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The Education of a Poker Player
Installment #10:

The ESPN Degree All-In Poker Challenge

Monday 25-Apr-2005
By Greg Mallon

Well it was 9 pm and after a nice dinner with my in-laws, I asked my lovely wife the following question, “Can I open my laptop?”. Of course you can, she said. Then we began talking about how maybe the best thing to do is schedule some time to play poker – or anything else for that matter. I had spoken to my friend earlier in the day about scheduling time for online poker to reduce the stress it might be having on her or the rest of the family. At any rate, she got to read her book, and I got to play a little bit.

Well the bad luck seemed to continue and my patience is being tested. I guess all good poker players must have an endless supply of patience. It seems I constantly was getting 2-7 off-suit a the like. You really start to say to yourself “I suck” when your stack is constantly being eroded with little or no chance of taking down a pot. I tried to keep reminding myself that this was a pretty unusual run of cards, and that eventually, things would turn around and I would be able to at least compete. Reading as much as I do about poker, I do know that when it comes to “no limit holdem” (which is my preferred game at this point), you almost don’t even need cards to win. You’re frequently “playing the man”, not the cards as they say. Well that sounds great but when you are playing the equivalent of a free-roll, it’s difficult to push anyone off a reasonable hand, and therefore you do need “something” – my perception at least. Well I rode it out and I began to get some cards I felt I could play.

Since ESPN is giving away a highly sought after prize package (valued at approximately $15,000 – including the WSOP entrance fee), the players get pretty serious when it gets down to the final two or three players on these single table tournaments. While I am have pretty much railed against the whole “roulette” style of playing poker, for the ESPN challenge, I have actually considered employing that approach myself in order to “get enough wins” to reach the Sunday Qualifier. According to the contest rules, you need 30 “tournament points” to gain entrance into the Sunday Qualifier. From what I understand, the TOP 50 in each of the Sunday Qualifiers will then meet on May 12th to determine who will be going to the 2005 World Series of Poker. For free, I don’t think you can beat this opportunity. Since everyone is simply looking to get the 30 points, it almost makes sense to go “All-In” on the first hand or so (with relatively decent cards) and seek to get a nice stack to play with. Right now, I don’t think there is much of a restriction on getting the 300 chips to play in any one of these tournaments. The supply may be endless. But that is something I will check on. If it is, then maybe for the first time, I will actually advocate the “roulette” style of poker (if only for one hand).

©2005 by Gregory J. Mallon, PokerDecision.com, All Rights Reserved.
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