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Play a Tournament With Me - Part I

by Linda Johnson |  Published: Mar 22, 2005

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Many readers wrote to tell me they enjoyed my recent three-part series, "Play a Tournament With Me," so I decided to write a similar series about my play at the recent Professional Poker Tour event at Commerce Casino. As in the past, I wrote down the hands I played, and my thoughts during play are in italics. Enjoy!

Picture the "Who's Who" of poker assembled in one cardroom and you know you are at one of the events on the Professional Poker Tour. A total of 181 of the world's top poker players were on hand to compete for the $500,000 prize pool that was donated by the World Poker Tour. While waiting for the tournament to start, old friends greeted each other, spectators gathered autographs, and media personnel interviewed "celebrity" players.

I looked around the room and saw some unbelievably tough tables. For instance, one table had Ted Forrest, John Juanda, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, and Phil Hellmuth. Another had Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Howard Lederer, Tom McEvoy, and Vince Burgio.

My table consisted of Peter Costa, Steve Brecher, Kristy Gazes, Men Nguyen, Bobby Hoff, Billy Baxter, Chris Karagulleyan, and Marsha Waggoner. We started with $10,000 in chips and played 60-minute rounds. The blinds were $25-$50 the first level. On the first hand, I was dealt A-10 in middle position, and raised it to $150 and got no callers. (Cool, I'm the table leader). The next hand, I looked down to see Q-Q; I raised to $150 again and took down just the blinds.

About 10 minutes into the tournament, we lost our first player. Kristy Gazes raised to $150 preflop and Men Nguyen and two others called. The flop came A-J-9 with two clubs. Gazes bet $700 and Nguyen raised to $2,500. The others folded, and Gazes moved all in. Nguyen called. The dealer raised the "All in" flag, a signal for the camera crew to come running over to capture the moment. Gazes turned up 9-9 and Nguyen revealed the Qclubs 10clubs for an open-end straight flush draw. The turn card was a red 4 and the river card was the 4clubs. Gazes said, "Nice hand," and patted the table to concede defeat, not realizing that the 4clubs that made Nguyen's flush had paired the board and given her a full house.

I didn't get a playable hand the next two rounds. The action at my table went in spurts; it was "raise and take it" for a few consecutive hands and then suddenly there were several hands in a row with four or five limpers. I had fun chatting with Peter Costa, who seemed to be having a good time occasionally calling blind or even raising blind.

The next round, I looked down to see pocket aces on the button. Marsha Waggoner, in the cutoff seat, raised to $175, and I reraised to $500. She called and we saw a flop of K-10-8 with two clubs. Waggoner checked, I bet $800, and she folded, stating that she had pocket queens. Meanwhile, there were at least five all-in situations at various tables in the first 20 minutes, which kept the camera crew on the run.

I had to fold my big blind to a raise, but saw a cheap flop in the small blind for just $25 more with 3-2 after Billy Baxter had limped in. The flop was Q-5-4. Costa and I checked to Baxter, who bet $125, and we both called. (I considered check-raising, thinking that I could probably pick up the $275 pot, since I didn't think Baxter had a queen. However, I thought that he might have an ace, so if an ace came and I made the nut straight, I believed I would have a chance to win a much larger pot.) To my surprise, Costa also called. The turn card was a trey and everyone checked. The river card was an 8. I made a pot-sized bet of $400 and they both folded. (Hmm … I don't really think I had the best hand here; I think Costa did.)

In middle position, I limped in with 3-3 after two others had limped. Bobby Hoff raised to $150 and Billy Baxter reraised to $700. (I really wanted to see the flop for $100 more, but I can't call the reraise.) The flop was A-8-5, and Baxter bet $1,500 and won the pot.

In the big blind, I picked up a suited 4-3. Costa had raised blind for $100 and Hoff reraised, forcing me to fold. In the small blind, four players limped in and I called $25 more with the 8diamonds 6diamonds. The flop came 8-4-3. Everyone checked to Waggoner, who bet $200 from the button. I check-raised to $600 and everyone folded.

Another interesting hand came up next. Hoff limped in from middle position and Costa called $25 more from the small blind. Before the dealer could burn and turn, Costa bet $50 in the dark. The flop was 10-10-6 with two spades. The big blind folded and Hoff raised to $400. Costa called and bet $50 blind again before the dealer put out the turn card. This time, Hoff just called. Costa again bet $50 blind before the river card was revealed. Hoff folded and Costa showed pocket fours, answering the question I had regarding what type of hand he had to bet $50 blind at every turn. He was definitely enjoying himself, and I was enjoying watching him.

At this point, the blinds were raised to $50-$100; 12 people had been eliminated the first hour. My chip count was $10,800 as we entered round two. Stay tuned for Part II in my next column.

Now, let's play poker! spades



Linda is available to host poker events and seminars. You can contact her through her website: www.cardplayercruises.com.