I decided this evening I'd spend a little time watching Phil Ivey and Theo Tran play. The two players styles are similar, although Ivey is obviously the more recognizable name, Tran is no slouch himself having had a great 2008 WSOP. I started off watching Ivey and the following is my observation of him during the thirty minutes I watched his table.
The blinds were at 1,200/2,400 with a 300 ante. Ivey folded the first two hands that were dealt to him when there was a raise in front of him. The third hand he was first to act from three to left of the big blind and opened the action for 6,500. Every one folded. The very next hand he opened again for 6,500 and Keith Lehr, one to Ivey's left, made it 22K to go. Every one folded and Ivey gave one quick glance to Lehr and flicked his cards quietly into the muck.
Ivey folded under the gun and then called Lehr's under the gun raise out of the big blind. The flop came and Ivey check folded to Lehr's continuation bet. Ivey didn't slow down any... the next hand it was folded to the button who made it 6,400 to go. Ivey called from the small blind and Lehr decided to jack it up, making it an additional 20K to play. The button got out of the way but Ivey was having none of it and made the call. The flop came and Ivey quickly checked. Lehr made a 45K bet and Ivey played with a stack of orange $5,000 chips. He puts them back into their stack and then counts out 110K and pushes them softly into the middle of the table. Lehr quickly folds and Ivey picks up the pot.
Ivey continues splashing chips into the pot when on the next hand he calls a 6K raise from an early position player from the button and four players see the flop. The flop is and the pre-flop raiser bets 13K, Ivey calls, and the big blind calls. The turn is the and the pre-flop raiser bets 30K and Ivey calls with the big blind folding. The river is the and the pre-flop raiser checks. Ivey looks as if he is going to bet but then taps the felt. The pre-flop raiser shows and Ivey looks back at his cards and mucks. He looks at the pre-flop raiser and grins, “I thought about it.”
The loss doesn't deter Ivey as he calls another pre-flop raise the next hand. Lehr once again pops it up, this time to 25K and the original raiser and Ivey both fold. Ivey folds his next four hands and my thirty minutes of watching him are up.
Next I go to Theo Tran's table. Theo has had a rough WSOP, min cashing a few events but nothing noteworthy. He has 460K when I go to his table. The very first hand I watch there is a raise and re-raise before it gets to him on the button. He looks at his cards and I can tell he likes his hand, but he looks at the action and decides against it and folds. When the original raiser folds, Theo asks the re-raiser to show his hand but the cards go into the muck.
Theo folds his next two hands but not before tanking on the 2nd one. The very next hand Theo makes it 5,600 to go first to act and is called by the hijack. The big blind, an English lad who looks very much like Harry Potter, makes it 18K to go. Theo thinks, studies Harry Potter's stack, and folds. He shakes his head and says to no one in particular, “I'm easy. I had a nice hand though.”
Theo folds his next two hands, and appearing a bit restless he gets up and walks over to Hellmuth's table which is adjacent to his. He comes back and comments about all the chips at that table saying, “That table is sick.” Theo raises under the gun to 6,100 and Harry Potter raises him again to 18K. Theo doesn't look happy and reluctantly folds again.
Theo folds the next four hands, including his blinds, and then picks up a pot when he re-raises a middle position 6,400 raise to 19,400 and the original raiser folds.
Theo folds one more hand and then on the last hand of my thirty minutes of watching him he raises to 6,100 from two to the left of the big blind. The button calls and the flop comes and Theo studies the stack of the button (who is short) and places enough chips out to set him all in. The button quickly calls and Theo mutters to himself and turns over . As Theo expected, he is behind, as the button has . The turn is the but the river is the giving Theo the pot and knocking out his unfortunate opponent. “Got lucky man, sorry,” Theo apologizes.
Watching the two players was interesting. It showed that aggressive players like Ivey and Tran are constantly getting action. Players re-raise them often and are much more likely to play a marginal hand against them or make a bet against them than against a more conventional player. Ivey showed a willingness to play a lot of pots with a stack in front of him while Tran tended to be more situational, but still not afraid to enter a pot with a hand like K-10 from moderately early position. Tomorrow is day 4 of the Main Event and we should make the money relatively early. Until then...