Saturday, October 09, 2004

Only One Can Win a Shootout

Top players dominated the NLHE Shootout field on Thursday. Among the participants, I spotted Richard Horton, Carlos Mortenson, Tom McEvoy, Charlie Shoten, Kathy Liebert, Jim Meehan and Barbara Laux. Competition was tops and each table took quite a while to find it's winner.

Getting head's up, Charlie Shoten went all-in with a draw against Carlos Mortenson. Carlos had J6 and flopped a six. Charlie couldn't find his straight, and was eliminated.

By 6:15 pm, a head's up match began.

Top players Carlos Mortenson and Kathy Liebert found themselves fighting tooth and nail for this championship.
Cecilia, Carlos' wife and top player in her own right, was on hand to offer support to both players.

Only minutes into the final, Kathy was trailing about 4,000 behind Carlos. She was dealt pocket kings and raised. Carlos called her raised and was delighted with a 7xx board, giving him top pair with A7 suited. All of the chips got in, but Carlos was horrified to see Kathy's kings. He commented that from then on, he would have to play well, in order to come back from such a short stack. He only had 4,000 of the 54,000 chips in play.

Comeback is exactly what he did, playing sneakily and out thinking Kathy. He consistently put her to the test, forcing her to put chips into the pot with a losing hand.

Carlos is the type of player who looks into the eyes of his opponent, never at the flop. He talks a bit to himself as the hand is played out, and constantly has a mischievous grin on his face. He doesn't usually show his uncalled hands, keeping his opponents guessing at each and every turn.

Kathy, on the other hand, looks first at the flop, missing any read she might get on her opponent. She also shows her hole cards on many occasions, giving information which was not paid for.

This helped Carlos put himself in a position to win, getting almost back to even by 7:00 pm.

A big pot was played, which gave Carlos the lead between 7:00 and 8:00 pm. Carlos held 63 of clubs. Kathy had a queen and flopped top pair. Carlos flopped a flush draw. Over 8,000 in chips were bet on the river, when Carlos got his flush.

By 8:00 pm, Carlos firmly had the lead, and Kathy was showing the affects of playing with a player who has won the WSOP main event along with many other top tournaments. She was clearly a bit frustrated, although she was able to mix up her play and adjust after a time, encountering Carlos' reluctance to fold a hand.

Her adjustments were just a bit too late, and Carlos took the title at 8:30 pm. Kathy held 62o, Carlos had AT. Both an ace and a six flopped. Being so shortstacked, Kathy got all of her money into the pot, and got no help.

Both opponents played a very good game, displaying world class play time and again. Kathy was rewarded with $7190 and second place. Carlos won $16,780 and the first place title.

Response to WPPA Comments

I'm going to respond to all of the WPPA comments I got in the last two weeks.

"As usual, enjoyed reading your posts.

Just curious as to any of these events are going to actually crown
a champion as opposed to deal-making at the end.

I'm a little frustrated that deal-making is becoming more of the
norm. than winning the tournament.

Has the WPPA thought to address this or will they not consider it a
big deal until corporate sponsorship occurs?"


I do not think deal making should ever be banned, nor does the WPPA. Although some people hate making deals, others love it, to reduce their overall risk. This is OUR money, no one is sponsoring these players. When organizations tell individuals what they can and cannot do with their own money, I'm outta there.

"It was a $1,000 buy-in tourney, and a deal that got you $1,240 was too good to refuse?

Am I missing something?"

When one individual, who has over 8 years of Stud tourney experience and is highly skilled, manages to take over 75% of the chips on the table, a save is probably the best bet. My chances of winning at that point were very low, with only about 1.5 years of low-limit Stud tourney experience. I could take my chances, and win this event maybe 10% of the time, if I were lucky, or take the deal, giving me both my buy-in back, and an additional $240. I chose the latter, knowing I was making the correct decision.

"Hey Felicia, come over to the site and reccomend a good Omaha book to me. I really have enjoyed my few forays into the game and would like to learn how to play it correctly."

You won't find a better book than Ray Zee's "Split Games for Advanced Players."

