Tuesday, June 02, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 6: Shamus Swindles Poker Lesson for Price of Cheeseburger

Lucy offers psychiatric help for a nickelDay off yesterday, although I did end up in the Rio anyhow, where I met poker author and coach Tommy Angelo (Elements of Poker). Angelo is in town this week to do some business, including meeting with some of his clients, at least three of whom -- Jay Rosenkrantz, Phil Galfond, and David Benefield -- were in that $40K event I just finished helping cover.

Angelo and I met for dinner over at the São Paulo Café. Yeah, I know -- not everyone is a big fan of the service over at São Paulo, but we had no problems. The food was fine, too (cheeseburger and fries for me; the salmon for Angelo). And it tends to be a relatively serene place -- compared to other Rio eateries -- to have a conversation. Afterwards we ran over to the Amazon to check out the scene as the World Series of Poker continued on without me. (I’ll be back at work tomorrow, covering Event No. 10, the $2,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha event.)

Some of you know Angelo’s book, or perhaps have heard him appear as a guest on some of the podcasts. For those that don’t, he has a website where you can learn more about him, his poker coaching program, and Elements of Poker. He keeps a very entertaining blog over there, too, where he shares anecdotes from his life and from his experiences at the tables.

Tommy AngeloOn the phone Angelo told me to look for the fellow in the olive cap. I told him to look for the skinny guy with glasses. “Good description,” was his greeting, as we spotted each other there in the Rio hallway.

Had a great time discussing all sorts of topics related to poker and writing. Besides his book, Angelo has written numerous articles for Bluff, the old Poker Digest, and other outlets, and also has been a frequent contributor over on the Two Plus Two forums.

Amid our discussion of the challenge and purpose of book reviews, generally speaking, we talked some about my review of Elements that appeared here back in December. The book continues to do well, Angelo reports, with sales remaining at a steady level from month to month.

We also talked about that post from February in which I commented on a thread about the book that appeared on Two Plus Two earlier in the year. In the post I made a distinction between Angelo’s response to life’s many problems -- including those we face at the poker tables -- and that of others like Mason Malmuth. I said there how in my view Angelo’s approach is generally to keep the discussion going, that is, to investigate questions and seek answers, but remain open-minded enough to accept further possibilities even after we’ve drawn our conclusions. By contrast, the approach of Malmuth (and others like him) most often seems to be to find a single “correct” answer, then do whatever is necessary to curtail further debate.

There are other ways of distinguishing the two mindsets -- if yr curious, you can read that post to see where I went with all of that.

'Elements of Poker' by Tommy Angelo (2007)During dinner, I readily saw why guys like Galfond and his other clients speak so highly of Angelo’s coaching. Think back to your school days and that one teacher who somehow managed to cut through all of the crap and really speak to you clearly -- who actually managed to open yr mind up and make you realize you wanted to learn something. That’s Angelo.

It was still early evening when we parted. Having seen the many cash games going there in the Amazon Room, Angelo had an itch to sit down and play, and so I left him intending at first just to go back to the home-away-from-home and do some reading. I’d caught the bug, however, and so decided to play some myself, again checking in over the MGM Grand for some low limit hold’em.

Just 2/4 again -- they had a list for 3/6 but it never materialized. (I promise I’ll play some higher games and maybe even take a seat at one of the many, many 1/2 NLHE tables before I leave this summer.) Had an especially good session, winning several big pots and coming away almost exactly a hundy ahead in just a little over an hour.

I did catch some cards, natch, but also was the only player at the table who was regularly folding hands preflop. I also was the only one who raised just about every time when entering pots. There were a couple of others who raised now and then, but as often happens in these games, I saw players limping in with pocket jacks, ace-king suited, etc. “Seven players,” was the usual announcement from the dealer when readying for the flop.

The MGM Grand poker roomNothing that exciting, strategy-wise, to report from the 50 hands or so I played, but I’ll relate one hand nonetheless. It was one of those six- or seven-way hands. From middle position I limped in with Ah2h. Flop came Jh4d9h. Checked to me, I bet, got one caller on my left, then a raise. Lots of cold-calls back to me, and my neighbor and I both called, too. Turn the 2s. We all checked to the raiser who bet, and we all called. River the Kh, and when I bet three or four of the remaining players called once again. Final pot probably around $70, to which I contributed just $14.

Saw one fellow show two pair (kings and nines), as he mucked. As Tommy would say, my opponents were very flushstraighted.

Might’ve stayed, but I’d been tired even when I sat down and so once I’d nearly doubled my stack I decided to skedaddle and get some rest. “Walking away is easy,” Angelo says. “The hard part is standing up.” Of course, it’s much, much easier to stand up when your purpose for doing so is to go grab another rack in which to collect yr chips. I cashed out and drove back to the home-away-from-home.

Breathing in, I took the elevator back up to the room and settled in for the night. Breathing out, I kidded myself that it wasn’t just dinner I’d had with Tommy. Breathing in, I decided he must’ve been coaching me for that hour-and-a-half.

Breathing out, I chuckled.

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Blogger cmitch said...

That's awesome. It sounds like that was the cheapest poker lesson ever - assuming you paid for dinner.

I would say I'm jealous, but I don't think that is right minded thinking. ;)

6/02/2009 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Special K said...

Great reporting, Shamus. I followed the 40k event that you and change covered. Very entertaining.

When you get in some NLH in Vegas, come home to the cash games at Falstaff's. We've love to see you there.

6/02/2009 3:03 PM  

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