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First and foremost, UltimateBet.com 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.

http://briefcase.yahoo.com/mcc1mil


-Ryan
(Will be back next year)
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Like, Oh My Gawd, did you see Ben?!
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Like, Oh My Gawd, did you see Ben?!

You didn't look at the pics, did you? :)

dan
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If, as it appears, Shana's top is in the process of self-destructing while you were standing next to her - well, congrats.

Nice report.
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Great report.

How were the side games?
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Wonderful report. Aruba looks incredible. Too bad about the QQ hand.

I would have tried to qualify this year, but the dates conflicted with my Disney trip. Maybe next year.
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If, as it appears, Shana's top is in the process of self-destructing while you were standing next to her - well, congrats.

So that's what the "I can't believe I'm standing next to Shana Hiatt's breasts" face looks like.

I was wondering.
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Thanks for the great report. You definitely got caught in some tough spots. These kinds of decisions are why it's fun, but not so illuminating to talk and talk about particular hands. You were in a particular situation and you made the best play you could given your experience and the information you had. Only by being in these situations over and over again and knowing ahead of time what you should do, will you do it. If you can get that from posts on a bulletin board you are way ahead of your competitors but I think most experience comes from actual play. Given that, can we talk about your hand? These comments are just that... comments. They also apply to the first hand you described. Who knows, I would probably play the same way in your situation... but I have been in that situation, so I hope not. You posted:

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.

You got caught in the classic situation of calling here. I'll bet the chip leaders didn't do much of that. You had QQ here, a pot of 3500 + would really help your stack so when he raised it up to 3500, I think you should have gone all-in. That forces him to make a decision with his cards and in this case, he might have called but then he would have been making the bad play. I know I advocate playing cautiously but I think in all of the hands with big pairs, you have to decide to play them or fold them. You decided to call, which just gives your opponent the chance to decide when to make you decide about all your chips. Instead, you have to make him decide. In this case, push all in either here or at the flop. You should have known he would go all in with your 7500 bet... so might as well force him to decide to call you or not.

As I've said, these are mistakes I've made... calling all my chips away. I will always try to avoid it at all but the early stages of a tournament. You had enough chips to protect and I would have been more aggressive rather than calling.

Sounds like a great trip!

Rick
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You had QQ here, a pot of 3500 + would really help your stack so when he raised it up to 3500, I think you should have gone all-in.

I actually think it was a good play seeing the flop first...I don't like moving in with QQ in a tourney. Never enough of a favorite for me to bother doing pre-flop.

That said, I think the all in should have been after he bet $2K into the ragged flop. Puts tons of pressure on him.

Then again, he had no business coming over top of you like he did in a situation where you obviously couldn't fold. Virtually no way he's best, and not that many outs if he's not. Oh well, anyone can suck out. But I like moving in over his flop bet.

- C -
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Like, Oh My Gawd, did you see Ben?!

Was hungover with him in the elevator. Spoke with him for about 8 floors. Check out the pic titled "Ben".

-Ryan
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Fantastic report! And thanks for sharing the great pictures too, Ryan. Hellmuth looks a bit inebriated, or is that just a bad picture?

I'd love to hear more about your conversation with Hoyt...is he as intimidating away from the tables as he is at them?

nw
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How were the side games?

Side games at the Radisson are all I speak about. Never made it down to the Excelsior (aka Holiday Inn).

I played the 4/8 limit one night. That was a gaggle. Dealers were clueless. I mean clueless. Nothing but missdeals, blind issues, betting problems etc. You can bet 4 or 8 on the flop, hell one guy made it 12 to go UTG pre-flop and the dealer allowed it. What a mess.

1/2 NL is where I spent the rest of the time. Perfect game. I could raise it to 8 bucks and get just amount of action I wanted. Made a few great plays and ended the trip up almost 500$ in that game. Only played 2 nights though.

Out of my league was the 20/40 NL, 300/600 tripple draw. Phil lost about 30k one night in the tripple draw.

