Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Al Ardebili Interview and the WPT Borgata Open

Editor's Note: I made a mistake, the Travel Channel is airing the Legends of Poker from the Bike tonight and not the Borgata one. That will be aired next week. I apologize for the confusion! I'll leave this post up anyway. Make sure you tune in next week to see the Borgata Open.

Next week, the Travel Channel is airing a new episode of the WPT that was taped at the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa last September. The final table of the Borgata Open features pros such as Kathy Liebert, David Singer, and John D'Agostino. It also featured three Jersey guys like Action Bob Hwang, Richard Festejo, and the champion Al Ardebilli.

I also live blogged the final table. Feel free to read along, I know I'll have it open to refresh my memory...

Here's my short Q & A interview with last September's Borgata Open Champion Al Ardebili. I met with him at the Borgata in January and he was nice enough to do an email interview with me. Here it is...

Pauly: What's your brief poker background? How long have you been playing? Are you playing full-time now?

Al: I played poker as a kid much like many players, nothing serious, just with buddies, etc. I started playing Limit Texas Holdem about five years ago and learned No Limit about three years ago. I'm not playing "full time" per se, but have played many of the circuit events going on for about a year now.

Pauly: What's the best part of Borgata poker tournaments?

Al: The Borgata is just a class establishment through and through. I felt that the first time I stepped in the building a couple of years back. It has the feel and vibe of a top-notch Las Negas property but right here in Atlantic City. So, enjoying the property is a start. As far as poker specifically, I think the dealers and staff headed by Stan and Tab do a fabulous job. And Tab's structures are very player friendly with generous starting chip counts.

Pauly: Do you play any other games besides No Limit Hold'em? What is your specialty? Cash games or tourneys? What attracted you to NL tournaments?

Al: I play Omaha H/L, Seven-card Stud, Stud H/L... all cash games, as well as tournaments. I prefer tournaments more, because of the high pressure of having it all on the line at any given point. The concentration level necessary to play at a high level and everything associated with a successful tourney run is very appealing to me. NL tournaments were particularly attractive because of its popularity recently and hence the big prize pools and payouts in return for a modest investment upfront. So I knew that if I was going to concentrate on poker I would have to get better at NL tournaments.

Pauly: You took 26th at a 2005 WSOP Shorthanded NL event. I prefer (playing and covering) short-handed events. Do you think that there should be more short-handed events?

Al: I prefer short handed at times. I think there should be and there has been a push to include more of them. That said, it doesnt really matter... what matters more is adjusting to the players at your particular table, whether the game is short or full.

Pauly: The WPT and the Travel Channel have not yet aired the Borgata event that you won. Are you enjoying your last few months of anonymity?

Al: I already get a bit more recognized, although it really doesn't matter to me. I'm the same person I've always been.

Pauly: What other major events do you plan on attending in 2006?

Al: I attended Commerce and I'll definitely be at the Bellagio in April. I'm gonna play in most of the 2006 WSOP events and see where it goes from there.

Pauly: Do you think poker has helped boost Atlantic City's popularity with 20-somethings?

Al: Not necessarily, though there are a lot of great young players that are based here and doing very well from the cash games it seems.

Pauly: Who are the players you admire? Who are you afraid of?

Al: Let's see... I admire guys like Daniel Negreanu, Carlos Mortensen, Phil Ivey, and Layne Flack. I especially like Layne Flack. He's tough.

Pauly: What was the best and worst hand you played in the 2005 Borgata Open?

Al: The best hand? Probably calling a monster bluff attempt by Steve Dannenman with about 47 players left and just 2 before money. Both of us had rather big stacks. It was all on the line there if I was wrong. Since I was right, it propelled me to the front as one of the chipleaders. I never surrendered that relative chip count from that point on. And the worst hand? There were many that I played poorly!

Pauly: What are common mistakes that you see beginner players make?

Al: New players tend to have too much aggression with mediocre hands like TT, JJ , and AK. Especially AK. They are not enough patience to take a pot post-flop. That's the first and only thing that pops into my mind.

Thanks again to Al Ardebili for taking time out for the interview. He's really one of the cooler guys I met on the poker tournament circuit. Don't forget to tune in next Wednesday to see Al's victory at the Borgata!

Oh, just a reminder that the Borgata is running the Ultimate Super Satellite Tournament this weekend where you can win a $60K prize package that includes a slew of seats into major tournaments like the WSOP main event and the WPT Championship. Stop by the Borgata's main website for more details.

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