(Distributed July 25, 2006)
WILL ONE OF THESE PLAYERS MAKE WORLD SERIES HISTORY?
Who’s going to win this year’s World Series of Poker main event, which starts Friday in Las Vegas? Based on recent history, the estimated $10 million first-place prize will go to an online qualifier who gets lucky at the right times and has a solid strategy.
Let’s check out the game plans for some not-yet-famous satellite qualifiers preparing for their shot at poker immortality.
Scott McNeil, 23, an oil salesman and graphic designer from Grande Prairie in Alberta, Canada, believes he’ll be facing “a lot of textbook players using a mathematical approach. So, I’ll probably be playing a little looser at the beginning, maybe playing some low suited connectors and drawing out against the overcards.”
No Canadian has won the main event, but McNeil said his durability and personality should serve him well. “People talk about tough 18-hour days at the table and I just laugh at them. I’ve done 18-hour days of manual labor; it’s not that big of a deal. I’m charismatic…and enjoy talking. I will sometimes try to bait my opponents into calling or folding.”
If incessant chatter doesn’t work, he’s thinking about wearing a pair of Elton John novelty glasses at the table “just to poke fun at those guys in dark shades.”
Craig Schewe, a 27-year-old from Waukesha, Wisc., recently quit a successful sales job to be an online poker pro. “Coming from a family of conservatives, that didn’t go over all that well at first. But now my mom loves poker and watches me play from her own computer,” he said.
The tournament novice said, “This is a deep-stack event ($10,000 in starting chips). I’m going to be a passive, tight-aggressive player. I will see no more than 13 percent of the flops. As long as I can stay out of trouble, I think I can survive to at least the third or fourth day, maybe.”
To offset the advantage held by tournament veterans, he said, “I’m going to be as observant as possible, stare at every single player, and try to keep from making mistakes. It just comes down to patience and discipline.”
Jeff Doane, 53, of Rockford, Ill., said he’s an entrepreneur who has played hold’em and Omaha for 20 years across the Midwest and in Las Vegas. The Vietnam veteran and decorated Marine has won many tournaments, including back-to-back events in 2003 in Tunica, Miss., and the 1998 Iowa state Omaha hi-lo championship.
“My strategy is to play my game, be patient, but not just sit around and wait for the nuts (a cinch hand). I’ll play like I do in any tournament and just keep working my way forward,” he said. “I’ll know when to gamble, and I won’t gamble until I have to.”
The confident Doane believes his edge comes from “patience, experience, calm demeanor and quick math skills. I know that I’m in no hurry, that I can’t win the tournament right now. As long as I have chips in front of me, I never give up. That’s what you learn from experience.”
McNeil, Schewe and Doane all qualified online through Poker Stars, the Web site giant which produced the past three main event champions — Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem. Matt Marcus, a spokesman for Poker Stars, said the site is sending about 1,600 satellite qualifiers to this year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, Jim LaCamera, a 45-year-old truck driver from Milan, Ill., who won his seat in a 79-player benefit satellite for Gilda’s Club of the Quad-Cities, said he’s not really into online poker. “I just haven’t found enough trust in the Internet yet,” he said with a laugh.
“My main goal is to make it through the first day. I’ll try to play tight, but not too tight. I’ll be playing premium cards, not gambling too much, and playing position as much as possible. I don’t think I’ll be intimidated, but you don’t know until you sit down at the table,” he said.
Two things LaCamera is sure about: “I appreciate Gilda’s Club for sending me to the World Series” and, if he wins the $10 million on Aug. 10, “I’m going to buy me some hunting property.”
(SET ITAL) LuckyDog’s blogging the WSOP! (END ITAL)
Ol’ LuckyDog plans to write a daily blog from Las Vegas during the final week of the World Series main event. Hope you’ll check it out at luckydogpoker.com.
We’ll fire up the blog sometime Friday, Aug. 4, and provide daily behind-the-scenes reports from the richest sporting event in history. We’ll post your comments and questions there, too. Should be fun!
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 RUSS SCOTT
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