David Williams, Layne Flack, $Maker, Luske, X22, Juha, were the regulars in the 20/40 NL. Those boys use chips like weapons. Never seen anything like it.

A local actually moved all in for 2k on one of the hands at that table. That wasn't the cool part though....when he moved in he said "I'm all in for Two thousand and X dollars...and one eye". He took out a fake eye and put it on his cash. That was cool.

All in all, plenty of action, 1/2 NL up to the big NL games. Dealers were terrible though.

BTW, most of these tournament players, don't play limit poker at all. They couldn't believe I played limit.

-Ryan

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So that's what the "I can't believe I'm standing next to Shana Hiatt's breasts" face looks like.

No, that's the damn I have to look away from them while my wife takes the picture look.

-Ryan
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As I've said, these are mistakes I've made... calling all my chips away. I will always try to avoid it at all but the early stages of a tournament. You had enough chips to protect and I would have been more aggressive rather than calling.

I couldn't agree more. I was too worried about getting broke down there. Next time it's a different story. I've been there and done that, now it doesn't matter if I bust out on the first day. Next time I play much harder.

BTW, I applied what I learned from the trip to 2 tourney's yesterday. Won the 1st one and finished 6th in the other.

Point is well taken and already in my head. Same issue with the K's. I was just too worried about getting broke with a big stack.

-Ryan
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Hellmuth looks a bit inebriated, or is that just a bad picture?

I'd love to hear more about your conversation with Hoyt...is he as intimidating away from the tables as he is at them?

nw


I think Hellmuth had a few drinks before that pic. Remember, open bar.

Hoyt is a (pardon the expression) holy roller. He believes that everything he has, all of his abilites, etc is because of the man above. And he'll never pass up a chance to sell you on that issue as well.

I talked with Hoyt about people. How people carry themselves, how they dress, how they stack their chips, if they count everyone elses chips, if they know how much it's costing every orbit. How people make their bet. 1 hand, 2 hand, count the push, state then count out. Breathing, pulses, tones. Tappy feet that all of the sudden stop. Eyes wandering. Hoyt basically laid out a large number of charachteristics people exhibit.

New table? Look to see who has all the small chips. That's the one stealing pots.

People constantly looking to the board, they are less likely to take risks.

Breathing is very difficult to control for most players.

He's a guy is in tune with everything that goes on around him.

He recommended a book. The Psychology of Poker. I plan to pick it up today and start into it. Too bad my live play will be quite limited for the next few months.

-Ryan
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The Psychology of Poker.

I've read that. It's not a bad book. I don't get to play a lot live so I don't know how much use I can get out of it myself. Lots of stuff about rating others between tight/passive and loose/agressive. Stuff about understanding why players play, and how you can often tell a person's play style once you understand the reason they play poker. A lot of stuff on understanding your own play as well.

It's definitely nice to have a perspective on poker from something other than a purely mathematical perspective.

Great report, good luck when you make it back next year.
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I couldn't agree more. I was too worried about getting broke down there. Next time it's a different story. I've been there and done that, now it doesn't matter if I bust out on the first day. Next time I play much harder.

I understand completely and that's why I put in the big disclaimer. It's one thing to sit here and comment on hands and if we could all walk away from these discussions with lessons really learned, it would be great. But I think you have to either put in a big buy-in, or travel a distance to a tourney to really understand it's all over quickly with one mistake. That is what makes a pro, a pro. She's been there, done that many times and plays like it doesn't matter. Easy to talk about, hard to do.

That's why I've started playing a lot more *live* tournaments. It's the best way to get experience.

Rick
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Of course there are worse places to go out early than Aruba =).

Eric
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I talked with Hoyt about people. How people carry themselves, how they dress, how they stack their chips, if they count everyone elses chips, if they know how much it's costing every orbit.

I've been wondering about this. After calling away a massive chip lead in one big tournament, mostly because I didn't know how far I was ahead, I am now very anal about knowing my stack size and the size of everyone on my table and if I can, everyone in the tournament. I don't think that many players do it.

