of the Big Game tournaments that took place in December, and I will be there tonight again at 9:30pm ET to try to continue that run while I also play in the weekly 30k HORSE tournament at 9:30pm ET which I won a couple of weeks ago. I look forward to seeing you there at the Big Game tonight on full tilt!

Full Tilt's Daily Double

Kickass Cardsquad Screenshot

Our friends at Full Tilt have taken a page out of Byron's WPBT schedule of poker tournaments from last year and started up a very interesting new tournament format this weekend. It is called the Full TIlt Daily Double, and it is actually two tournaments, both $10 + $2 buyin no-limit holdem events, each held nightly at 9pm ET starting on Friday night, January 12. Both events play just like normal nlh freezeout tournaments on full tilt, but for those players who are willing to buy into and play both tournaments simultaneously -- if you're not a notorious multitabler like myself then this event might not interest you so much -- there are a number of added bonuses and gimmicks to make this new dual-tournament event that much more alluring and enjoyable.

To support the extra payouts and bonuses for the Daily Double, full tilt has started up a new progressive jackpot just for the new tournaments, which they began yesterday at $10,000. One dollar from each player's entry fee into each night's tournaments will go towards the following day's progressive jackpot, so for example the jackpot already grew from $10,000 even on Friday to now $11,735 heading into Saturday night's Daily Double tournaments. The jackpot can be paid out in a number of ways to players who participate in both events:

* All players who cash in both tournaments -- using full tilt's regular mtt payout schedule -- will share equally in a prize pool that totals 3% of the current progressive jackpot level.

* The player(s) who average the highest finish in both tournaments each night will be awarded a prize pool totaling 2% of the current progressive jackpot level.

* All players who reach the final table of both tournaments in any night will share equally in a prize pool totaling 20% of the current progressive jackpot level.

* Any player who wins both tournaments in the same night will be awarded 75% of the current progressive jackpot level.

Just to give some examples to show how this works in practice, last night on the first night of the Daily Double experience, the best double finish won $200 (2% of the opening 10k jackpot), and 26 other players each received $11.54 for cashing in both events (a 26-way split of $300, or 3% of the opening 10k jackpot). Each tournament last night had over 1000 entrants, making the tournaments attractive in their own right as normal $10 buyin events, even if you're not interested in the Daily Double aspects. But, I can easily envision a night in the not-too-distant future when the progressive jackpot is up to, say, $30,000, and only 10 players cash in both events, meaning that each of those players would receive $90 for their dual efforts. And these payouts are in addition to the normal payouts the players receive for cashing in each respective event to begin with.

As an added bonus, full tilt plans each day to include the names of each dual finisher from the previous night's Daily Double tournaments on the Daily Double promotions page on the full tilt website. So, if you're a multi-tabling kind of guy or gal like me, why not enter these two tournaments one night soon at 9pm ET, and take a chance at not only some nice payouts, but also seeing your name in lights on the full tilt website for all your friends and family to know just how great of a player you really are?

Cultivating a Tight Image Early

One thing about me is that I am constantly reading poker books. I read a ton of books in general, but over the past few years there has literally not been a single time when I was not reading at least one poker book. Frankly, I attribute much of my online poker success to my voracious appetite for poker books, as I definitely read more of these things than anybody I know, and I have no doubt seen a marked improvement in my onine poker results since I began reading them so often. Anyways, one book I am reading right now (and really enjoying, btw) is Lou Krieger's and Sheree Bykofsky's Secrets the Pros Won't Tell You About Winning Holdem Poker, and I was a bit surprised to see in there this morning the same advice I saw in Phil Gordon's Little Green Book, that both authors advise cultivating a tight image very early in no-limit holdem tournaments. They advise that by playing tight early, #1 you avoid getting involved in pots with less than stellar holdings early on in the tournament, and thus being at risk for early elimination with other than top cards, and #2 that you will be able to run bluffs later in the tournament, when the chips are really important, because you played tight so early on in the event. Invariably, this advice comes in the context of blind stealing, which both authors advocate avoiding in the early rounds of nlh tournaments, even if the action is folded around to you in the cutoff or even on the button.

Although I acknowledge that this advice may work well for many holdem players out there, there are a few reasons why I actually choose not to follow this strategy for my own tournament play. First and foremost, I am confident in my ability to make reads of my opponents' holdings, and to lay down my own hand if it is not strong enough to continue in any pot. This is actually a very difficult skill to master, and a substantial majority of the eliminations I see from the big online tournaments seem to be players who can't lay down pocket Kings when an Ace flops, can't lay down a medium pair when two overcards hit the board, or can't lay down big cards like AK or AQ when rags flop and someone bets at them. This is something which is not a problem for me anymore as a rule. That's not to say that I never bet my AK on a raggy flop, but rather that as a rule, at this point in my poker career I am more than happy to lay down whatever hand I'm holding if it appears from the betting that I am beat. Since I am confident that I will not take poor hands too far for the most part, I am not nearly as afraid of putting in a steal-raise in the opening rounds of a tournament, even with no regard whatsoever to the actual cards I have in my hand.

There's another, more important reason why I like to try to steal pots with open-raises right from the getgo in tournaments. In stark contrast to the books' advice, I actually like to have other players think of me as a blind stealer, someone who will open-raise almost automatically from late position no matter what two cards I've got in my hand. In fact, if I am holding crap and I get reraised after a preflop steal-raise, I won't typically delay before folding, as if I have a decent hand. Rather, I will instafold to those reraises, because I don't care if my opponents know I was trying a steal. I want them to know I'm a stealer. Even though playing this way does land me in pots where I'm holding bad cards more often than many players, it also establishes a very easy way for me to get paid off big when I do hold a big hand in the blinds. I cannot count how many big pots I've won early on in large multi-table tournaments because I got dealt a big hand in late position. Think about it -- if I steal-raise the first three or four times the action is passed around to me in late position at my first table in a large mtt, then the fourth time I do it, somebody is likely to play back at me, in particular if they're holding a semi-strong hand themselves in one of the blinds, say something like QTo or K9s, etc. However, I find that I can make my own action by actively and openly blind-stealing, because that fourth time around, I may be sitting on pocket Kings. And when I get a big hand in late position, and I put in that same stealy-looking preflop raise, I am highly likely to get action. Many a tournament run of mine has begun in just this fashion, in particular in blogger tournaments but in the large multi-table jobs as well, with me getting a huge stack early by very virtue of the fact that I will steal blinds and play a little bit loose in late position.

So for me, I choose to go against many poker authors' common wisdom of avoiding blind stealing very early in tournaments. I'm not going to call a reraise if I have crappy cards, but I will go for the steal-raise early and often if presented with the opportunity, and I like to do so blatantly, making it as obvious as possible that I'm stealing with nothing. Even though this does tend to lead to me taking some flops with very subpar cards, I'm confident enough in my ability to get away from all but the best of those situations, and the upside is that I can make my own action early on in tournaments, in a way that the guy who always folds in unopened pots even in late position unless he's holding a very strong hand never has the opportunity to. As anyone who plays the regular blogger events with me will know, creating my own action in this way is something that has served me very well over time in my online poker tournament career, and it makes it very difficult for others to effectively play against me whenever I'm in a pot from late position.

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