Tuesday, October 16, 2007

another life update

Well another few months go by, new world champions have been crowned, roger federer has won 2 more majors, a guy who grew up in a refugee camp in laos won the world series of poker, and I am still doing the same thing. The summer was fun, I spent all of june in las vegas for the world series of poker. I didn't do great in any live tournaments but I spent a lot of time with some of the best internet poker players in the world watching them play and having them watch my play and give me advice. I went on a huge poker rush and built my bankroll to the point where I can start flirting with the idea of playing high stakes. The highlight of the month in vegas was when my friend John Kranyak final tabled a 3000 person tournament at the w.s.o.p. finishing 4th for $180000.

The summer nationals in Nashville were average. It was the first major tournament that Warren Spector and I played live together. We only managed to win 1 match, as our 2nd round (3rd round because of bye) opponents were the Strul team (Aubrey Strul, Mike Becker, Lew Stansby, Chip Martel, David Berkowitz, Larry Cohen) We left our team about even at the half and they didn't bring it home, which is understandable against that team of world champions. The 3/4 score was -7 and then the pros just put the lockdown and really gave us little chance to come back. I didnt play too much bridge as I was waiting for warren to finish playing the GNTs so we could practise for the spingold. He won the GNTs which left us with just 1 day to get some cards in. All in all it was a good first outing, we have now begun playing a strong club, which is fun but a lot of work.

September, my 25th b-day, also known as the you dont have to pay a young renters fee when renting a car b-day. I had some of my poker friends fly into Toronto for an awesome outdoor Linkin Park concert.

October started with a regional in Ottawa where I got to play a lot with Jenny which is nice, we haven't had too many oppertunities to play since the blue ribbons in 2005. The team was Beverly Perry , Justin Lall, John Kranyak, Jenny and Me. We played 2 events, and grinded out 2 wins. That tournament is really nice , I love Ottawa its one of my favorite places (obviously canadian regionals are way better!)

Later this month I am going to play in Charlotte. I'm really excited i get to play an entire week with Steve Weinstein. Jenny will also be there playing. After that theres a couple weeks off, then lexington kentucky, then the nationals.

Over the next week I will be playing a lot with Warren on BBO, look for us practising our strong club system

Friday, June 1, 2007

1 month is enough!

OK its time for me to return to my duties as a blogger. A lot has happened in the past month, we played our tournament down in Florida, did quite well, we won a tough knockout and survived with an overall in the swiss after losing the first 2 matches. From there I went to Vegas and played the Cavendish teams and pairs with John Kranyak. John was an absolute pleasure to play with, I have never played with such a nice partner before. We meshed really well and grinded our way to 6th place which had we owned ourselves would have paid $70000, maybe next year we will be able to afford it :) I have a ton of hands from the Cavendish, including 3 occasions where we bid a grand slam, had our opponents sacrifice and then we bid 7NT making. Right now I am commentating on the Canadian National Team Championships Finals. Even though I have stopped playing for Canada, this event will always be important to me, as this is where it all started for my bridge career. Winning this is still one of my greatest bridge achievements and I will always remember the incredible feeling it felt to know I was going to play in the Bermuda Bowl, with my brother Darren as my teammate. One of the high points in my life. Since the Cavendish, I went to Quebec City which was beautiful and it caught me by surprise, I had no idea that it was such a great city. Anyone looking to have a nice vacation I highly suggest it as a destination. I played two pair games with Beverly Perry, we came 4th and 5th overall, and then each headed to our respective home towns. This past week has been spent relaxing at home, watching old episodes of TV and spending time with my family. Maybe you wont have to wait another month before my next blog :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Short drive down the coast

After a week at my family's place... its time to make the move down towards the Ft. Lauderdale regional. We don't start playing until Friday, however we have taken advantage of my Uncle and Aunts hospitality for a week already. So tomorrow afternoon we are going down to my partner Warren's house right in center of Palm Beach... Jenny, Warren and I are going to play a cut-around bridge game with David and Lisa Berkowitz. I will try to post some hands (I know I keep saying that) After that Warren heads back to New York to work until the weekend when he comes back to play the regional. He is very generously letting Jenny and me use his house down here for the next 4 days until he returns. I am anxious to see what Palm beach is like. Jenny and I are seriously considering buying a place down here in Florida as soon as we clear up immigration... We both like hot weather, this is really perfect (I imagine that a few days in August I wont be saying that)

I am doing my best to answer all the questions you have to all my posts... I would really like input on the blog, tell me what you like to read about, what is boring... every bit of criticism will help me make this blog more interesting.

