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Gearing up for my main event

2 November 2006

I can smell the $75,000.

Preparing for the biggest tournament of my life, all I can think about is first place. The tournament is the $600 Limit Hold'em event in the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods. Last year, 470 people entered, making first prize $74,655.

Here's the list of things I want to buy if I win…

1.) Plasma Television – The kind that makes every guy randy.

2.) A Boat – Don't care what type, I just want a boat.

3.) Some friends – I need a few.

Here's where the money will actually go…

1.) IRS – Damn girlfriend's an accountant

2.) Credit Cards

3.) My old friends – I still owe some payments to keep them.

Given my meager monthly earnings, a $600 buy-in is normally too rich for my blood. However, thanks to a great idea by my colleague Aaron Todd, I was able to satellite into the tourney.

(For more on this league visit... www.aarontodd.casinocitytimes.com/articles/29260.html )

After winning the entry fee through aggressive play and a ton of luck, I now (gulp) carry the burden of winning the big event for the rest of the group. One problem lingers: Limit Hold'em tournaments remain a mystery to me.

In my head, every player at Foxwoods (Friday, Nov. 2) will be a professional. I'm walking into a shark tank and the predators have a simple goal - eat the little fish like me and secure a five-figure payday.

I have two choices:

1.) I can dip my toes in the shallow end of the pool…

2.) Or I can dive headfirst into the deep end and win the whole damn thing.

As a veteran poker player, I know my game has flaws. So before I head to Connecticut, I need to buckle down and learn to play this game.

My strengths are aggression and desire. My weaknesses are a need for money, a lack of big-tournament experience, and this little voice in my head that always tells me my hand is good enough. The question is – how to use the former to overcome the latter.

Controlled aggression is the key to victory according to Jennifer Harman, author of the Limit Hold'em section of Doyle Brunson's Super System II.. She advocates strong play with good cards from a good position.

Sounds simple right?

Well not so fast. Jennifer can advocate this simple strategy because she's easily one of the best players on Earth. Her ability to read her opponents and read the texture of the flop, turn and river allows her to play aggressively even when she doesn't have the nuts.

I'm not that good, but still, there's something to be gained by listening to Harman.

My game plan sounds eerily similar to a Kenny Rogers song. I'm have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. I plan on pumping the pot when I have a made hand or a nut draw. And when my hand is crap, I'm going to continually slap myself on the head until I learn how to fold.

But Harman's greatest gift to me sounds a lot like something my dad used to say to me every time I tripped over the coffee table: Pay attention to your surroundings. By staying awake and trying to get a read on my opponents, maybe I'll learn something about them, and by default, get a better idea of when to fire a bluff.

I have a shot if I'm patient. I'm not going to predict victory -- or even that I'll cash. But something tells me this might be my day. Of course, that's the same voice that always tells me to play J-8 because it's suited.

Considering Uncle Sam, Bank of America, a group of excellent satellite players and a certain accountant are waiting anxiously on the rail to see if I win, I sure hope the little voice is right.


Mucking McLane
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.