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My final tournament for the year was the $15,000 entry Five Diamonds Main Event at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. Finding the full 15 big ones for the entry fee, was a dent in my bankroll. In the past, I have always done remarkably well in satellites or super satellites, and have nearly always won a seat in US main events. If anyone were visiting a US festival, I would highly recommend playing in as many super satellites as possible. The standard of play is usually the easiest that you will find anywhere, and they are often played in a much more jovial atmosphere.

Almost 400 dreamers coughed up this huge entry fee to battle for a first prize of over $1.8 million. Now, that's life changing! And anyone can win, or so they say. Not this time. The best all round tournament player in the world, Daniel Negranau, added the loot to his petty cash account. Daniel also secured the US Player of the Year title at the same time, whilst I finished a threatening 200th or so.

I had been having a good first day, building my chips up to 60,000, before slipping back to 50,000. Daniel neatly extracted 10,000 chips from me, having turned a 'set'* of twos. Calling Daniel for 6,000 on the river was one of possibly three mistakes I made in this event. The other two mistakes were not winning enough chips when I had the best hand.

When I am not producing regular good results I get very analytical of my play, and very critical. I believe these attributes are vital to remain a profitable player. Since winning the £100,000 event at the London Victoria in July, I have only made 2 final tables in almost 70 events, compared to a 25% average in the first half of the this year, and an incredible 33% average last year. Keeping records is also mandatory in my book. These tell me something is clearly going wrong.
It would be easy to say I was just running unlucky, having finished just outside the final table in around 15 of these recent events. A little bad luck usually leads to a few minor mistakes as well though. It is important to recognise and minimise these before they lead to regular and bigger mistakes. You would be amazed at how many full time professionals, or ex-professionals, declare that they were unlucky every single time they are knocked out of a tournament. Devilfish, possibly the best tournament player in Europe, is actually a prime example of this. It is never his mistake.
Anyway, at the end of the first day I am sat with around 50,000 chips and looking at Aces in my big blind. David Chui raises in late position and Kido calls. I re-raise three times the previous bet, and they both pass after long dwell ups. The very next hand, I look at two Queens on the small blind, and Kido raises in late position.

It's late in the day, I was comfortable, Kido has more chips than me, and had position. So, I don't really want to play a flop. (If an Ace or a King hits the flop, I would have to check giving him opportunity to steal). So I decided to over raise almost 5 times his raise, hoping he will pass, and I will just pick up the chips in the middle. He thinks for a long time (so I assume he doesn't have Aces or Kings) and then calls. The flop appeared 9,9,3 and looked relatively safe. Surely he wouldn't call with a pair as small as threes ?

He had called me pre-flop believing I didn't have a second, consecutive big hand. So, I decide to trap check him. He obliged by betting 13,000; something close to the pot. So I now move my whole stack in, to be immediately called by his 9,10 of diamonds. This hand I do consider unlucky. It wasn't a bad beat. The majority of the chips went in when my opponent had the best hand. However, it was an unlucky sequence of events that allowed me to lose all my chips.

The reason for mentioning Kido, who owns a dental empire in Texas, and Devilfish in the same article though, was so that I could recall one of those funny poker moments that seem to follow Mr.Ulliot about. It happened in the early hours of the morning in a huge Omaha cash game. Kido and Devilfish were the two big winners in the game, and both had over $30,000 in front of them. They are both very out-going characters that had been enjoying the banter all night.
A huge pot developed where Devilfish had raised Kido $20,000 with 'the nuts'**. Kido though, had a huge flush and straight draw. Devilfish started to goad Kido, “go on call, if you lose I will give you half back”. I assume Devilfish was doing this because he thought that he was a huge favourite, with one card to come. Kido though, was not to be out done, “I'll call for sure, under one condition. If I win the pot, every time you meet me in the card room, you have to say 'Hi Kido, you are the daddy,' and he picked up his chips ready to call, if he got Devilfish's nod. After 30 seconds of thought, Devilfish decided the risk of humiliation wasn't worth 20 large. It was only dollars anyway. And he told Kido to pass his hand... I guess money isn't everything, even at the biggest poker tables.

'a set' is an oft used American term. If you sit with a pair in your hand and the flop shows a third, then you have 'a set'.

**'the nuts' is the best possible hand at that time.

See you next week folks,

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