"Hi Felicia, I've read your blog for a long time and look forward to each new entry. You obviously know the Las Vegas poker community very well and I'm hoping you can give me information. I have the opportunity to travel to Vegas at the end of October and am looking for some good places to play lower limit HE and NLHE ring games and tournaments. Also I love to play Omaha hi/lo but there is nowhere in Indiana that offers a ring game or tournament. Any suggestions for my first trip to Sin City?
Thanks for any ideas you can offer. Terry"

Thanks! Vegas changes month-to-month. The hot game one week might be at the Bellagio, and the next week it might be at the Mirage. So make sure to do additional research right before you come.

Just about everywhere spreads LLHE and NLHE these days. Go where the fishies swim and the rake is reasonable. I would suggest Sahara for both of these criteria, plus they have NLHE tourneys every night at 7pm.

Omaha 8 can be found in the lower limits at most Station properties. If you can afford 30/60 and over, try Bellagio and/or Mirage. Call first.

"I can't help picking up the impression from these posts that there aren't many fish around generally. Do you think that's a fair reflection ?
If so, could it just be because it clashes with the Hold-Em event at Binions ?

Also how's the satellite action ?"

For this first tourney, there were a ton of problems. I can't even begin to go into it until it is over, due to time restrictions, but I could write a book on all of the corruption and sabotage of this event (not internal WPPA corruption).

The satellites were good and juicy, because the best players simply bought in, while the players who were weak and hoping to get lucky and qualify for a "big buy-in event" played sat after sat, since there were no regularly scheduled events for them to play. It was awesome, definitely +EV.

"Very good post Felicia. I have experience cheating first hand on a couple of different occasions at my local cardroom. I was sitting at a 3-6 limit holdem game when a man and a woman sat down on each side of me. It didn't take long to figure out that they were married and then I started catching the fishy play that was going on. I saw a lot of raise-reraise action between them when they had someone(me) trapped in between them. One of them would always bet out, then muck on the river when the partner raised. After a couple of hands of this...I just asked for a table change and got out of there. In hindsight, I should have probably called the floor and complained but I just wasn't exactly sure if they were cheating so I didn't want to look stupid. I've also been at tables playing against 2 or 3 friends and these tables always seem to be the loosest going. Raised and capped before the flop on every hand and I'm sure that they were splitting the winnings once they got outside. I actually did okay in this game when I won a monster pot with the nut straight when two of the other playing flopped sets against each other.

All I had to do was call. $150 pot and a little justice was served.


Always report your concerns. Cardrooms generally don't care much about cheating, so that has got to change. Any time that someone lets it slide due to fear or uncertainty, it not only reinforces that cardrooms simply don't care, but it also further taints the poker playing world.

"Can you tell me who won the Saturday No-Limit WPPA tournament at the Orleans and how many entries there were?"

Franco Brunetti. 44.


Thanks for all of the comments, everyone. I hope I have cleared up some gray areas.

I was very lucky to make a deal in the Omaha 8 tourney for $7,000, as I am not a strong O8 player. This helped to offset some of my costs in dealing with the Orleans (ugh).

I'll go into all of that later. For now, I'm going to sleep and rest, then return to the Orleans on Monday for the final two days.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Brief Respite

I am so unbelievably burnt out. I bubbled last night trying to win my $5000 seat for the final. I had 22 in the BB, flopped a set of deuces. Asher Derei had QJ and the flop held a ten. Ace on the turn, King on the river, and IGHN on the bubble.

Since I didn't win a seat, I decided to get a list of the players, stick around for a couple of hours this afternoon to make sure things got off well, then come home for a day or three (lol), and decompress. I feel like I could sleep a week!

The full TV coverage doesn't start until Monday, although you would never know it, with all of the cameras and interviews going on.

All of the best players are in this event; Dan Harrington, Amir Vahedi, Chip Jett, Carlos Mortenson, Kathy Liebert, Scotty Nguyen. I could go on and on, there are so many great players.

Anyway, I'm home for a few days and will address some issues/answer some questions from the last two weeks when I get a minute.

Felicia :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

World Class Omaha Eight or Better...With One Exception

There was some confusion over the starting time of the Omaha Eight or Better event, so the turnout was lower than expected, attracting only 18 players. The players who did participate were once again the cream of the crop.

Dr. Max Stern was in the two seat, terrorizing the table. "Shadow," who keeps proving himself time and again at the Orleans events, was in the five seat, stealthily gathering chips, living up to his nickname. Wayne Haynes, a dealer "gone pro" who has been cashing in events all over Las Vegas recently, was in the six seat. Charlie Shoten, who had just busted out of the noon NLHE event took the eight seat.

