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Poker Night in America at Thunder Valley Poker Room

by The Poker Academy |  Published: Feb 04, '16


I am sitting here in my room at the Commerce Casino getting ready for our 12-Week Challenge webinar tonight. It is on session 4. I just finished re-watching the session so it would be fresh in my mind. I came straight to LA from the Thunder Valley Casino. Poker Night in America hosted a televised cash game and a $1650 buy-in NL tournament.

I played in the cash game for 4 hours on Friday night. I only played a couple big pots, one where I had AA against Phil Hellmuth, and one where I was lucky enough to make two pair on the river against a flush… I ended up winning small.

On Saturday, I entered day 1b of the tournament at noon. I was scheduled to play the cash game in the late session and again on Sunday. Fortunately, I didn’t get to do either. By dinner break on day 1, I had about 5 starting stacks. Day 1 ended with me bagging 209k from 30k which was a healthy start.

Day 2 started off pretty well. My table was playing pretty snugly as we approached the money bubble. I started opening more in response to this and it was working fine for a while. I chipped up to 240k or so from 209k to start.
Then I played a hand that in retrospect, I should have played differently. I raised 2 off the button and was reraised by the SB. I knew they were a good solid aggressive player, so I gave them too wide of a range here. I called with A5. (I should have given up and continued to try and chip up.)
The flop came AK7dd and I called a normal sized c-bet. The turn card was the 9c bring two clubs. Now they moved all in for 95k into about 90k. It felt funny to me across the felt and I ended up calling. I thought it was really close at the time. Now I think I should have folded after playing with that person a lot more over the next two days. Also, the way I played this hand is contrary to all of my beliefs about solid tournament play. I just got caught up in the moment. I do believe that it really increased my focus for the rest of the tournament though.
I lost that pot… Then I quickly had 59k at 1500-3k and got lucky in this pot.
First to act playing 8-handed made it 9k. I moved in with AK and 59k from 3 off the button. The player next to the button moved in for 84k. It folded to the opener, who folded 66 face up and said he had planned to called me. My opponent had AQo. The board ran out 99942. So if the AQo had  found a fold and the 66 called, I wouldn’t have even cashed…

By dinner break on day 2 I was up to 1.33M with 17 people left. Average was about 500k. Talk about getting some good hands…

I only had a few hiccups after that. I lost a pot with AA to a short stack’s A8 all in preflop. Then I tried to bluff in a spot and ran into the top of my opponent’s range. That cost me about a third of my chips with 7 people left. And at the 5-handed final table, I put an opponent all in with an overcard and a flush draw and missed. I lost about 1/3 of my chips in that pot too. Fortunately, I was able to bounce back each time, and eventually I won. First was almost $89k. Winning is always a special feeling.

And now I am at the Commerce for a few days on my way home. So far, I am 2-1 in cash sessions with a small net win.

Rick Fuller and Rep Porter are content creators and instructors at

Fuller has been a professional poker player for more than a decade. He has made four final tables at the WSOP, two in no-limit Hold’em, one in razz, and one in Omaha eight-or-better. Rick is a gifted communicator and teacher, actively involved in poker education for the past decade, teaching poker to thousands of students around the world. A former Police Officer, Rick is an adventure junkie, a private pilot, a skydiver with hundreds of jumps, and a certified SCUBA diver. He currently resides in Washington State.

Porter is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $2.4 million in tournament winnings. He won his first bracelet in 2008 in six-handed no-limit hold’em and his second bracelet in 2011 in razz. He also finished 12th in the 2013 Main Event, taking home $573,204. Rep is a graduate of the University of Washington and worked as an equity options trader. Rep has played poker professionally for 17 years.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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