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Tournament Trail Q and A -- Allen Bari

Bari Talks About His Tournament Success as a Poker Hybrid


Allen BariAllen Bari has cashed 17 times playing tournament poker this year, including a big tournament win at the 2008 Borgata Summer Open, where he defeated Vinny Pahuja heads-up in the $5,000 no-limit hold’em championship event to win $500,000 in prize money. He has appeared at four final tables and won two tournaments during his successful 2008 campaign, and he is closing in on $1 million in career tournament winnings. He has also accumulated 3,110 Card Player Player of the Year points in 2008, which is currently good for 33rd place on the leader board.

Card Player caught up with Bari during the preliminary events at the Caesars Palace Classic, and he spoke about his take on poker psychology and the intangibles that can make or break a poker player.

Ryan Lucchesi:
You have 16 cashes so far this year. What allows you to cash so consistently playing tournament poker?

Allen Bari:
I think it’s because I look like a brat, to be honest, and I think no one ever gives me credit for a hand. And I’ve been playing for seven years, so I’m pretty good at reading people, so I know when to make really thin value-bets. And, for the most part, I can sense when people are weak. I’m good at value-betting, and I’m good at knowing who to put pressure on.

RL: You talked about your table image there, do you think that it encourages action on your bets and your value-bets?

Yeah, definitely … I know when people think that I’m playing a lot of hands, it definitely does get me a lot more action than most people. I mean, if I was an old guy, I wouldn’t be getting as much action as I do.

From 2004-2007 you only had three cashes. Were you not playing as much poker during that stretch?

I was working until November (2007), and I got laid off in November and started doing this full time. I was playing mostly cash games before that, and then I started getting into tournaments. I got picked up by a backer, and so I just started playing a lot.

Your biggest win came at the championship events at the Borgata Summer Open this year. How was the heads-up match against Vinny Pahuja?

It was pretty good. We have played a lot, so there is a lot of metagame. We know each other's games really, really well, so we know what’s going on in each other’s heads. It was a pretty sick match.

You mention the psychology of the game a lot. Do you play more live to practice that aspect of the game, or more online?

I started out playing live, playing a lot of cash games in A.C. [Atlantic City], and then I started playing a lot online because the players online are a lot better, obviously. It actually improved my game, and I would say I’m a hybrid more than anything else. I don’t really consider myself a live player or an online player. I would say the reason, more than anything, that I’m better is because I’ve played live my whole life, so I have a feel for the table. And I usually talk a lot, unless I’m just not in the mood, and lately I have been running really bad, so I haven’t been talking as much. I think it’s mainly my live game that makes me better than other players … I think a lot of online guys don’t appreciate how much you can pick up live. I think one reason the online players have trouble switching over to live is because they don’t give the intangible things enough credit when there is so much you can pick up off of that.

RL: It seems like you like to play a lot of the preliminary events at major tournament stops. Why do you feel it is so important to play in those events?

Yeah, I think everyone should be playing the prelims, because you can only play so many $10K events, and there would be just too much variance. You can’t just always play against the best. I want to play against the best, but I’m doing this to make money.