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LAPT Grand Final: Carnival's hidden talents

lapt-promo.gifI read an AP article this morning about a blog called, "Little Leopard, Where Are You?" that tries to re-unite Carnival couples. Apparently lots of random street-kissing goes on during Carnival. Sometimes those who lock lips get separated from each other in the press of humanity that takes to the streets at this time of year. Carnival helps bring them together for the first time; the blog helps bring them back together after the festivities end.

Carnival also helps players in the LAPT Grand Final make tough decisions.

These things always start out in simple fashion though, don't they? A raise pre-flop. A call. A re-raise pre-flop from the blinds. And another call. That's the action that brought the out-of-position Patrick Mahoney and the in-position Daniel Negreanu to a flop of 2♥6♣Q♣. Mahoney, the pre-flop re-raiser, continued for 38,000. Negreanu hung right with him.

Negreanu never took his eyes off of Mahoney as the dealer peeled off the J♣ turn card. Mahoney measured his response for a few moments and then checked. Negreanu did likewise, taking the two men to the 5♥ river. Again Negreanu's eyes were focused on Mahoney. Again Mahoney checked, seemingly signaling that he was weak. Negreanu pounced with a bet of 77,000.

"All in," Mahoney said.

"What?!" Negreanu ripped a pair of PokerStars-branded headphones off of his head. "That doesn't seem possible."

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"I'm sorry -- what did you just say?"

Watching great players puzzle out a hand is one of the hidden pleasures of covering poker tournaments. As a writer you can watch them mentally re-play the hand in their head, struggling to deduce what the series of checks, bets, raises and calls made by their opponents could possibly mean. That's the process that Negreanu began to go through. He leaned back in his seat and furrowed his brow. His eyes shot up and to the right as the gears in his brain turned, trying to come up with a range of hands for Mahoney that made sense given Mahoney's actions throughout the hand.

"I don't have a clue yet," Negreanu claimed after about a minute. There was no response from Mahoney.

"You could have ace-king with the ace of clubs. That or the nuts." Still silence.

"Would you do that with aces? Maybe. You might have aces. Would you check aces with the ace of clubs on the turn though?" Negreanu's voice trailed off as he mentioned something about Mahoney check-raising him.

"Just one more thing to think about," Daniel said as he raised a single finger. "You're Canadian..."

Mahoney piped up for the first time, stating that, in fact, he was not Canadian.

"Oh you're not?" Negreanu asked, seemingly surprised. "Not east coast either?" He laughed. "It's a trifecta. That makes my third bad read in this hand."

"This is kind of like my tournament here," he said. Calling the all in would leave Negreanu with about 80,000 in chips if he was wrong.

"Oh I just thought of something!" he said after a few more moments of silence. "Carnival is tonight!" He laughed. "That makes this so much easier because if I'm wrong..." A whistling noise indicated the fun that Daniel felt was in store if he were to get knocked out of the tournament.

Finally: "I gotta call."

Mahoney knocked the table, the universal gesture for a good call, then turned over a stone bluff, A♣8♠. Negreanu tabled 6♦5♦ for a rivered two pair, sixes and fives. By eliminating Mahoney he claimed the tournament chip lead.

"I wasn't going to call until Carnival," Negreanu explained. "Carnival helped me make that call."

Carnival may have helped Negreanu make that call, but it's not going to help him smooch any young ladies on the streets of Sao Paulo tonight if he keeps stalking his way through this Grand Final. He may wind up writing a post of his own on Little Leopard Where Are You?, asking where all his opponents have gone.

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