A re­turn to the Asian tour­na­ment cir­cuit

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - POKER - By Tony Dunst

If you spend enough time trav­el­ing the tour­na­ment cir­cuit, you grad­u­ally gain a sense that poker has evolved dif­fer­ently across the globe. Many of the on­line play­ers I know are so con­vinced of this that they con­sider check­ing their op­po­nent’s lo­ca­tion to be an im­por­tant de­tail dur­ing a big hand. It’s hard to pin­point ex­actly why dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties have their own poker strate­gies, but the longer you’re ex­posed to it, the more ob­vi­ous it be­comes.

I was for­tu­nate enough to play some of the first poker tour­na­ments to be held in Asia, usu­ally or­ga­nized by the Asian Poker Tour and Asian Pa­cific Poker Tour. Those two tours be­gan run­ning ma­jor events in Asia in 2007, pre­dom­i­nantly in Ma­cau and the Philip­pines. I was liv­ing in Aus­tralia at the time, and the eight-hour flight it took to reach

Tony Dunst’s hand Asia was much more man­age­able than the 20-hour flight from North Amer­ica to Asia, so I made a habit of at­tend­ing Asian tour­na­ments.

A few months ago, I learned that the World Poker Tour was or­ga­niz­ing a tour­na­ment in Korea, and I crossed my fin­gers that I would be sent there to work the event as a TV an­a­lyst. That was in­deed the case, and in mid-De­cem­ber I flew to Jeju, a small is­land south of the Korean Penin­sula that’s a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for new­ly­weds.

I hadn’t played poker in Asia for nearly four years, and I was cu­ri­ous

Flop whether the Asian play­ers had adopted a more con­ven­tional style, or if I would see more of the wildly un­pre­dictable play I’d wit­nessed when I first played there. There are manyex­cel­lent Asian play­ers on the Amer­i­can tour­na­ment cir­cuit, but in tour­na­ments held in Asia, the cal­iber of play isn’t al­ways that great.

The South Korean govern­ment bans its cit­i­zens from gam­bling in Korean casi­nos, but the tour­na­ment field was full of Chi­nese, Ja­panese, Filipinos, Viet­namese and Korean ex­pats, and it was

Turn ob­vi­ous that many of the en­trants were still new to the game. I played sev­eral hands that would never be repli­cated in a ma­jor North Amer­i­can tour­na­ment, but one in par­tic­u­lar stood out.

We were on the sec­ond level of play, and I’d al­ready dou­bled my 30,000 start­ing stack by hit­ting some hands. The blinds were 75-150, and with the 8h 7h, I raised to 400 un­der the gun.

The player di­rectly to my left also had morethan 60,000, and he made it 1,100. Af­ter ev­ery­one folded, I made the call, and the flop came down 2s 5c 6d.

I checked, and then called a bet of 2,100 from my op­po­nent. The turn was the per­fect 9h, and af­ter I checked, my op­po­nent bet 5,000. I made it 16,000, and two sec­onds later my op­po­nent had placed a stack of chips worth 45,000 in the mid­dle.

“I’m all in,” I said, and my op­po­nent fi­nally sensed some­thing was wrong. But af­ter grum­bling in Chi­nese for a mo­ment, he called and tabled pocket jacks, which were draw­ing dead against my straight. The river was ir­rel­e­vant, and I col­lected a pot worth about 125,000.

That was the first (and will prob­a­bly be the last) time I won a pot worth more than 800 big blinds dur­ing the sec­ond level of a tour­na­ment.

Tony Dunst is a poker pro and host of “Raw Deal” on World Poker Tour tele­casts. Catch him ev­ery Sun­day night on FSN.

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