Inside the Tour: Casino Extra Impressions from Commerce Club L.A. Poker Classic 2005, PPT tour, Year One
Late Night Poker brought some professionals into our living rooms but the play itself was often hard to watch, as mistakes seemed all too common to me, an American professional. The hardest show of all to watch from a poker viewpoint is on Bravo and is called ‘Celebrity Poker’ where various commentators and entertainers use poker as a ‘reality’ backdrop, but the truth is that this show is mostly a chance to view your favorite Casino Extra star joke and flirt their way to the finish line without any understanding of how to properly play the game in front of them. It is what it is and please do not expect anything more, but the contrast to the PPT shows is stark.
Howard Lederer put his big frame through the golden window of opportunity and got a lot of early television exposure by winning events when the fields were much smaller. His credibility is certified as a perennial contender in premier events, and the cameras always seem to seek him out, wanting to be there in case he makes a move to the front of the field. For me he is the exact counterpart to golf’s Phil Mickelson. He also received a great and marketable nickname, “the Professor”, which came naturally out of his imposing presence and thoughtful approach to the game. I have a lot of respect for Howard and his play, but it is much easier to beat 150 players than 1500 players. Nowadays the fields are so huge that one must be lucky, a great reader of your opponent’s holding, and a slayer of random opponents to make your way through such enormous minefields. In future columns I will talk at some length about this problem and its explicit and implicit ramifications.
In my next column I will talk about some of the Casino Extra plays that happened in the two days leading up to the final table as well as at the final table of the Professional Poker Tour event on February 25th.
Let me leave you with a quote about this February 2005 Commerce Casino event from Daniel Negreanu, unquestionably the most successful professional on the tour these days; “it was mind boggling to watch some of the other pros just absolutely blow it. It dawned on me late on day one that sure I’ve been ridiculously lucky to do as well as I have, but there is also a legitimate reason why. I don’t think the other pros try as hard. It’s really that simple. I love winning, I wouldn’t play if I couldn’t win.”