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Raymer's Game Crippled at the 2006 WSOP: 'I Can't Bluff'
Once a champ, always a champ. Greg Raymer knows this all to well. Ever since he became World Champion of Poker in 2004, people have been taking chances to knock him out of tournaments. This has forced Raymer to change his strategy. For example, bluffing is no longer an option for "The Fossilman." Despite this, Raymer is optimistic about the 2006 WSOP and hopes that smart play will take him far. He is especially looking forward to the Main Event and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament. PokerListings.com caught up with Raymer during a break in the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Split event.
How are you doing so far today?
I'm doing good, but I probably could have gotten a softer table. I have some highly experienced players who play in the high stakes mixed games, so they know Omaha. And I got a couple of other players, one of whom I know, who is also a very good player, and the other guys seem to be pretty solid even though I don't recognize them. But I have $2,800 in chips, and that's more than I started with, so that's a good start. I'll just have to hope I keep catching some hands. (Raymer was knocked out of the tournament later in Day 1.)
Do you enjoy playing Omaha?
It's one of my favorite games. I consider Stud Hi-Lo my best game, and this is my second best game. And No-Limit Hold'em is behind that a bit.
What are your hopes in general for this year's World Series of Poker?
My hopes are just to play smart. Results will happen as they happen. If you play really well, you're more likely to get a good result, but you can play great here for a month and a half and get shut out of every event, just because of some bad luck. So I will just continue to put my chips in as smartly as I can, and I hope that I get more back than I put in.
You've done well in the Main Event two years in a row. How about this year?
Same answer. I just hope that I put my money in good. And if I put my money in good and my opponent catches a card to beat me, then I'll be disappointed, but I won't be upset with myself at all.
Will you be playing in the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event?
I wasn't sure, because there was something else that conflicted with that event after they rescheduled it, but now it's almost certain that I will be in that event, and I'm looking forward to it a lot.
Does the H.O.R.S.E. format suit you?
Yes, it does. I play a lot of mixed games when I'm playing cash games, so I think my chances are really good in that event. The only one of the five games that I don't have hundreds of hours of experience at, or more, is the Razz.
You said last year that players were taking chances to knock you, the 2004 World Champion, out of tournaments? Is it the same way this year?
Oh yes, there are definitely players who do that. Actually, the guy who won the first event ($1,500 No-Limit Hold'em) this year, Brandon Cantu, said in an interview afterwards that one of his big thrills before he made it to the final table in that event was knocking me out on the second day. And then he said, 'I really put my money in bad, and I knew I was putting my money in bad when I called Greg's all-in, but I really just wanted to knock him out.' He said that he knew that he was supposed to fold, and that he didn't get the pot odds he needed, but he called anyway and caught a runner-runner flush, and I was out of the tournament.
Have you changed your strategy because of players acting like that?
Well, I can't bluff. If I bluff I'm going to get called. The big difference is that I bluff less, and I make value bets that are much thinner than I would have made in the past. I can have second pair with a bad kicker, or third pair, on the river, and I'll bet into someone. When I do that it's not a bluff, like it used to be, I'm actually hoping that they're going to call with a lower pair.
Do you get much attention in other ways at the table - people wanting to talk etc?
More than most players, but I don't mind as long as I am not in the hand.
So, you're not going to start wearing an iPod at the table?
No, nothing like that.