1.Against All Odds

Introduction

Los Angeles poker classics

ESP

Bad Beat Poker

Pot-Limit Omaha

Spooky Hand

World Poker Challenge

Pot-Limit Hold'em Tournaments

Foxwood's Poker

Five-Star World Poker

World Series of Poker-2000

World Series Poker Championship

2.World Series of Poker Hands

Youngest World Champion

World Series Poker-1999

World Series Poker-1998

World Series Poker-2002

WSOP-2002

WSOP-1995

WSOP-1994

WSOP-1998

U.S.. Poker Championship-1999

WSOP-2000

WSOP's Winner-2000

WSOP-2003

WSOP's Record-2003

"Big One" in WSOP-2003

3.World Poker Tour

WPT-2002

World Poker Tour-2002

WPT's winner-2003

WPT-2004

WPT-2003

World Poker Tournament-2003

WPT's Event-2003

Foxwood's World Poker

Amir's Big Call

4.European Poker Tour

The Poker em

Poker In Amsterdam-1998

The Poker em-2000

Late Night Poker 3-2000

WHUPC-2003

5.Reading other Player's mail

WSOP-1992

Tournaments of Champion-1999

A Tale Of Four Bluffs

WSOP-2001

Commerce Casino-2002

No-Limit Hold'em Event-2002

 

Extrasensory Perception?

Have you ever felt you had ESP (extrasensory perception) when calling a player’s hand?  OK, let me rephrase that question so it doesn’t sound so mystical. 

Have you ever called a person’s poker hand so exactly that you even scared yourself?  I’m not talking about thinking simply that “Matt has pocket aces, pocket kings, or pocket queens.” I’m talking about saying to yourself, “Matt has pocket queens, period.  I know this because it popped into my head.”

            How exactly did it pop into your head, you ask?  Three possibilities leap to mind.  Possibility number one: it emerged from practiced observation, logic, intuition, and perception.  (“Logic told me it was aces, kings, or queens, because matt plays so tight.  But the little bit of fear I observed in him pre-flop led me to believe he has queens.”)  Possibility number two: some part of my mind remembers exactly the way Matt acted the last time he had pocket queens. (“I’ve seen it before.”) Possibility number three: I was “looking into my opponent’s soul.”

            Let me elaborate on possibility number three, in which some form of ESP, not yet fully understood by humans, actually occurs.  Uh-oh, I have said it.  Now, please don’t send me an e-mail applauding my conversion to belief in ESP. (Sorry, Mom, I’m not a true believer yet.) And don’t believe that I’ve cracked up yet.  I may eventually crack up from the pressure of being a Professional Poker player, but my wife tells me that that has not happened yet.  In examining the possibility of ESP, I am merely exploring all of the options here.

            Where do logic, intuition, observation, and perception end, and where does ESP begin?  I don’t know if ESP ever begins, but check out the following two stories that I can offer you.  The first illustrates the power of logic, fell, observation, and perception.  The second goes a bit beyond all of that, and makes me wonder about the existence of “something else.” Why don’t you judge for yourself?

            In the first case, I managed to call the exact hole Cards that Kevin McBride and Scotty Nguyen held in a big pot in the 1998 WSOP, before they were flipped up (check out the 1998 WSOP video).  I can tell you that my intrinsic ability to do that was all about logic, intuition, observation, and perception.  When Scotty raised the hand pre-flop, Kevin gave off an easy-to-read vibe of strength while he smooth-called Scotty’s raise.

            On the end, with the board showing 4-6-K-A-Q (the cards came off in that order), Kevin bet $80,000 and Scotty raised about $250,000.  I was fairly certain that Scotty had the nuts, or J-10, because the way he was acting and betting showed extreme strength on the end.  I felt especially certain that this was the case because he seemed weak when he checked both the flop and fourth street.  The first half of the puzzle, in other words, wasn’t all that hard to figure out.

            I had also noticed that when the ace had come off on fourth street, Kevin had made a small, nearly imperceptible “jump” in his chair, and I therefore assumed that the ace had hit him.  I know that Scotty had read Kevin’s strength both pre-flop and on fourth street, which allowed Scotty to check his straight draw on fourth street behind the trapping Kevin.  Thus, Scotty benefited by winning $330,000 on the last round of betting, when he hit his queen to make a straight.