The other table was just as impressive, featuring experts such as Max Pescatori and Thor Hansen.
Some additional top players wanted to buy into the event, but they were busy battling it out in the NLHE tournament. No one was sad to see Jim Meehan, Tom Franklin and Louis Asmo shut out of Omaha Eight.
At 8:15 pm the final table was set. Players decided to make a ten handed final table, rather than the previously arranged nine. Only the top three would be paid and tensions were high.

Three players were short stacked, but two survived by scooping large pots, while one was eliminated.
The numbers dwindled quickly as Wayne Haynes garnered a good chip lead with Max Pescatori following behind. Charlie Shoten made a series of big hands, and soon outchipped even Max, giving Wayne a run for his money.

Felicia Lee Dyer (yes, yours truly) had a short stack from the beginning, getting squeezed in between expert players Wayne Haynes and Shadow on the right, and Max Stern, Charlie Shoten and Max Pescatori on the left. After getting virtually down to the felt a couple of times, she managed to scoop a pot, split some good sized pots, and was back in the game.

Max Stern went all-in after having been chipped down several times at the final table, with a premium hand, but was outdrawn and eliminated in sixth place.

Max Pescatori likewise took a chip dive, and was eliminated in fifth.

Not long into four handed play, Charlie Shoten became short stacked and took a chance on a big draw, not getting any help on the turn or the river, and being eliminated by Shadow in fourth place.

The final three, Wayne Haynes, Shadow and Felicia Lee Dyer played a few more hands, until it was obvious that the blinds were getting in the way of superb play deciding the victor.

A chip count deal was discussed, and calculated by the floorman. Wayne and Shadow were almost equal in chips with around 20,000, while Felicia trailed with only about 14,000. A fair chop was made, with Wayne and Shadow receiving $9205 and $9,125 and Felicia receiving $7,050.

Hugs and congratulations were passed around. The dealers were excellent in this tournament, receiving more compliments than any event thus far. Max Pescatori told one dealer that he was the best Omaha 8 dealer he'd ever encountered. All of the dealers at the Orleans event have been top notch.

Tomorrow will be the final $1500 event at the Orleans, a no-limit hold'em shootout. Thursday will be a satellite day, with several free $5000 seats being given away to top placing WPPA members (interested players can join the WPPA immediately prior to the event, there is no fee to join). Friday will start the final event, being televised by the Game Show Network and played in the Orleans theater with stadium seating for convenience. Seating is available for anyone who would like to be an audience member.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Cream Rises to the Top

With great structures and a lot of starting chips, the cream seems to rise to the top of tournaments. After all, didn't Johnny Moss take all of the money in a five month freeze-out at Binion's?

This seems to be proving true at the Orleans. In event after event, we've seen the toughest players getting the top prizes. Competition is fierce once the money is reached.

Today featured a noon no-limit hold'em event with more top players making the final table. Even pros like Mel Judah took a look at the tables and walked away! Asher Derei gaped and decided to play a satellite for tomorrow's tournament. The best competitors are challenging themselves against their peers at these tough events.

At one table, the line-up included Tom Franklin, Scott Fischman, Charlie Shoten and Jim Meehan.

As play got shorter, there were few all-in hands. The perfect structure, combined with so many starting chips kept players from making all-in moves. Only the short stacks were forced to gamble, and after a couple of big beats, Tom Franklin did just that. His KQ was called by tens, and he got no help.

The final three players waited out an extremely short stack, who had nursed his few chips for hours. Once the short stack was eliminated, the remaining players decided to make a deal.

Terry Myers was in first place with 15,700 in chips. Louis Asmo wasn't far behind with 13,500, silently accumlating a lead hour after hour of play. Minneapolis Jim Meehan was a distant third, but still quite well off, with 7,100.

A chip count deal was struck, with all players being perfect gentlemen and agreeing to fair terms.
Terry Myers is from Yuma, Arizona and considers no-limit hold'em his best game. He thinks Stud is his worst game, and I can personally agree, having played against him at the Four Queens! Terry received first place and $7,220.

"Minneapolis Jim" Meehan is well known in the poker world. He doesn't consider any game his best game, asserting that he just loves to play them all! Although third in chips, Jim received second place standings and $3,200.

Louis Asmo has been heard from time and again in this tournament series. He plays all of the WPPA events and has made lots of final tables. He was awarded third place and $6,500.