Is that a tell about me? What does it mean? I don't try to hide my counts, should I?

Rick
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He [Hoyt] recommended a book. The Psychology of Poker.

Read it. Not what I expected, but pretty good actually. It makes you realize how in tune you have to be studying your opponents every moment of every hand to really become adept at reading people effectively. It gives basic workbook-type exercises to get better at this, but this is one of those talents I actually think is more "born" than "raised". If you've got it, and you're tuned in to it, then things should come quite easily and naturally for you. If you don't, it takes a helluva lot of work to get there. That's my hypothesis anyway...I only know one side of that coin.

Bottom line, it's a pretty good book. If you're willing to work at it, you'll get something out of it. If you're not, don't bother with it...it's not like S&M who lay out more specific guidelines on how to play certain situations. More ambiguous, requires much more deeper thinking.

- C -
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You know, a couple of those pics have been "loading" for 15 minutes and all I can see are sunglasses and a caps. I think I'm just going to google "Shana Hiatt's breasts."

I'll let you know how it goes.

eag
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You know, a couple of those pics have been "loading" for 15 minutes and all I can see are sunglasses and a caps. I think I'm just going to google "Shana Hiatt's breasts."


LOL...I thought I was the only one having that problem with the Shana pic!

nw
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LOL...I thought I was the only one having that problem with the Shana pic!

It's a very large pair of files....


Albaby
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I've been wondering about this. After calling away a massive chip lead in one big tournament, mostly because I didn't know how far I was ahead, I am now very anal about knowing my stack size and the size of everyone on my table and if I can, everyone in the tournament. I don't think that many players do it.

Is that a tell about me? What does it mean? I don't try to hide my counts, should I?


I like to know the size of the pot at all times as well. I'll eyeball to get your stack, I don't need to be exact.

I guess a player who is aware of all these things is less likely to call a substantial bet without a made hand. One who is oblivious is much more difficult to bluff off a pot.

You also know that when this person bets you can derive bets based on % of the pot. Find patterns.

Aggreed, not too many people do it, but it's a very important part of tournament poker.

-Ryan
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You know, a couple of those pics have been "loading" for 15 minutes and all I can see are sunglasses and a caps. I think I'm just going to google "Shana Hiatt's breasts."

I'll let you know how it goes.

eag


Two things, Cable internet for one.... www.shanahiatt.org for the other.

-Ryan
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Go here if you want to see where Shana's files came from:

http://www.salcalabro.com/index.htm

Rick
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with the blinds at about 400-800 and 50 antes ....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.

I'm clearly not in your league, but why would you ever call here with QQ on a standard [?] 4x BB raise? All-in seems a lot better. Just Imho.

Tough beat. You'll win next year.

best,

Naj
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. www.shanahiatt.org for the other.

That was much better. Even better than google.

I liked the old Shana better than the new Shana.

eag
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I don't like to get all my chips in before the turn card with Q's in NL. Not much good comes of it when you're up against an even stack. Most times AK will call you anyway PF. That doesn't change the cards that are coming.

With 1 card left and your opponent hasn't hit, it then becomes a tough call to make when one moves in on you. He checks the flop and I see the K on the turn, I start Wednesday with 15k in chips.

A or K hits on the flop, I'll let my Q's go to a substantial bet. They are just Q's.

That's how I play them against an equal stack.

-Ryan
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He checks the flop and I see the K on the turn, I start Wednesday with 15k in chips.

Understanding your reasoning, if that's the case, then why didn't you simply call his bet on the flop? Raising is asking him to either fold or push in on you. I like moving in on that flop cause AK has a very tough time calling and the pot is worth picking up. But if you're looking to play it safer so you can see the turn come off, raising that flop shouldn't be an option.

- C -
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Raising is asking him to either fold or push in on you.

Agreed.

Maybe I should have called the flop, if playing conservative was my goal, then move on the turn card if nothing hits.

I didn't expect him to come back over the top, but as I replay it, it makes perfect sense in his mind.

-Ryan
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