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No. of Recommendations: 23
First and foremost, and its employees did an outstanding job of putting this thing together. Jack McClelland did an excellent job running it. And all the people in attendance made this the best vacation I have ever had.

I stayed at the Radisson resort, same location as the tournament, which was nice. Arrived on Friday evening, settled in, walked around the hotel and became familiar with the area.

Saturday morning did the beach and pool thing and prepared for the Welcome party there at the Radisson. The welcome party was an open bar and a buffet of just about anything you could desire. We found a spot at the bar and chatted it up with a number of people. Great time, great music, great party.

Tourney started Sunday at noon. I was in flight 2 so I didn't play till Monday at noon. Each player started with 12k in chips, 25-50 blinds, and 1-hour levels. I started at a nice table, no pros, quite a few good players and a few loose cannons. 2nd hand of the tourney I get KK in middle position. UTG, who is a, Tony Soprano looking fellow, raises to 800. This was the first raised pot and I thought 800 was an extreme standard to set so I put him on a pair as well, probably 9-J's, maybe Q's. One other caller in late position bringing the pot to about 2500. Flop brings 852 skittles. UTG fires to the tune of 1250. Now I am pretty confident he has a pair better than that but I'll be damned if I'm going broke on the 2nd hand of a tourney with KK. I thought about raising but instead called and late caller folds. Turn brings a J which UTG checks. My first thought is crap, he had J's, now 3 of them. I check along with him. River brings a 4. UTG bets 750 into me. Now that's a gutless bet or a sucker bet, being the 2nd hand of the tourney with a pot of 5k or so I was content with it, I called and UTG flips over A8s.

I had about 16k in chips at the first break. 18k at the 2nd break and 16.5 or so at the dinner break. I am feeling good at this point, I'm cruising into the 2nd day and can pick and choose my pots. About ½ hour after the dinner break my table gets broken and I take my 17k in chips over to a table containing Antonio Esfandiari, and the UB names of SailorLobell, Krullis and another I can't recall. This is an insane table. Antonio has about 75k in chips at this point, Krullis has 90k and with the blinds at about 400-800 and 50 antes (or something like that) people are raising to 2500 or 3000 preflop. No worries, except Antonio was coming over the top for about 20k more every time someone did it. This put a crunch on most everyone and really limited the action.

I get QQ on the button, middle position raises about 3500. Everyone folds, I call, and blinds fold. This is about 25 min before the end of the day. I have this gentleman out chipped by about 3500. Flop brings rags, 246 all off. Raiser puts 2k into me, I re-raise to 7500 and he moves in on me. So, with about 5k more to call, and loads of contemplation I do what I hate doing….call an all in with Q's before the turn. He flips over AKo, turn brings a K and I lose most of my stack….and limp into the 2nd day of the tourney with a meager 2900. I'm all in on one of my first hands, no question.

Wednesday brings the combination of the people remaining after the first 3 flights. Total of about 280 people I think. I'm UTG 2 and I look at 52o….nope not that one, next one has to be better than that. Next hand 55. Oh yeah, triple up time! Middle position raises all in with 18k, which helps me. Everyone folds, A9o vs. 55. I'm liking it…flop has an ace and no 5 ever comes to visit the board. I'm out in about 276th place or so.

The rest of the tournament went along well, I stopped in to watch a few tables every so often between relaxing and doing the island things.

Look for me on TV next spring when the Aruba Classic debuts on the Travel Channel. I was in the front row for the taping of the final table. Great final table, bunch of luck came into play, including the final hand where 2's vs. 9's, ducks win when they hit the 3rd one on the turn. Amazing.

The people….professional poker players are some great people. Overall I had about 3 great conversations with some amazing people.

Hoyt Corkins sat down with me for about an hour talking about people and how they carry themselves at the poker table. Learned a good bit there re-enforced some theories and thoughts I already had.

Chris Moneymaker. Despite my previous assumptions that he was a product of luck and good cards, he has become one helluva card player. We talked about tournament strategy and how the setup of the tourney can should affect your style of play.

DevilFish. After the awards banquet party we got pretty tore up with DevilFish. Talked about everything from poker to skateboarding. He was, by far, the friendliest pro down there.

Dispel a few myths here. Annie is a fierce competitor but a great person. We bumped into her about 6 different times down there and she was nothing but friendly each time. Mike Matusow. He wears his emotion on his sleeve but is more like a little kid than anything else. Josh Arieh, ESPN gave him some bad press.

I could go on forever with all the people I met what I talked about etc. If anyone has specific questions, kick them out there. I met just about everyone, chatted with most, and came away a better player when it was all said and done.

Here are some of the best pictures from the poker side of the trip.

(Will be back next year)
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