All three players raved over the structure of this event, and claim they will be back tomorrow, and every day for the rest of the series. When asked what game Jim was going to play, he responded, "With this kind of juice and structure, I'll play any event they spread!"

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Another Star Studded Event

As players filled the tournament room, several faces stood out among the crowd. This would be another tough field. Amir Vahedi was a few minutes late, holding his trademark cigar between his fingers.

Kathy Liebert was the only woman who participated in the tournament, but no one was glad to see this top player at their table.

Carl McKelvey, Warren Karp, Charlie Shoten, "Shadow," Tom Franklin, Franco Brunetti and Harley Hall were among the other expert players at the Orleans.

The final table play began ten handed, and included Gioi Luong, for his 23rd final table this year, Harley Hall, "Shadow," Franco Brunetti and Terry Fleischer, who had a large chip lead.

Harley quickly got outdrawn when his AT flopped top pair. Terry called his all-in with K9, which had flopped an open ended straight draw. Terry caught a king, and Harley exited in 10th place.

Almost as quickly, Gioi went all-in with pocket aces, only to get called by Franco, whose pocket sixes flopped a set. Franco felt some empathy, as he had gotten back to back pocket aces cracked earlier in the tournament, leaving him with only 600 at his lowest point.

The final eight played for so long together that a save was proposed. One player objected, but the others made a save of $1200 for 7th place.

The final six got into the money about midnight. Marc Mags had the chip lead with 36,650. Franco Brunetti was not far behind with 30,750. Third was Richard "Shadow" Hoffmaster with 23,800. Terry Fleischer played fast and loose, which cost him his earlier lead. He was down to 22,200. Nursing short stacks were "Zeke" and Kody Stein with 11,575 and 7,075 respectively.

Both the players and the crowd applauded enthusiastically as each runner got eliminated, as the play was so outstanding and each participant had been through a marathon run. Hand shaking and back patting were common.

Kody doubled through over and over again, putting him firmly back into the game. Zeke played a short stack well, and managed to hang on for over two hours, until he went out with QJ versus Terry's A4 and got no help. He was paid $4,200 for his patience.

Kody kept doubling up, totaling about seven times, against Terry alone. On his eighth attempt, he actually had Terry outchipped, but his 77 was rivered by Terry's J9 suited, which caught a flush. Not long afterwards, Kody put in his remaining chips with 53 in the big blind, versus Terry's A5 and got no help. Kody played extremely well and was paid $5,105 for fifth place.

The final four battled on until after 4:30 am. The play was amazing, showing world class no-limit hold'em at it's best. Franco played a patient game and kept slowly gaining chips, while the others shuffled them around. His excellent play and unwavering reads put him firmly in the lead, and in control of this wild table.

Chatter abounded, most good naturedly. Players felt they needed to play the tournament out, but fatigue was beginning to show, especially in sixty year old Shadow and sleep deprived Marc.

Deals were proposed and rejected many times, but when the chip counts were fairly close (although Franco was firmly leading), the players decided to get a chip count proposition. A few small adjustments were made, but most of the remaining participants seemed happy with the deal, knowing that the slow rise in antes and blinds were finally starting to take their toll.

Franco Brunetti received first place and $15,455. Franco is from California, although French/Italian and fluent in both languages, as well. He has an excellent tournament record, and much success in NLHE events, He considers Stud his favorite poker game.

Terry Fleischer took several chances and managed have the second highest chip count when the deal was struck, after being up and down all night. His style is tricky, he is virtually impossible to read and kept the other players guessing most of the time. Terry has won several large events this year, and this puts his winnings well over $300,000. He was awarded with second place and $13,560.

Marc Mags plays few events per year, but always chooses large buy-in tournaments and plays high stakes at the Bellagio. He works in the computer field and shares this profession with poker. He was awarded third place and $12,525.

Richard "Shadow" Hoffmaster was the veteran at the table, with decades of experience, although he makes Montana his home these days and doesn't play as many events. He considers Omaha Eight his best poker game, but in tournaments he has more success in no-limit hold'em. He was given fourth place and $11,575.

When someone in the crowd asked if this was the most boring no-limit tournament yet, a top player responded, "No! This is real poker, not this all-in stuff you see every hand. They are playing world class tournament poker, you could learn something!"

I can't disagree, this was no-limit hold'em at it's best.