Sunday, March 9, 2008

Studying the masters

If it wasn't for my family, I'd probably live, breath, sleep and eat poker. My DVR has been told it should record anything with the letters p, o, k, e and r in the subject.

It is true, I watch every episode of Poker After Dark on NBC. Most weeks, I watch as major tournament and cash game players totally demonstrate how NOT to play a 6 handed SNG. Its really funny, in my opinion, watch as cash game players stink up the joint. Jamie Gold...I'd love to meet him in a SNG. He'd hate the constant folding followed by the shove. The folding would be more than he could handle.

This week however, the SNG strategy wasn't that well demonstrated, but International Week gave us some of the absolutely best reads you can ever witness.

The week had Johnny Chan, Roland de Wolfe, Patrik Antonious, Daniel Negraneu, Gus Hanson and John Juanda. This was probably the toughest week of poker I've ever seen on TV. The only player you felt sorry for was Roland de Wolfe. He definitely looked like a rabbit loose in the wolf pack.

If you've never seen PAD before, the final show of the week is called "The Director's Cut." It is basically the best hands of the week played back with the commentary of the players. This show just capped off the information you are missing from the mental gymnastics the players used to play their hands.

***Spoiler Alert***

The first amazing hand pits Daniel and Johnny in a hand. Johnny with A5 and Daniel with 44. The hand plays out as you would expect. Each player making an interest move not really doing anything totally crazy. On the turn, Daniel hits the straight, but the river brings Johnny the full house. Johnny bet $7000 on the river. Daniel goes into "play back the hand" mode as only Daniel can do. He verbally explains how he puts Johnny on hand. He gets it done puts Johnny on the only hand he can, a full house and he mucks! He mucks the straight. I really doubt there are many of us that could lay down the made straight.

Later, in the match, you watch as Johnny Chan returns the favor and dodges a made flush of Daniel and lays down his pocket jacks. Watching these guys play, make you realize, just how far your game needs to go before you can play with the big dogs.

Patrik Antonious is said to be one of the worlds best poker players. He sits like a statue and appears to think through every move, every card and every bet. In a hand with John Juanda, he shows off this skill but its not enough to keep John in the hand. He mucks to the nuts. Watching the directors cut, John explains his moves. You see, he had flopped a set of Jacks. Nothing to sneeze at, but by the river, Patrik has hit Broadway.

The only let down of the show is the last hand. A night of fantastic reads ends heads up with Johnny Chan calling the BB with AA only to find Patrik raising and dying with pocket kings. Now that's cold.

Watching these master talk themselves through these hands was inspiring to watch. Listening to their logical patterns can only help make us better players. The lesson to learn is to that rebuilding the hand from the beginning is essential to being a better player. Knowing when a straight is no good and learning to muck is what separates many of us from the pros we watch...oh...and the bankroll. I'm sure they have a bigger bankroll.


Gadzooks64 said...

That was, without a doubt, one of the sickest weeks of PAD ever.

Huge, HUGE hands played out.

Definitely one of my favorite pokers shows on TV.

Can't wait for "The Grand" to hit the screen. I'm might lose it if it doesn't make it on a screen here in BFE.