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Poker Tournament Trail -- Chris Moore

Moore Talks About His Heads-Up and Short-Handed Success

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Chris MooreChris Moore (pictured right) won the $10,000 heads-up no-limit hold’em championship at the 2010 L.A. Poker Classic in late February, and he took home the top prize worth $147,200. He now holds career earnings of $1,741,000, and the majority of his cashes have come in heads-up and short-handed events.

It was the second year in a row he made the heads-up championship match at Commerce, and it was also the second time that Moore went undefeated to make the final from the winner’s side of the bracket at the double-elimination tournament. Moore experienced some déjà vu by facing the same opponent he lost to in the final one year ago, Vivek Rajkumar. In 2009, Rajkumar came from behind to win two matches against Moore and claim the championship. This year, Moore took care of business and won the first match to claim the victory as the undefeated champion.

Card Player caught up with Moore in Los Angeles, and he talked about heads-up and short-handed poker. He also discussed playing against an opponent that is familiar to you.

Ryan Lucchesi: You have had a lot of success playing short-handed and heads-up poker. What has been the secret to your success?

Chris Moore: I have a lot of experience playing six-handed and heads-up online. I don’t play online tournaments very often, so I don’t have as much nine-handed experience as a lot of these other guys. I’m better in short-handed situations, and I know the game a lot better in terms of what I want to do with each specific hand when there are fewer players to deal with.

I try to avoid nine-handed tournaments because I don’t like nine-handed poker too much. It is definitely a lot more fun and exciting when you’re playing more hands, in my opinion.

RL: How did your approach to Vivek Rajkumar in the championship differ this year from the year before? Did you feel more pressure to win this year after falling to him before?

CM: I think it was tentative early, because neither of us had any hands. I feel like the pressure would have built, and I would have had a lot more nerves if I had to play a second one. I would have said, ‘here we go again, this can’t be happening to me for a second year in a row.’

It was important to get the lead and be more aggressive this time. I just wanted to build my chip stack right away. Last year, I was probably calling a little bit too much and folding more often, but this time I went more aggressive. I actually wanted to increase variance; usually I want to reduce variance, but this time I thought that he would think I would play the same style as I did last year, so I decided to make a bigger bluff than I normally might.

RL: What advice would you give to players who are looking to play heads-up cash games or poker tournaments for the first time?

CM: It’s a whole different game. Psychology is the biggest difference. You’re playing every hand, so you need to have good instincts and put your opponent on certain hands. You need to think about what they are capable of having when they bet. You need to figure out the style they’re playing against you and put in timely plays when you think they have to put you on a certain hand.

You know what hands you should be playing if you’re a poker player in that situation, and that part comes from just playing a ton of hands in different situations. Again, though, a lot of it is psychology. Knowing the way your opponent is playing and how they’re going to read you, and vice-versa. It’s the ultimate chess match.