On another good note, I had another monstrous day at poker, bringing my total for the week to +6000... a good weeks work!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Singer Island, Florida

Obviously within the first 24 hours of being in Palm Beach my shoulders and neck were terribly sunburned. So the last few days I've hidden from the sun, although I've tried to spend as much time as possible outside. Jenny and I are staying on Singer Island (just north of Palm Beach) with my uncle Les and aunt Sara. They are both bridge players and we played yesterday for my first Florida bridge club experience in 5 years. The people were nice and friendly.

A lot of shopping being done... Being the genius that I am, no pairs of shorts managed to make their way into my suitcase even though I knew we were coming to Florida.

The sunburn has forced me indoors and I've had a chance to play a bunch of poker. This week has been swingy, on Sunday I played the big Sunday tourneys and also some cash games and lost around $1500. Then 5 winning days in a row has gotten me that $1500 back plus a healthy profit of $2500 for the trip so far. To explain my poker situation... at the spring nationals in Dallas last year, I approached Steve Weinstein who is a world class poker player (not to mention bridge) about training me to play. He agreed to it and staked me to play $1/$2 No Limit Hold em. The deal is he puts up the money and we split the profits. I have to build up my bankroll before I can move up stakes. I am now at $2/4 N.L. which is a huge step from 1/2. So far so good... its really fun and its a good filler of time when there is nothing else going on. There is more to our story which I will get to later...

Just got the phone call, more shopping and sunburning err tanning to do.

Documentary is up on You Tube

OK here goes nothing, I've thought for a while about what to say to you about the documentary, all I hope is that you watch it with the understanding that they took the most heated moments of 2 YEARS of filming and made our story as dramatic as possible. Just to set the record straight... Vince and I are still great friends and he is still one of my favourite partners and hopefully now that he is back from Australia I will get the chance to play with him some again. No matter how much you like someone, or enjoy playing with someone, 5 years of tens of thousands of hands together can bring out the worst in anyone... and when you have cameras in your face after losing a big spingold match, you'd be surprised at what you say or do.

I heard the numbers of viewers, the method in which they come up with this is unknown, however on Saturday when they aired the documentary in Canada, the hockey game had 2.1 million viewers, the documentary had 518000, a new record for W-five (the show that produced the documentary) I'm really proud of that.

Lastly I want to thank Andy Pederson (the evil producer) and Warren (the unlucky camera guy). I think these guys did a tremendous job in livening up bridge for the camera. They took an otherwise boring couple of guys and made us appeal to a large audience, now I just hope that people see the documentary and have a place nearby where they can learn the game, in the end if anyone learns bridge because of the documentary, it will be a success.

Here are the links to the documentary, I'm not sure how long it will last on youtube because I think there may be copyright issues.

Parts 4 and 5 arent working yet but should be up there soon.

Enjoy the show!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

End of the week

So its Saturday and we finished playing tonight so that meant we could go out and have fun. We went over to the house that a lot of American juniors and their friends have rented for the week of the tournament. The house is really cool. 3 floors, 8 bedrooms, huge room on the bottom floor with a pool table and air hockey table.

The night started by me betting Steve Weinstein $100 that I could beat him in an air hockey match up to 7 points, but I had to spot him 4 points. So we started playing and i got 2 quick goals bringing the score to 4-2. Then he fired straight back with a straight shot beautifully placed making it 5-2. A long time rallying until we exchanged two more quick goals making it 6-3. At that point he got a little arrogant about his position and offered me to buy out of the bet for $75... my response "Hell No, lets play" So I tightened up my Defence and pulled out the match with a 7-6 victory. So sweet :)

After the match we went upstairs just as the late NHL playoff game was ending and brought out a copy of the documentary. It was a real experience sitting in a room with like 20 of my friends watching a dramatized version of the last few years of my life. Everyone really enjoyed the show, we had a good laugh because everyone could relate to how i was feeling.

(in pic from left to right, Charles Halasi, Daniel Lavee, John Barth, Joel Wooldridge, Steve Weinstein)

We hung out for a while, took some pictures then came back to our house and were just about to take a hot tub. Tomorrow is a travel day, Jenny and I head to Florida where we will spend some time with my uncles and aunts that live there. I thought the Ft Lauderdale regional was this coming week but there turned out to be an extra week off in there I didn't know about. So our ticket is booked for tomorrow and my mistake earned us a vacation in Florida. Left to Right: Kevin Bathurst, Me, Justin Lall, John Kranyak
Left to Right: Kevin Bathurst, Cata Robles, Me, Jenny

Friday, April 13, 2007

Gruelling couple of weeks

So the last two weeks I've been playing a lot of bridge. Last week was in Toronto, I played the whole week with my mom, sometimes as teammates sometimes as partners. We won the fast pairs early in the week by getting 3 tops in the last round to win by 1 match point. Then in the main event of the regional, the SHEARDOWN KNOCKOUT, we lost by 1 in the semi finals after I fought to make the matches 28 boards instead of 56... kind of ironic. The problem with the event was it was set as a 3 day event, but not enough teams entered. So what ended up happening was they scheduled a 56 board semi final for day 2, and a 56 board final on day 3. The issue was, it was only worth 22 master points for winning this really tough bracket that takes 3 days, so I got all of the teams in the semi finals to agree to shorten the event to 2 days.

