Busy end to the year - and Happy Holidays!

vramdin.jpgThis is always the busiest time of year. Everyone's always trying to squeeze in one last event whether it be a party, or a poker tournament before the end of the year, and it gets pretty exhausting.

This year's exhaustion for me started in Wichita, Kansas. It was a charity even hosted by this year's Main Event TV table bubble boy Brandon Stevens and his brother Rodney, and let me tell you these guys put on a great event in a great town (for a great cause).

The Stevens brothers put this thing on as a way for the well-off businessmen types to be able to give back to their community and help out the homeless of Wichita. And based on the kindness and hospitality we received in Wichita, I hope everyone there gives back in spades. I am completely serious when I say that, other than New York (which is where I live), Wichita is my favorite city in the US. I know it sounds like I'm blowing smoke, but the hospitality and cordiality of Wichita were incredible.

I made the trip out with Joe Cada, Dennis Phillips, and my agent, Dan Frank. As for the tourney, I made the final two tables, but no cash for me. Too bad. I was really looking forward to adding that to my Hendon Mob stats (lol).

After Wichita it was off to Las Vegas to cheer on my good friend Grinder at the World Series of Poker Main Event final table. Grinder, who I had a small piece of, ended up going out fifth: gg,Grinder. PokerStars had a good showing there, as usual, with Duhamel flying our flag and taking home another championship bracelet to Stars.

I was impressed with Duhamel's play overall. So many past world champions have made some goofy play or gotten really overtly lucky to win the thing, and to be honest, I don't think I saw Duhamel make a bad play since he busted Matt Affleck before the final table.

After that it was off to a PokerStars event - NAPT Los Angeles! I played three events there - the $5k Main Event, the $5k Heads up, and the $5k Bounty Shootout. In the heads up, I won my first match, but against my second opponent, it was probably the worst heads-up match of my life. I didn't last too long.

For the main event, I ran into a super-cooler to knock me out, and it was a bummer because I had a decent amount of chips! With three hours left at the end of day one, I was cruising along nicely with about average chips. The blinds were 200-400, and I had about
35,000. Action folded around to the cut-off who made a min-raise to 800. The small blind called, and I called in the big blind with A♠8♠.

The flop came down A-A-T. The small blind checked, I checked to play in flow, and to let the original raiser take a shot at a continuation bet. But he didn't. He checked as well. It might have looked suspicious if I were not so strong myself.

The turn came an 8, and also put a flush draw on board, but what did I care, I just boated up. The small blind checked, and I checked again, hoping he could now fire as it had been checked around twice. This time he did bet, 2,200 into a pot of about 3,000. But then something weird happens - the small blind makes it 7,100.

At this point, I know the SB has an ace for sure, and the only hand
that's beating me on the entire planet is A-T. Pocket eights are also possible, but not all that likely. I re-pop because I want to make sure I can get the money in now before a bad card comes on the river that might make him want to get away from his big ace. I raise, and basically commit my stack. He puts me all in, I call, and yup - A-T. What a cooler!

The $5k Bounty Shootout was pretty fun as well It was a winner take all event, with$1k bounty bonuses on anyone you knock out, so you have to play it a little faster than a normal tournament. I had basically what you would call an internet table, with only a few live pros present, one of them being Hassan Habib on my left. I busted the first three players at the
table, and then somehow went out with five players left.

I just happened to tangle with the only other player with a lot of chips. I ended up getting all my money in with Q-J on a Q-J-9 board, but unfortunately, my opponent had flopped the joint with K-T and that crippled me.

From Los Angeles, I went home to play in the USA Coop, which is PokerStars' new tournament series open only to US Residents. There were great overlays on all the events, and since I cashed in three out of the eight I played (and broke even), I considered it to be a success.

The USA Coop had much softer fields than the Sunday Million. I should have done better, but didn't.

Coming up, I'll be playing a charity event in NY to benefit research for Muscular Distrophy. I won't travel at all during Christmas,because I love Christmas in New York. There is no place in the world I would rather be. Times Square. The Rockettes. Rockefeller Center. It's amazing and incredible - and I love New York!

During the holidays, I'll be resting up in order to get prepared for the PokerStars marquee event of the year: The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

I'll be playing the big four events there: the $5k shoot out, the $25k High-Roller, $5k Horse - and, of course, the $10k main event. I had a decent showing there the last four years, so let's see if I can go deeper this year.

Happy Holidays!

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Victor Ramdin
@PokerStars in Victor Ramdin