            When Kevin debated the $250,000 call on the river, his seriousness told me he had aces up.  Since Kevin had acted weakly on the flop, but strongly on the pre-flop, I assumed that he did not have a king with his ace, but rather a queen.  (I didn’t think Kevin would study all that time and then act as he did with only A-J.)  So I announced that I thought Scotty had J-10 and Kevin had A-Q suited (I admit that knowing it was suited was a lucky guess).  Sure enough, Scotty had J-10 and Kevin had A-Q suited.  I looked like a genius that time out, but I think that a few players could have made the same deductions, although maybe not as quickly as I had.

            Now let’s examine another hand, at the final table of the Tournament of Champions 2000, in which I almost knew what Alan Colon’s hole cards were.  To me, this hand, which I observed as commentator, is more about ESP or unexplained “knowing” than the last hand was.  Alan Colon (second in chips with $470,000) opened for $70,000, and Josh Arieh (the chip leader with $570,000) raised it up, making it $220,000 to go.  Without any hesitation whatsoever, Alan moved all-in for his whole $470,000(about $250,000 more) and Josh was put to the test.

            Immediately, when !lan moved in $470,000, I thought he was making a stand with pocket tens.  That 10-10 read of mine just stuck in my head, although I don’t know if I made that call on the broadcast or not.  I do remember that we called Josh’s hand as pocket jacks, which he later told Daniel Negreanu was the case.  Josh did end up folding his hand pre-flop, which I thought was ok as long as he thought that !lan had a higher pair than his jacks.

            Over the next few hours, I couldn’t get the “vision” of 10-10 out of my head.  Did a hole card flash, you ask me now?  No, I was about 25 feet away, not close enough to the table to see a card flash, and in any cash !lan had thrown his hand in facedown.  Further, there was no talk about the hand at all after that point in time during the final table play.

            Three hours later, while I was interviewing !lan for the live internet broadcast, I wanted to ask if he’d had the 10-10 that hand, but it didn’t seem to be the appropriate time just then.  So I waited until the trophy presentation was over.  I told Daniel Negreanu, “I have to know about that hand.  I just know he had pocket tens.  I’m going over to ask him about it now.” I said, “Listen, Alan, when you played the big pot against Josh and wound up going all-in, I was certain you had pocket tens.”

            He replied with shock and disbelief, “Wow, that’s exactly what I had that hand!” I knew he was telling the truth: “Dee-dee-dee-dee” (to the tune of the The Twilight Zone theme song).  Maybe I saw the “I’m going to make a stand” look on his face, and thus was able to narrow it down to 10-10, 9-9, or 8-8.  But how could the 10-10, exactly, “stick in my craw” (as T.J.Cloutier likes to say) and drive me so crazy that I had to ask !lan if he had pocket tens in this hand three hours later?

            I don’t mean to suggest that I have ESP.  I know that if that were the case, I would win a lot more Poker Tournaments than I do! But as my good friend Ted Forrest likes to say, “What the heck is going on?” Was there really enough information here to justify a perceptive poker player’s guessing that !lan had exactly the 10-10 in his hand?  Maybe, but the very perceptive Daniel Negreanu was guessing aces, kings, queens, or A-K on the Internet broadcast. Was I just reading people particularly well then?  Probably.  After all, I had finished high in a bunch of tournaments in a row.  Was it just a lucky guess that I made?  Would I have been surprised if !lan had told me he had pocket nines that hand?  I think I would have been.  But be that as it may, the 10-10 did stay with me, with a sense more of  conviction than of conclusion.  Where do logic, intuition, observation, and perception end, and where does something else begin?

 

6.From The Other Side Of Table

WSOP-1974

Commerce Casino-1999

WSOP-1999

WPT-2003

Bellagio Poker

Ladies World Championship

High Limit Action in Houston

Commerce Casino's California-1999

Party Poker Million-2002

WSOP's Winner-2002

WSOP seven card stud-2000

Foxwood's Casino

Pot-Limit Hold'em Event

World Heads-Up Poker Tour

United States Poker Championship

7.Poker Hollywood Style

Chinese Poker

Bicycle Club Casino

Rounder's

Celebrity Poker

Hustler Casino

8.Cheesehead Poker

Poker in Madison

Bluffing

Sportsmen Club

Pot-Limit Hold'em At Nora's Bar

Big Game in Wisconsin

A GOLF STORY

ULTIMATEBET HAND

CHAMPION OF THE YEAR AWARD

TOP MOMENTS IN POKER

THE NEXT POKER WAVE