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Sun, Sand, and Poker in Cyprus

by Roy Winston |  Published: Sep 06, '09


Day one of the Cyprus Merit Casino WPT main event is finally over, and although we played only 5, 90 minute levels, it was draining. I began the day at a relatively tough table after I registered about 30minutes late and had Layne Flack to my immediate left and Jeff Lisandro three to my left. The structure was fantastic, beginning with 40,000 in chips and starting at the 50-100 level. Big pots happened almost immediately, and I lost the first 4 that I played and wound up down to 26,000 before I knew what happened. The most costly one I raised to 350 and was re-raised to 750 by Lisandro from the button, with the big blind calling as well. The flop came K 9 4, and with AK I felt pretty good, checking behind the big blind. Lisandro made it 1,200 to go, the big blind called, and I raised to 3,500. Lisandro folded and the big blind called. The turn went check, check and on the river he bet 6,500 and I folded, and he flashed K 9. I made the right move but wow, K 9 out of position after a re-raise. I had to adjust to the location, no one was folding almost any hand once they put chips in the pot.

Jeff Lisandro was moved to balance tables a short time later and was replaced by John Tabatabai. John and I played together at the 5k shootout at last year’s WSOP. He is a very solid player and a really nice guy. He came to the table with about 100k in chips which was second to Layne Flack who managed to get all in with AA vs. KK, flopped an ace and was off to a great start. Oh, and I forgot to mention it was against the donkey who took my chips. That’s the way it goes, a bad player gets lucky against you and then distributes your chips to other players who are much tougher to beat. Layne also managed to flop 3 nut flushes and had AA at least 10 times, or at least it seemed that way. He did lose 4 big pots when his opponents put their money in almost dead, unfortunately for him the “almost” came into play. Anyway, John Tabatabai won a monster pot, which took him to 170k, when he flopped top set and his opponent made a straight on the turn, and the river paired the board.

I worked my way back up to my starting stack of 40k when John Tabatabai opened in early position, as he did 2 out of 3 hands, and two other players called his 3.5 big blind raise. I was in the big blind with the 9 10 of spades and having not played many pots and with the blinds 100-200 with a 25 ante, raised 2,500 on top of the 700. It folded around to the last guy to act, who was on the button, and he called pretty quickly. He was playing a lot of pots and since he didn’t re-raise the first time around from the button, I knew he couldn’t be too strong. The flop came 10 8 6 all clubs. I was pretty sure from watching him earlier that he had a draw at best, so I bet 6,500 into the 7,300 chip pot. He min raised me, and we had about the same size stacks, so after a nanosecond, I moved all-in. He thought for 2 minutes and said; “you have nothing” and called with the ace of clubs and some small card like a four or five. Somehow I avoided a club or an ace and almost doubled up. It was aggressive of me, but that was the way the table and for that matter the room was going. I never played a big pot the rest of the night and managed to eek up to just over the 100k mark. With 63 of the 91 runners remaining and the average sitting at about 60k, I felt pretty good.

I have to add that the John Tabatabai I played with today was an improved version of the one I played last year, and although he was good then, he is really good now. He kind of reminds me of Theo Tran in his style, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him do well here and in the future.

On my way to dinner Huck Seed challenged me to a 10 mile race with him wearing flip flops and me my running shoes, I took a pass. At dinner Yosh, the high stakes host from the Bike in LA, joined us and talked about an event which is following this one here in Cyprus, where we are now at the Merit Casino. He has put together what sounds like a great event. It will be a world championship of mixed games, which will include HORSE + no limit holdem. The finals will be 48 players in a shoot out style. You can take a look at for more information. This event will have regional qualifiers and sounds most excellent in concept and design.

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

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