Barcelona Spain June 15th 2004

4th Annual World Heads Up Championship, Barcelona
Report by Keith ‘Bendigo’ Sloan on Tuesday, 15 June 2004 at 11:22 am

Keith ‘Bendigo’ Sloan really needs no introduction. He has kindly agreed to say a few words from sunny Barcelona and he never usually needs an excuse to do that. Best known as Tournament Director and MC at Crown Casino Melbourne he is now working with the WHU team here in Spain…

I knew if I could just live long enough I would get my 15 minutes of fame. My "moment in the sun" arrived today when Barny invited me to pen a few lines for their PRIMA POKER DIARY.
Of course if the invitation came because he admired my poker game I would be chuffed, unfortunately the truth is it came for no other reason than Barny is involved in some big action here in Barcelona and it was his turn to write the Prima Report.

OK, lets talk a bit about playing poker 2004 style.

Apart from the huge growth in the number of players today the biggest change I have noticed is the playing style of the new players. I get to walk the floor during a lot of big tournaments and I get to see a lot of hands and some amazing plays that my poker brain just cannot comprehend.

When I first saw some of these plays I put them down as inexperienced players not knowing how to play certain hands in certain positions. I now know that my initial observation could not be further from the truth. These new "young guns" have looked at all the old pro´s and are finding ways to beat them.

When I was playing for a living we always had the "grinders" and I guess they will always be around. What we didn’t have was such a large number of players who don´t play just to survive and get the rent – these boys and girls are PLAYING TO WIN.

Anyone who plays a lot of poker tournaments would know the players who keep taking down the big money seem to have something special about their game, something you can´t buy or learn from reading a book. We all know who they are – names like Ram Vaswani, Marcel Luske, Dave Ulliot, etc. etc.
I don´t know what it is but I can recognise it when I see it and I am seeing more and more of it on the circuit today.

I have tried to find the reason and the only logical one I can come up with is the "new breed" are not under bankroll pressure. The overheads were always the killer and to cover hotel bills, travel costs and day-to-day living expenses meant needing to book regular wins. With the luxury of getting to play "no overhead" poker online at any hour of the day or night allows players to hold down a job (if such a thing is appealing to you) and not constantly put pressure on your bankroll for day-to-day living expenses. It also means having the luxury of taking a piece of your bankroll and travelling to a tournament to "take a shot" rather than just trying to grind your way into the money to cover the costs of the trip and then trying to get lucky once you made the final table.

The new breed don´t care about just "making the money" they want to win and we all know if you want to win a tournament you need chips when you get to the final table. So now we have all these young players building chips very early on in tournaments when so many of the older brigade are content to survive the next level and not wanting to take any real chances until they make the money.

I was always aware of player reputations and almost always knew how my opponents played but the new guys either don´t care or don´t know whom they are playing against. They just get in there and start putting pressure on from the 1st hand.
I have witnessed some super aggressive play here in Barcelona in the W.H.U.P.C. from the newbies and have spoken to some of the big guns who tell me just how hard it is to play against the new style of player. They are finding it very hard to read them and by the time they do have some sort of a read on their young opponent they have lost a few too many chips and now find themselves needing to "hit a hand" to get back into the match. This of course makes for a different style of poker, a style I find very exciting to watch. (The W.H.U.P.C. will air sometime in August 2004 on the Discovery T.V. family).

OK, this story didn´t go where it was intended – I wanted to tell you about some great hands played in some of the matches here in Barcelona but my word limit is up which is not all bad I guess as it might mean I get another invite from Barny next time it is his turn to write the Diary Report.
Cheers from Barcelona,
Keith "Bendigo" Sloan.

Helping to build the bridge between online and B&M Poker.