On the weekend, my documentary aired on Canadian National Television. It was so interesting looking back on a very important period of my life and having it all taped. They did a good job putting the documentary together so that it can be interesting for non-bridge players. Obviously when its a 44 minute documentary there are going to be lots of things I don't like about it. They got a lot of the bridge facts wrong, but that would go unnoticed to a non-bridge player. One issue was, I was the only one of us who talked about my mistakes in front of the camera... so when it came time to put the blame on someone, the only thing they could do was put it on me. It was very sentimental watching it, and it made me really miss playing with Vince (I know that might surprise you if you've seen the documentary). He really is and was one of my best friends and even though we had rough times, we also had some awesome times. I look forward to the chance to play with him again later this year as he is back from Australia.

This week in Gatlinburg has been one of the most excruciating weeks I can remember. We have a house rented in the mountains which is fantastic, but it means for an extra 10 minute commute 5 or 6 times a day. I've been playing on a 4 handed team in bracket 1, 3 sessions a day. So we have played a lot of tough opposition and really gotten drilled. Somehow we have about 60 points just from winning a couple 1 session board-a-match's and making the semi finals of the first KO. We only planned on being here until Saturday so today there is nothing to play for us. I will play a side game with Melanie Tucker (my partner for the week) this afternoon and tonight we will try to win a 3rd B-A-M.

I have lots of interesting hands to come from these 2 weeks, I just really have been too tired to post on here.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Spiral Raises

OK there are many different versions of this convention, but one thing is for sure, if you are raising on 3 card support after you open 1m and your partner responds 1M, then having a forcing asking big is crucial.

1m - 1H
2H - 2S* Asks partner what kind of raise do you have? then...

2N = Balanced 3 card raise, minimum
3C = Balanced 4 card raise, any strength
3D = unbalanced 3 card raise, shortness in other minor
3H = unbalanced 3 card raise, shortness in other major
3S = Splinter, 4 card support
3N = Balanced 3 card raise, maximum
4om = splinter
4m = 5422 MAX
4H = 5422 MIN

1m - 1S
2S - 2NT = same
3H = UNBAL 3S shortness in other minor
3S = UNBAL 3S shortness in other major
4x = SPL
4m = 5422 MAX
4M = 5422 MIN

This system can also be used after 1H-1S-2S.

NOTE: After BAL 3M MIN, going back to 3 of partners minor is NF
NOTE: After any response, 3M is NF

Also its good to play 1x-1H-2H-2NT = 4S 4H forcing... so you can catch your spade fit when partner has raised on 3 card support.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Two-Way New Minor Forcing

This is what i believe to be expert standard two way new minor forcing.


2C = relay to 2D to show ALL invitational hands
2D = Game Forcing Checkback
2H = Natural to play
2S = (after 1S response) Natural to play, (after 1H response) 4S 4H invitational hand
2N = *Conventional
3C = Natural Slam Try
3D = Natural Slam Try
3H = Natural Slam Try
3S = Natural Slam Try
3N = Natural

after 1m-1M-1NT-2NT
2NT is a relay to 3C, that's how you sign off in clubs, then over 3C
Pass = Clubs
3D = 5 of my major, 4 of partners minor, low shortness
3H = 5 of my major, 4 of partners minor, high shortness
3S = 4 of my major, 5 of partners minor, low shortness
3N = 4 of my major, 5 of partners minor, high shortness

1) Remember all invitational hands must start with 2C, after the 2C relay every bid invites something, if you bid 2C then over partners 2D bid 3NT, that is invitational to 4M, 5332 choice of games. Since we use 2NT for that gizmo, our NT invitation must start with 2C as well.
2) This system is on after 1H-1S-1NT, but not after 1C-1D-1NT
3) This system is off in competition
4) When we jump rebid our major over 1NT it sets trumps and asks partner to cue bid for slam

Please post questions and I will update my posts based on your thoughts.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Upcoming Schedule

After a couple days of posting about some bridge ideas, I think its time to post a little about where I'm going and what I plan to do with my blog.

Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 New York time, I am practising with my partner Warren Spector on BBO. Warren and I have planned to play the 2008 United States Bridge Championships together on a team with Joe Grue, Curtis Cheek, Fred Gitelman and Brad Moss. Over the next 15 months we will do as much practising as we can to prepare our partnership to play at a top level. As of right now we play a pretty simple 2/1 system as Warren is a rubber bridge player trying to adjust to a common tournament system. We have discussed playing a strong club, however right now we have decided to play this system because Warren is also playing on a team with Mike Becker in the Grand National Teams and justifiably doesn't want to juggle two different systems. A copy of our system will be posted on the blog if I can figure out how to do it.

Our match tomorrow (Saturday) will be against two young Israeli stars Eldad Ginossar and Ron Pachtman. It should be fun and challenging for us, I will do my best to post hands and discussion at the end of our session.

Other Schedule:
Next Week I am playing the whole Toronto Regional with my mom Hazel Wolpert, my brother Darren Wolpert and my wife Jenny Wolpert
Note: Saturday night April 7th the documentary on Vincent and I will be aired on CTV.
On Monday Morning April 9th we leave for the Gattlinburg, Tennessee regional, the biggest tournament of the year in North America. There I will partner Melanie Tucker, whom I play with quite a lot and our teammates are my friends John Hurd and Joel Wooldridge.
After 5 days of playing there Jenny and I will get on a plane to West Palm Beach Florida, where we will spend a week on the beach then play the last 3 days of the Ft. Lauderdale regional. After that I have nothing scheduled before the Cavendish teams and pairs where I will play with one of my best friends John Kranyak... its his first time playing the event, for those of you who have never played its one of the coolest events of the year... practically every pair you play has at least 1 world champion, really no experience like it.

OK that's it for now as my schedule pans out I will let you know where I'm going.

Just as a side note, I am not getting anything for doing this blog, I get a cut if you click that full tilt poker link at the bottom of the website and sign up and play... I assure you the site is 100% safe and you will enjoy your poker experience there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dealing with opponents strong club opening

Everyone understands that the best way to defend against a strong club is to get in their face... however most people do it with the completely wrong hands. My ideas aren't perfect but I've had a reasonable amount of success against it.

For starters, all of these conventions people play, suction, crash and whatever other strange artificial systems are definitely worse than just playing natural.

I use Mathe: (1C*) X = Majors, 1NT = Minors everything else natural

For the most part, coming in at the one level actually helps your opponents, it doesn't hurt them, so being overly aggressive to overcall 1 with the wrong hand types can be fatal. The key is to take away multiple bidding levels. The best way to do this is to have your partner raise your overcall. In my mind its best to overcall most unbalanced hands over 1C but stay out with balanced hands. The idea is that when i overcall 1H over 1C and my partner has 4 card support and a balanced hand, I want them to jump to 3... taking away all part score bids from my opponents. If I am overcalling 4 card suits, and balanced 5332 hands we will just set our side up for a big penalty.

Dealing with a Precision 1D opening (could be short)
Its bets to play that (1D*) 2D is just natural, and (1D*) 2H is michaels, giving up the weak 2H bid in order to be able to get the natural diamond bid in there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Transfers after opponents bid michaels

Playing on BBO with Warren Spector on the weekend, we had the auction 1H (2H) come up and this brought up a discussion. This system only applies when you open 1 of a Major and your opponent makes a direct cuebid showing Spades and a minor.

First piece of advice: When your opponent makes an artificial 2 suited overcall, there are no longer natural NT bids available to you, as you will always start with double with balanced hands. As well, whenever you have a fit you will show a fit, so double is defined as a hand that wants to penalize your opponents but denies a fit.

1H (2H)
2S = cue for hearts limit +
2NT = Clubs (designed for x xx xxx KQJTxxx) any strength
3C = Diamonds any strength
3D = constructive raise (i.e. 4 trumps 5-8, 3 trumps 8-10)
3H = weakest raise
3S = Splinter
3NT = 4 card support balanced game bid * remember with normal 3NT bid you start with X
4C = Fit showing Jump (5+C 4+H, concentrated values in C/H)
4D = Fit showing Jump (5+D 4+H, concentrated values in D/H)
4H = Weak game bid

its important to remember that when partner transfers you to a minor, you should accept the transfer with almost any hand, even with a void in their suit, unless you CLEARLY have a better bid available to you

1S (2S)
2NT = Clubs any strength
3C = Diamonds any strength
3D = limit + in spades
3H = constructive raise in spades
3S = weakest raise to 3S
3NT = balanced 4 card support game bid
4C = fit jump
4D = fit jump
4H = splinter
4S = weak game bid

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Here goes nothing

For a long time now I've talked about making a blog, here we go. In my blog I intend to post various hand problems I come across in my life as a bridge pro. As well as my various decisions I have to make along the way. I will take you on a world tour as I travel around playing many bridge tournaments. In the process of writing this blog I will include various special agreements that I have made with my old partner Vincent Demuy and also include some various options for each situation. I hope you enjoy!